Summary: We need to build one another up in Christ.
Encouraging The Family Of Faith
Text: Acts 11:19-30
1. Illustration: An elderly widow, restricted in her activities, was eager to serve Christ. After praying about this, she realized that she could bring blessing to others by playing the piano. The next day she placed this small ad in the Oakland Tribune: "Pianist will play hymns by phone daily for those who are sick and despondent--the service is free." The notice included the number to dial. When people called, she would ask, "What hymn would you like to hear?" Within a few months her playing had brought cheer to several hundred people. Many of them freely poured out their hearts to her, and she was able to help and encourage them.
2. Two of the great truths in life; everyone needs encouragement and everyone can be an encourager.
3. Our text today gives us three ways we can encourage one another...
A. Reaching Out
B. Lifting Up
C. Helping Up
4. Let's stand together as we read Acts 11:19-30.
Proposition: We need to build one another up in Christ.
Transition: The first way that we can be an encourager is by...
I. Reaching Out (19-21).
A. Began Preaching To The Gentiles
1. It's easy to stay in our comfort zones and do what comes easiest to us, but as followers of Jesus we are called to step outside of our comfort zones in order to benefit others.
2. The church had just reached a major turning point in accepting the fact that God accepts Gentiles who repent. However, old habits die hard.
3. This is illustrated in v. 19, which states, "Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the word of God, but only to Jews."
A. Though the Jerusalem apostles and believers accepted the fact that Gentiles in Caesarea were saved and had become part of the Church, this did not excite them very much.
B. There was no rush to go out and win more Gentiles to the Lord. In fact, even Peter continued to consider his ministry as primarily to the Jews (Gal. 2:7-9).
C. So Luke turns our attention to an ethnically mixed congregation in a new center for the spread of the gospel, the capital of the Roman province of Syria, Antioch, located on the Orontes River, over three hundred miles north of Jerusalem.
D. It was a great trade center, the largest city in Asia Minor, having a population of half a million.
E. Founded about 300 B.C. by Seleucus I Nicator, its importance was recognized by the Romans, who made it a free city in 64 B.C. But it was full of evil.
F. Verse 19 makes a connection with Acts 8:1, 4 . Up to this point the examples of what happened had been taken from Judea and Samaria.
G. Now we see that the wave of traveling evangelism did not stop there. But, as always, Luke does not try to cover everything.
H. Instead, following the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he selects one direction this evangelism took and presents it as an example of what went on as the believers were scattered in many directions.
I. There was a special reason for choosing the direction toward Antioch, however. It forms a link with the apostle Paul and prepares for the account of his journeys, which takes up the major portion of the rest of the Book of Acts.
J. Even outside of Palestine, however, those who spread the gospel preached the Word only to Jews. This may not have been entirely due to prejudice.
K. The Jews had the Old Testament Scriptures and knew the prophecies.
L. These evangelists based their message on the fact that God, through Jesus, had fulfilled prophecy.
M. Most Gentiles had no background for understanding this. But these evangelists were missing the fact that many Gentiles had lost confidence in their idols and were seeking something better (Horton, 213).
4. Thankfully, they weren't the end of the story. Luke tells us, "...some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to the Gentiles about the Lord Jesus. 21 The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord."
A. Fortunately, these believers had the courage to spread the gospel of the Lord Jesus outside of the confines of Judaism.
B. When these believers spoke, the power of the Lord was upon them, and large numbers of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord.
C. Evidently, this small beginning turned Antioch into a place where the believers aggressively preached to the Gentiles.
D. Philip had preached in Samaria (8:5), but the Samaritans were part Jewish. Peter had preached to Cornelius, but he already worshiped God.