Summary: We must work to understand what God has revealed, but it takes determined people to put that truth to work.
1. Sometimes in life we want to do something, but we feel awkward about it.
2. At a funeral, we sometimes have a sharing time; I usually say, "Nobody likes to be first, so who will be second?"
3. And sometimes we simply don’t make the changes we need to make because we are fearful. When Moses sent the 12 scouts to spy out the land of Canaanan, ten of them said, "We’re cooked. There’s no way we can conquer that land."
4. Change can be hard, but sometimes this is what God has for us.
5. Such is the case in the text before us. The nature of the church’s constituency was on the verge of changing -- a few gentiles -- Cornelius and friends, had been won to faith in Jesus the Christ…but would that be merely a localized phenomenon? Obviously not. But it had to gain momentum, just like any other change.
6. "…Luke is presenting a complex picture of the origins of the proclamation of the good news to Gentiles. It was not a mission originated by the leadership of either the Jerusalem or Antioch church but by God through a variety of means including Peter, Paul, these anonymous men from Cyprus and Cyrene, and perhaps even Philip." [Ben Witherington III, The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, p. 369]
Main Idea: We must work to understand what God has revealed, but it takes determined people to put that truth to work.
I. The Text: The Church Begins Winning Gentiles (19-30)
A. The Gospel TRICKLES to the Gentiles in Antioch (19-21)
• near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey, now Muslim; ½ million people the, 3rd largest city in Roman Empire; strategic; 4 mile street paved with marble and lined by marble colonnades and only street with lighting…intimidating
1. This picks up the story line from Acts 8:1
2. There are four words that summarize their actions:
• did you every blow dandelion "cotton?" -- the seed is spread
3. Some made the switch and shared with gentiles!
B. Barnabas Sent to STABILIZE and Evangelize (22-24)
1. Note vs. 23, "When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God."
2. What evidence makes us assume that someone is saved? Two things: (1) profession of belief in Jesus Christ for salvation, and (2) transformation of life.
3. We need constant encouragement to remain true to the Lord; the implication is that this is difficult
C. Barnabas HUNTS UP Saul and Seasons Him (25-26)
• Paul is essentially doing an "internship."
• A great way to learn is to study, watch another serve, serve under his supervision, and then be released to serve on your own.
• This should be a top priority in our churches…developing others
• "Christians make up a social but not an ethnic group." (Witherington)
D. The Antioch church shows care for the JERUSALEM church (27-30)
1. Agabus prophesies -- the nature of NT prophecy, fallible revelation
2. Romans 15:26-27 reads, "For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings."
3. Please note that the blessings we experience in the church have been mediated to us through the Jews. Jesus implied the same to the woman at the well, when He said, "Salvation is from the Jews" in John 4:22.
4. They understood that they were part of a church larger than their own congregation, but part of what we call the invisible or universal church.
We must work to understand what God has revealed, but it takes determined people to put that truth to work.
II. The Lesson: Bolstering the Kingdom is a JOINT Effort
A. The church KNEW it was now supposed to include gentiles
• We procrastinate when we feel uncomfortable, unsure, or fearful of looking bad.
• We procrastinate when we don’t want to do what we know we should.
• Larry Shallow: "Well, pastor, I get bored reading the Bible…..
• Me: Have you tried listening to the Bible on CD?
• Larry: Well, I don’t know where to begin.
• Me: Begin anywhere.
• Larry: But I can’t understand what all that means, and who wants to hear geneaologies?
• Me: Skip over the geneaologies. Don’t worry about what you can’t understand, just try to focus on what you do understand.
• Larry: Well, maybe I’ll give it a try.