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Summary: AS WE APPROACH THIS PASSAGE, WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS WHAT I MIGHT CALL THE FINAL LEG OF THE GREAT COMMISSION (CULTURALLY SPEAKING). BY THE TIME WE REACH THIS PASSAGE THE GOSPEL HAS PROGRESSED FROM THE JEWS TO THE SAMARITANS, TO THE GOD FEARING GREEKS, AND N

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MAKING LEMONADE FROM LEMONS

ACTS 11:19-30

INTRODUCTION: AS WE APPROACH THIS PASSAGE, WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS WHAT I MIGHT CALL THE FINAL LEG OF THE GREAT COMMISSION (CULTURALLY SPEAKING). BY THE TIME WE REACH THIS PASSAGE THE GOSPEL HAS PROGRESSED FROM THE JEWS TO THE SAMARITANS, TO THE GOD FEARING GREEKS, AND NOW TO THE PAGAN GREEKS. THIS IS SEEN IN THE FACT THAT THE CITY OF ANTIOCH WAS A CENTER OF SIGNIFICANT POLITICAL INFLUENCE, SIGNIFICANT COMMERCIAL INFLUENCE, AND SIGNIFICANT MORAL CORRUPTION. OF PARTICULAR NOTE WAS A “PARK” ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF THE CITY KNOWN FOR IMMORAL ACTIVITY. SO, CORRUPT WAS THIS CITY THAT IT WOULD BE REFERRED TO AS AN ILLUSTRATION OF IMMORALITY EVEN IN ROME!

IT IS TO THIS CITY THAT THOSE WHO FLED JERUSALEM DURING THE PERSECUTION OF THE CHURCH WOULD SET UP SHOP AND SHARE THE GOSPEL. IT IS KIND OF INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT GOD CAN SET A CHURCH UP ANYWHERE, BUT IN ORDER TO BE EFFECTIVE THE CHURCH HAS TO BE RELEVANT WHERE IT HAS BEEN PLACED. THIS PAST WEDNESDAY IN PRAYER MEETING I MADE THE STATEMENT THAT THE CHURCH LOOKS DIFFERENT FROM THE WORLD BUT ACTS THE SAME. IN REALITY, TO BE EFFECTIVE, THE CHURCH NEEDS TO LOOK LIKE THE WORLD BUT ACT DIFFERENTLY.

1 Corinthians 9:22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.

TRANSITION: SO IN OUR TIME TOGETHER THIS MORNING, I WOULD LIKE TO PROPOSE A BOLD VENTURE, SO TO SPEAK. AN INTERNAL ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT OF OUR CHURCH AND ITS RELEVANCE IN AND TO OUR COMMUNITY. FOR THE CHURCH AS A WHOLE HAS REMAINED FIRMLY PLANTED IN ITS OWN CULTURE, WHILE THE COMMUNITY AROUND IT HAS CHANGED.

PROPOSITION: IN ORDER FOR THE CHURCH TO REMAIN RELEVANT IN ITS COMMUNITY SO THAT IT MAY ACCOMPLISH ITS GOD GIVEN TASK, IT MUST CHANGE ITS WAY OF THINKING.

I. THE LEMONS OF THE CHURCH – The Negative Issues Facing The Early Church

a. REFUSAL OF THE CHURCH TO OBEY THE GREAT COMMISSION AND THE PROGRESS OF THE GOSPEL

b. THE PERSECUTION OF THE CHURCH – ACTS 9

i. SCATTERED THE CHURCH AWAY FROM JERUSALEM

ii. HAD TO HAVE BEEN A TOUGH TIME FOR THE BELIEVERS

c. THE DISPUTE OVER SALVATION TO THE GENTILES

i. REVEALED THE BIAS OF THE EARLY CHURCH

ii. REVEALED THE IMMATURITY OF THE EARLY CHURCH

iii. REVEALED THE LEGALISM OF THE EARLY CHURCH

II. THE LEMONADE OF THE CHURCH – The Church Responding To The Impact Of The Negative Issues

a. THE PERSECUTION OFF THE CHURCH PUSHED THE GOSPEL BEYOND JERUSALEM

i. THESE PERSECUTED GENTILES WENT OUT FROM JERUSALEM TO:

1. PHOENICIA – ALL ALONG THE COASTAL AREA

2. CYPRUS – THE ISLAND IN THE MEDITERRANEAN

3. ANTIOCH – THE SIGNIFICANT CITY TO THE NORTH

b. THE CENTER OF EVANGELISM AND MISSION WOULD SHIFT FROM JERUSALEM TO ANTIOCH

i. THIS WOULD BE THE DIRECT RESULT OF BRINGING THE CHURCH INTO THE COMMUNITY, NOT WAITING FOR THE COMMUNITY TO COME INTO THE CHURCH

c. PEOPLE WOULD COME INTO RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS

i. BELIEVERS GOING INTO THEIR COMMUNITY ARE COMMUNICATING WITH THOSE WHO NEED TO KNOW JESUS IN THEIR COMMUNITY.

ii. THE RESULT OF GOING INSTEAD OF WAITING WAS, “A GREAT NUMBER BELIEVED AND TURNED TO THE LORD”.

d. LEADERS OF THE EARLY CHURCH AND WHAT IS GOING ON

i. BARNABAS

1. SENT BY THE CHURCH TO CHECK THINGS OUT

a. PERFECT CHOICE

b. HE WAS A GOOD MAN

c. HE WAS A MAN FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

d. HE WAS A MAN FULL OF FAITH

2. CONCLUDES THAT GOD WAS INDEED AT WORK

a. SEES THE GRACE OF GOD

b. IS PERSONALLY GLAD – HE IS REJOICING

c. RESPONDS TO THE EVIDENT WORK OF GOD BY:

i. ENCOURAGING NEW BELIEVERS TO REMAIN TRUE TO THE LORD

ii. GOING TO TARSUS TO SEEK OUT PAUL TO ASSIST IN THE WORK – BARNABAS SEES THE NEED FOR ADDITIONAL HELP AND USES THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DISCIPLE PAUL

ii. THE JERUSALEM CHURCH

1. STARTS TO GO OFF THE SCENE AT THIS POINT

2. MISSIONARY CENTER WOULD MOVE FROM JERUSALEM TO ANTIOCH

a. KIND OF INTERESTING THAT THE CHURCH IN THE CITY KNOWN FOR ITS IMMORALITY WOULD SERVE AS THE SENDING CENTER OVER THE CHURCH BORN OUT OF MOVEMENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

b. GOD FINDS OTHERS TO DO HIS WORK WHEN THOSE HE HAS ASKED TO DO IT DO NOT DO IT!

3. THE CHURCH AT JERUSALEM WOULD ALWAYS BE IN NEED

III. BUILDING OUR OWN STAND – Learning the lessons from the early church – thinking like a missionary in our own community

a. WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND FIRST AND FOREMOST THAT THE CHURCH IS A SPIRITUAL WORK.

b. THE SUCCESS OF ANY WORK, ESPECIALLY SERVICE FOR CHRIST , STARTS WITH A GOOD FOUNDATION

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