Summary: God want us to be the best church we can possibly be. How can we get there? 1. Be saved by the Lord (vs. 1). 2. Be seeking the Lord (vs. 2). 3. Be separated for the Lord (vs. 2-4). 4. Be serving the Lord (vs. 5).
Our Church at Its Best
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - May 11, 2014
*I've often recalled something I heard Louis Bartet say 30 years ago: "If I searched and searched until I finally found the perfect church, then after I joined it, it wouldn't be perfect anymore." There is no perfect church on this side of Heaven. But God wants our church to be the best we can possibly be. How can we get there?
1. First, we must be saved by the Lord.
*We must be saved by the Lord Jesus Christ. I am sure that the Lord is able to use lost people to advance His Kingdom. But the men in vs. 1 took the good news of Jesus Christ all over the Roman Empire. They were willing to go through incredible hardship. They saw the Hand of God at work in amazing ways. And all of that happened because they were saved.
*There is no way these men would have ever come together in the first place, except for one thing: They were saved! They were radically transformed by the power of the cross. They were radically changed by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
*Please take another look at these men in vs. 1: "Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul."
*Consider where these men had started in life. They had nothing in common. Niger was most probably a black man from Africa. His name means "black." Lucius was also from Africa.
*And Manaen? -- He had been brought up as Herod the Tetrarch's foster brother. His foster brother was the ruler of Galilee, so Manaen had lived in the lap of luxury, and in a flood of corruption. Manaen's foster father was King Herod. He was the horrible man who wanted to murder Jesus, when the Lord was just a toddler. Of course, Jesus escaped, but Manaen's foster father murdered all the boys in Bethlehem up to age two. And Manaen's foster brother was the man who had John the Baptist beheaded. That was the atmosphere where Manaen was raised. (1)
*Then there was Saul or Paul. He had been brought up as the strictest Pharisee. The Pharisees hated Herodians like Manaen. Plus remember how much Paul hated Christians. He went out of his way to persecute believers, put them in prison, and even put them to death.
*These men had nothing in common. -- until they met Jesus! Jesus broke down all of the old barriers, and turned these men into spiritual brothers. They were brothers in Christ! -- ready to work together, growing stronger in the Lord, getting ready to go on mission for the Lord. And all of this happened because they were saved. They had trusted in the cross of Jesus Christ. They had received the Risen Savior as their Lord. They had received the forgiveness that only Jesus can give.
*When we trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are saved, and there is a real difference in our lives. Not that we are all that we should be. But thank God, we are not what we were! There has been a change.
*Pastor Randy Smith was the church planter who started the Cross Brand Cowboy Church in Robert, Louisiana. That is just east of Hammond. Randy had gone from being a professional bull-rider to a bi-vocational pastor. And he had a heart for people in the cowboy culture, people who seldom got to hear the gospel. Randy said: "In the (rodeo circuit) world I was living in, I never heard the gospel. There are people in that setting that need the Lord."