Summary: What can the church at Antioch teach us about outreach?
Preparing For Kingdom Challenges Acts 13:1-3
The Church was born into challenging times. Not long into the book of Acts the persecution of Christians takes a deadly turn when Stephen is stoned.
Acts 8:1-4, NLT A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. … But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.
Acts 11:19-20, NLT 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. However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to the Gentiles about the Lord Jesus. The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord.
The church at Antioch was born through this scattered persecution and quickly became a center for missions to the rest of the known world. The missionary journeys of Paul started in Antioch. The Antioch church was a great example of the Kingdom People Jesus called us to be in the church.
1. DIVERSITY: Kingdom People Reach Out to All People
The church at Antioch was made up of Jews at first. The Gospel was preached and outreach expanded. The leadership included a multi-ethnic, diverse group.
Barnabas - a Levite from Cyprus (Mediterranean)
Simeon - a black man from Cyrene
Lucius - a Roman from Cyrene in North Africa
Nanaen - a connection to Herod Antipas
Paul - a pharisee from Cilica in Asia Minor
The Antioch church was a cross-cultural church pioneering the mission to save the world. What they had in common was a love for Jesus and for the lost.
This example teaches us to be open to reaching out to all people, from every race, nations, background. This is Jesus’ vision for the church!
2. DEPENDENCE: Kingdom People are Dependent on God
Worshiping God: The church is a worshiping community. This was the heart of the earliest Christians. Worship reminds us that Jesus is Lord of our lives and we have devoted ourselves to him.
Prayer. Seeking God’s intercession as they appeal to Him in earnest for success in the mission of the church. Recently T. Rainer wrote that Prayer is a part of any church that wants to turn their path toward growth.
1. Prayer depends upon the power of God.
2. Prayer is a means of doing spiritual warfare.
3. Prayer turns people away from self-sufficiency
4. Prayer turns us away from being self-serving
5. Prayer unifies the church
6. Prayer leads to our discerning the will of God
Prayer is often connected with …
Demonstrates a desire to withdraw as far as possible from the influence of the world.
Demonstrates that Jesus is more important to us than anything - even that which sustains our lives. Demonstrates trust in God.
Demonstrates our willingness to deny our natural senses so that we can be more focused on the spiritual issues we face.
What kind of impact did this have on the church in their desire to be Kingdom people and reach the lost?
Hearing the Spirit
Barnabas was one of the first deacons - men who were filled with the Holy Spirit.
We should always keep our hearts open to what the Spirit desires us to see.
Whether in Scripture, or in attempting to put into practice what we see in the life of Jesus.
The fruit of the Spirit is produced in us as we yield to His influence.
The church at Antioch was focused on reaching out to the population around them, and dependent on God to help
them - expressing that dependence in worship, fasting, and hearing God. And they were….
3. DETERMINED: Kingdom People Are Courageous, Facing Challenges
The Antioch church faced many awesome challenges. Paul and Barnabas encountered…
Discouragement and Dejection - few responded at first
Defamation, deceit - opposed by Elymas the magician
Desertion and Disappointment as John Mark left them.
Danger and disease - difficult journeys, Paul was sick.
They faced beatings and risked their lives to bring the Gospel to the Lost World.
(via Truth For Today Commentary: Acts 1-14, David L. Roper, Resource Publications, 2001.)
They were truly a model church in so many ways.
Conclusion: We desire to be Diverse, Dependent, and Determined as a Church. Antioch is a great example!
Today the church faces many challenges!
Our main goal is to reach out to the world around us.
Let us extend every effort and pursue every path that leads us in that direction.
When we worship, pray, fast and listen - God will lead us and we will follow.