Summary: The local church is an agency of commissioning and sending. Are we deliberately training those called to ministry and affirming them via sending at the Holy Spirit's prompting?
Series Review (Midweek):
Week 1: An Encounter with the King - Have the willingness to be sent!
Isaiah 6 – Having the willingness to be sent & commissioned
Isaiah 6:8 – “Here am I, send me!”
Week 2: The Great Commission - In obedience to the Lord, be sent and make disciples!
Matthew 28 – Jesus commissioning & sending the Disciples –
“Go and make disciples…”
This Week: Send others!
Acts 13 – The local church is an agency of commissioning & sending.
Text: Acts 13:1-5
1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.
2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.
5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.
(1) Church at Antioch: Gathering of Believers
Prophets & Teachers were there – they were known by their giftings & appointed office (as in Ephesians 4)
The only formality: They assembled together. Some churches met in people’s homes. They did not have major facilities or central real estate in a key demographic location. Still, God blessed the Church with amazing growth!
Paul’s letters were often addressed to ‘churches’:
1 Corinthians 1:2 - To the church of God in Corinth,
2 Corinthians 1:1 - To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia:
Romans 1:7 - To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Ephesians 1:1 - To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus
ekklesia – Here in Acts 13: Gathering/assembly [of Believers] (‘congregation’) at Antioch. This can refer also to the Church as a whole – the Body of Believers.
This notion of ‘gathering’ shows unity in both the small-scale (local church) and large-scale (Church universal).
Church planting professor: We should lower the bar on what it means to be a church and raise the bar on what it means to be a Disciple.
Here in Acts 13, the church at Antioch is the sending and commissioning agency, but it is at the cue of the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
(2) What were the people doing?
- Worshipping the Lord
- Keeping an ear open to the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit Spoke
‘Set apart’ (separate) Barnabas & Saul
- Notion of ‘calling’: ‘for the work to which I have called them’
- Issue of Commissioning: The Holy Spirit
- The Holy Spirit speaking to the congregation – ‘I want Barnabas and Saul to go forth and do this mission…’
Is this a case of affirmation of Gifts?
- Implicitly, it can be taken that way. We should affirm others’ giftings as part of building up the Body of Christ and pointing people in directions where the Lord has gifted them.
- However, I find it to be a better example of a church being sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit calls people to do certain works, and often the church body must be sensitive to hear.
(3) After receiving this Word from the Holy Spirit, what did the people do?
- They fasted
- They prayed
- They laid their hands on Barnabas and Saul
- They sent them off to do the Lord’s work!
What’s with the laying on of hands?
- Healing, whether physical or spiritual (e.g. Acts 28:8)
- For commissioning someone to the Lord’s work (cf. Acts 13:3)
- Possibly the restoration of someone under church discipline (public sinners, 1 Timothy 5:22)
19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.
20 Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.
21 I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.
22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.
The text seems to be speaking about public sin and church discipline. The elders section ends with verse 19, though it does tie in with verse 20. Timothy is commanded not to be partial in judgment against a (perhaps continuous or unrepentant) sinner. The laying on of hands is in contrast with sharing in the sins of others. It’s likely a statement saying that you shouldn’t restore someone immediately to ensure that they’re actually repentant, but on the other end, if they remain in their sin, don’t take part with them! I find this passage to be well out of context with regard to ordination.