Summary: This sermon looks at three characteristics of the church in Antioch that teach us about church growth.
The First Christians
June 30, 2002
John Bisagno former Pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church tells the story of his coming there to candidate for the position of pastor many years ago.
He said that as he entered the auditorium it was dimly lit, with just a few people huddled together.
They were singing an old slow funeral type song that was depressing.
Later that day he took a walk in downtown Houston and came upon a jewelry store.
It was some sort of grand opening and there were bright lights and a greeter at the door to welcome you in with a smile.
Inside there was a celebration going on.
There were refreshments and people having a good time talking and laughing with each other.
They welcomed him and offered him some punch.
He said that after attending both the church and the jewelry store, if the jewelry store had offered an invitation, he would have joined the jewelry store!
B. What kind of church do you want to attend?
1. What kind of church do you think most people want to attend?
2. Is Somerset that kind of Church?
C. Let me say a few things about the Restoration Movement as we begin…
1. Somerset is part of what is known as the Restoration Movement.
2. The Restoration Movement is a body of churches whose intent is to restore the church to its original condition.
3. We want to continue working to make the church today as much like the church of the NT as we possibly can.
4. Today we are going to read about the church in the city of Antioch where the believers were first called Christians.
5. I believe there is some important things we can learn from the First Christian Church.
6. You will see that one of the most prominent characteristics of that First Christian Church was that it was a large, growing church.
7. There at least three things that I believe we can learn from them; first…
I. Evangelism brought great numbers.
Acts 11:19-21, Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
A. Now lets start with verse 19…
1. First Luke tells us that the scene is changing from what we have been studying in the last chapter and a half.
2. The story in chapter ten and the first half of eleven is about salvation coming to the Gentiles.
3. The story takes place in three cities: Caesarea, Joppa, and Jerusalem.
4. Cornelius lived in Caesarea and Peter was in Joppa at the home of Simon-the-tanner.
5. Peter went to Cornelius’ house in Caesarea and shared the good news of Jesus Christ and for the first time, Gentiles received salvation.
6. Then Peter was called to a meeting in Jerusalem to explain his actions.
7. But now in verse 19 we come to another story.
8. Luke now is harkening back to chapters seven and eight.
9. In chapter seven, Stephen was stoned and after that, great persecution arose against the believers.
10. Acts 8:1-3, And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.
11. And in our text today verse nineteen says, Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews.
12. Luke is going to tell us a story now about some things that happened in the city of Antioch.
13. He’s referring back to the persecution to tell us why there were believers there in Antioch and the reason is because they had fled to Antioch to evade the persecution in Jerusalem.
14. This city was located about 200 miles north of Jerusalem.
15. Because Luke had just told the story about salvation coming to the Gentiles, he pointed out that up till the time of this story, salvation was still only being preached to the Jews in Antioch.
16. However verse 20 tells us that some believers from Cypress and Cyrene came to Antioch and started preaching to the Gentiles as well.