Summary: This sermon informs the listener that the spreading of the gospel is the job of the pew as well as the pulpit.
THE JESUS CHURCH
My brother and sisters in this group of series involving the church, we’ve noticed that many had tried to overthrow it, but they were not successful in doing so. They’ve slandered its name, crucified its Savior, and killed those that were called believers. But through it all, the Christian Church stood strong and continued as a catalytic to change the lives of those who wanted their lives to be changed even to this day. Gamaliel suspected this in the 5th chapter of Acts when the apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin and enraged the council by their courage and steadfastness, the council angrily sought to kill them. But they were stopped by Gamaliel, who, after directing the apostles to withdraw, said and I paraphrase “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do with these men. Theudas appeared claiming to be somebody and had 400 men with him, but he was killed and his band disbursed. After him, came Judas the Galilean. He appeared during the time of the census and revolted, but he too was killed and his followers were scattered. Then he said “I advise you to leave them alone, for if this plan or action should be of men, it will fail. But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop them, you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:34-39)
In this text we see Gamaliel statement standing true, the mission of the Church of Jesus Christ was still intact and gaining momentum. We find those who were scattered because of the persecution of Stephen, and their fears, being found in a strange land. But the persecution of Stephen and their fears were not enough to stop the mission of the Church of Christ, they continued to preach and teach Christ in the cities where they were.
In our last lesson we witnessed Peter standing before an argumentative group of brethren. They were upset because Peter went into the land of the un circumcised and as they saw it, he ate food prepared by those who were considered unclean. But through further investigation, that really was not their problem. You see the Jews had an opinion about the Gentiles or the un-circumcised. They saw them as unclean, and as person that was outside of the promises of God. But to be truthful about their concern for Peter eating with the Gentiles, their real problem was that Peter had baptized them before they were circumcised. So Peter had to let them know that he was not acting on his own, but, he was on a mission from God, thus introducing the gospel to a Gentile named Cornelius and his household, and the results were astounding, because they received the Holy Ghost and spoke in other tongues just like the Jews did on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem. After hearing Peter expound on what his mission was and the involvement that the Lord had in it, verse 18 said they held their peace, and glorified God.
In this lesson it turns our attention to those who were scattered abroad, and later in the lesson, there will be added a tag team of preachers by the names of Barnabas and Saul. It will also show us that the birth of the Antioch Church was not started because of the mainlined disciples, but it was birthed through lay-disciples who fled Jerusalem because of hostile situations leading the way. These lay-disciples were being led by the Holy Spirit. They gained holy boldness to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to anyone that would listen.
So, together let’s visit this text to see how the pulpit and the layperson together can share responsibility in forwarding the mission of The Jesus Church.
First of all in order to further the mission of the Jesus Church . . .
1. EVERYONE HAS TO GET INVOLVED (Vv.19, 20)
“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. 20. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians preaching the Lord Jesus.
Many uneducated church members believe that it is the clergy’s job to go out and spread the good news of Jesus Christ. They feel this way simply because, it is their opinion that the clergy is trained to do such things and they are not. But if you think about it, it is the clergy’s job to prepare them with the gospel, then they are to go out into all the worlds spreading the good new of Jesus. But the problem this ministry has as well as others are that there is a shortage of people who care to be trained for the mission of outreach. We have a lot of hearers and no doers. This was not the case with those that left Jerusalem. Many of them were followers of Jesus, but while many fled Jerusalem, the Apostles remained in Jerusalem, as found in Acts 8:1. As for those who did leave, they did not go into the Judea and Samaria to just sit on their hands, but they went throughout the region preaching Christ. And now in this 11th chapter of Acts those that left Jerusalem are found being committed to spreading and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. The point I would like to make is that although the Apostles were particularly trained by Jesus, and was told by Jesus that He would make them fishers of men, it is found in this instance that the lay-disciples who are found doing the fishing in the strange waters of Phenice [fih NIGH sih] and Cyprus. Although later in the lesson Barnabas and Saul will join them, the lay-disciples spearheaded this gospel outreach.