Summary: After spending ten to thirteen years preparing Paul teamed up with Barnabas in Antioch where the church grew and opened to all people. Barnabas and Paul were sent out on the first outreach team.
• Paul was wild, crazy, zealous, lost, brilliant, passionate and super focused.
• Last week we talked about how Paul was touched deeply inside and then how he was sent to the desert to be transformed and how he waited for his destiny to unfold, for thirteen years.
• And we talked about how Barnabas fronted for Paul with the other leaders in Jerusalem.
• The leaders had to ship Paul out to calm things down Acts 9:26-30
• Acts 11,13,15 today.
I. DESTINY CALLS
• Tradition tells us Barnabas was an old school friend of Paul’s. He was a Levite.
• God tied their destinies together.
• It was Barnabas who first stood in for Paul in Jerusalem.
• Barnabas took the risk.
• The church was growing but only with Jews, no gentiles or non-Jews.
• Until God moved on a city called Antioch in Syria. Third largest in Roman Empire, behind Rome, Alexandria Egypt, then Antioch - 300k. Paul spent ten to thirteen years preparing before he teamed up with Barnabas in Antioch, Syria.
Acts 11:20-26, “…some of the believers who went to Antioch…began preaching to the gentiles about the Lord Jesus. “…a large number of these…believed and turned to the Lord. When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing…and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch.”
• Antioch was the most pivotal church in the New Testament.
• The church is born in Jerusalem, but it grew up in Antioch.
• It was in Antioch where the church began to realize that God moved outside of the temple and into the workplace.
• The growth of the church and the growth of Paul are similar in many ways.
• Antioch the city of 300,000 people who met at a crossroads, people throughout the world gather there. London at this time is merely a village.
• Still exists today as a small town in Turkey.
• It's about 300 miles north of Jerusalem and 100 miles away from the city named Tarsus.
II. THE OPENNESS OF ANTIOCH
Nine traits of the church of Antioch (Acts 11), and I believe God desires for our church.
1. Open to all peoples. Antioch was a cross-cultural church they were able to break out of racism.
• Acts 13:1, Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch, and Saul.”
• The names of the people listed, wealthy aristocrats, slaves, Africans, and others.
2. Open to reach people! Vss. 21, 24, 26 (a large number who believed, considerable numbers were brought to the Lord)
• This people allowed God to stretch them outside their comfort zones to embrace others around them.
• They were not small minded. They were so focused on their purpose, which was to reach and touch others. Human tendency is to serve our own. I'm staying small and self-focused.
• Some who say this thing is too big for me I hope you can adjust because heaven is going to be big.
3. Vs. 22 - Open to other leaders the news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. (Sent from Jerusalem)
• The people are open to Barnabas coming. They sensed this was part of something bigger than themselves. Could've easily turned them back saying we have something new and fresh going on here and we don't need you.
• But they were humble and had submissive hearts.
4. Vs. 23 - Open to Spirit. Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; the grace on them wasn't a position it was His power and fullness.”
5. Vss. 25-26 - Open to the release of ministry. Barnabas left to Tarsus to get Saul. “And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch.”
• Not trying to control but let God move.
• The church exists to empower people to do ministry. Release has to do with people responding to call of the Lord on their lives.
• But anytime a church decides to release people you always run the risk of putting people into ministry that will hurt other people. This is the most painful part of being in church and in the body of Christ.