Summary: Are we in the process of building a Church or saving souls.

The many ways and the One work of GOD

Acts 11:19-30

(Title taken from another sermon)

It is interesting to see how God works in many ways to achieve the one goal, evangelize the world

There was a man who approached two laborers. “What are you doing?” the man asked the first laborer. “Can’t you see, I am laying brick” said the laborer. The man then asked the second laborer “What are you doing?” The second laborer responded “I am building a Cathedral.” They were both doing the same physical work; the first was concerned with the immediate task while the second was concerned with the ultimate goal.

So it is with the Church, we may say ‘we are building a Church” while others might say “we are saving souls.” The Jerusalem Church may have first been preoccupied with building a church in Jerusalem, but God had a plan to save the whole world.

Antioch of Syria is the third largest city in the Roman Empire. It was a melting pot of cultures, religions, and languages. It was truly a cosmopolitan city.

The believers fled here because of the persecution in Jerusalem. They found a receptive crowd among some of the Jews living there. This is one of those “meanwhile” parts of the story, this was going on while Philip was in Samaria and in the desert, and Peter was in Joppa and Caesarea. These Greek speaking believers took the gospel with them.

Are we in the process of building a church or saving souls?

Since the beginning of the Church era God has been working toward this one goal, He has been acting on the Church to move toward this one ultimate goal, one glorious issue, the saving of souls.

The Early church may have been satisfied to stay in Jerusalem. They were comfortable there; they were reaching out to the Jews and winning a good number of them to Christ. But Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria and to the ends of the Earth.” He had to get them out of their comfort zones so to speak and bring them to an area they might not be too comfortable with.

Cyprus and Cyrene are cities mentioned here, who do we know are from these cities?

Barnabas is from Cyprus, Simon the one who carried the cross and his two sons Rufus and Alexander are from Cyrene. It is believed that the one called Simeon called Niger in Acts 13 is Simon the Cyrene as well as his son Rufus. Imagine the story he would have to tell.

God uses many ways to accomplish the One Goal. He used the persecution to send Philip to Samaria and then to a desert road, he used a dream to get Peter to go to Caesarea, and now he uses the Diaspora to send the gospel to Antioch. He will later use Antioch as a home base for missionary journeys to the West.

Are we in the process of building a church or saving souls?

Notice though the text tells us only to the Jews. This was the idea since not all were yet convinced that the Gentiles were ready for the gospel.

This is like the snake handlers, God has not told me to do so, and therefore I don’t. The believers were not yet told to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles, so they don’t yet. However, when the believers come from Cyprus and Cyrene, we see a little change in the message. If they were speaking just to the Jews they would use the term Messiah, for that is a Jewish term. However, here we see sensitivity to the Gentiles and they preach Jesus as LORD, which would be a title the Gentiles would be more familiar with.

Because they have done this, the Lord’s hand is upon them and a great number became believers. God has a plan; he uses many ways to reach the ONE GOAL.

Sometimes we are put in situations we do not know why. Why are some in hospitals right now? Maybe to get a rest that they need, maybe it is to witness to someone at the hospital who might not venture into a church building. God uses many ways to achieve his ONE GOAL.

GOOD NEWS traveled to Jerusalem.

The brothers there were enticed by the news. It could be that at the same time the

Brothers heard the news about Peter going to Caesarea; they heard that Antioch is being won. Or it could be that at the time they heard that Samaria was being won, where they sent Peter and John to investigate, therefore they send Barnabas to Antioch. Barnabas is a Levite from Cyprus a Greek speaking colony.

It is said, "The nobility of his character and excellence of his spirit triumphed over the narrowness of his views, and instead of disowning and discouraging the work, he acknowledged its Divine origin and furthered it to the height of his power. And thus the seal of apostolic sanction was set to the broader aim and larger hope. Thus God leads us into his kingdom of truth. He places us in such circumstances that we take right steps without realizing all the consequences therein involved and then our convictions rise to the height of our actions.” (The Pulpit Commentary vol. 18 page 363)

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