Summary: To show the importance of the church getting active in missions. Particularly within the body of Chirst.
THE MISSION MINDED CHURCH
My brothers and my sisters, this text is showing us the importance of being mission minded. If there is anything, we can take away from this text, it would be that we the church should not only be willing, but determined to help others even when we ourselves are in a pinch.
The last time we visited this 11th chapter in the book of Acts, we witnessed the lay-disciples who were scattered abroad working for the Lord. Although they were scattered due to persecution, they did not leave Jerusalem to have a pity party in a distant land, but they went as far as Phoenica, Cyprus and Antioch preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. Now some of them preached to the Jews only as found in verse 19, but in verse 20, there were some that were from Cyprus and Cyrene, who could speak Greek went to Antioch preaching the Lord Jesus to the Gentiles. And these lay-disciples inspired the start of the Antioch Church.
This lesson is a continuation of the last. We read that during this time prophets traveling from Jerusalem to Antioch. And among them was a prophet named Agabus. Agabus was a prophet and was supposed to be one of the seventy disciples of Christ. He came with others from Jerusalem to Antioch while Paul and Barnabas were there and predicted a great famine. We will also see how the church at Antioch will respond to the prophecy of Agabus.
So come with me as we will see what a mission minded church is about.
First of all . . .
1. THEY HEARD THE SPIRIT THROUGH THE PROPHET AGABUS (V.27&28)
“And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. 28. And there stood up one of them, named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great famine throughout all the world, which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.”
As we look at this text, we see the prophets coming to Antioch. As we should observe, this is the continuing work of the Lord equipping the Antioch church. Paul the Apostle reminds us in Ephesians 4:11 and 12, that the Lord gave to the church certain gifts. He gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelist; and some, pastor and teachers; then verse 12 gave the reason for the gifts and that was for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry so that the body of Christ can be built up. And that is what we see in this text. It gives us evidence of the prophets sharing the foreknowledge of the Lord. The church heard the Spirit and followed through by sending aid to Jerusalem to build up the church during the famine that was prophesied by the prophet. Likewise we the church must learn to hear the Spirit speaking to us each time we go into His presence. It does not matter whom the Lord is using, but what does matter is that we hear Him speaking directly to us. I know that this might be news to some, just like some believe that just attending church will guarantee eternal life. But the fact is that we must learn to recognize when the Spirit is speaking through the people of God. This is not a judgement call on your part. It is a submissive call to the will of God. So they heard the Spirit through the prophet.
Secondly . . .
2. THEY GAVE EVEN THOUGH IT AFFECTED THEM (V.29)
“Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief ”
I like what the New Living Translation said about this text. It said; “So the believers in Antioch decided to send relief to the brothers and sisters in Judea, everyone giving as much as they could.”
One of the reasons many churches are struggling is because they fail to trust God for everything it needs. In fact the churches, not all but some, trust God partially and don’t even know it. We trust Him to heal others, but when it comes to our headaches, we trust Bayer, and Excedrin. We trust Him to make a way out of no way, but that is as long as we can see the way. And we even sing songs like, “silver and gold, silver and gold, I rather have Jesus, than silver and gold.” Knowing all the time that this is not the truth. But that was not the case with the church at Antioch. They heard that a famine was coming throughout the entire Roman Empire which was considered as the world. Then they launched a Missionary effort to help the brethren in Jerusalem who like they needed some help. We should note that there was a severe famine in the land. It affected Antioch as well as those in Jerusalem, but they [every man] at Antioch gave according to his ability to the church in Jerusalem. And they gave for two reasons. The first being that it was the mother church, and the second reason was that Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem were the last institution that the Jews were willing to help, if anything they wanted them to perish. So although the Antioch church was going through, they gave so that the brethren in Jerusalem could have, not regarding their own situation. This reminds me of a fellowship with Pastor Burton and the Macedonia church family. They came to us for a fellowship and during the offering Pastor Burton gave us a check for five hundred dollars and pledged to us that night that he would send us five hundred more that week. As promised he and his congregation did just what he said. Now some of you might be asking “What is the point?” Well the point is that they were a small church with a small budget and congregation and they too were in the process of renovations. And I am happy to say that the last time I preached there, they had finished their renovations and as an added bonus they had a new digital sign on the outside. We should take note of their actions because they trusted the Lord and invested in another ministry. With that the Lord blessed them by opening up a window of blessings so that they could complete their own project and gave them more than they asked. And if we want a blessing here at Salem, not just a blessing, but a Jesus blessing, we need to be a blessing to others even when we are in need of a blessing and then trust God to provide for us.