Summary: Missions Globally, Set Apart, Teamwork
THE CHURCH HAS LEFT THE BUILDING – Until the Whole World Hears
Acts 13:1-3 (pg. 768) July 26, 2015
We currently live in a world of turmoil. ISIS beheads Christians and seems to be growing in power as converts flock to Syria and Lebanon and other places. American leaders this last week hammered out some sort of nuclear limitations deal with Iran in connection with Russia, Britain, China, France, Germany (The UN security council must approve this deal)...as well as the US Congress.
All this on the heels of the United States Supreme Court making landmark decisions on Health Care, and the issue of gay marriages being legal in all 50 states...not to mention racial tensions being at an all time high in many of our major cities.
Scary times as we encounter wars and rumors of war...hatred, bigotry, evil, and changes politically that we may or may not agree with...that divide not only believers from the world...but family members from family members.
A world divided...a nation divided...communities divided...families divided...
What’s the answer...how does the Church of Jesus Christ, His committed followers, respond to such dire circumstances and situations...first of all...
I. WE RESPOND WITH DISCERNMENT AND TEACHING WITHIN
“Now “in” the Church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers” (v. 1)
Luke even names them in this 13th chapter of Acts. Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen and Saul (yep...that Saul!)
Let me give you a little background about what was going on in the life of two of these “prophets” are “teachers” right before our text...right before they get to the church at Antioch.
Acts 12 tells us that King Herod (yes, the same one that dealt with Jesus) arrested some who belonged to the church intending to persecute them...He put James, the brother of John to death with the sword...and he arrested Peter and put him in prison...the king discovered that this made the Jewish community happy in Jerusalem...so Herod had plans to bring Peter out for a public show trial during the Festival of Unleavened Bread.
Lots of political maneuvering and decisions being made to appease people. And if you think it’s difficult to be a Christ follower in America in 2015...think about what it was like under Roman rule in Jerusalem in 34 AD.
Acts 12:5 says, “so Peter was kept in prison but the Church was earnestly praying to God for him.”
So what happened...listen
ACTS 12:6-11 (p. 767)
King Herod had political plans...God had different ones...God wins.
But King Herod still was on the throne...dealing with world conflict...He was quarreling with the people from Tyre and Sidon who joined together, with the help of a political official named Blastus (I love that name) to ask the king for peace...why? “Because they depended on the king for their food supply according to Acts 12:20.
All this going on in and around Jerusalem. John put to death, Christians persecuted and arrested, Peter’s escape miraculously from jail. Herod making political decisions to please the majority. But God is in control. I love this part of the background story. On the day that King Herod addresses the people of Tyre and Sidon he is adorned with all the trappings of political power, royal robes, the throne of a king, and when he speaks...it’s impressive...powerful...listen.
ACTS 12:21-22 (p. 768)
He’s not God though...He is just a man and God is still in control...and God wins.
ACTS 12:23-25 (p. 768)
Sometimes God deals immediately with situations. Sometimes God lets servants be killed and persecuted. Sometimes God breaks people out of prison and sometimes He strikes dead the one who put them there.
The prophets and teachers at Antioch understood this truth. They saw the world through eyes of faith. Servants who had to finish their mission even when the world was in conflict and divided.
It requires Holy Spirit discernment for spiritual leaders to stay on point...to speak prophetic truth...and scriptural truth when most of the world is arguing and divided and in conflict over other issues.
If you are a Christ follower...a witness to this resurrection, and His salvation...a believer of His commandments and teaching...your goal...your mission, your purpose for living is for the whole world to hear about Him.
I had a leader tell me the other day...“As we get older our world gets smaller.”
I agree...it’s so easy for us to become more focused on our worlds because of natural changes...physical limitations, loss of friends and family, inability to drive or travel...I understand those difficulties in my mom’s life and my own.
It’s probably why the greatest man ever born, according to Jesus, not me...John the Baptist at the end of his ministry and life sent word to Jesus... “Are you the Messiah...or should we look for another?”
Persecution...prison...and life had caused John’s world to get small in a jail cell...with death by beheading in his near future.