Summary: Our Lord has warned us that no man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Who and What is a Christian?
Pastor Allan Kircher
Series: Acts; God’s vision for Shell Point
July 31, 2011
We are rapidly coming to the close of our study of the first part of the book of Acts.
The first preachers of the gospel were dispersed from Jerusalem.
• Time of Stephen’s death.
• 7 years prior to this chapter.
• God suffered them/to be dispersed/sow the seed of God/in order to bring forth much fruit.
• The enemy designed to scatter/lose them
• God designed to scatter/use them.
• Thus the wrath of man is made to praise God.
God had used this time to build the foundation of faith.
• To break down the prejudices of the self seeking Jews.
• To strengthen them in grace and build them up.
• They had to grow in Christ/in foundation/before witnessing to the Gentiles.
I. Preaching Fugitives 11:19-21
None/Jewish believers who fled their homes under the persecution of Saul were glad to have run away and leave their possessions and even their families, but they didn’t waste much time lamenting their loss.
They went to Phoenicia, Cyprus and Cyrene.
• Preaching to the Jews they met. (v. 19)
• Why just the Jews?
They simply had not grown enough in Christ to preach to all they met.
• Didn’t have the courage of heart sufficient enough yet.
• Why/ 7 years for their walls of prejudice to fall down!
A. The right instruments had to be prepared.
• Nothing is worse than sending out/unprepared person/a job.
• It took time to mature these people.
• Do you realize that when the church was formed everybody was a baby?
• It's tough enough in a church dealing with a group of spiritual babes, but can you imagine having a congregation all saved the same day?
• Can you imagine having 3,000 like that, one day old trying to get around to all of them, teaching them the basics.
Even if you have a terrific foundation, if you have guys building the walls that don’t know what they’re doing the walls will fall.
• So they needed time for preparation.
• And for these reasons, it took seven years before the Spirit of God moved to Antioch, and believe me the groundwork was done right.
• And when that church moved out to build, they really built; they really built.
It was a little easier for some. Some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene. Hellenists/Greek speaking Jews).
• They were Jews/but accustomed to mingling w/Gentiles.
• They returned to their homeland/ventured out/preached the Word.
• Perhaps they had seen Peter’s work w/Cornelius.
• They began to reach out to Gentiles in Antioch.
(v.20b ) Now Antioch/long way from Jerusalem/400 miles/ north.
• Now Antioch was a major ancient metropolis. 3rd largest.
• Third largest city in the empire, behind/Rome/ Alexandria,
• Population of about 600,000.
• Only city in the ancient world that had/streets lighted/night.
• Many trade routes passed through Antioch
• made it a wealthy and culturally diverse city
• Made/vile place-full of pagan worship/sexual immorality.
• The people lived for their pleasures.
• The biggest contributors to Antioch's depravity/temple of Daphne that was located only five miles outside the city.
• The goddess Daphne was the lover of Apollo.
A garden was built 10 miles/circumference/populated by prostitutes and when you went in you indulged yourself in the garden and the prostitute activity and sick immoralities.
That was the worship of/city/Antioch
One writer said that life there was a perpetual festival of vice revolving around the baths, brothels, And so it was an evil place.
When they wanted to expand their religious opportunities they hired magicians, sorcerers, charlatans and Babylonian astrologers made a fortune off the people of Antioch. So it was a vile place.
So, think of it as the "red light" district of the world.
• But you know God so many times finds that the most lovely rose grows amidst the most ugly weeds, and so he designed to plant the first church in Antioch.
• He wanted/reach a city in this magnitude and indeed He did.
But in spite of the prevalence of all this immorality, a powerful Christian church started and GREW in Antioch, and the way its members lived led to their being given this name: "Christians."
Antiochene’s were out and out idolaters, living in all the sins of paganism.
What a day it must have been when the gospel of the grace of God was preached first to men like that!
II. (v.21). “A great number believed, and turned to the Lord.”
I wish we could always keep to the simplicity of things as we find them here.