Text: Acts 11:19-26 (HCSB)
19 Those who had been scattered as a result of the persecution that started because of Stephen made their way as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the message to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, Cypriot and Cyrenian men, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Hellenists, proclaiming the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 Then the report about them reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to travel as far as Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he encouraged all of them to remain true to the Lord with a firm resolve of the heart - 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith - and large numbers of people were added to the Lord. 25 Then he went to Tarsus to search for Saul, 26 and when he found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught large numbers, and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
Intro: Good question, are you a Christian. I am not talking about what it says on paper, I am talking about the actual proof! What God sees? Are you walking the walk? Talking the talk? Or is it all counterfeit? I may never know who is real or phony, you may never know who is real and who is phony, BUT GOD KNOWS! And can we afford to take lightly our walk or talk.
The Church is born: it begins at Antioch, a Greek City. This passage covers one of the most significant events in History. It is the founding of the first great Gentile Church and still a pattern for us to follow today! A lot to be taught in these few verses the birth of the church, the nourishment of the church, the growth of the church, the intensive training of the church, the effect of the church’s witness, the name Christian is developed and the beginning of the ministry starts with all of its challenges.
So how did it happen? Four words tell the story:
1. Persecution: vs. 19
"Those who had been scattered as a result of the persecution that started because of Stephen made their way as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the message to no one except Jews."
At this time in History Saul, we know him as Paul was persecuting the church, believers were forced to flee Jerusalem after Stephen was stoned for his faith and those who claimed Christ were scattered. It was the hope of the opposition to destroy, stamp out this Christian movement. Well that is one thing that hasn’t changed over the years! Interestingly enough the church grew! We are to minister wherever we are, we should scatter weekly and spread the gospel. Churches were planted where believers fled.
There was not an area left untouched by the gospel. Wherever the believers went, they shared Christ.
Second word that tells the story:
2. Preaching: vs. 20
"But there were some of them, Cypriot and Cyrenian men, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Hellenists, proclaiming the good news about the Lord Jesus."
The church was born through lay believers, through their witnessing and preaching. The church was born by lay believers sharing Christ with everyone, no matter who they were, both Gentile and Jew. The gospel of Christ is for the whole world. It may have begun with the Jew, but God is the God of the universe, of all men. He longs for all men to know about the coming of His Son into the world and to be saved through Him. The message preached: the Lord Jesus.
The KJV says: "Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage" the NLT “Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.” This is Matthew 22:9
This all started in Antioch something new happened, in the past all preaching had been to the Jews and this did not fulfill the Great Commission, now they began preaching to Gentiles this was very important for the future of the church. For the survival of the church today this must continue!
Third word that tells the story:
3. Power: vs. 21
"The Lord’s hand was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord."
The church was born through the hand of the Lord, by His sovereignty and control. God overruled all the trials and opposition and caused the church to be born.
- God overruled the persecution.
- God overruled the fear.
- God overruled the sins of Antioch.
- God overruled and stirred the believers to witness and preach Christ despite all the trials and opposition.
- His power and "the hand of the Lord was with them." The result: "a great number believed, and turned to the Lord." The first great Gentile church was born, and it was born through God's sovereignty.
Ephesians 5:18 (HCSB) “but be filled with the Spirit.” They were all filled with the spirit, what we can learn from them today!
The last word that tells the story:
4. Proof: vs. 26
"and when he found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught large numbers, and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch."
For a year Barnabas and Paul work on developing the church, they hadn’t expected to stay so long; however, God’s blessings were so great they couldn’t leave, lives were changed and many noticed it. These changed lives brought their new name: “CHRISTIANS”
A tremendous result was experienced. Many were added to the Lord New churches will reach people - in fact any church will reach people: when believers are witnessing faithfully, When churches are showing interest in the witnessing of believers elsewhere and when disciples and ministers are encouraging and demonstrating such godly character.
This church was based on the teachings of the Lord, His Death according to the Scriptures, His resurrection according to the Scriptures and His teachings, doctrine and instructions. Many people were taught, not just a few. The believers hungered to learn the truth. The church met together consistently for a whole year.
The church developed an unbelievable heritage for itself and for Christ. The believers at Antioch were the first to be called "Christians." The name was a nickname given to believers by the unsaved people at Antioch. The title was a name for people belonging to Christ, for the followers of Christ. The title is used only two other times in the New Testament. Believers took the name Christian and began applying it to themselves. It was to become the name adopted by the whole world for the followers of Christ. These were the followers of Christ.
“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him.” Colossians 2:6 (HCSB)
- Are You a Christian?
- Do Others Know It?
- Let Christ Live Through You Every Day.
In : Sermon
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