Title: A Mission-Minded Church
Text: Acts 11.19-30
Introduction: Jane Nelson writes of Winston Churchill:
Winston Churchill was not intimidated by errors. When he made one, he simply thought the problem through again. Someone asked him, “Sir Winston, what in your school experience best prepared you to lead Britian out of her darkest hour?”
Winston thought a miniute and then said, “It was the two years I spent at the same level in high school.”
“Did you fail?”
“No,” replied Winston. “I had two opportunities to get it right.”
app: Often times we see failure in our attempts or circumstances. But the reality is that these are just experiences God is giving us that will come in handy in the future. More opportunities to get it right, you might say. I’m sure the Jewish Christians were questioning what was going on as they faced severe persecution for becoming Christians. How was God in this? They’ve committed their lives to God and now they were being scattered to every corner of the world.
Ill..: two weeks ago in Genesis 12, we read about Abram, who had committed his life to God and had faithfully followed his word to this new land that his offspring would inherit. And what did he find when he got there? A famine!
App.: we find a similar situation in Acts, as the church is growing in numbers rapidly. Read w/ me in Acts 8.1ff: And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. This doesn’t seem very fair for those who’ve given their lives to Christ. But look what happens in v4; 4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.
Indeed, that’s what we find in Chapter 11.19; rd 11.19; We find in the following verses a mission endeavor and the birth of a local church; So what does a mission-minded church look like? Well, I’ve divided this particular passage into three parts:
- The Jewish Church is scattered
- The Jewish Church sends out Barnabas
- The Gentile Church becomes determined
Our Focus: on what a mission-minded church looks like. What does it endure? What characteristics pop out at you when you see it? How is it tested and tried?
My goal this morning is to present the text in outline form and then to move to some observations.
Transition: let’s look at this early church’s struggle to become mission-minded and learn from their story.
- The Jewish Church is Scattered (11.19-21)
exp.: in this passage,
- The believers are scattered due to persecution (19); diaspora; through or on account of and spores or seed; it means to scatter seed, like a farmer; Matthew 13.3; There is this picture of God sowing his children throughout the land. Rd v 19b-20;
- The believers preach Jesus to the lost (19b-20)
ii. Gentiles; the church is becoming indigenous; These are Jerusalem witnesses, they’re from Cyprus and Cyrene. Rd v 21;
- God’s hand is upon their work (21); what a reminder to us that this work isn’t based upon our abilities or talents; I read a story this past week about Mother Theresa who was a guest in the midst of fame and royalty. Most folks were in their glamour and glitz, their fancy dresses and nicest suits, but MT was in her nun’s garb and it was being held together with a safety pin. When asked about her mission and if she felt she was successful. She said: I wasn’t called to a ministry of success, but rather a ministry of obedience.
App.: God is at work, we simply trust that he’s moving before we get there. If folks reject the gospel, that’s not on us. What’s on us is to obey the call to share. A ministry of obedience. These folks from Cypress & Cyrene were being obedient. And look at the result; rd v 21;
- Many Gentiles come to faith in Jesus (21); arithmos;
Transition: Now, this is gonna be hard for the Jews to grasp! They’re not prone to be favorable to Gentiles. They’ve been taught for generations to be prejudiced toward Gentiles. Of Course, as we saw last week, that wasn’t God’s intention, but rather a result of the Jews misunderstanding what it means to be God’s people. So what do they do?…
2. The Jewish Church sends Barnabas (11.22-26)
exp.: to check this out; This is hard to believe, so,
- Barnabas surveys the situation (22-24); rd v 22-24; What does he find? The Grace of God; favor or gift; this is going to create more problems in the future which will have to be dealt with; namely, do Gentiles have to become Jews before they can become Christians? For now, there is powerful evidence that God has indeed been saving Gentiles. What to do? What to do? rd 24b – the numbers are getting out of hand! Barnabas needs help and he knows just the man for the job; rd v25;
- Barnabas seeks out Saul for help (25); Paul – author of some 13 books in the NT; former lawyer now looking for some work! Rd v 26a-b;
- Barnabas and Saul Disciple the new believers (26); They meet together and teach these large number of new believers;
app.: I wonder if we’re missing this here at Calvary; in Tyler, Smith County? In TX; the US? It feels saturated here, so we’re not really preaching Christ, not really teaching large numbers. We’ve lost this somewhere along the way. This action was so foreign to the people in Antioch, that they began calling these folks…rd v26c; Christians – little Christs. I’m not so sure this is a derogatory term. I was taught when I was younger that this is a pejorative – a crude remark. But I don’t think so. Maybe if this term was used in Jerusalem by Jews, but this is a Greek term used by Greek speaking people.
Transition: No matter. They’re labeled because of their meeting together and studying together as Barnabas and Saul teach them. No look what happens to them – and quickly I might add…
3. The Gentile Church becomes Determined (11.27-30)
exp.: in this passage,
- Antioch hears of the need (rd v 27-28); a great famine is coming – and, at the writing of this text, had happened. So, what do they do? they put their learning to work! Rd v 29;
- Prepares the people to meet the need (29); each person gets involved, according to his ‘ability’ diakonian; Can I ask you today, are you living up to your ability? Are you serving up to your ‘ability’ within the church? That’s a question only you can answer… Well, look at what they do; rd v 30;
- Sends out missionaries to serve the need (30); they did this, they pulled their resources and sent their gifts to the Jerusalem church. And that’s the last we hear of Antioch… No! rd 12.25-13.5
- Doesn’t rest on it’s laurels, but sends them out again… (12.25-13.5)
They could have. They could have received a certificate from the church in Jerusalem for their fine work. They could have hung it proudly on their wall of fame at the home where they met. But they didn’t rest on what had been done. They listened to the Word of God and continued to serve.
Transition: So, nice story, but how does that apply to us? Well, let’s make some final…
Observations & Implications: A mission-minded church…
- Will face opposition
- Preaches Jesus
- Meets together
- Teaches others
- Reaches out in ministry & mission to meet needs
- Doesn’t rest on its laurels!