Acts Series #22
Back to the Beginning: When Church Was Church
What About Me?
Acts 13 is a Transition point for the Church and for the Book of Acts
Up to this point, Peter and Jerusalem have been the center of ministry and the church. From this point on … the center of ministry for the church becomes Saul/Paul and the church in Antioch Let's jump right into this teaching
READ Acts 13:1-5
A talented, gifted church in the teaching and proclaiming ministries owed it to the gospel to send out some of those Teachers and Evangelists to the World.
Why*? Because Jesus said that they would. Acts 1:8 - Requires the obedient church to be involved in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the World. So, for this Church it would be Antioch, Asia Minor, Greece, and the Uttermost parts of the world.
A. Missionaries Commissioned
1. From Whom did they have to choose? Doc, I like this group of preachers and teachers. It kinda looks familiar to me. Barnabas was a Levite from the Resort Island of Cyprus who had family money, Simeon called Niger (Black Man), Lucius of Cyrene (Lybia - Northern Africa) may have been one of the founding Pastors as this church was founded in Acts 11 by a group of men from Cyprus and Cyrene … by the way … his name Lucius means "bright white" (ebony and ivory …), Manaen raised as a Foster child in the family of Herod the Tetrarch, and Saul who was a Jew, a Pharisee by education with Roman Citizenship. I like the diversity of this group which I'm sure represented the diversity of the church
2. So Barnabas and Saul were selected …
a. Barnabas - his name was Joseph but they called him Barnabas … Son of Encouragement or Son of Rest. This teacher was a living breathing walking Refuge and Nurturer. He came alongside Saul as a new convert and enabled the church to trust him and him to grow
b. Saul - he was tenacious in his pursuit of Christians when he was a Persecuting Pharisee - "breathing out murderous threats against the church" Acts 9:1 - and NOW as a Prophet/Evangelist of the Lord Jesus he attacked the strongholds of Satan with equal fervor
SO they sent out Missionaries … We have all read stories of great missionaries and envoys of the church … So What about Me? What about everybody else?
Don't miss this … this is an important foundation for us today … what about the rest of the prophets and teachers, what about the rest of the church?
Well … The …
B. Members Continued
They continued being Christians. They continued living the Christian life, they continued the work of the church. Remember that they were CALLED Christians FIRST in Antioch. So what about you? What about Me? At the VERY LEAST … they kept on doing what they were doing that got them the name CHRISTIAN in the first place. So let's review from our Study in Acts 11 regarding what a Christian is.
So what did they CONTINUE doing?
1. Believed and Turned - continued to Believe in Jesus and turn from their way and turn to the way of Christ
2. Cleave or Cling to the Lord with Purpose of Heart - Remaining true
3. Assembled Together - worshipping, teaching, praying, fellowshipping
4. Unashamed to Suffer Persecution - living boldly in the face of persecution
5. Slaves in the house of Christ - servants offered up to Christ - the word translanted Lord - in verse 2 means "He to whom a thing or a person belongs"
6. Followers of the way of Christ -
7. Doing Business as Christians -
So we have missionaries Commissioned to Go OUT and if you will Members Continuing what they had always done so in a sense commissioned to STAY
C. All Consecrated - what does it mean to consecrate? It means to induct a person into a religious office - to devote irrevocably to the worship of God
1. Rom 6:16 don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey - whether you are slaves to sin, which lead to death, or do obedience, which leads to righteousness
2. Rom 12:1 therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship
So … they were Selected or Called
2. Set Apart
set apart - - aphorizo (af-or-id-zo) mark off from others by boundaries; sever from; set apart for a purpose
The Holy Spirit is saying … we're going to set some boundaries for these guys, we are calling them to something specific. Set a fence around them and cut them off from other ministries and purposes.
A. … for Me - Set Apart for ME - Separate TO Me (YLT) - "set apart for me, NOW AT ONCE (Weymouth)
1. FOR me - TO - ME - I am NOT my own - 2 Cor 6:19-20 - do you not know that your bodies are a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is within you - The Spirit whom you have from God? 20 And you are not your own for you have been redeemed at infinite cost. Therefore glorify God in your bodies
2. "we all have OUR work today" … well if you are set apart for yourself, you are going to be working under your own power and for your own rewards
3. to whom are you set apart?
B. … for the Work
Rom 1:1 - Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God
1. the work is not hard to figure out … The Work is the gospel of Jesus Christ
2. God has not called any of us to rest. Oh, "but Pastor, Jesus said, 'come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest.'" Well you are absolutely right, but I've got news for you, Jesus defines it differently than we do. In that passage he says "come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest, take my YOKE upon you and learn from me now, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (mt 11:28-30)
3. Resting in God is found in JOINING him in his WORK - Jesus is about bringing people to God and we should be about joining him
4. Paul said, we are Ambassadors for Christ and we have been given the Ministry of Reconciliation. That is we are to join in the process of Reconciling the World to Christ (2 Cor 5:19-20)
5. For Paul, the call was for taking the Gospel to the Gentiles, Peter released the Gospel to the Gentiles but his primary Job and that of James and others was to continue the Gospel to Judea
6. What about you … Your may be to take the Gospel to FORD, or take the Gospel to UMSL, or take the Gospel to Your Neighborhood, or your children's playgroup, or to your family
7. We have not been called to fill up spiritually - We are called to JOIN God in the Going and Being his Witnesses filled with the Power of the Holy Spirit
C. … for the Calling
1. proskaleomai (pros-kal-eh-om-ahee) - this word is in the perfect tense which means it is not PAST or PRESENT or FUTURE it is ALL THREE. It is completed before it is begun. That means that it is PERFECTED in the Heart and Mind of God in ages past and is now being implemented
2. When God calls you to his task he is NOT hoping it will find success, he knows what is going to be and in his mind it is done and he is inviting you to join him
3. Mt 15:32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me 3 days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse - Jesus KNEW he was going to do a miracle and feed these people, his miracle was driven by his compassion for people but equally great was for him to include his disciples in the process
4. When God calls you it is decided already and he equips you for the task with all the gifts and authority needed Mt 10:1 he called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and heal every diseases and sickness
5. The Work and the Calling are about PEOPLE … bringing People to God the Father through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit
6. Sometimes as the years go by we change our focus and forget the original purpose. Jesus said GO … Teach … Baptize … Disciple … People … Jesus said … You will be my disciples
7. Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address you will remember said that "government OF the people, BY the people, and FOR the people should not perish from the earth … But One Entertainer performing had done intensive research and discovered that we had CHANGED the emphasis on the words and thus changed the focus of his speech. His study revealed that Lincoln had emphasized it this way, that "government of the PEOPLE, by the PEOPLE, and for the PEOPLE, shall not perish from the earth …" Sometimes we place our emphasis on prepositions instead of on the PEOPLE, we place our emphasis on propositions and not on people, we place our emphasis on Traditions instead of on the Teaching of Christ to the People, emphasis on good production instead of on the Good News to people
8. When Jesus was on the cross he wasn't just thinking about the WORLD in a generic sense, he looked down at those gambling for his clothing and said "Father forgive THEM" … that is THOSE specific people, he looked to his side to the thief and said "today YOU will be with me in paradise
9. Let us NOT lose sight of the Work and Calling of the Gospel and that is people, being brought to Christ one by one with the Message of the Gospel.
10. But this wasn't ONLY about the Missionaries … The Missionaries were called / selected to Go out and the rest were called / selected to STAY both for the purpose of the Work of the Spirit in the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Finally they were selected, they were called and they were …
Who was God's agent for sending? The CHURCH
The Spirit told the Church to Set them Apart and the Church Sent them out. God spoke through his Spirit and through his Sanctified Bride, The Church.
In order for God to use you mightily I believe there must be a submission to a local body
There are a lot of people today that want to be in ministry and used by God but they don't want to submit to a local body and to Pastoral Leadership. They want to do things on their own terms. That even happens within the church. We want to reap the benefits of the body but not be subject to the Body and the Godly Order established in the Body.
The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is God's tool in this fallen world and everyone that would minister for the Lord MUST come from and through the body to have the Lord's blessing
Billy Graham has had the greatest Evangelistic Ministry in History and yet EVERY one of his outreaches has sought the blessing and participation of the Local church body and he himself joined a local church even though he'd never be there because he was out in ministry
The Church is the source by which the Spirit speaks and Sends; and sending is a critical component
?11? As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."? ?12? For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile-the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, ?13? for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."??
?14? How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? ?15? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"?
?16? But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?"? ?17? Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Can I take a bit of a turn on this idea and say
How can we send them if we are not Hearing from the Spirit of God
How can we hear from the Spirit of God if we are not Listening to the Spirit of God
How can we be listening if we are not Seeking the Spirit of God
How can we be seeking if we are not Desiring the Spirit of God
How can we be desiring if we are not Loving the Spirit of God
How can you be loving if you are not Knowing the Spirit of God
How can you be know if you are not Experiencing the Spirit of God
How can you be Experiencing, Knowing, Loving, Desiring, Listening if we are not Worshipping or Ministering to … The Spirit of God
They did not Hear from the Spirit of God by Accident … they were worshipping the Lord and fasting …
A. Giving -
1. worship - ministering - when we think worship we think "singing songs and praying" - maybe old songs, perhaps new ones, a little praying but that's our definition of Worship
2. But we are in services like that ALL the time but sometimes we don't hear God's Spirit Speak WHY?
3. what did worship cost you today? HUH?
4. ** A family was sitting around the table one Sunday after church … Big Sister said, "The Preacher was boring" … Mom said "The singing was off-key" … Dad said "The Preacher preached too long" and little 5 year old Johnny said … "well Dad, it wasn't a bad show for 2 Dollars" --- Well that's NOT what I'm talking when I say what did worship cost you today
5. the word translated here "worshipping" or in other translations "ministering to the Lord" - means to serve at one's own cost … to assume an office which must be administered at one's own expense … to discharge a public office at one's one cost … Christians serving Christ …
6. That tells me that worship / ministry to the Lord must COST you something or it is not worship.
a. In 2 Sam 24 David went to Araunah (ah-roh-nah) to buy some land from which to build an altar to sacrificially worship the Lord. Araunah said "take whatever you want I'll give it to you." To which David replied in verse 24 no, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing"
b. If worship costs you nothing … it is NOT ministering to the Lord nor does it minister to your spirit.
c. It's going to cost you personal plans, it's going to cost you a little sleep, it might cost you some discretional spending money to worship with your tithe and offerings, it might cost you control, it might cost you some of your reputation, it will cost you control
d. We must GIVE to worship to the Lord
7. If you are NOT spending time with God and adoring him, surrendering to his will, you will NOT find the peace of knowing and being in the center of God's will
8. they were giving the Lord a Fast … a Fast is denying yourself of something in order to give your attention and devotion to Christ. Fasting is NOT about doing without it is about devoting yourself TO the Lord and removing things that may get in the way and take our attention and devotion
1. direction from the Spirit
a. God's plans revealed to his people come out of relationship, adoration, and devotion
2. power for completion
a. 2 Thes 1:11 - we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith
b. 1 Cor 1:9 God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful
c. 1 Thes 5:24 the one who calls you is faithful and he will do it
3. blessings and strength in worship
C. Going -
1. The Spirit said - "set them apart"
2. so they Set them apart
3. Then the Sent them and then in verse 4 THEY WENT
4. Commands without obedience are without blessings of Faithfulness
5. Commands without obedience are like fruit trees without fruit, they are sterile and useless, they have the promise but no production
6. As the members of the Church in Antioch from those other Prophets and Teachers to the average member in the pew, filled their God given role in the Body, they were GOING, Commissioned, Called, Set Apart, and Obediently exercising their gifts
What About ME?
As I sought the Lord this week on how he would have me challenge you, I felt his call for me to set you apart today for the Call of God on your Life, for the Work of the Spirit in your life
I'm curious today what do you want?
I would like you to bow your heads.
Worship the Lord … that is Minister to him
Offer yourself as a living sacrifice to him now
Say something like this … "Lord everything I have is yours … if you can use me I give myself to you"
Well we have some preachers and teachers here today … If you are one of our preachers and you desire to be used by God for the Work of the Holy Spirit filled with his Power and you are willing to Go wherever he sends and do whatever he tells you to do, I want you to stand now in silent worship as your statement of faith
If you are a teacher here in the ministry of New Life Baptist Church and you want to be used by God, responding to his calling in your life, for the building up of the saints, I want you to stand
But What about me?
If you are here today and you are a shift worker, but you want to be sent by God and used as a Shift Worker sold out to the ministry of God, used by him for the work of the Spirit wherever you go, then I want you to Stand with these
If you are here today and you are a professional businessman or woman and you want to be sent by God into the professional world as an envoy of Jesus Christ in the World taking the Gospel into a white collar world, I want you to stand
If you are here today and you are a laborer or any kind part time or full time and you want to be an emissary of God in your daily work force, to be used for the Gospel as a missionary wherever the Lord sends you then stand with these
Perhaps you are a student and you want to be sent by God used to take the gospel into the schools without fear, invading the darkness with the good news of Christ, then stand and join these
Maybe you are here today as a Parent, or Grandparent, a Retired person, a Widow or Widower desiring today to be set apart for the Gospel of Jesus Christ used to complete his purposes in the World ready to be used however God would lead would you join these?
If somehow I have left out any category of person here today or you have decided in the midst of this that you desire today to be committed to the cause of Christ through New Life Baptist Church, whether he would have you GO or have you stay, still set apart, fenced off as Christ's alone join these and stand now
Consecration of Jonathan Edwards
(Adapted by Jim Goforth)
I claim no rights to myself
- no right to have to understand
- no right to my will
- no right to my affections within me
- no right to my body or body parts, not my tongue, my hands, feet, ears, or eyes
I have given myself away and hold back nothing. I am coming to God and giving myself completely to him.
I have given him every power over me.
I receive God as my complete portion and provision and my complete happiness, looking to nothing else for completeness or happiness. His will is the course of my obedience
I will fight will all my power against the world, the flesh, and the devil all my life. I will stay with the Gospel no matter the hazards and difficulty that my profession and living my bring
I receive the Holy Spirit as my Teacher, Sanctifier, and my only Comforter. I delight in all his work to enlighten, purify, comfort and assist me.
I belong to Christ and will no longer act on my own behalf. Anything that I may do that doesn't bring honor and glory to God will be my doing and not his. He is my entire business and purpose for life
If I complain in the least at affliction; if I am in any way unloving; if I seek revenge on my own; if I do anything purely to please myself; or quit anything because it costs too much; if I trust myself; if I take any praise for any good that Christ does through me; or if I am in any way proud; then I am not acting as God's but as my own
I purpose to be Absolutely HIS
If you desire to belong to and serve Christ alone today … then I want to set you apart for the preordained plans of God today. I have prayed for you this week. I have sought the Lord on your behalf this week … and now I want the Body to lay hands on one another and sent you out to complete the Purposes of God in your life
Those of you standing, with your heads bowed before the Lord in Worship, I just want you to reach out and put your hand on someone's shoulder … and we will ask for the Lord's power, provision, direction, and courage as you go into your jobs, homes, neighborhoods, schools, filled with the Holy Spirit, Empowered from on High, with all Authority that you need for your calling … That the Gospel of Jesus Christ may be spread and the Kingdom enlarged through the obedience of New Life Baptist Church for the Glory of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord
I will Go, I will go, I will go ….
Someone here today needs to make a public decision to turn from sin and follow Christ today
… Come for Baptism as a response to your giving your life to Christ …
… Join the Body of this Church to join the work here …
Come the door is open for you