11 November 18, 2012 Acts 13 & 14 Engage In Kingdom Building
Engage In Kingdom Building Acts 13 & 14 November 18, 2012 First Baptist Church Jackson, Mississippi, USAFocal Passages: Go Where God Sends Acts 13:1-4 Grow People Through Teaching Acts 14:21-22 Connect to the Kingdom Acts 14:23-28This Lesson Is About: The focused activities of transformational churches is to build the kingdom of God by making disciples.
This lesson will help to refocus your priorities on building the kingdom of God through being a disciple and a disciple maker. In A.D. 405, a sixteen year old boy named Patrick was kidnapped from his well- to-do home in Great Britain and transported to Ireland where he was sold to a farmer and given the responsibility of taking care of the man’s sheep. As a shepherd, he encountered the Great Shepherd and purposed to follow Him. After six years of slavery he escaped and returned home only to be called by God to the priesthood & to an unlikely mission of returning to the land of his servitude. But Patrick was a slave to Christ now, and the Lord gave him a sense of compassion for the Irish. Patrick returned to pagan Ireland, determined to bring the Gospel to people enslaved by superstition and Celtic religion. Traveling throughout the land, he baptized thousands of new converts, discipled new believers, trained church leaders, ordained pastors, exerted discipline on unrepentant church members, and commissioned more evangelists. He started scores of churches and witnessed to kings and their courts, farmers and peasants.
He also forcefully protested injustices against the common people. By the time he died, about A.D. 461, he had started a church movement that transformed ancient Ireland. Saint Patrick only mimicked what had been done at the inception of the Christian movement. The early church in Antioch launched the Christian faith outside its geographical and cultural context, sending Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey to Asia Minor to build God’s kingdom by making disciples and establishing churches. It was a dangerous yet glorious time for the infant movement. They rode the winds of the Spirit to faraway places to build God’s kingdom.Go Where God SendsActs 13:1-4 HCSB1 In the church that was at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas,Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herodthe tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the HolySpirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.”3 Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.4 Being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they came down to Seleucia, and from there theysailed to Cyprus. Acts 13:1-4 HCSB These five men brought together a racial, cultural, and ethnic diversity, evident in the Antioch church. Barnabas was a Levite from Cyprus. Simeon, whose complexion was apparently darker than most Syrians hence the nickname Niger [NIGH guhr] (Latin for black), probably came from Cyrene or somewhere else in North Africa (Libya).
Tradition states that the sons of Simon, Rufus and Alexander, became missionaries; the inclusion of their names in the Gospel of Mark suggests that they were of some standing in the early Christian community at Rome. It has even been suggested that the Rufus mentioned by Paul in Romans 16:13 is the son of Simon of Cyrene. Some also link Simon himself with the "men of Cyrene" who preached the Gospel to the Greeks in Acts 11:20. Lucius [LYOO shuhs], mentioned here in our passage was also from Cyrene. He possibly was one of the founders of the Antioch church. Manaen [MAN uh en] (meaning comforter), a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, apparently reared with this Herod. Herod the tetrarch ruled Galilee and Peraea from 4 B.C. to A.D. 39, and had John the Baptist executed. Thus Manaen came from a high social status. Saul (his Jewish name) or Paul (his Latin or Roman name) was the converted Pharisee from Tarsus in Cilicia. Raised in Greek culture, trained in rabbinic Judaism, but now passionate about Jesus, Saul was listed last but would soon become first among the group. These five men comprised a world fellowship, initiating a world movement. Barnabas exemplified a man who lived in this world, but lived for another kingdom. His encouraging model for a Christ-centered life serves as a pattern for us today. Taken together, ministering to the Lord and fasting indicated a period of focused, dedicated devotion to God, foregoing food or other needs or comforts in order to hear from God and sense His direction. Sincere worship always involves listening. In fact, the heart is most sensitive to the Spirit’s leading in the worshiping context. As we worship God, look for His direction. His calling and sending has not changed. He needs the likes of you and me to communicate His message to the world.
This church was expectant, sensitive to the Spirit’s leadership. They were not strategizing or planning; they were seeking God’s direction. These words come from an old verb meaning to mark off by boundaries and communicates that the church was to mark off or put a boundary around Barnabas and Paul to serve elsewhere as led by the Holy Spirit. In this case, they would travel as missionaries to new frontiers to share the Gospel story. Antioch provided the primitive church a Gentile political, cultural, and economic center beyond Jerusalem to serve as headquarters for its expanding work and has become a symbol of the development of the Christian movement from a sect of Judaism to a universal faith. Both in Galatians and in Acts, the message is quite clear: the Gospel is for all people; Jesus Christ is the Savior of all mankind! At Antioch, the mission to all the world began. For the church to expand and God’s kingdom to grow, Christianity had to venture outside the walls of the church. We would not be evangelized if these men had not stepped out of their comfort zones and embarked on a great missionary adventure. They dared to be obedient. Who in your world needs to know Jesus and is waiting on you to step out to tell them about Him? Are you willing to step outside of your world and tell others about Christ and build His kingdom? Are you making disciples?Grow People Through TeachingActs 14:21-22 21 After they had evangelized that townand made many disciples, they returnedto Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch,22 strengthening the disciples byencouraging them to continue in the faithand by telling them, “It is necessary topass through many troubles on our wayinto the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:21-22 Barnabas and Paul established churches by sharing the Good News and making many disciples.
The word disciple comes from the word meaning to learn, but means more than just a pupil or a student. It means one who learns from the Master to the extent of becoming like the Master, Jesus. They could have taken a shorter route and easier journey. Instead, they risked their lives to return to the churches they had established in these towns.
Paul was stoned and left to die in Lystra. There were plots to stone them in Iconium. They had been driven out of Antioch. Yet they repeatedly, courageously risked their lives to proclaim the Gospel in an effort to win new converts and nurture those with new-found faith. In spite of Jewish hostility and painful experiences, they stayed at the task given by Jesus to make disciples. They demonstrated that evangelism and discipleship go together. The last thing they wanted was unnurtured, untaught, and undeveloped spiritual infants.
Hebrews 5:12In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teachyou the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Hebrews 5:12 Their responsibility included not only leading new believers to faith, but growing them in the faith. Sergius Paulus became Paul’s first named convert in Scripture. (Acts 13:4-12) What began as “Barnabas and Saul” became “Paul and his companions” by the time they left the island. (Acts 13:13) Paul and Barnabas were recognized as visitors in the synagogue of Pisidian Antioch and were invited to share a word with the people. (Acts 13:14-15) With an open invitation to preach, Paul’s first recorded sermon in Acts emphasized the theme of God’s grace. (Acts 13:16-42) Paul had been left for dead but when he regained consciousness, he went back into the city where he had almost been killed. (Acts 14:8-20) The missionaries were concerned as to the reception of the Gospel by the people. If the last thing the people of Lystra saw of these itinerant preachers was one of them being dragged out of town assumed dead, then that would have been their final image of the Gospel.
Paul seemingly wanted to show the people that he and the Gospel were still alive! The next town on the road southeast of Derbe was Tarsus – Paul’s home. This would have been a possible choice fro the missionaries to bring an end to their initial effort at taking the Gospel to the Mediterranean world. Earlier efforts in Antioch of Syria (the next city east of Tarsus) had been fruitful. How fruitful the efforts had been in those Galatian cities was debatable.
In an understated fashion, Acts 14:21-22 indicated that Paul and Barnabas decided to return to those three cities where they had experienced persecutions. Paul’s exhortation that “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” reflected his seriousness about the reality of the Gospel message in one’s life. After discipling the new believers, the missionaries retraced their steps back to Perga and then set sail to return again to the place of their departure, Antioch of Syria. What has often been termed as “Paul’s first missionary journey” established the paradigm for later missionary endeavors. Typically, ministry would begin in the synagogue on the Sabbath and then go to the marketplace during the week. With this method the Gospel reached a large and diverse audience. The Acts 13-14 description of this “journey” portrayed a missionary team of human and divine partners. Leading the missionary group was the Holy Spirit Who gave the words to speak, protection, and guidance. Paul and Barnabas’ brilliance was in their committed obedience to the Holy Spirit’s leadership. They accomplished their disciple-making through a threefold process. First, the believers were strengthened or instructed. Teaching God’s Word builds up believers. God’s Word through God’s Spirit shapes God’s children to become like God’s Son. Second, the believers were encouraged (exhorted or urged) to remain true to the faith. The faith here indicates the core collection of doctrine or beliefs central to following Jesus. They knew that beginners not yet established in the faith could fall away. Conversion must pass on to continuation. Third, the believers were warned of persecution. They would pass through many troubles.
The word troubles indicates the pressure that comes when one is painfully squeezed. Barnabas and Paul’s hardships in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch served as compelling examples of suffering and hardship, experienced at every turn on their missionary journey. But, adversity and harassment because of their faith was the path into the kingdom of God. Tribulations develop and strengthen the believers’ faith (John 16:33). We will encounter difficulties from worldly opposition as we engage in kingdom- building work. Opposition is a normal part of the Christian walk and witness. When we embark on kingdom-building activity we are entering hostile territory. The world hates God’s work. And, when believers are snatched from the Devil, it angers him all the more. But we must grow people through teaching them anyway.
Connect to the KingdomActs 14:23-2823 “When they had appointed elders in every church and prayed with fasting, theycommitted them to the Lord in whom they had believed. 24 Then they passed throughPisidia and came to Pamphylia. 25 After they spoke the message in Perga, they wentdown to Attalia. 26 From there they sailed back to Antioch where they had beenentrusted to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. 27 After theyarrived and gathered the church together, they reported everything God had donewith them and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they spenta considerable time with the disciples.” Acts 14:23-28 Not only did Paul and Barnabas establish new churches, they, also, organized the churches with a leadership structure. They appointed elders. The word elder was often used for older persons, but here it referred to mature believers, overseeing a congregation’s spiritual health. Elder, from a Jewish term, and bishop, from a Greek one, designate the same office. No professional clergy existed at that time. Following the Jewish synagogue’s leadership pattern, these men were chosen from within the congregation to provide oversight and leadership. They might not have been ideal candidates, but they were available and willing. They would have known the people, the problems, and the environment. The plural elders suggested that this group shared in the task of leading the church. The contemporary practice of “one pastor, one church” seems unknown in the early church. The elders were appointed. The compound word means to stretch the hand, implying a voting process. Possibly Paul and Barnabas chose the elders and the congregation approved the selection with a vote.
The vote occurred in conjunction with the church praying with fasting. Fasting aided praying, as time and attention normally given to cooking and eating was instead given to devotion and concentration on God’s leading. The elder’s appointment was a serious matter, requiring God’s direction, accomplished in a public meeting. Clearly Paul and Barnabas concentrated on the major cities, challenging the believers once discipled to present the gospel message to more remote areas. The estimated length of time of the the first missionary journey lasted anywhere between one and two years. Assembled together, they gave God the credit for what He had done. We too acknowledge God’s role in seeing people move from spiritual death to spiritual life. They reported, first, what God had done with them. God had held true to His promise. While He had not insulated them from hardship, He had walked with them through His presence and His power. They reported, second, what God had done for kingdom expansion. The Antioch experiment of sending out missionaries proved a tremendous success. Using the language of Jesus, Who described Himself as “the door” to salvation (John 10:9), God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. (This development would be the subject of the Jerusalem Conference recorded in Acts 15.) The pathway into the secular world had opened. The people were receptive. Obedient disciples were needed to step through the opened … door. The door still stands open to the whole world today.
Believers should recognize that every human being should have an opportunity to hear the Gospel. Willing and available disciples are still needed to step through the door, venturing outside of comfort zones to engage a lost but receptive world with the Gospel message. While in Antioch, however, word came to Paul of danger in southern Galatia— Jewish believers more committed to the law than to grace had begun to undermine Paul’s teaching, emphasizing instead the Jewish law. What we know as the Book of Galatians was Paul’s response, the first of his contributions to Scripture. The study theme for this four-lesson study is “The Church: Transforming Lives in a Changing Culture.” A church intent on transforming society will organize for effective ministry with capable and godly leaders, will develop disciples to maturity in the faith, and will deploy missionaries locally and globally so God’s kingdom expands. In what ways can you and your class focus or refocus on building the kingdom of God through building disciples? How are the members of your class developing their faith? Let’s not wait for others to model the normal Christian life; you can be the example in management, maturity, and missions. Consider today what personal steps you can take and what activities your class can accomplish to engage in kingdom building.Biblical Truths The Christian church today needs to reflect the early church: diversity of cultures within and departure to communicate without. God’s call has always been missional—off one’s seat and into the street. A well-equipped disciple is a well-taught disciple, focused on the fundamentals of the faith. Effective churches have leaders who focus on building the kingdom of God and correspondingly have members who wish to be used in that building process. When believers obey the Great Commission, they will have stories to tell of God’s powerful activity. Ask God to help you focus (or refocus) your priorities on building the kingdom of God through building disciples.
Matthew 28:18-20 KJV18 “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me inheaven and in earth.19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, Iam with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20 KJV Next week: Hit the Streets Acts 17:16-31