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If you have your Bibles let me invite you to open with me To the book of Acts.
We are pausing from our longer journey through the gospel of Mark for a mini series where we are looking at the church at Antioch and reminding ourselves of why we exist as a local church.
Last week we looked at the beginnings of the church at Antioch and we celebrated God’s work in our own church over the last seven years.
We saw two basic truths which can be found in our own Church’s mission statement.
God Builds His Church By His Grace
God Builds His Church For His Glory
We saw that the city of Antioch was very much an anti-Christian place…
But that God miraculously saved a group of people gave them a new relationship to the Lord and a new relationship with one another.
Luke makes clear who it was who was responsible for this thriving church plant.
When Barnabas arrived on the scene in Antioch and he began to see and understand the inter workings of this new church..
The text tells us this.
For Barnabas, the church at Antioch was grace gone visible.
They were the visual evidence of God’s work to save people.
And so are we.
Like the mountains, and stars, and the expanse of the sea exists to point to the glory of God… we exist to point to the glory of God in a special way.
Unlike any other created thing, God reflects his image in us, but more than that, he reflects his mercy, his grace, his forgiveness, and his power in saving us and in unifying us around worshipping him.
We exist as individuals and as a church for a purpose.
That purpose is to glorify God.
but how do we glorify God?
What is it that we do that glorifies God?
Barnabas gives them this command in verse 23, “remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose”…
But what is faithfulness to the Lord with steadfast purpose?
How do we pursue and fulfill God’s purpose for our lives?
I want us to read again the material that we have about the Antioch church for clues of what this might look like.
Starting with last week’s passage in Acts 11 and then also reading a later passage about Antioch in Acts 13.
Now look at Acts 13.
Lets Pray
I want you to notice how God-focused the community life became in the church at Antioch.
God was not an idea.
He was not simply a morality.
He was not a distant concept.
He was real, present, and life-shaping.
In a place that once predominantly worshipped false gods, I want you to notice the one true God-centeredness of the people once they discovered Jesus.
In chapter 11 verse 20…, the message preached was that of “the Lord Jesus”
In verse 21… they believed and “turned to the Lord”
In verse 22… it was the “grace of God” that Barnabas saw in their lives.
In verse 23… it was faithfulness to “the Lord” toward which Barnabas moved them.
In chapter 13, we are given a window into their gatherings as a church.
We are told that they are:
and “fasting”
There is a Godwardness to all of this… a God-centeredness to all of this.
And thats important…
I am afraid that we can read the book of Acts and we can marvel at the mission work.
We can get excited about the church planting part…
the missionary sending part…
the productive sort of reach the world part…
WE can be amazed at the perseverance through persecution.
but we can miss the God-centeredness of it all.
We do not exist as a church or even as Christians to simply accomplish godly tasks or even God-given tasks.
Those tasks...
That mission… that the apostles were on and that the church of Antioch joined…,
must have at its root a deeper foundation then simply a desire for more churches to be planted, or even the good desire for less people to go to hell.
Its got to be more than a good cause or a sense of purpose.
It must have an even deeper foundation than just a thanksgiving for our own salvation...
Our mission as a church and as individuals,
the reason for our living…
our giving, our going, our evangelizing, our disicpling… at the source of that wellspring of missions… must be a love for God himself.
The mission of St. Rose Community Church is to Love the Lord.
Make disciples.
Plant Churches.
By His Grace.
and For His Glory.
And there is a reason that “Love the Lord” comes first in that order of phrases.
If you are a note taker this morning...
There is one big point and then six expressions of that point.
#1 We Exist to Love the Lord
We believe that God is real.
He created the world, that he set a standard for the world.
We believe that humanity rebelled against that God, and his words, and his ways.
But we believe God loved us so much that he sent Jesus to take our punishment.
And we believe that what God desires is for us to desire him.
He wants our affection… our worship… our devotion… our love.
God does not need our giftings, or our abilities.
He does not need us to operate at a high capacity to accomplish things he can’t accomplish.
We do not exist to just avoid the big sins and do some good deeds.
God is not after our behavioral change in an of itself.
The God of the Bible is not saving for himself a people so that there might be nicer people in the world.
That is not what is most glorifying to god.
The God of the Bible is saving for himself a people so that there might be worshippers in the world....
He is saving a people who will glorify him in their expressions of genuine love for God.
We see God’s desire from the earliest moments in the Bible’s story.
The book of Deuteronomy is a book of sermons to the people of God after they had been delivered from slavery in Egypt.
Just listen to the theme of these God-inspired messages.
In the next generation of God’s people, Joshua keeps hitting the same message.
years later, King David wrote Psalms for God’s people to sing…, much of which were declarations of love and praises over the love of God.
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was in Mark … he was simply being consistent with the message of the Bible.
What does God desire from you?
What does God desire from us as a church?
How does God aim to be glorified in us and through us?
First and foremost…, he desires our affection.
He wants us to find relationship with him to be the most satisfying, most joyful, most important thin in our lives.
Is this a different desire then what we spoke about last week?
Is God’s desire to be glorified different from his desire for us to love him supremely?
The answer is no…
This will be much of the conversation in the spiritual formation class that started this week on Sundays at 8:30 AM.
This semester that group will be considering this phrase and its consistency with the rest of the Bible… “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”
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