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If you have your Bibles let me invite you to open with me to the book of Acts chapter 11.
When Jesus began his preaching ministry he proclaimed “the kingdom of God is at hand”
He presented a new vision for human flourishing in the world.
He painted a beautiful picture of community in which the poor in spirit would inherit the kingdom of heaven, those who morn would be comforted, those who are meek should have the greater inheritance.
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness would be satisfied.
In his earthly ministry he made a promise.
“I will build my church”
God the Son came first to build the church by dying for her.
He was sent into the world to take on himself the punishment of sinners… but that was only the beginning.
He rose again… and he continued to fulfill his promise that he would build his church.
He did so by pouring out His Spirit.
His Spirit would make people new.
His Spirit would change hearts and empower the creation and the spread of His church.
His Spirit would guide his people to fulfill his commission.
Listen to how Peter puts it in his opening sermon to the Christian movement.
That is the age we are now living in.
The Spirit of God is at work in us and through us to build Christ’s church To the ends of the earth until he returns.
The book of Acts is all about what Jesus continued to do through his Spirit after his death, resurrection, and ascension back to the throne room of heaven.
This book gives us these beautiful snap shots of what the kingdom building work looked like.
We first see the church building project taking place in Jerusalem.
In Acts 2.
This is Jesus’ vision for human flourishing coming to life in a spirit-filled people gathering together in his church.
but just as he promised… things would not continue this way without tribulation.
Persecution scattered these new Christians out of the city of Jerusalem all over the empire and especially to the city of Antioch.
We have been looking at the church at Antioch now for 3 weeks.
Acts 11 and Acts 13 give us snapshot pictures of this newly planted church which resulted from the persecution in Jerusalem.
Many people in Antioch, both Jews and Gentiles.., had believed and turned to the Lord Jesus.
Barnabas was a leader in the church at Jerusalem and he was sent from Jerusalem to check on the legitimacy of the Christian movement in Antioch.
Barnabas marveled at what he saw when he arrived In Antioch.
He saw the grace of God in the new church and he was glad.
Not only did he validate the legitimacy of the movement…, he was compelled to stay and help with the new church.
They needed discipleship.
So he recruited Paul to actually move from Tarsus..., and they stayed in Antioch making disciples for a whole year.
We pick up at the end of that year of discipling in verse 27
Lets pray
Things are going good in Antioch.
People are coming to faith.
Supernatural unity is being experienced.
They have perhaps some of the best teachers in Christian history.
People’s lives are being totally transformed so much so that the the city has given them the new name: Christians or “little Christs”
As far as we know, Persecution has not disrupted their fellowship yet.
They are living the church life dream.
Verse 27-28 is an interruption to that dream.
The Spirit of God overtakes a man named Agabus,
and Agabus stands up in the midst of a gathering and he warns the congregation of a coming famine.
This famine was in fact a historical reality as the parenthetical addition reminds us (this took place in the days of Claudius).
You might expect that the church at Antioch would immediately begin making preparations for their own church or the ministry that they would hope to do in their own city to see more people come to faith in Jesus...
But that is not what happened.
Jerusalem was 310 miles away…, but despite the distance...., a concern for the church in Jerusalem swept through the congregation in Antioch.
The disciples were not primarily concerned with self-preservation.
They were not solely concerned with the mission of their own church.
The Spirit of God led the disciples in the church at Antioch to give sacrificially for the preservation and mission of another church over 300 miles away in a historical moment that a 300 mile travel was no easy journey.
There had to be a deeper theological conviction at work here…
There had to be some sort of deeper belief that drove the church to respond in this way..... ...something that I am afraid we have lost in much of the American church ministry culture.
This leads us to truth #1
Truth #1 The Mission of God is Bigger Than One Church
Antioch community church recognized that God was working not just in Antioch,
but that God had continued to work in Jerusalem and that there was a Christian church in Jerusalem that now needed their help.
This kind of decision was not a random gesture of kindness.
This is the result of a year of teaching from Paul and Barnabas.
They new at this point that the great commission of Jesus was never a selfish or isolated commission.
It was never going to be a kingdom that revolved around one church in one location.
The great commission as given by Jesus himself emphasized a global mission… an expanding mission.
Matthew 28:19 (ESV)
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations
Acts 1:8 (ESV)
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
How could the mission be a mission to all nations… if disciples only ever considered the needs of their own churches and their own neighborhoods?
How could the mission ever expand to the ends of the earth, if everybody always stayed put in their own little communities?
If the the glory of the Lord was to fill the earth…
then the disciples of Jesus would have to look beyond their own locations, beyond their own comforts… to places where the gospel was needed… and then they would have to sacrifice to get the gospel to those places.
The Antioch church did not see the Jerusalem church as the competition.
The Antioch church did not see the Jerusalem church as a distraction from their mission.
They saw the Jerusalem church as brothers and co-laborers in a global mission To spread the best conceivable news of eternal life to the ends of the earth.j
St. Rose Community Church would not exist if it were not for individuals looking beyond their own community to another community.
First Baptist Church of Kenner saw the need in St. Rose…, and that congregation corporately decided to send their own members to this place to start a new church in an old building.
Since then… St. Rose Community Church has been on the receiving end of sacrificial support from other churches.
When the hurricane hit last year, we were with out power for close to six weeks.
We were running ragged all day every day, cutting trees, gutting houses, tarping roofs, organizing a supply center.…
And every other day around 6 PM…, another church in the city… Immanuel Community Church cooked us hot meals and served us at the end of the day.
They consistently and sacrificially showed love to us in that season not because they had anything to gain…, but because they care about the gospel going forth in this community and through our church.
They believed that the mission was bigger than one church.
St. Charles Parish has over 50,000 residents and we can only fit about 180 people in this building and that’s pushing it.
So as it stands with one service at St. Rose Community Church we could only reach .004% of St. Charles Parish.
That means our prayers and our giving, and our striving, and our sending, and our vision for pushing back lostness in this parish has to be bigger than just our church.
We need Gracepoint Church in Destrehan, First Baptist Church of Norco, and First Baptist Church of Luling to be gospel preaching, biblically sound, healthy churches who reflect the gospel to their communities.
And if there is any way we can help do that, we want to do it.
You might not know this…, but right now we strive toward this end in several ways.
We have river parish pastor prayer breakfast happening this Friday.
At that breakfast we give away good books,
introduce topics for discussion,
and we try to encourage the pastors in our area to deeper cooperation with one another and more faithful adherence to the Scriptures in their ministries.
We have been working with FBC Luling for over a year now as they have been without a pastor since before COVID.
I had the privilege of teaching at their church on Wednesday nights in the Spring and have been working with their pastor search team to help find them a rock solid expositional preaching pastor to come lead them into church health… and I think they have finally found the guy to come and help revitalize them.
His name is Cody Cunningham and he is currently serving in Kenya training pastors, but he hopes to come back and lead FBC Luling to be a healthy and missionary sending church.
Praise the Lord!
There are 14,000 people that live in Luling and Luling needs a healthy community of faith where residents can see and hear the gospel preached.
Mark Dever always asks young preachers this question…, “If you pray for revival, but it comes to the church down the street, would you still praise the Lord?”
Antioch understood that the mission of God was bigger than one church…
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