Year 2 Day 3
Read - Acts 11v19-30
Message - Scott Woodburn
The dividing wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile has been destroyed by Jesus Christ and as Acts 11 comes to an end we see the Gospel continue making its way into the Gentile world. The Jews who were living in Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch heard the Gospel as did the Greeks in the great city of Antioch (v20). The Lord was at work and many came to believe the Gospel (v21).
When news of this reached Jerusalem Barnabas was sent to investigate (v22). It would seem that the spread of the Gospel in the Gentile world was still a cause of some concern and in particular as Antioch was a city full of false gods. But when Barnabas arrived he saw God's grace in action (v23) causing him much gladness for he was a good man full of the Holy Spirit and faith (v24).
As many were coming to faith Barnabas went and sought out Saul who was then brought to Antioch to help establish these new converts. Saul would exercise this ministry for a whole year meeting with the church and teaching many people (v26). Indeed it was in Antioch that the disciples first took the title "Christians".
A prophet named Agabus was sent from Jerusalem to Antioch. Prophets were gifted preachers of God's Word who on occasion could foretell events yet to come. The Holy Spirit told Agabus that a great famine was going to overtake the world (v28) and this news didn't fall upon deaf ears. The Christians decided to send help to the church in Judea and they choose Barnabas and Saul to take this aid directly to the churches in need (v30).
These verses show us the remarkable inter-connectedness of the church of Jesus Christ. In the modern world individualism is seen as a virtue. When we come to church it is often with an attitude that seeks the best for "me first". We don't see that in Acts 11. The Gospel is spreading all over the known world. The church in Jerusalem sends spiritual help to the church in Antioch. The church in Antioch sends practical help back to Judea.
These men and women take the name Christians and that glorious title unites them with people they have not and perhaps will never meet. As Christians in Ballynahinch we have more in common with Christians in Asia than we do with unbelieving members of our own family. We are to be concerned for the spiritual health of the worldwide church and we are to be concerned for the practical needs of the worldwide church.
Christ died for His people and His people are in every corner of the earth. May the Lord forgive us our independence and selfishness and short sightedness towards the church of Jesus Christ. "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[d] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many." (1 Corinthians 12v12-14)
Q21 Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect? The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was, and continueth to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, for ever.