Wednesday Night Bible Study – March 7, 2012

Acts 14:21-28 – Being the Church




    1. 2 Timothy 3:10-1710 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.  12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.  14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.


      1. Before we begin today I would like to give you a summary statement that will help prepare our minds for our passage for today.  Remember that these words of Paul to Timothy were written while reflecting on his missionary journeys which our passage for today narrates.


    1. Summary – After Paul’s conversion he disappears to Arabia.  Let us remember that Paul had been converted on the Damascus Road…immediately went to Damascus for restoration and baptism and then he spends several years in Arabia of which we have no record.  Then, God establishes a new church in a new place that will be instrumental in the future of Christian missions…Antioch of Syria.  When Jerusalem hears of this racially mixed church of Jews and Gentiles, they send a very special servant named Barnabas to go and assist the church in discipling these new believers.  When Barnabas gets to Antioch, he realizes quickly that he needs help.  He remembers a young Pharisee that had been converted to Christianity and become a powerful preacher and evangelist for the faith, named Saul…so Barnabas travels to Tarsus and comes back to Antioch with Paul and for a year they serve together at Antioch.  It was during this time that the Holy Spirit prepares them to spread the gospel to the utmost corners of the earth.


      1. All the missionary journeys originated from this place called Antioch of Syria:  What we will look at today is the return trip of the first journey when Paul and Barnabas backtrack their footsteps as they return to Antioch, their home church.
        1. First Missionary Journey – Begins in Acts 13, ends in Acts 14 – Two chapters…one trip…eight cities.



  1. BEGIN IN ACTS 14:19-20…then…READ ACTS 14:21-28




  1. VERSES 21-22  Being the                              involves                               .


    1. 21 They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples.  Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.


      1. They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples…


        1. That city refers to Derbe, the last city that Paul and Barnabas would evangelize before their return trip to Antioch…the Bible says that there they preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples – they went to this city and they preached the Word of God – Christ crucified and resurrected and the result was that people came to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.


          1. Hebrews 4:12-1312 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.


      1. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith…


        1. At first glance this passage seems to tell us very little, other than the cities they returned to and what they did…but when we take into consideration a few facts…it really changes the way we will understand this passage.


          1. They had been run out of Pisidian Antioch and Iconium…and Paul had been nearly stoned to death at Lystra…just about everywhere they went they created division and chaos when they preached…but the Lord also reaped a harvest through their preaching.
          2. If you look at a map of their first missionary journey, you will notice that when they came to Derbe, they were almost home…they were very near to Antioch in Syria…yet…they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith…although they had traveled a long, long way…even though their lives had been threatened more than once…even though Paul had almost been killed, they were willing to sacrifice their lives again, to go back and nurture those that had come to faith in Christ…Being the CHURCH involves HARDSHIP.


      1. That’s a good point to open up with isn’t it?  If there is one thing that we don’t like and try to avoid at all cost, it is hardship…yet, we see Paul and Barnabas almost invite it as they travel on these missionary journeys, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.


        1. When the trouble really began and the resistance became heated and the persecution was vicious…why didn’t they stop?  Just imagine if one of your family members was on this missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas and you heard about what was happening when they went from city to city.  We would probably be angry at Paul and Barnabas for convincing our family member into following them on this suicide mission…can’t they see the problems they are causing?  Can’t they see that preaching and teaching the gospel is causing riots and bloodshed?  Why don’t they stop?!  Because Paul, Barnabas, Peter, John and all the other first century Christians understood that being a Christian meant that your life would be filled with hardship.


    1. Matthew 7:13-1413 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.


      1. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said…Being the CHURCH involves HARDSHIP


  1. VERSE 23  Being the church involves                           and                         leaders


    1. 23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. 


      1. Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church…


        1. As they return to these cities in which they had established churches, they appointed elders for them in each church.  Elder is a word that we are not used to in the contemporary Baptist church…but it is one that we desperately need to reacquaint ourselves with because it is of vital importance for the church – Throughout the NT Paul teaches two offices to be appointed in the local church – elders/overseers/bishops (different translations of presbutros and episkopos); Pastors (poimen) and deacons.


          1. Timothy 3:1-131 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer (pastor, elder, bishop), he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.  4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?  6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.  7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.  8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.  9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.  11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.  12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.  13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.


      1. with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust –  


        1. This sounds much like an ordination service – they pray over them and with them…they fast…and commit them to the Lord in whom they had put their trust.


      1. Now it become clear why this return trip was worth their lives and why they deemed it so important to not head home…they had new churches that must have leadership…no doubt that by this time the initial persecutions had subsided and the true disciples were holding together…a perfect time to return and select and train leaders.


        1. Do we realize how critical it is to have qualified and committed leaders in our church?  If our leaders are even trying to be Biblical and trying to build this church on the rock of Christ we need to get behind them, pray for them and encourage them and protect them with all your might.  You may not always agree with them…but as long as the can back up what they are doing with this book…love them…pray for them…support them and help them!


          1. Being a church leader is hard work brothers and sisters…and very few people truly understand how hard it is…My Uncle’s comment.


        1. Hebrews 13:1717 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.  


  1. VERSES 24-26  Being the                      involves having a missions                           


    1. 24 After going through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia, 25 and when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.  26 From Attalia they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.


      1. As we just discussed on the previous point, Paul and Barnabas went back to Antioch of Syria the way they had come…to develop leaders and strengthen and encourage them…what we see here is a glimpse into their thoroughness as they preached the word in Perga.


        1. Acts 13:13From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem.  From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch.


      1. So Paul and Barnabas were thorough in the methods…they had a strategy and it was the strategy that had been commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ.


        1. Matthew 28:18-20“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
        2. Acts 1:8 – 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.”


    1. Those two commissions give us very little wiggle room…Christ will hold us accountable for these commands…when we go before the judgment seat of Christ, we will be held accountable for how we fulfilled them…God has given us himself through Christ so that we are without excuse…there is no excuse for anyone in Columbus, MS, to not have the opportunity to hear the gospel…we should be out there telling and telling and telling.


      1. Did we do our part?
      2. Did we chose the people we wanted to share the gospel with or did we go to all nations?
      3. Did we purposefully develop a mission strategy that avoided certain neighborhoods because those people are not our kind of people that we want in our church?  We are not to show partiality.
      4. If we for whatever reason neglected to evangelize a certain area for a legitimate reason in the past…do we have plans to make certain that we get into that area as soon as possible with the gospel?


    1. Missions is not something that is accidental or random…missions need to planned out and purposeful…we need to be as proactive and planned with missions as we do anything else in our lives.  Most of us have an idea of where we want to be financially and in terms of career in five years…shouldn’t we have the same desire for ourselves spiritually and the church numerically and geographically?


  1. VERSES 27-28  Being the church involves                           between                         .


    1. 27 On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.  28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.


      1. They gathered the church together and reported all that God had done…


        1. Paul and Barnabas, these two men anointed of God that had performed miracles through God’s power for over a year in foreign lands, return to their home church and report to their brothers what has happened.
        2. They didn’t go running off and celebrate somewhere…they stayed with their home church for a long time and exhorted them with the stories of their travels and all the wonderful things that God had done on their first missionary journey…not only did they strengthen and encourage the churches they planted…but they came home and did the exact same thing with their home church.


      1. God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles – what Peter had witnessed at the home of the Roman centurion and had reported to the Jerusalem church was now happening abroad all over the world…the gentiles were being brought into God’s kingdom…this would pose a major racial challenge for the growth, prosperity and unity of the bride of Christ, the Church.


        1. This issue would have to be addressed between the opposing forces of Jewish Christianity and Gentile Christianity and Paul and Barnabas knew it was coming which is why they allowed themselves to be held closely accountable by their fellow brothers.
        2. They didn’t run and hide, they were open, honest and forthcoming about what God was doing in the mission field…and it was both wonderful and scary because it had the potential to be incredibly beneficial or a disaster of untold proportions in the making.


      1. Ephesians 2:13-1713 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.  14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.


  1. CLOSE


    1. Being the church involves hardship – Being a Christian is more than just being on a membership role of a church, it’s more than showing up to morning worship every now and then…it’s more than giving some money to the budget…it involves all those things, but being the church is being the bride of Christ.
    2. Being the church requires leadership – the Bride of Christ needs men and women who are trained, dependable, trustworthy and mature to thrive – it will not happen without multiple levels of leadership – Ephesians 4:11-1311 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
    3. Being the church involves a missions strategy – At every level without showing partiality.


      1. Revelation 7:9-109 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
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