LESSONS FROM THE CHURCH AT ANTIOCH
A. Without question, the church of Christ is the greatest institution on earth.
1. Granted, there are many manmade organizations that do much good, yet none are comparable to the body of Christ – it has no rival.
2. The church did not come by chance, nor was it the invention of man.
3. The Almighty had it in His eternal mind to prepare, plan, and plant His church over which Christ would be the head and in which are all the saved
B. The early church was abounding “in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58)
1. Their main mission was to glorify God through three primary avenues:
a. Seeking the lost (Mk. 16:15-16)
b. Serving the suffering (Jam. 1:27)
c. Strengthening the saved (Rom. 14:19)
2. As they went about doing good and performing their assigned work – the church grew
a. Acts 1:8 outlines how this growth took place…
b. We are thankful for the birth and the growth of the Lord’s church
3. We also need to be thankful that there are, in the inspired Record, historical accounts of a number of congregations of the Lord’s church, some of which challenge the best that is in us – the church of Christ in Antioch is one example of such a congregation
A. IT’S ESTABLISHMENT
1. When Stephen was martyred, a great wave of persecution against Christians arose, which scattered Christians into the regions of Judea and Samaria
a. Acts 8:1-4
b. Acts 11:19-20
2. These persecuted Christians who had traveled 300 miles from Jerusalem to Antioch carried the Gospel with them
a. Thus began in Antioch a congregation of the church of Christ
b. The Word was preached and the Word was obeyed – we cannot improve upon this God-given formula.
B. STRENGTHS OF THE CHURCH AT ANTIOCH
1. A Taught Church
a. Acts 11:22-26
b. The church at Jerusalem could have become jealous at the good news at Antioch, but their reaction was “Let us help them!”
1) So they sent Barnabas – the great exhorter (Acts 4:36)
2) Through his efforts the church grew (Acts 11:24)
c. Though these at Antioch were Christians by virtue of Gospel obedience, there were at the same time novices, and needed to grow in faith.
d. This is exactly what Jesus taught – Great Commission
1) Matthew 28:19-20
2) 2 Peter 3:18
2. A Benevolent Church
a. Acts 11:27-30
b. The young church in Antioch demonstrated their love to the needy believers in Jerusalem by taking up a collection for them
c. The unselfish and benevolent spirit of these believers is remarkable, especially considering that the most mature of them were a only a few years old in the Lord
d. We too need to be benevolent
1) “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”
2) 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
a) “Cheerful” come from hilaros from which we get our English tern “hilarious”
b) It should be a thrill of a lifetime to give
3. An Unprejudiced and United Church
a. Acts 13:1
b. Five people are mentioned in this verse as being prophets and teachers, all reflecting a great diversity of background
1) They were of different races
2) There was no prejudice among them – they were one
3) They knew the church was a place for every race, culture and color
4) Galatians 3:26-28
c. The Bible condemns prejudice – James 2:9
d. The unbiased unity of believers in seen in our Lord prayer – John 17:20-21
e. Philippians 2:2
4. A Busy Church
a. “…they ministered to the Lord…” (Acts 13:2)
1) How did they minister?
2) By their worship, by converting others, by edification, and by assisting the needy
3) They were busy in God’s service
b. Are we workers for the Lord?
1) Mark Twain once said, “I do not like work even when someone else is doing it”
2) There are many things that vie for our attention that put our spiritual pursuits on the backburner
3) Are we too busy to have time for the Lord? If so, we’re too busy – balance is essential
c. Ephesians 2:10
d. 1 Corinthians 15:58
5. A Receptive Church
a. Acts 13:2-3
b. The Holy Spirit gave the Antioch congregation the command to set apart Barnabas and Saul for a specific work
1) They responded obediently to the Lord’s will – “they sent them away”
2) There was no questioning – no second guessing
c. How do we respond to the Lord’s will?
1) Our attitude toward God’s word reveals our attitude toward God
2) John 12:48 – Receiving God and His word are connected
3) If we do not have time for the Scriptures we do not have time for God
d. Scripture is ‘God-breathed” and we cannot mistreat the Scripture without mistreating God
6. An Evangelistic Church
a. Acts 13:4
b. The Antioch congregation was ready to send Barnabas and Saul to do mission work under the Spirit’s directive.
1) This was a sign of maturity, as they did not cling to their friends but released them, knowing that God’s will was best.
2) They know that God would take up the slack with other teachers and prophets
c. The first missionary journey began and ended in Antioch (Acts 14:25)
1) The second missionary journey began and ended in Antioch (Acts 15:40-41; 18:22).
2) The third missionary journey also began in Antioch (Acts 18:23)
d. Are we mission minded?
C. TROUBLE IN THE CHURCH AT ANTIOCH
1. Where there are people, there are problems, and the church in Antioch was no exception
2. Acts 15:1-2
a. They had modified the plan of salvation
b. This false doctrine was opposed – the apostles and the elders settled the matter
3. Every congregation faces trouble…
a. We must never deviate from the truth
b. We must meet the trouble head on