To The End Of The Earth…A Movement Begins
Acts records for us the powerful expansion of the Kingdom of God from Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
The powerful gospel of the kingdom has made disciples and it is doing so in every domain of society and the church is popping up as planted all over the place.
What Acts 13:1-2 records for us is how one church, Antioch, played its part in the plan of King Jesus to expand his rule into every domain of society.
So, we want to pay attention to what God does in Antioch and what we can take away and practice, as we too want to join in on the advance of Jesus’ kingdom to the end of the earth.
What do we see and what does it mean?
At Antioch, Barnabas and Saul invest a year in teaching and equipping Acts 13:1/Acts 11:19-26
The abundance of teachers at Antioch is the work of the Spirit.
But the Spirit uses means.
The uses the created means of sowing and reaping to teach us. Sowing and reaping are woven into created order. When we sow single seeds in the ground they multiply because the sower tilled the ground, planted the seed, watered, waited and harvested.
Jesus used this principle in the parable of the sower. The word of the kingdom (Matthew) is what is sown. The locations of sowing are people. There is either a harvest or not which points to the condition of the person not the power of the seed.
When Barnabas and Saul sowed the year of faithful teaching into Antioch, it’s no surprise that there was a harvest.
Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” – Luke 6:40
Barnabas and Saul sowed their lives and teaching and reaped disciples that were like them.
What do we do with this?
- Sow liberally your life into the lives of others teaching the word and watering with time and follow up with them in mentoring.
- Expect a harvest that multiplies.
At Antioch there was an abundance of prophets and teachers v. 1
There is an abundance of gifted people because the Holy Spirit gifts his church to serve his purpose, and he does so through the gifted service of faithful workers.
Antioch is going to become an epicenter of a global movement.
Antioch is not a large church. Antioch is not the Village Church. Antioch’s pastor is not Matt Chandler. As a matter of fact, we don’t know who the pastors are at Antioch. The pastors are unnamed!
What we do see is that there is an abundance of prophets and teachers.
Prophets tell the word of the Lord. Prophets ask the question, “What does the Lord say about this?” Or prophets proclaim with power and authority, “Thus says the Lord!” Another way to say it is that prophets encourage with the word.
Teachers learn and explain the word in a way that people can grasp it and make application of the word.
Antioch was the place where Barnabas, a prophet/teacher, went to get Paul and brought him there (Acts 11:25-26) and they equipped the saints at Antioch for an entire year.
So, now there is a prophet/teacher/apostle combination discipling the church at Antioch.
Ephesians 2:20 tells us that the church is founded through the ministry of apostles and prophets while Jesus is the cornerstone that lines it all up and gives it soundness.
These are not offices. These are gifts given by the Spirit for the advance of the kingdom in the general population of the church.
Jesus did not institute hierarchical structures, so why would he then found the church on a hierarchy that he took so many pains to tear down in the practice of his disciples? He told the disciples not to act like that.
If the Lord only gave out administration, there would nothing to administrate!
The Spirit gifts with expanders and heralds of truth that there may be advance that then needs other gifts.
The Lord selected an apostolic gifting (ideas, moving forward, not remaining stuck) with a prophetic / teacher gifting (what does the Lord say about this and how can we explain clearly?) to go and plant churches in the advance of the kingdom.
So, one year later we find Antioch, equipped through the ministry of Saul and Barnabas, full of prophets and teachers and ready to multiply their influence.
A key ingredient, supplied by God’s providential hand in Barnabas going to get Saul, is the apostolic and the prophet/teacher.
Antioch is ready to impact the world.
What do we do with this?
- We have to become aware of the gifting of the apostolic, prophetic, and teaching gifts.
This is one of the purposes of pastor/church planter training.
God is raising up form TRC pastors/teachers/planters (who is typically apostolic) and this is a tremendous grace of the Lord!
Jeff Williams, Justin Owens, Graham Garrett, Eric Croft, Ryan McKinney, Andrew Hackler are all men the Lord has raised up and they are in training. We are assessing their gifting, teaching them about pastoral ministry, the apostolic work of planting churches, theology, and the great commission while observing their learning and service in the body.
This is a result of years of sowing the teaching of God’s word and the Spirit moving mightily in our church (1 Timothy 3:1-7).
- We must recognize the work of the Spirit in gifting leadership for multiplication. If the Lord is raising it up he is doing so for the purpose of gaining by multiplying.
- Every church has kingdom expanse potentential because it has people in it. The key is faithful teaching, emphasis on the kingdom, calling for faithful men to respond to the biblical challenge, training them and releasing them.
In worship and fasting the Spirit spoke calling and strategy v. 2
It’s noteworthy that the church at Antioch did not move to practice until they had majored on the most vital part…worship and fasting.
Making much of Jesus corporately and setting the body in a place to receive what is happening in the soul due to worshiping Jesus puts the church at Antioch in a place to be a launching point of a movement.
What is worship?
Worship – Communion with God in which believers by grace center their mind’s attention and heart’s affection on the Lord, humbly glorifying God in response to the revelation of the glory and majesty. – Dr. Leafblad
What is fasting?
Fasting – “Fasting is one of those things in which the body shows its sympathy with what the spirit is passing through; it is a means of expressing our desire to be low before God, and in the attitude of humiliation.”
Worship and fasting put us in reception mode.
When we are in reception mode we are ready for calling and strategy.
The Spirit strategically selects Paul and Barnabas and places his calling on them to be “set apart for the work he has called them to.”
It does not say the Spirit got explicit on the content of “calling”, but we have to assume he did because we’ll read in verse 3 that they sent them off and these two clearly know where they are going.
Why might the Spirit pick these two? What is the Lord’s strategy?
Remember Ephesians 2:20? The Lord builds the church on Jesus as the cornerstone with the apostles and prophets as instruments.
Paul is not listed in Acts 13 as a prophet or a teacher. He is an apostle.
What is an apostle? An apostle (not the office of eye witness to Jesus’ resurrection, but the gifting) is one who builds, starts, and casts vision.
Barnabas is a teacher/prophet that is part of the crew listed at Antioch.
The Spirit paired up an apostle and a prophet/teacher and sent them out in a pair in order to 1) obey Jesus instruction on sending out two by two and 2) to compliment gifting because the Lord works in community due to being a community (Trinitarian theology in practice).
What do we do with this?
- Attend corporate worship and engage. Worship daily in private and weekly together.
- Make a discipline out of fasting (real fasting not doing without non-necessities).
- Be ready to hear. Hear the word as you read it. Hear the sermon. Engage in RL and listen.
- Discern the Spirit distinct from your flesh. Sin is deceptive and will mask itself in justifying itself. The Spirit will always be consistent with the Scriptures.
- Be prepared to obey as quickly as possible. Delay will dull your sensitivity to the voice of God.
- Identify those apostolic gifts for starting, expanding, building and those prophetic gifts that encourage with the word for the sake of growing and building the kingdom RATHER than staying static.
Antioch responded to the Spirit’s call by fasting and praying to send v. 3
The senders fasted and prayed and acknowledged the Spirit’s call.
The goers left behind the comfort of the family.
Each party “suffers” in some measure.
Suffering is part of our identifying with the Lord Jesus. And it’s not just the goers who get the honor of suffering with Jesus.
The senders get to suffer in withholding sustenance from themselves for the sake of identifying with Jesus and for the honor of standing with the goer in spirit and in sustaining and interceding prayer.
What do we do with this?
- We actively send to the nations according to the Spirit’s call.
- We must be fasting with and for our people.
- We must be praying with and for our people.
Paul and Barnabas and John Mark take specific action in active obedience, encounter resistance, exercise Jesus’ authority, and see fruit v. 4-12
We have to draw the conclusion that since they were sent by the Spirit and went to a specific place, these guys were following the Spirit’s direction.
These two servants take along a helper, John Mark.
It would be appropriate then to say that the Spirit led Barnabas, Paul and John Mark to their work.
Note that it does not take them long to encounter resistance.
They encounter a Jewish magician/false prophet named Bar Jesus (son of Joshua).
With the Scripture’s clear teaching against practicing magic and the dark arts, it’s clear this Jewish “prophet” is Jewish in lineage only and not in obedience to the Scriptures because he’s operating in Satanic arts and influencing the Roman appointed governor of the region.
Paul, who now begins to use his Greek name strategically and will be called by that name from now on, rebukes the resistance and by the authority of Jesus stems the influence of the Satanic over the work of the kingdom.
As a result, the proconsul believes the gospel and is astonished.
What do we do with this?
- As we fast and pray and worship, let’s listen for clear instruction from the Spirit.
- Work toward explicit obedience to the Spirit’s leading.
- As we do kingdom work, expect Satanic hindrance.
- Exercise the authority of the kingdom.
Matthew 28:18 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore…”
- Expect Jesus to save the lost and cause them to be astonished at his awesomeness!
Psalm 147:1 “Praise the LORD (Yahweh)! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.