The Powerfully Gifted Church of Jesus Christ
The kingdom of God has a culture all its own. It does not employ the cultures of the world.
The church is the fellowship of the kingdom of God.
Therefore, the church must be careful taking on the culture of its location.
Rather, the church is to look like God’s kingdom and be a transforming agent to the surrounding culture.
Antioch was that in Acts 13.
Sitting over Antioch is Acts 1:3 and Acts 28:30, 31 as bookend statements about what is in between them, and Acts 1:8 as the missionary function of that kingdom and its churches.
We learn much about the church in Acts, but one thing we learn is that the kingdom births churches in which everyone supplies necessary and unique nourishment to the rest of the body.
The gospel of the kingdom makes disciples who engage the world in their domains, and from there Jesus builds his church in Acts 1:8 style.
Observations from the Church at Antioch
- Antioch was full of gifted people. 13:1
1.1. All New Testament churches are.
1.2. There is a tendency to exalt super stars of ministry.
1.3. We miss Antioch if we focus on the apostles/sent ones the church released.
- Worshiping and fasting seem to be fuel the Spirit uses to activate the church’s missional movement. 13:2
2.1. The church is full of prophets and teachers, so I’m sure the Word and teaching are not lacking.
- The Holy Spirit has a mission…Jesus mission…to call the church to call the nations to worship Jesus. 13:2
“Set apart for me…Barnabas and Saul…I have called them.”
3.1. The church is God’s vehicle for the mission.
3.2. God does set apart individuals who are sent from the church.
3.3. God speaks to the church to send those he has created for the cross-cultural work.
- Antioch prepared sending through fasting and prayer. 13:3
- Antioch approved and confirmed the Spirit’s call on their members. 13:3
- Antioch was local (Antioch) and they were global at the same time (in obedience to Acts 1:8). 13:4
6.1. There is no indication they are separated from their church, but are ambassadors of Jesus from the church at Antioch.
6.2. Barnabas and Paul return to Antioch and report on the work that was done. Acts 14:24-28
- Antioch’s effect was multiplication.
7.1. The disciples at Antioch made disciples that kept making disciples. It was not just one or two, but the whole church making disciples.
7.2. Antioch’s disciple making leads to apostolic work (sending work).
- Antioch was doing what it had been taught in its founding (Acts 11:19-26).
8.1. Antioch was planted by disciples preaching the gospel before any organizing principle got applied.
8.2. Antioch was planted through disciples crossing cultures and preaching Jesus to them.
8.3. Antioch was simply sending people on the mission as people had been sent on the mission to them.
- It’s easy to make this passage about Paul and Barnabas, when it is in fact about Jesus’ powerfully gifted body, the church.
9.1. Acts 11:21 (ESV) And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
9.2. If we focus on individual heroes who have “valued” skills we diminish the missional DNA that all members of the body have, and me make heroes of people who should not be heroes.
- The church has the missional DNA of the kingdom built into it because Jesus is the head, the Holy Spirit is the heartbeat, and the people of God are the members of Jesus’ body who carry the Spirit’s heartbeat.
What are some barriers to being like Antioch?
- Doctrinal accuracy without in the dirt application.
1.1. We need to make more of the church not less.
- Lack of biblical literacy (reading + comprehension + application).
2.1. Other parts of the world do more with 2 chapters of Philippians than many western Christians do with multiple translations.
- Personal / corporate discipline and holiness.
3.1. Worship the Lord…be disciplined to worship privately and together.
3.2. Fasting…learning to do with less to make more of Jesus.
3.3. Not being content with corporate sin.
3.4. Selling our prophetic voice for power, clout, and coolness.
- Western construction of “church” as contrasted with “ecclesia”.
We have to make sense of how the church manifested itself in Scripture.
4.1. If we start thinking “how to do church” before we start gazing on and seeking to understand “the essence of the church” we are starting in the wrong place.
- Contentment in being dependent on “agencies” or “non-profits” for glocal effectiveness rather bending our organizational effort and budgets around finishing the task of the Great Commission in our city and our world.
- Abandoning our vocations to “go into ministry” as the first action.
6.1. Vocational intentionality is our permit to the hardest places on the planet.