Last week we discovered the absolute necessity of SPIRIT FILLED living in the life of a truly transformational Church. Our case study, as you remember, is the Church of Antioch where the supernatural (things that can be credited to nothing but God) was commonplace. We studied the aspects of Spirit filled living (Conversion, surrender, Removal of sin, faith) and pointed out that both leadership and membership must be Spirit filled in order for a church to be THE CHURCH!
With that understanding, this week we’ll move on to the next….most natural progression – Gospel Advance. That is, sending forth the good news of Jesus Christ.
I’ like to ask you a very important and essential question. How important is Gospel Advance in your life?
I’m an optimistic fella and I would like to think that the vast majority of believers would answer that question by saying “Very, very important“….however, I do believe my rose colored glasses often fog the truth. Fact is, most believers that I talk to concerning this question reply by saying, “important, but not important enough”. For most of us, Gospel advance is a wonderful thing….as long as someone else is doing it! Yes, our Spirit rejoices when we see one cross for death to life during a Sunday morning service. We get downright giddy when we hear reports from the mission field of 1,000’s being gloriously saved. We really do have glad hearts when it comes to the Gospel going forth BUT life seems to get in our way when it comes to our personal mission of advancing the Gospel. Fear hinders us as well, as does, doubt, sin, prejudices and a plethora of other things. Very important….but admittedly not as important as it should be. I really believe the majority of believers feel this way.
“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it” Acts 4:12
How did the Christians who belonged to the transformational Church of Antioch feel about Gospel advance? Well, it seems for them that their personal and corporate mission became not an activity they did but rather a people they’d become. Advancing the Gospel seemed to be the focus of their lives. They participated in verbal Gospel witness. The responded to need with Gospel generosity. The built and maintained Gospel relationships….if we looked into their homes, I believe we’d find that they cultivated Gospel hearts in their children. Prick the church of Antioch and it would bleed the Gospel.
Point being, their lives were drastically altered by the Gospel and that prompted them to drastically alter their lives to pay it forward. They became a Gospel people. in fact, they were the first to be called “Christians” because the name of christ was on their lips at every turn. In the home, marketplace, church, everywhere….they were fueled by, you guessed it, the Gospel.
Before you begin to think that it must have been easier for them in the context of the culture in which they lived, consider Antioch was an urban capital of Rome, a “Free City” located on a port. With the location being near the sea, lots of travelers frequented and took up residence in the great city…..and brought their gods along with them. The “foreign” gods werent a big disruption in Antioch because it had become a religious soup. It was a cult center for the worship of gods like Zeus, Poseidon and Adonis. So as the Greeks, Phoenicians, Arabs, Jews, Italians and Persians were brough in….no one batted an eye.
Religious Stew- sound familiar? It should, for we live in a very similar culture today.
At any rate, Antioch doesn’t seem like much of a candidate for a mighty move of God does it? Remember, when God began to move there it shocked the Jerusalem Church so much that they sent Barnabas to check it out for himself and report back!
Fact is, in Gods economy, Antioch was the perfect candidate for revival!
Couple of quick Questions
Do you believe the circumstances / culture of Antioch would prove to be a detriment to the Gospel being advanced?
How should a Christian respond to overwhelming challenges concerning getting the Gospel into difficult areas?
Now we know that the Gospel spread like wildfire throughout the City, but how?
Read Acts 11:19-21 (yes, again!) – According to this text, how’d the gospel make it’s way into Antioch?
Thats right! Some men that were led of the Lord and controlled by the Spirit that had filled them TOOK the Gospel to Antioch. interestingly, these men are anonymous, nameless (to us anyway….God certainly knew their names). In a church world that at the time was only preaching the Gospel to Jews (with a few Gentile exceptions, mind you)…these men broke the mold even risking reputation and their very lives to advance the Gospel to the Gentile city!
What do you think was going through the minds of these men as they entered the city for the first time?
The response to the preaching of the Gospel by these man was nothing short of, here comes that scary word again, SUPERNATURAL! Check out Acts 11:21 “and a large number who believed turned to the Lord”! Shortly thereafter, The Church of Antioch became the spark plug for missions endeavors and the doorway of Gentile conversion. Through this truly transformational Church, the Gospel advanced and CHANGED EVERYTHING
Ponts To Ponder
Think for a moment and recall a person you know who exemplifies Gospel passion as these men did. What about the person on your mind sets them apart when it comes to being Gospel minded?
How do you think God desires for us to feel about Gospel advancement?
How can you change to become a Gospel minded believer?
Till tomorrow, I LOVE you and I am grateful to God for your friendship.
Soli Deo Gloria! Pastor