Pastor's Blog
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October 3, 2018, 7:30 AM

A Great Church



Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch” (Acts 11:26).

Acts 11:19-26 introduces us to a great church. Here people were being saved, Christians were being discipled under sound teachers, and soon missionaries would be sent to distant countries. The people who observed all this zealous activity nicknamed the disciples “Christians.” Great churches do not just happen. Let’s look at this passage and see what it takes to have a great church.

1. The message of God was proclaimed. People came to Antioch “telling the message… the good news about the Lord Jesus” (vv. 19-20). This is where it starts, the home mission effort by people who care about the lost. So, how were they proclaiming the gospel? (a.) They were telling them under trial. It was some of “those who had been scattered by the persecution” who came to Antioch with the gospel (vv. 19-20). (b.) They were telling in triumph. We read that “a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord” (v. 21). Despite the persecution, their message prevailed. What made the difference? Verse 21 says, “The Lord’s hand was with them.” When man’s hand was against them, they conquered nevertheless, because the Lord’s hand was with them. His hand is mightier!

2. The grace of God was evidenced. Barnabas was sent from Jerusalem to investigate the news of revival in Antioch. “When he arrived,” he “saw the evidence of the grace of God” (v. 23). So, what’s the big deal about grace be evidenced? (a.) Grace produces visible changes! These people had “turned to the Lord” (v. 21), and this meant also turning away from sin, a turning to new life. (b.) Grace produces gracious co-laborers. It is said of Barnabas that “he was glad” and that “he was a good man” (vv. 23-24). The two are related. Some resent the success of others in gospel work and even slander it. A good man rejoices in all who do God’s work, and in all the work God does.

3. The people of God were strengthened. Barnabas “encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts” (v. 23). If people are to remain true to the Lord, they need to be strengthened in the face of opposition. So, how were they strengthened? (a.) They were strengthened by example. Barnabas set before them an example of mature Christianity. “He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord” (v. 24). Example is a powerful stimulus to achievement. (b.) They were encouraged by teaching. Believers need the milk and meat of the Word to grow and become strong. “So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people” (v. 26). The follow-up ministry was just as extensive as the evangelism outreach. Converts are sometimes lost because the zeal and effort expended to reach them is not matched by a zeal and effort to establish them in the Lord.

Evangelism. Grace. Encouragement. By these three means a great church is created, one that can, in turn, become the home base of an outreach program that enlarges the circle of those who turn to the Lord. We can have a great church right here at Avon Parkside if we will. God is willing and able; and if His hand is with us, who can be against us?

Let’s pray: Lord, may we be the soul-winning, grace-filled, discipling church You want us to be. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens


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