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Gospel Proclamation, Gospel Opposition (Acts 14:1-7)

November 20, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon testifies to the contention between the work of Christ and the works of the devil. Elder Woodard affirms that a Gospel that is not Christ-focused has no power. The focus of this sermon is on why Gospel proclamation overcomes Gospel opposition.

Gospel Proclamation: The Power of God

Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believedSo they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands (Acts 14:1, 3;ESV).

God ordained and commissioned His people to proclaim Christ (cf. Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-48; John 20:21). The Gospel is the message that God sent His Messenger – the Eternal Son Jesus Christ – to seek and save a lost people from condemnation to everlasting life, through His life, death and resurrection (Matthew 5:17-20; Luke 19:10; John 3:16-21, 11:25, 12:23-30). The life of Christ is incredible because He perfectly kept the righteous requirements of God’s Law even to the point of death, despite being tempted at all points (Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 2:17-18, 4:15-16). For this reason, Christ was put to death, and since His righteousness exceeded that of mankind, God allowed Him suffer by the hand of sinful men (cf. Matthew 26:45-46; Mark 14:41-42; Acts 4:27-30; John 3:10-12). Above all, God was pleased to accept Christ’s living sacrifice by magnificently raising Him from the dead and those who have faith in Him experience the same to eternal life (Romans 5; 1 Corinthians 15).

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Gospel Opposition

But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothersthe people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles (Acts 14:2, 4; ESV).”

This Gospel brings opposition from the world, the flesh and the devil. Elder Woodard describes Gospel opposition as an attack against the message (or Messenger) trying to contradict the truth. Furthermore, it attempts to build up what God has torn down and tries to tear down what God has built up (cf. Matthew 16:18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Ephesians 6:10-20). God is sovereign over the opposition, persecution, and tribulation. What Paul and Barnabas needed was boldness to proclaim the Gospel in the midst of these circumstances. Moreover, they had to remember that Christ had told them that they would experience these things in this world, but He also assured them that He was right alongside them (Matthew 28:20; John 15-17).

Gospel Proclamation: The Presence of God

When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, and there they continued to preach the gospel (Acts 14:3; ESV).”

Finally, Gospel proclamation overcomes all opposition because the Lord abides with His people. First, He bore witness to the ministry of Paul and Barnabas with signs and wonders, essentially, attesting to the truth of the Gospel they proclaimed. Secondly, since they knew that God approves of the message of Jesus Christ, they were able to proclaim Him with confidence knowing that He was with them (cf. Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 4:15, 33:15; Matthew 28:20; Luke 17:21). Likewise, knowing that the Lord approved of their labor and abode with them, they were able to endure suffering in light of the hope that was set before them, namely, Christ (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-10; Luke 9:28-36). However, in this particular account, God did not leave them in the hand of their persecutors, instead He lead them out of that city to continue preaching the Gospel in other places.

Whose side are you on?

Gospel proclamation elicits a response. You will either receive the Gospel in faith or reject the Gospel in folly. God’s plan is for the Gospel to be proclaimed throughout the entire world and His plan shall not be thwarted or exhausted, for He will surely bring it to pass (Habakkuk 2)!

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Paul’s Preaching: The Promise of Christ, Part II (Acts 13:24-52)

November 12, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon affirms that when the Gospel is preached rightly, there will be rejection and rejoicing. Pastor Duncanson explains that the goal of every preacher should be to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The focus of this sermon is on the reality of the Gospel message, which is the Death of Christ, the Resurrection of Christ and the Return of Christ.

The Gospel: The Death of Christ

Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed (Acts 13:26-28;ESV).

In this account, Paul is no longer talking about past time events, he brings the Gospel home to his present hearers. Paul’s listeners were well versed in all of the Scriptures, yet he exposes them to their ignorance and blindness in condemning their Savior. They missed Him, their True King, Jesus the Christ by leaning on their own understanding rather than acknowledging the One whom God sent (Proverbs 3:5-7). However, God’s plan was for Jesus to be a suffering, servant King, who would lay His life down for the sins of His people, even though He stood faultless before God and man (Isaiah 48:12-22, 49:1-7, 52:13-15, 53; Matthew 16:21, 26:10-13; John 18:36-37). Therefore, if we do not understand who Christ is, then we cannot properly understand the Gospel.

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The Gospel: The Resurrection of Christ

And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus (Acts 13:29-33; ESV).”

Although Christ’s death is remarkable, His resurrection is more glorious. Why is the Resurrection of Christ so glorious? First, the resurrection testifies to God’s faithfulness in providing a perfect sacrifice in the death of His Son to make up for the sins of His people (cf. Genesis 22). Secondly, the resurrection is a promise that all who believe in Christ receive not only forgiveness of sin, but also His righteousness before God (Matthew 3:15, 5:20; Romans 1:17, 3:22-26). Hence, if we do not believe that Christ was raised from the dead, we are most pitiful of all humanity, but since Christ was indeed raised, what does that mean for us (1 Corinthians 15)?

The Gospel: The Return of Christ

Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about:

Look, you scoffers,

be astounded and perish;

for I am doing a work in your days,

a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you

The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

I have made you a light for the Gentiles,

that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed (Acts 13:40-41, 44-48; ESV).”

Pastor Duncanson sums up the Gospel as the death, resurrection, and return of Christ. The Gospel is both a warning and an invitation because this message exposes the sin of humanity before God while also showing the mercy of God to appoint Christ as the Way back to Himself. Faced with their sin, and the reality of Christ’s resurrection, these listeners had one of two responses either reject the Gospel or rejoice in the mercy and grace of God through Christ. The Jews rejected this message as their fathers did throughout history, while the Gentiles thirsted after the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, receiving the Word with gladness to salvation (cf. Matthew 5:6; John 5:36-47; Romans 5).

Do you believe the Gospel?

Once we recognize that all sin is a treacherous offense to God, we see our desperate need of a Savior, who not only can forgive us but also give us a righteousness that pleases God (Psalm 51; Habakkuk 1:13). Behold the day is coming, when Christ will separate the wheat from the tares (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). You can flee to Him now and find comfort in this time of grace, or be found naked, full of shame and condemnation, when He comes (Revelation 3:17-18).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Paul’s Preaching: The Promise of Christ, Part I (Acts 13:13-23)

November 6, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon unfolds with the testimony of God’s faithfulness throughout history. Pastor Carter exhorts with the goodness of God to His chosen people and the assurance that God’s faithfulness is rooted in His unchangeableness. The focus of this sermon is on the first record of Paul preaching the Gospel, which is the power, patience, provision and promise of God.

The Gospel: The Power of God

After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it. So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said: Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it (Acts 13:15-17;ESV).

Paul realized that the Gospel is the power of God (Romans 1:16-17). He demonstrates this by showing those who were present in the synagogue that the Old Testament vividly displays the power of God throughout the life of His people and His world. More specifically, Pastor Carter describes two important inherent attributes in the power of God. First, the power of God is His ability to choose whenever and whoever, unmoved by any external elements, as He pleases (Deuteronomy 7:6-7; Romans 9:14-23). Secondly, the power of God is His ability change whatever or whomever He chooses, whether that is darkness to light or sinner into the image of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

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The Gospel: The Patience of God

And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness (Acts 13:18; ESV).”

The power of God is magnified by the patience of God. Paul reminds his audience that God put up with Israel in the wilderness for forty years (Psalm 95:7-11). Even in their waywardness, He did not abandon them (Deuteronomy 1:31). Why is He so patience even with a stubborn and sinful people? For He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, and kind to the ungrateful and evil (Exodus 34:6; Luke 6:35).

The Gospel: The Provision of God

And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years (Acts 13:19-21; ESV).”

Subsequently, the patience of God should lead to the realization of His goodness and provision. He not only puts up with His people, but the amazing thing is He graciously gives them gifts that they do not deserve (Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 12:22-34). He gave them land as an inheritance, which was necessary for them to become a people among other nations. He also gave them godly leaders as measure of His grace to lead His people in the ways of God. Nonetheless, the Gospel is not just about God giving land or godly leaders, it is ultimately about Him giving Himself as a loving Savior in the Person of Jesus Christ (John 3:16-21).

The Gospel: The Promise of God

And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will. Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised (Acts 13:22-23; ESV).”

Above all, God is a promise keeper. When God gave them David, He did not just simply provide them a king, He was keeping His promise to His people. Pastor Carter cheerfully proclaims that the promise of God is summed up in five words, “I will be with you” (Genesis 26:24). Scripture testifies that David was a man after God’s own heart, that is, a man who is going to represent God to the people and remind the people that God’s promises are true (1 Samuel 13:14). However, the Jews looked to David as the king, but Paul insists that they look through David to see Jesus – the Son of David, Emmanuel – once again fulfilling the promise that God made to His people (Matthew 1:1, 23).

Do you see clearly the goodness of God?

Think for a moment, the Lord God Almighty brings forth that which is not, He breathes life into the nostrils of one and by the breath of His nostrils He consumes the other (Genesis 2:7; Job 4:9). The Gospel is God giving to us what we need most, namely, Himself in Christ with the promise of salvation, forgiveness and eternal life. God gives because God is good and does good (Romans 2:4).

This is so important, that primary on Satan’s agenda for God’s people, is to get them to believe that God is not good. For this reason, we need the Gospel to remind us that in the midst of whatever is happening, God is good. In the midst of the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross, Him taking our pain and bearing our shame, and His suffering allows us to bear fruit unto salvation and in the end joyfully say, “God is good” (2 Corinthians 4:13-18)!

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John Griffin, Drummer, at Saturday Morning Rehearsal. ©Photo Courtesy of Lee Fowler

Moment of Reflection

This weekend our dear brother and friend, John Griffin, was called into the Presence of Jesus Christ to enjoy Him for all eternity. Although we are weeping the loss of our brother, we acknowledge that the Lord does good, for He is good even in our afflictions, working all things together for His glory and our good (Psalm 119:68; Romans 8:28). Therefore, since we have a hope that surpasses this world, we can comfort one another and make melody in our hearts to the Lord as the day draws near when we too shall be welcomed in His Presence where there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11; Ephesians 5:19; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

The Lord of the Languishing (Psalm 6)

October 22, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

This week at East Point Church, we welcomed Pastor Aaron Messner from Westminster Presbyterian Church to our worship service. The sermon for this week shows the effects of sin cause external afflictions and internal turmoil. Pastor Messner acknowledges that the greatest hardships in this life come from man’s inhumanity toward man. The focus of this sermon is on David’s prayer of languishing to the Lord for pain he felt at the hands of his enemies, which consisted of a plea for grace, healing and deliverance.

Prayer of Languishing: A Plea for Grace

O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,

     nor discipline me in your wrath.

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing(Psalm 6:1-2a; ESV)

Pastor Messner describes languishing as a slow ache of the inner man. David identifies with the pain that comes at the hands of others, but he does not legitimize the sin committed against him. Instead, he does something that is counter-intuitive to the world, he prays to the Lord in his time of languishing. He realizes that even as he is being wronged, he must come before God humbly and in repentance because he is also a sinner in need of grace (cf. Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Although, others sin against us, we must not forget that not only have we sinned against others, but also we have sinned against the Lord Himself (Psalm 51:3-4).

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Prayer of Languishing: A Plea for Healing

“…heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.

My soul also is greatly troubled

     But you, O Lord how long (Psalm 6:2b-3)?

David asks the Lord to heal the remaining sorrow and comfort his grief. Physical healing is of great benefit to the body, but only the Lord can heal the pain of the soul. How does He heal and comfort? He heals with His steadfast love. He comforts with His gracious Word (Matthew 9:12-13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31-32).

Prayer of Languishing: A Plea for Deliverance

Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;

     save me for the sake of your steadfast love.

For in death there is no remembrance of you;

     in Sheol who will give you praise (Psalm 6:4-5)?

Pastor Messner notes here that David was not addressing the issue of heaven and hell, he was concerned with leading others to the Lord (cf. Philippians 1:23-26). Essentially, David is saying, “Deliver me, so that I may praise You in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:11-14). Rather than becoming self-righteous when he was wronged, David entrusted himself to the righteousness of One greater than himself. He lifts up his eyes to the hills, from which comes his help, fully persuaded that his help came from the Lord (Psalm 121). In doing so, he is changed in the moment, because of his hope in the steadfast love and faithfulness of God.

Have you endured what seemed to be an inconsolable grief at the hand of another?

Truly, the offenses that we face at the hands of others create real external affliction and internal turmoil. The temptation is to become self-righteous when you have been wronged. However, to do so is to overlook your own sin against One far more righteous than you.

When sin entered the world through the foolishness of Adam and Eve, humanity was severed from a life-sustaining relationship with God. Nonetheless, in spite of the foolishness of man, God sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ to step into history to redeem us, forgive us, and restore us to Himself. Christ is the Great Physician, who came to heal the brokenhearted. He is able to turn you sorrows into great joy (Luke 4:18-19; John 16:20).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

The Death of Herod and the Glory of God (Acts 12:18-25)

October 16, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon demonstrates the goodness and severity of God. Pastor Carter bears witness that the mighty hand of God brings life to one and death to another according to His will. The focus of this sermon is on how the treachery of sin brings about the Glory of God.

The Treachery of Sin

Now when day came, there was no little disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. And after Herod searched for him and did not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and spent time there (Acts 12:18-19;ESV).

Pastor Carter defined malice as the intent and desire to do evil or to bring ill will. Herod had malice in his heart and he had every intention to carry it out. His thirst for blood did not cease with the murder of James, and after learning about the escape of Peter, he poured out his wrath on the soldiers. For this reason, Christians are commanded to put away all malice, seeing that malice leads to murder then to madness (Ephesians 4:31-32). When sin goes on unchecked, unrestrained and given free reign, it leads to madness (cf. Daniel 4:30-32).

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The Glory of God

Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, The voice of a god, and not of a man! Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. But the word of God increased and multiplied (Acts 12:20-24; ESV).”

Herod’s life was “good” according to the worldly standards, he was feared and powerful, but he made two grievous errors. First, he persecuted God’s people. Second, he took for himself the praise that belongs only to God. God does not take kind to thieves, especially those who steal from Him (Isaiah 42:8, 48:11). Therefore, in this moment, Herod realized that God does avenge the death of His people and He is deadly serious about upholding justice (cf. Pharaoh, Exodus 3:19, 14:13-14). The judgment of God is a fearful thing, knowing that He is faithful in upholding justice, since His holiness demands that He punish sinners (Hebrews 10:30-31).

What causes me to differ from Herod?

The same God who gives life on one day, choses to take it away on another, for He rains on the just and the unjust (Deuteronomy 32:39-43; 1 Samuel 2:6). However, unlike Herod, unlike us, God is not careless in His judgment, for He does not take pleasure in punishing the wicked (Genesis 50:20; Ezekiel 18:23-32; Matthew 23:37; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). The Church does not gloat when God repays His enemies, because apart from the goodness God in Christ Jesus, we would be His enemies (cf. Proverbs 24:17-18). For this purpose, we preach the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, you either will bring about the glory of God in your life now in Christ or will bring about the glory of God in your death for all eternity.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

From Persecution to Prayer (Acts 12:1-17)

October 9, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon illustrates that Christianity is a real faith, with real people, in a real world. Pastor Carter makes clear the world is not like the Church, neither should the Church be like the world. The focus of this sermon is on two important lessons to know about spiritual warfare, the strength of the world is no match for the Church and the strength of the Church is prayer.

The Strength of the World: Persecution

About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people (Acts 12:1-4;ESV).

The strength of the world is violence. Jesus told His disciples that “the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I came that you may have life and have it more abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:10).” James and Peter were captured by Herod, whose family had a reputation for murdering without hesitation and carried out the works of the devil (cf. Matthew 2:13, 11:12; Mark 6:27; Luke 9:9, 13:31, 23:11). Herod was no longer playing nice with these “Christians”, he set his marks on the leadership of the Church, starting with the Apostle James. Nevertheless, the death of the Church is the seed and power to bear fruit for the Kingdom (John 12:23-28).

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The Strength of the Church: Prayer

So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke himAnd the chains fell off his handsAnd he went out and followed himWhen they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left himWhen Peter came to himself, he said, Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting (Acts 12:5,6-11; ESV).”

James is killed, Peter is imprisoned, and the Church begins to pray. They did not take matters into their own hands, instead they casted their cares unto the Lord, who was faithful to give an answer (Matthew 7:7-11). Pastor Carter demonstrated that prayer provided rest and rescue for Peter. There is little doubt that Peter remembered the time when Jesus slept on the boat while a storm was brewing and found himself with this same reliance on God to sustain him despite the troublesome circumstances he faced (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:36-41; Luke 8:23-25). Likewise, how amazing it was for Christ to show Peter that He is King of Kings by sending an angel to rescue him, when Peter once thought that Christ was in need of rescue during His hour of temptation (Matthew 26:51-56; John 18:10-11).

Will you stand for Christ or deny Him?

The power of the Gospel is in redemption, forgiveness, and mercy. When the world takes up the sword against Christians, Christians do not respond with the sword, because Christ has called them out of the world (John 17; Romans 12:1-2, 21). Jesus Christ, the King of Glory came into the world to destroy the works of the devil by fulfilling the righteous requirements of the law and laying His life down for His sheep (1 John 3:8).

Are we, as servants, greater than our Master is? If you are in Christ, you are called to do whatever you must do to bring glory to God, whether in your life or death because you realize that nothing can separate from His love (Romans 8:32-39). Biblical faith does not deny reality, but it requires us to rely on God to work all things for His glory and our good.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

God’s Providence in His Church (Acts 11:19-30)

October 1, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon contemplates God’s steadfast love toward a called out people for the sake of empowering them to live distinctly different from the world. Pastor Duncanson points to the providential hand of Christ to govern, sustain, and preserve His Church even in an ungodly world. The focus of this sermon is on the providence of God in persecution, in church planting, in providing a faithful proponent, and in a partnership.

The Providence of God in Persecution

Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews (Acts 11:19;ESV).

Surely, the believers in Jerusalem must have been wondering, “Lord, what are you doing?” in their persecution and the death of Stephen. Although, inherent in this question lies a belief that God is working despite the present situation, for He neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121). Pastor Duncanson describes this amazing truth as God’s providence, which is His active and intimate involvement in every event of our lives (cf. Matthew 10:29-31; Luke 12:6-7). Perhaps God scattered them, so that they might scatter the Gospel beyond the walls of Jerusalem.

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The Providence of God in Church Planting

But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord (Acts 11:20-21; ESV).”

Christ was still mighty in the face of the tribulation and persecution. In fact, He committed Himself to personally build His Church through the ministry of His disciples (Genesis 3:15; Matthew 16:18). Even though the disciples in Jerusalem were shortsighted in their Gospel proclamation, the Lord provided men of Cyprus and Cyrene to supply the need in Antioch. The Lord had a plan to plant a church, He sent out His servants to proclaim His message, and He proved Himself strong in the capturing of hearts in Antioch (cf. Deuteronomy 3:24; Psalm 127:1).

The Providence of God in Providing a Faithful Proponent

The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord (Acts 11:22-24, 18;ESV).

Subsequently, while the Lord was working in Antioch, the Church in Jerusalem received word and sent Barnabas. Why do they send Barnabas? Could it be because Barnabas was a good example of someone who was captured by the love of Christ? Scripture describes Barnabas as a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. Therefore, God sent them Barnabas, because this church needed encouragement by one who could identify the power of God and comfort others with the Gospel.

The Providence of God in a Partnership

So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul (Acts 11:25-30;ESV).

Meanwhile, the church was growing and Barnabas needed help. Saul, a fellow-laborer of Christ, was a few miles from Antioch in a city called Tarsus, so Barnabas sought him out for support and brought him to Antioch. Christ was showing the world that He was building a church that was distinct from the world. Truly, these disciples in Antioch had begun to make a name for Christ, so much so that those around them gave them the name “Christian”. This church was unbelievable and people took notice of them because they were different people, serving and loving each other as Christ called and empowered them to do (John 13:34-35).

Are we different for Christs sake?

What is the Lord doing? He is giving us an opportunity to imitate our Savior, to serve, and to give generously. The Lord is working out His plans in the world and in our lives for His glory and the good of His people.

Who is this King of Glory? The Lord Jesus Christ is the King of Glory, who is strong and mighty, mighty in battle (Psalm 24; Matthew 28:18-20). No matter what the children of God may face in this world, Christ has His quiver full of disciples willing to be sent out as arrows to proclaim the Gospel and the return of their King.

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