ANTIOCHS & THE GRACE OF GOD
As I was reading in the Book of Acts recently, I asked myself “what 1st century New Testament church would I like to have been a part of”? I decided it would be Antioch, and I want to tell you why.
The church was BORN IN REVIVAL, as a result of the persecution of the church there, all the Believers who would have been mainly Jewish were scattered all around the known world. Some came to Antioch, Including men from Cyrene & Cyprus who were Gentiles, and they PREACHED JESUS, the Lord anointed their ministry and many were born again, so Barnabas was sent by the Apostles to Antioch to check it out, we read in Acts 11:23 NKJV When he came and HAD SEEN THE GRACE OF GOD, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. I love that statement SEEN THE GRACE OF GOD, we see this truth again in chapter 13 (in another city called Antioch).
Again, under Barnabas’s ministry many more became Believers, I believe Barnabas understood PLURALITY OF MINISTRY, and he needed others to minister with him, so we read in v.25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. A local church needs types of ministry to raise up a balanced N.T. church. Wouldn’t it be a privilege and a FEAST TO SIT UNDER THEIR APOSTOLIC TEACHING MINISTRY..
We then read, they taught the Word FOR A YEAR, I sincerely do not believe this was a Sunday service and a midweek Bible Study, but like the Jerusalem church they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers Acts 2:42 NKJV. I think it would be every day.
Antioch was A GIVING CHURCH, Agabus the Prophet prophesied there would be a major famine, that would effect the known world, so they gladly gave finances which Paul & Barnabas took to Jerusalem.
Further ministries became part of the church, such as Prophets & Teachers, (Acts 11:27, 13:1) who prophesied that Paul & Barnabas should be sent out as missionaries. ANTIOCH WAS A SENDING CHURCH, was also a PRAYING AND FASTING CHURCH.
These above are some of the reasons I would have loved to be planted in the church in Antioch.
There is another Antioch mentioned in the Book of Acts, where as I mentioned the grace of God was mentioned. Antioch of Pisidia we read in Acts 13:43 NKJV Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, PERSUADED THEM TO CONTINUE IN THE GRACE OF GOD.
Persuade is an interesting word that is used in the Greek text, it could suggest pressure, but more it means they sought to convince these Jewish Believers, to have confidence in this glorious truth..
Paul and Barnabas, were very aware I am sure from personal experience and understanding of the consequences of not CONTINUING IN THE GRACE OF GOD.
As Jews they were very aware that if they turned back, they would be reverting back to:
1. LEGALISM, but the Gentiles in the Galatian church had also gone that way, and I can so relate personally to this danger.
2. SELF SUFFICIENCY. Thinking you can do it yourself, and not need the Lord’s help.
3. BACKSLIDING. and simply walking away.
Oh how we need this glorious revelation (more and more) THAT WITHOUT HIM WE CAN DO NOTHING. That every day we need GOD’S UNMERITED FAVOUR AND MERCY, and need to remind ourselves continually that it was God as King David said in Psalm 40:3 NKJV He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.
God alone did that for us, and for us to continue to walk in His ways, and maintain that song in our hearts we must CONTANTLY THROW OURSELVES ON THE GRACE OF GOD.