The Church Extended - Message 1
April 11, 2021
I. Introduction: We begin a new, or rather, continue, a survey of Acts.
A. This part of the series is called The Church Extended.
- Today’s message, which focus on the first part of chapter 13, is entitled, Good News.
- Theme verse: Acts 13:32 (NLT)—“And now we are here to bring you this Good News.”
- The Greek word translated good news is ĕuaggĕlizō, which means, announce good news, preach the gospel or declare good tidings; this is the source of our word, evangelize.
- Some of us resist evangelism, because we question our ability to explain our faith or else, we want to avoid being rejected by people we want to like us.
- But if we truly understand, have experienced, how great the news about forgiveness of our sins through faith in Jesus’ sacrifice is, if we grasp the horror of being separated from God forever, we will attempt to help others know this great news!
- Our culture is in rapid moral decline and the only solution is revival, because revival reforms the values of people when they are born again and receive the Holy Spirit.
- Our important role in brings about revival is prayer and spreading good news!
II. Essentials of evangelism: (Acts 13:1-12)
A. Chapter 13 marks a turning point in the book of Acts.
- The first 12 chapters focused on the ministry of Peter; remaining chapters focus on Paul.
- The first 12 chapters featured the church in Jerusalem; the rest of the book presents the church at Antioch (today, Antakya, Turkey) as the center for Gentile missions.
- Antioch was where Christ’s followers were first called Christians. (Acts 11:26; 26:28)
First essential of evangelism is to…
B. #1 - Respond to God. (Acts 13:1-3. C/R: Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 1:16-17; 10:13-15; 2 Corinthians 5:20)
- Acts 13:1a (NLT)—Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria
- Prophets proclaimed God’s Word from the Scripture and from direct messages received from God (Ephesians 2:20; 1 Corinthians14:29-32).
- Teachers provided a clear understanding of biblical truth and doctrine (2 Timothy 2:2).
- Acts 13:1b (NLT)—[The prophets and teachers] were Barnabas [means “Son of Encouragement,” birth name Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus (Acts 4:36)], Simeon (called “the black man”) [likely African], Lucius (from Cyrene) [from North Africa], Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas) [possibly raised in Herod the Great’s household], and Saul. [not the primary leader, his name listed last]
- This center of evangelism was led by men from different countries, different races, and different religious backgrounds. (Diversity with humility makes a church strong.)
- The commonality of these men was their commitment to seek God for His direction, not merely to form their own plans and strategies for church growth and evangelism.
- Acts 13:2 (NLT)—2One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate [set apart, separate] Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” 3So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them [identified, confirmed God’s call, set apart for God’s service, to act on His behalf] and sent them on their way. [Better translation: let them go or released them.]
- God had already called Paul to take His message to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15), here, Barnabas was identified and commissioned to partner with him to reach Gentiles.
- These church leaders were led by the Holy Spirit to set apart Barnabas and Saul for this assignment; it was not a rational decision, it was a spiritual response to God.
- When we ordain pastors or missionaries, we are not choosing the most qualified people according to our criteria; we are recognizing and confirming God’s present call on their lives that is already demonstrated through their service. (2 Timothy 2:15; Colossians 3:23-24)
- If we want God to work through us in a greater way, we must spend more time in worship, fasting and praying, to hear what God wants to do, then pursue His plans, instead of developing our own programs, schemes or strategies to serve Him.
- APP.: What is God’s call on your life? Are you responding to it?
Another essential of evangelism is to…
C. #2 - Rely on the Spirit. (Acts 13:4-5. C/R: John 3:6; 1 Corinthians 2:4-5; 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5; 2 Thessalonians 2:13)
- This is the beginning of Paul’s first missionary journey. (of three, or perhaps, four)
- Acts 13:4 (NLT)—So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit. [church released them] They went down to the seaport of Seleucia [16 miles away, served as port of Antioch] and then sailed for the island of Cyprus [60 miles off of Syrian coast].
- There were several practical reasons to begin their missionary outreach on Cyprus: it was close to Antioch (two days journey at most); was Barnabas’s home (Acts 4:36), so it was familiar territory; and it had a large Jewish population. [God is practical.]
- Acts 13:5 (NLT)—There, in the town of Salamis [chief port and commercial center], they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. John Mark went with them as their assistant. [To take care of details so they could preach and pray.]
- Peaching the Gospel first to Jews, who knew about the Hebrew God and the Scriptures, would become Paul’s custom throughout his missionary journeys.
- Not only did the Holy Spirit select and send Barnabas and Saul, He (the Spirit) equipped these two missionaries to explain the good news from the Scripture.
- Perhaps even more importantly, the Spirit enabled the hearers to understand spiritually what was being spoken by Barnabas and Saul, so they could believe and be born again.
- When we witness, tell our personal faith story, the Holy Spirit guides us to say what is necessary and reminds us of spiritual truths to speak.
- The Spirit also prepares the hearer and enables that person to understand spiritually what has been said.
- A person’s salvation is not dependent on your being able to convince that person with the strength of your argument; you need only share what you know to be true.
- The Spirit will use the words you speak, your description of how faith has changed your life, to illuminate someone’s understanding, so they can believe.
- This is why it is important to seek God’s guidance about whom you should share your story with; the person the Spirit is preparing will be interested and will understand.
- App.: Has God given you a person to speak to about faith? If not, ask Him to.
- Start with a simple invitation to church; the person the Spirit is speaking to, will come.
A third essential of evangelism is to…
D. #3 - Reply to resistance. (Acts 13:6-11. C/R: 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:12; 2 Timothy 3:15-16; 2 Peter 2:1)
- When God’s people seek to advance His purposes, satanic opposition will be present.
- Acts 13:6-7 (NLT)—6Afterward they traveled from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached Paphos [the capital, center for worship of Aphrodite (Venus)], where they met a Jewish sorcerer [magician], a false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7He had attached himself to the governor [proconsul], Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. [Kingdom of darkness is eager to influence the powerful.] The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the word of God. [Interested in new philosophies and religious beliefs, including Judaism.]
- The governor was interested in investigating this new religious teaching.
- Acts 13:8-11 (NLT)—8But Elymas, the sorcerer (as his name means in Greek) [transliteration of an Arabic word for “magician”], interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Barnabas and Saul said. He was trying to keep the governor from believing. [Concerned with his loss of influence.]
- Saul and Barnabas battled Bar-Jesus for the soul of Sergius Paulus.
- Acts 13:9-10 (NLT)—9Saul, also known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked the sorcerer in the eye. 10Then he said, “You son of the devil, full of every sort of deceit and fraud, and enemy of all that is good! Will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord?” [Bar-Jesus was not to escape with merely a verbal rebuke.]
- Paul recognized that Elymas was a child of the devil (John 8:44), and he inflicted blindness on the false prophet as a judgment from God.
- Acts 13:11 (NLT)—“Watch now, for the Lord has laid His hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time.” Instantly mist and darkness came over the man’s eyes, and he began groping around begging for someone to take his hand and lead him. [Why temporary blindness? God’s grace?]
- We must push back against evil efforts to blind people spiritually and entice them into sin, to prevent them from seeking Christ, but not like Saul, unless the Spirit guides you.
- Our culture glamorizes immorality, materialism, sexuality, which cause people to attempt to fill inner, spiritual, needs with temporary, worldly, distractions.
- Our world’s entertainment has become more extreme: flaunting publicly moral and sexual practices that the Bible condemns, mocking God and His church, celebrating Satan in TV shows and movies (even merchandizing Satan-inspired sneakers).
- We must speak against such behaviors, humbly, not angrily, and always from the Bible.
- Our culture is in decline because Christians have been intimidated into silence.
- We must not be silent, we must trust God and speak His Word, motivated, not merely by hatred for sin, but rather, by love for people whose lives sin is destroying.
- APP.: Are you willing to address issues that violate God’s word? (Your life first.)
E. Result: Acts 13:12 (NLT)—When the governor saw what had happened, he became a believer, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.
- Just as the display of God’s power convinced this Roman governor, your demonstration of God’s strength in your life, pursuing God’s way in a culture that has gone astray, will convince people of the reality of God and faith! (But we must be set apart!)
- APP.: Will you ask God to help you reach people with your life and your words?
Memory: 2 Corinthians 5:20 (NLT)—So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”