Acts 11: A tale of 3 cities
On this continuation of the Acts Series, pastor Adrian preaches on Acts 11. This sermon explores how the Gospel transformed lives and grew the church, first in Jerusalem, then in Antioch. Through the stories of the early church, we see how God's power and presence are still at work in our lives and in our community today, building the Kingdom of God in Caboolture and beyond.
Good morning everybody Acts chapter 11 let's go straight to it this morning we've got a bit to cover um not in terms of quantity because we're not going to read the entire chapter um but there is much for us to delve into this morning we've titled A series disciples making disciples and I think Acts chapter 11 is one of those chapters that really highlights that concept of disciples making disciples and one of the arguments that I'd have is that you're not truly a disciple unless you're making disciples so let that sink in for a second you're not truly a disciple unless you feel making disciples you can sort of suggest that the the 12 disciples as they walk with Jesus on the earth will how were they disciples well they were sent out weren't they they were sent out even while Jesus walked the Earth they were sent out to go and disciple Jerusalem and the people and the Jews that were in there and so they were out there telling the tale of of of the Kingdom being near and so this morning we're going to be learning a little bit more about that but firstly there's just a couple of things we had to cover off this is really A Tale of Three cities it sounds like a Lord of the Rings trilogy doesn't it you've heard of The Two Towers well this is a tale of three cities and uh hopefully as we go through this section of scripture you'll see how it is most definitely a tale of three cities and you'll see on the slide there that I've given just given a little bit of a summary of sort of where we've been and where we are and where we're going to over the next little while and I've mentioned that acts chapter 11 is a bit of a pivot it's a pivotal chapter in the in the book in the first 10 chapters or so it's mostly centered on the The Works of the disciples but who are based in Jerusalem and the work that they did in and around the Jerusalem Church of course there's a few outliers there but for the most part that's that's what happened and then from chapter 12 onwards you'll see that the ministry or the the the the scene almost changes from the focus being on the Jerusalem Church to being on the Gentiles and the ministry of Saul who became the Apostle Paul and the work that he did over the that time and of course that's not exclusive but you'll see that there is most definitely a a pivot from Jerusalem to the Gentile Church through from 12 onwards and it's something for us to be aware of it's not to say that um that the Jerusalem Church faded away or anything like that it's just talking I think a little bit about that first concept we talked about that disciples making disciples the Jerusalem Church received Christ we know at Pentecost and we're going to be looking at that very briefly in a moment but they're not really disciples unless if they're going out and making other disciples and witnessing to what they had seen and experienced of Christ in their lives and so we'll see that come out and the other thing is that in uh letter path of actually chapter 11 and uh and in 212 and onwards which we'll be looking at over the coming weeks you'll see how that that Ministry shifts and continues it's the same Ministry it's the same work but continues through the Gentiles and um there's really Gentiles in the room everybody raise your hand because unless if you're a Jew of of Jewish descent even you're a gentile and we have much to be thankful for because of the ministry of these men and women who went before us and so this is history for us and it's also the reason why you and I are here this morning because of the ministry of disciples who have gone before us and have uh even even physical things that you see around us I mean there have been in recent history you know in the last 50 or so years we have disciples who have gone before us to thank for even this building and the ministry that we have come into and have inherited from them uh in in the terms of the work that we're doing right now all right Acts chapter 11 we're not going to read the entire chapter of courses it's not we haven't got time for that but I just want to highlight to you one a couple of verses here that really stuck out to me as as I was reading through it of course the the context for this this these couple of verses is that Peter had just come back from his ministry in to Cornelius remember in Acts chapter 10 and how he'd had these visions and ultimately was called to Cornelius and his household who were Gentiles and he went and he ministered to them and told them the good news of Jesus and we can see some description in Acts chapter 10 about that I know we've heard some messages on that I'd encourage you to go back and read it if you've forgotten or can't remember all of it but that's the report he's now bringing to the Jerusalem Church he's left Joplin has gone back to Jerusalem and he's reporting back to the disciples as I would if I was ministering away and come back and give a report to you of what God had done in this other place and it was a significant thing wasn't it it's a significant thing because For the First Time as far as the disciples were concerned they had seen the Holy Spirit fall on Gentiles up until this point they hadn't realized that God had meant that he had he really had died for everybody and not just all the Jews okay and so they'd experience the Holy Spirit falling on the Gentiles and Peter and and it says six or so other Witnesses who were there with him who had traveled with him had come back to give a report to the Jerusalem Church about what had happened and so you see the first 18 or so verses are devoted to that but in in verse 16 he says and I remembered the word of the Lord how he said John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit if then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ who was I that I could stand in God's way I I putting myself in Peter's shoes I'm just standing in amazement of what God has done it's blown my mind that Cornelius in his whole household has been saved I thought I knew the things but then God has gone and done something even greater than what I was expecting and I'm blown away and I certainly get that sense as Peter is talking is it you know I saw this stuff and I couldn't believe my eyes and then I remembered I remembered what the Lord had said that he he had that John had baptized with water but you'll be baptized with the Holy Spirit he's recounting his witness his his seeing of the of the Holy Spirit fall on the Gentiles and then he says well if God's going to do that who am I to stand in the way of that in other words I'm not going to get let my limited understanding get in the way of what I could actually witness God doing right if God did that it's obvious and it's true and we have witnesses that I'm not going to get in the way I'm not going to let my limited understanding get in the way of what God obviously has a plan for and so it got me thinking what was this thing what was it that the Jerusalem Church had received that Peter was amazed that the Gentiles were now receiving I think it's important for us to to look at that because this is the first city the first city was Jerusalem wasn't it and we see that they received the gospel and the gospel was preached to them and we see that in Acts chapter 2 from verses 14 onwards actually it was Peter himself after receiving the Holy Spirit he got up in front of thousands of people and he preached the the gospel and he was straight down the line with it there was no fluff there was no softness he said this is what happened you kill the Messiah now repent of your sins and truly believe in him if you do that you too can receive eternal life that's in in a nutshell what he said but I encourage you to go back and read Acts chapter 2 verses 14 to 36 that's essentially his his sermon and you'll see that he he preached the gospel as soon as he received the Holy Spirit it's important for us to remember that okay as soon as he received this is the same Peter who ran away okay the same Peter who was afraid of the serving girl when she said weren't you were the ones one of the ones walking around with Jesus he said oh no it wasn't me and the [ __ ] crows three times and his grief the same Peter okay the same Peter who was afraid of a serving girl who recognized him as one who walked with Jesus was now after receiving the Holy Spirit not afraid to get up in front of thousands of people and say well I walked with him and you killed him but if you believe him you too can have what we have do you think something's changed in Peter's life right the same dude the same guy um but he got up and he preached the gospel and he felt the gospel as well because you see in Acts chapter 2 verses 1 through to 12 you'll see that there's there's some mention in there of how the gospel felt and if you if you have to look back then you're not really understanding that that was essentially when the Holy Spirit fell on the Jews that was when they received the Holy Spirit and you see this imagery that they they felt like it was like like tongues of fire was was over their heads and they were around walking around speaking in other tongues and other languages and all who were around them were able to understand what they were saying in their language as they professed the Magnus the magnificence and the goodness of Jesus that's something you could feel right it's a physical thing because they could hear different languages there were those people all around them that were experiencing the gospel in that way and then of course the gospel transformed the lives of those who were in Jerusalem and we see later on in Acts chapter 2 and I'll read it to you because it's some of my favorite passages of scripture and I think this is the call for the church and it says from verse 42 and it says and they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship to the breaking of bread and the prayers and all came upon every soul and Many Wonders and signs were being done through the apostles and all who believed were together and had all things in common and they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all as any had need and day by day attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes they received their food with glad and generous Hearts praising God and having favor with all the people and the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved that's speaking of lives that were transformed because it says they gathered in the temple day by day they had kids to look after they had jobs to do stuff still to happen they had schedules they had an annual leave but they make they carved time out because they valued time together it wasn't something that we're going to do unless they had received the gospel their lives had been transformed and of course we say later on in verse 41 that the gospel also commissioned the disciples it commissioned the disciples and says so those who received his word were baptized and they were added that day about 3 000 souls and that's after they've they've heard the gospel preached by Peter um three thousand Souls were baptized and what happens when you get baptized as now you're a disciple because if you've received the Holy Spirit if you've received the gospel you've received the Holy Spirit Well now you've been called to be a disciple because the commission is this go out into all the world and Make Disciples of all the nations isn't it and so if you've if these people had received the gospel which they had and they were baptized as an outward sign of the inward reality of what had happened to them they were now commissioned as disciples and three thousand Souls that day were new disciples who went out and started witnessing and started telling people about how amazing this Jesus was not just because they'd heard about him not just because they knew something of him but because they had felt and experienced him and his work in their lives and it wasn't just because of Peter's compelling speech they'd felt the Holy Spirit they'd experienced something of him and it says later on that the gospel grew the church and we could certainly see that and I love that that second part of verse 47 it says and the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved it wasn't the disciples who were doing the saving it was the Lord who was doing the saving and he was adding to their number day by day the church was growing numerically spiritually and that's what they had experienced in Jerusalem and that was Peter's experience as he's come back now from cornelius's House to report back to the church in Jerusalem saying remember what we'd received remember all this stuff that we'd experienced well that's what they're going through right now all of the things all of the stuff that we had experienced and we had received that's what's happening over over there and so he was blown away at that because he he wasn't expecting that and then we see the Second City which is Antioch and that's the place where Barnabas and Saul go out and they start ministering but it tells us in uh in in verse 20 there that there were some of them that's men of Cyprus and Cyrene who aren't coming to Antioch spoke to the hellenists that's other in other words uh Greek speaking Jews uh also and they preached the Lord Jesus now these men of Cyprus and Cyrene were essentially disciples who had come out from the church in Jerusalem and they went out because they had to tell people because that's what you do when you receive the Holy Spirit you can't help it you want to tell people about this a wonderful amazing experience and God that you now know and and how everybody else is missing out and you just need to tell them they weren't there to save anybody they just needed to tell them about what Jesus had done and so it sells Us in in Acts chapter 11 that for the most part as the Jews went out they preached to mostly Jews but there were some these men of Cyprus and Cyrene who aren't coming to Antioch spoke to the hellenists as well in other words the Jews who who had adopted the Greek culture who had become a part of those Nations and had neighbors and family and friends as a part of those Nations who were essentially Gentiles and they'd come and started preaching the gospel to these people so the gospel was preached that's what happened in Jerusalem wasn't it the gospel was preached and they felt the gospel in verse 21 it says in the hand of the Lord was with them and a great number who believed turned to the Lord you see it's not enough just to believe and go oh well that's facts man that's so good they turned to the Lord their lives changed they turn to the Lord for things of spiritual discernment they turn to the Lord for guidance they turn to the scriptures for how to live and how to relate how to love one another how to be a husband how to be a wife how to look after and raise your children they turned to the Lord and that was felt among these people it wasn't just a spiritual concept it was something that was lived out and they could see touch taste and feel and hear all these things and of course by extension the gospel transformed their lives and we see in verses 22 and 23 the report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem in other words the stuff that was going on in Antioch and they sent Barnabas to Antioch and 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 he was amazed he came in from Jerusalem as an encourager Jerusalem sent a missionary okay to the Antioch Church and they said look would you go and give him a hand we've you've got a bit more experience but there's this spontaneous Wildfire of people coming to Christ and they're in A persecuted church as well it's like all the churches were at the moment at that time and they need some help would you go and encourage him so he turns up and he says wow you guys you've got this because it's the same God he's the same Holy Spirit and he's working in the same way and Barnabas was amazed because what if because of what he had experienced in Jerusalem was also now happening in Antioch and that was why it was recognizable it wasn't just a cultish thing it wasn't just some random thing that was going on it was a recognizable faith that was going on and of course the gospel transformed lives and he also just like in Jerusalem the gospel commission disciples we see in 23 24 when he came and we saw and and that these people were remaining 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 it wasn't just that they were saved they were added to the Lord in other words they were added to his mission they were disciples who also want to go out and tell everybody about how amazing Jesus is can you see that and then he says in verses 25 to 26 and Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul you only do that if you need reinforcements because the work is so great there are so many people that even Barnabas was was was snowed under by how much work there was not hard work but good work people were coming to Faith and he needed help in in discipling these people and so he goes to Tarsus to look for this guy called Saul now this is the soul who becomes the Apostle Paul and just as an aside Saul's been on a bit of an interesting trip already he's already rocking the boat making for making enemies everywhere he goes do you remember he got saved on the road to Damascus by that amazing Vision that he had from Jesus and he was blinded for a few days and then he ended up staying in Damascus and ministering there but he ministers so hard and he preached the gospel so well that they hated him and they wanted to kill him right and so that some of the disciples rescued him and they took him back to Jerusalem and said oh maybe you'll be safer in Jerusalem but again Saul being so fervent in his preaching of the Gospel made enemies real bad and so they started to wanted to kill him in Jerusalem and so the disciples were like oh dude um really good stuff but you're terrible to manage okay so HR department decided okay we're going to take Saul and we're going to send you to Joppa maybe you can do less damage in Joppa and so you preach the gospel so hard that he was starting to make enemies there as well and this is this is why Barnabas decides he's going to go to Tarsus sorry not drop a Tarsus and go find Saul and bring him back to Antioch because I need that energy here at Antioch because we've got so many people getting saved and we have much work to do the gospel grew the church and Antioch and can you see that it was the same way it was the same way because it's the same Holy Spirit belonging to the same God doing the same work and if you're going to summarize it that's essentially what happened in both Jerusalem and in Antioch you see that they received the gospel they didn't just hear it they didn't just hear a speech they didn't just hear someone say well have you heard about Jesus and what he's done here's some facts they didn't just hear it they received it it was one thing to hear it another thing to go thank you I believe I trust I accept what that is and so they received the gospel and as upon receiving the gospel you cannot receive the Gospel without repenting of your sins because in the face of a good and holy and mighty God you're brought low aren't you you realize just how not good and holy and mighty you are you start to realize that if he's God you're not you start to realize that maybe there is a standard for living and it's his standard for living and not yours and mine and so in the face of the Gospel you repent of your sins and I will put to your Christians that you continue to repent of your sins don't you because anybody who's been a Christian for a length of time now knows that we continue sinning we're dumb admit it all right my superpower is to continue sinning it's not a good thing but I'm so grateful for the grace of God that allows me to continue to repent of my sin and so that's what that hap what happens is when you receive the Gospel you don't only just repent of your sins once you want to give up all of the bad things in your life all of the sins all the rebellion in your life to God on a continual basis it's called sanctification isn't it it's a big convoluted Christian word that simply means this constant Perpetual cleansing that happens that God does for us all right he does it by grace and I'm so thankful for that because man if it depended on you and I remembering all the bad things if you remembered on you and I doing the right things we're stuffed aren't we I don't see any perfect people here and that's good because it's a reminder that we need his grace and we need his Mercy isn't it and so we repent of our sins and what happens is once you've continued to repent of your sins you realize that there's people around you who would need all that goodness as well and so you reach out to the lost it's a natural extension of what happens when you receive the Gospel when you receive the Gospel you repent of your sins and when you repent of your sins you must tell other people that's why every newborn believer who gets baptized the first thing they want to do is tell somebody about how amazing God has been in their life and it doesn't matter if they're a quiet person or a loud person if they've got friends or no friends they just want to tell somebody and that is the natural inclination of the Holy Spirit and of course these these early disciples saw that happen in Jerusalem and they saw it happen in Antioch and they were comparing notes and and Peter came back to the Jerusalem Church and said this is what's happening over at cornelius's house and in that region amongst the Gentiles and then Barnabas and Saul started to see it happen in Antioch and they could see the same fingerprints of God working and so it was recognizable and I want to highlight that because it wasn't just some random thing that they thought oh maybe that's God and I was recognizable that was it was the way in which God had worked before and it was continuing to work in the same way and so they were able to see that so I started at the beginning saying this is the tale of three cities and we've done Jerusalem and we've done Antioch in Acts 1 8 the very beginning of the of the book if you recall it says but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my Witnesses in Jerusalem in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the Earth and that's the core of mission isn't it and if I was to break that down into categories that's essentially saying local mission Regional Mission Global mission does that make sense Jerusalem Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the Earth and we certainly saw this happen in the early church as we've been journeying over the first 10 or so chapters where much of the work was centered around Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria okay largely local at Antioch it's regional okay and then they're going global and we see the missionaries being sent out from 11 12 13 chapters onwards of how Saul goes out on these missionary Journeys and essentially travels the a huge section of what we would class now as Asia Minor okay and and of course like I said earlier we are a product of Ministries like that local or Regional global so the ministry of Jesus called out a few from Judea and we know them as the disciples and he sent them out in Luke 10. remember how you sent them out so he said this is what I want you to do straight away they didn't have theological degrees at this point all they knew was that he was someone who was preaching and he was preaching from the scriptures and he was preaching the Kingdom of Heaven is near after he rose from the dead and was sent back up to heaven Peter got up and he said the kingdom of heaven isn't near anymore it's here it's here and if you receive Jesus you too can be a part of that Kingdom and so I'd say that the city number three is caboolture and you might be thinking where does it say that in the Bible well it says it right there in Acts chapter 1 verse 8. where the ends of the Earth if you're in Jerusalem caboolture as deep as darkest Africa isn't it might as well be but can you see the point you know Christ initiated something that happened in Jerusalem and Judea the disciples as they received the gospel one by one two by two three by three as they receive the Gospel all they could do was repent of their sins and tell others about how amazing God is that's what their testimony was simply telling people about how good God is and it wasn't just a concept that was in their head it was something that they felt it was a transformation that that experienced and it was something that they'd seen in their churches right it wasn't something that you had to convince them about they experienced this in their daily life all the time and many of you will be aware of this too in your life no one has to convince you about the existence of God or Jesus or what you talk to him all the time you've experienced the Holy Spirit not just once you continue to experience his goodness you experience his transformation all the time and you see the things that he's doing amongst the church here in Australia love it or hate it is irrelevant it's his work and if you go back to how he's been ministering it's always the Holy Spirit doing the work can you see that because it was the Gospel that was received empowered by the Holy Spirit the disciples simply responded they didn't initiate they simply responded they received the gospel and in response to receiving the gospel they repented of their sins and in response to that repentance they reached out to the lost because that's all you can do and that is our responsibility too isn't it I think God definitely wants to work in the same way right here in Kombucha and I've asked these questions will you receive the Gospel will you repent of your sins and will you reach out to the lost because we do that at the point of salvation but we continue to do that as part of our sanctification and we don't do it for sanctification we don't do it to be right we do it because we are right with God because we fight from a place of Victory because God has done the work and that's why it's good news and that's proof that we have received the gospel right and many of you get that here this morning and so the question isn't are you saved for sure if if you don't know Jesus in this way there's some real questions that you need to answer so for those of you who are Christians will you continue to receive the Gospel because I think sometimes we can get a bit hard to the gospel especially when we get capable and we can do some things and we put God on a Shelf so when it's convenient we might come back to him or when we've come to the end of ourselves or when we've come up against a question that we don't have an answer for that's when we dust off God but the rest of the time we sort of have our lives in our own hands and that's not the pattern that I see in scripture of how Christians ought to live we continually receive the Gospel that's why Grace and Community is something that we were designed to do on a regular basis so that we would remember the gospel remember the sacrifice Christ made for us and it comes back that very first thing I think that Peter said in verse 17. if then God gave the same gift to them that's Gentiles non-christians as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ who was I that I could stand in God's way it was inconvenient for the Jerusalem Church and certainly for the Jewish Christians to go to Gentiles because generation upon generation upon generation they had believed that these were the unclean these were the people that you don't go and talk to these were the people that you don't go and have a meal with these were the people that you don't hang out with because they're unclean they're not right but we are the Gentiles we were the unclean we were the ones that nobody should have been speaking to certainly not a holy God so they're not a perfect God who loves us so much we don't deserve that but if God has given us the same gift as he gave to his people in Jerusalem then who are we to stand in the way in other words he's saying if God can love them then who am I not to do the same and we look around in our community and there are lots of unlovely people aren't there we're honest with ourselves there are lots of unlovely people but if God can love them then who are we not to do the same and then the questions come back will we preach the gospel to them and preaching isn't just beating them over the head with the Bible remember there was a felt experience that these people had as well so what experience are the people around you going to have of the gospel because you're someone who's been saved and how are you repenting of your sins do people when they see you do they see a perfect human being do they see someone who never makes a mistake do they see someone who's always got it together I think we're biggest focus in our own homes when we convince our kids that mum and dad never struggle they never see Dad cry and the mum never makes a mistake we lie to our kids all the time don't we because we think we're saving them from some things no they need to see us repenting of our sins they need to see our faith in action they need to see us as broken people who serve a good and holy God so that when they grow up they know how to pray they know how to rely on God if they'd never seen you do that how will they learn to do it and maybe we do the same thing with our friends and then of course reaching out to the lost well that's just the natural occurrence of you living a Sanctified life and so I want to pray for your church because I think as we go through scriptures like these is very very easy to gloss over some of this stuff and think that you know I'm saved I'm good we'll know if you're saved you have a responsibility and the Holy Spirit wants to do a work and it's the same work has been doing and it's recognizable something you can feel something that people around you will experience and it will transform and the church will grow amen Heavenly Father we thank you we thank you Lord God that you work in a way that allows us to recognize you Lord father we want to allow your Holy Spirit to work in our midst and certainly through US Lord God as ones who have received your gospel father we pray that we would be ready repentance that we would be people who give up our sins and our rebelliousness to you regularly and father as we do so would you give us the honor and the privilege of reaching out to the Lost in Christ let me pray. Amen.