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Acts 11:1-30, Real Christian, Antioch Church

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Acts 11:1-30, Real Christian, Antioch Church

 1.The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.  2.So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him,  3.and said, "You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them."  4.Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened:  5."I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was.  6.I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds of the air.  7.Then I heard a voice telling me, `Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.'  8."I replied, `Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.'  9."The voice spoke from heaven a second time, `Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.'  10.This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.  11."Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying.  12.The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man's house.  13.He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, `Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter.  14.He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.'  15."As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning.  16.Then I remembered what the Lord had said: `John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'  17.So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?"  18.When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life."  19.Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews.  20.Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.  21.The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.  22.News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.  23.When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.  24.He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.  25.Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul,  26.and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.  27.During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.  28.One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.)  29.The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea.  30.This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

<Sermon> Crisis is an opportunity. The gospel began to spread even to Gentiles, but the Jerusalem church raised a problem. The question was why did he associate with and eat with Gentiles? Let us apply the Word to ourselves as we see the hand of God working with us.
1. Overcome prejudices (1-3): God wants us to break through human prejudices and limitations. Peter's preaching in a Gentile's house and the Gentile's conversion became known to the apostles and brothers in Jerusalem. These circumcision men criticized Peter for going into the house of Cornelius, an Gentile uncircumcised man, and eating food. The circumcised mean “circumcised believers.” Although they became Christians, they still could not break away from Jewish traditions and were completely reluctant to associate with uncircumcised people. The Holy Spirit came to the Jerusalem church and the church experienced tremendous revival, but it was unable to let go of its ethnic prejudices. But mature faith is breaking down the walls of wrong prejudice through the Gospel and the Holy Spirit. *Even though it has been a long time since we believed in Jesus, what are the wrong ways of thinking (prejudice) that we have not been able to get rid of?

2. Obey the Word and become one (4-18) 
 Peter explains the circumstances in detail so that the apostles and brothers can understand. The Cornelius incident in chapter 10 is explained in detail in 11:5-15. He says he went to Cornelius’ house in obedience to the instructions of the Holy Spirit, and mentions the ‘six brothers’ who went with him (12, 10:45). These are circumcised believers who are witnesses to everything Peter says. Peter emphasizes that this is God's work, saying that the Holy Spirit came on Gentiles, "just as He did on us at the beginning"(15). Additionally, the words, “who was I to think that I could oppose God?"(17) emphasize that prejudice against Gentiles must be broken. Verse 18. Ultimately, the Jerusalem church acknowledges God’s salvation to Gentiles. In other words, the change of one person, Peter, becomes an opportunity that leads to the change of all the brothers in Judea. Now, misunderstandings and criticism disappear and everyone obeys God’s word, will, and sovereignty. Unity and oneness in the gospel are the greatest strength of the church. Ephe. 4:2-6 says, “2.Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4.There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called -- 5.one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6.one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. *From the perspective of soul salvation, what should I do to maintain unity by obeying the Word?

3. Real Christian, Antioch Church(19-26) : 
 The persecution that occurred after Stephen's martyrdom served as an opportunity for the expansion of the gospel. The gospel is spread beyond Jerusalem, all of Judea, and Samaria, even to the Gentiles (1:8). Some of the scattered disciples reach Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch (See map). They evangelized only to Jews, but some of them began to evangelize to Greeks in Antioch. As the Lord (the hand of the Lord) is with them, many people believe in the Lord (21). After hearing this news, the church in Jerusalem sends Barnabas to Antioch(22-24). He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. Barnabas became the senior pastor of Antioch Church and served the church diligently. At that time, believers from Judea gathered in Antioch to escape persecution. First, they zealously evangelized Jesus as Lord to the Jews. Also, enterprising people evangelized Jesus to Gentiles as well. Then, as if many Gentiles had been waiting, they eagerly accepted the gospel, and not long after, the Antioch Church became dominated by Gentiles, and continued to grow into a prominent Gentile church. And Barnabas brought Saul, who was staying in Tarsus, and taught the new comers with him for a year (25-26). Through the efforts of Barnabas and Saul, the Antioch church grows quantitatively and qualitatively.
  From this point on, the disciples began to be called ‘Christians’ (26). At first, non-believers despised and called people who believed in Jesus Christ as ‘Christians’ (in Korea, they were called ‘Jesus people’). Because the saints refused to worship the Roman emperor, they were thought to be idolaters rebelling against Rome. During the Holy Communion, they said they ate bread and grape juice, that is, the flesh and blood of Jesus, and were called cannibals who ate human flesh. They were considered a secret group as it often met at night and early in the morning. Since they greeted each other and called each other brother and sister, they were mistaken for incest. However, the word ‘Christian’ gradually came to be regarded as a noble name. The same goes for the cross of Jesus who died for us. Crucifixion was the most shameful death penalty during Roman era. But the cross of Jesus became the most noble and blessed thing. The cross of Jesus is enormous. There is forgiveness of sins and salvation on the cross. In it are all the blessings and peace of God. There is healing and freedom in the cross. Because there is glory and riches in the cross. Even ‘Christian’ is a blessed name.
  A ‘Christian’ is 1) a person who believes in Christ, 2) a person who belongs to Christ, and 3) a person who lives the life of Christ. In other words, Jesus Christ is the principle and standard of all life. He is a person who is free from all religious laws and Jewish traditions, returns to Jesus, and lives with only Jesus as his standard. Verse 23. *Let’s share how we can continue to live as true and blessed Christians.

4. Church becoming one (27-30)
 As the Gentile Antioch Church was experiencing revival, the Jewish church in Jerusalem interacted closely with each other despite ethnic and cultural differences. We obeyed the Lord's command to regard one another as brothers in Christ. For example, the Antioch church helped the Jerusalem church suffering from a long famine around 47 AD(29-30). In this way, all believers overcame their differences and became one, and as a result, the gospel spread widely. As the Gentile church helped the Jerusalem church, Gentile missions became more active. *Isn’t it God’s grace that our church helps missionaries in Tijuana and the Amazon?

  Dear believers, let us all be thankful that we have been saved and gained eternal life by believing in Jesus. I hope that you will live a blessed life as a true Christian like the Antioch church members who believe in Jesus Christ, who is life and salvation, belong to Jesus, imitate Christ, and spread Christ. Amen.