The Gathering/ Pastor Barry Acts #11: Light Anyone? To hear this message and others download our free app @ the App Store: Search The Gathering Connect.
Flashlights Please! Acts 13:1-3, 1 Corinthians 3:6-9
In the dark cold of night, one wants nothing more than a flashlight and a fire. In the cold and spiritual darkness of the first century God provided such light in the persons of Paul (Formerly Saul the Pharisee) and Barnabas (The “encourager”). According to the passage, we read that there were five bright lights in the church of Antioch (Prophets and Teachers) , but God chose only two for the first missionary journey to the Gentiles (non-Jews). It is important to also see that God likewise chose the other three to mind the growing church at Antioch.
So often, Christians look for a “special calling” from God. We are to bloom where we are planted! God may want to use you right where you are like He used Simeon (Niger), Lucius and Manaen at the church in Antioch. Manaen was considered a Christian trophy who was raised in Herod’s court with his own son Herod Antipas (The Tetrarch). Manaen’s conversion made great news for the growing church, and likely helped populate the church in Antioch. God chose to leave Manaen and the others at Antioch and He sent Paul and Barnabas on a mission. As Paul would later say in regards to sharing the gospel: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow”. In the end, God is the only one to be praised. We are simply to follow His lead. Those three who stayed laid hands on Paul and Barnabas and prayed for their successful mission which made all of them a part of that work as well. The Church at Antioch; therefore, sent the first missionaries and supported them. This is also the call of the church today:
- To make disciples
- To train leaders
- To send missionaries
- To support their work in prayer, finances and encouragement
Artificial Light Acts 13:4-12, 1 Timothy 6:17-21
Whenever we set out with the warmth and light of Jesus Christ led by the Holy Spirit, we, like Paul and Barnabas, will encounter artificial light. The world is full of people teaching lies and vain philosophies for their own gain. Just look at the self-help section in the bookstores. Bar-Jesus was one such person in the first century. He was artificial light, a practitioner of sorcery, and yet was a leader among the proconsul of the Synagogue (a Roman leader assigned to oversee the Synagogue). So often, even the elite are blinded to the truth as they are pacified by wealth and godless philosophies which the world calls knowledge. When we embrace even a little bit of a lie it corrupts like a fast growing cancer in our soul. We must be vigilant to keep what has been entrusted to us.
It is interesting to note that God strikes Bar-Jesus with the same wake up call that He gave to Paul. Blindness for the blindness of his soul. We do not know what came of Bar-Jesus, when (or if) his blindness cleared, but Paul converted and became filled with the true light of Christ. It is always our choice as to what we will do when faced with the real truth. Has God revealed His “real” truth to you? What will you do with it?
Who Wants To See and be Warm? Acts 13:13-46, Romans 10:9-13, 16-21, 11:-23, 25-26
You will notice that when Paul and Barnabas first went out on their missionary journey the Holy Spirit led them to the Jewish Synagogues to preach to Jews and Jewish converts (Gentiles who had converted). When presented with the truth, most Jews rejected the “Light and Warmth” of the gospel. They chose the cold darkness of bitterness and jealousy so Paul rebuked them and made known that the gospel now belonged to any who would receive it (i.e. the Gentiles). “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!” (Romans 10:9-13) God, of course, foreknew that the Jews would reject the message and bring salvation to the world.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 10:16-21, 11:11-23 he explains Israel’s rejection of the good news of Christ and how that rejection brought salvation to “everyone who calls on the Lord.” He reminds Gentiles to have care and concern for the Jews and reminds us that it is we who were grafted into their promise. We should pray that they all come to know their Messiah, Jesus. We must also not be arrogant towards them but tremble at the fact that God has disciplined them so. Will He not also treat us in such a way if we deny Him? True Israel will be saved! (Romans 11:25-26) The broken off branches will be grafted in once again as we gentiles were. God is able to save! The Term “all Israel will be saved” does not mean that every Jew will be saved but that every true child of God will be saved—Jew and gentile. These are truly “Israel” (Israel= Lit. Hebrew/ God Contends/ fights)— the ones that God has fought for!
The promise of God’s Light and salvation is extended to the “ends of the earth” Those who hold onto their darkness (sin) will perish because they can never be justified by their own works. It is like putting dead batteries in a perfectly good flashlight. Do you want to see? Do you want the warmth of Heaven to fill you with hope? Then you must know Christ: The Wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
A Light for the Gentiles Acts 13:47-52, Matthew 5:14-16
God had made Paul and Barnabas “a light for the Gentiles” Some were glad and rejoiced (the Gentiles) and others opposed them (the Jews) and stirred up persecution for them. But note: The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. There is abundant joy in knowing the truth even if it should bring us trouble. In the end we know that God’s promises are only delivered to those who hold on to His truth.
Just as Paul and Barnabas were lights in the first century so are Christians in this present day. YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD! Some will be glad to hear the gospel you share and others will oppose you, but you are to “bloom where you are planted” go out in Joy asking simply… ”Light anyone?” Offer that light and be that light!