Stay True to the Lord

by Jonathan S Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)

Based on the outline from a sermon preached at First Baptist Church, Glasgow, MO on August 24, 2014.

Text: Acts 11:19-30

Background: City of Antioch in Syria, some time after Steven had been martyred in Jerusalem. The apostles sent Barnabas to Antioch. Saul of Tarsus went to Antioch after Barnabas went there to look for Saul.

Introduction: Relatively new believers fled Jerusalem after Steven had been martyred. Many went north, away from Jerusalem's influence and political authority. As these believers went, they preached, and some people believed!

1. See how the Church was expanding, vv. 19-21
A. Not only the apostles or prophets doing the preaching
B. Not only Jerusalem or Judea for location
C. Not only Jews or proselytes, pagans were also believing

2. See how the new believers were encouraged, vv. 22-24
A. The apostles sent Barnabas, the son of encouragement
b. They remembered Barnabas as a "good" man, one of only a few in the entire Bible who were called "good".
We certainly need more "good" people in all walks of life!

3. See the effect after Saul came to Antioch, vv. 25-26
A. They met with the church there for an entire year
Barnabas and Saul didn't leave them like sheep without a shepherd.
B. The believers were the first ever to be actually called "Christians". Could have been a tribute to the way the acted like "little Christs" or an insult. Some debate among commentators. Bottom line, they lived what they had believed. We should do the same.

So why was it important to encourage them like they did?
--They didn't have much of the Word of God in any language to fall back on. How difficult it must have been, to try and live according to a new faith with little supporting literature for guidance.
--These were first-generation converts, from a lifestyle of either Judaism or paganism. Breaking from their past wouldn't be easy.
--The teachers, Barnabas and Saul, weren't able to stay for an indefinite period. Would the believers have been able to remain true to the Lord, even after the pioneer missionaries went somewhere else?

Let us always strive to encourage others while we can, before the opportunities are gone, maybe forever!

Please: Stay true to the Lord. Always. God bless.

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