Gospel CenteredSermon passage: (Acts 13:4-12) Spoken on: June 2, 2013
More sermons from this speaker 更多该讲员的讲道: Pastor Amos Lau For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: Acts
sermon on Acts 13:4-12
From The Book of Acts, we see how the church was started.
They understood that because Jesus came to reveal who he is, and he left them with the Holy Spirit they could be his people. They got together in a community, centered on the Gospel, understood their God and his mission, and they work tirelessly to see it fulfilled.
My question is 'Is Jubilee such a church?’ Do we exist to make Jesus known and help others know Jesus?
The answer is more than just a simple 'yes' or 'no'. Because weekly after service, you are given the opportunity to answer it in two ways... a. you will walk out and live your life as if Jesus is the very air you breathe. OR b. you will walk out and live as if Jesus is dead to you.
What answer does your life give?
What we are talking about this morning is Gospel centeredness. The Gospel is the central thing yet that’s the very thing we tend to forget. When we think Church, we don't think Gospel or Jesus. We think of ministry that we might need to do: lead worship, teach at SS, cook in the kitchen. We end up loosing focus on the big thing the Gospel, and get bothered by the smaller things of the Church. We need to get back our Gospel centered focus.
Acts 13, I would like us to see two realities of what makes a Gospel centered Church.
#1. God’s resolve in carrying out his mission of spreading the Gospel, and
#2. the Gospel of Jesus Christ has power and authority to change lives.
Hopefully that brings us to conclude a 3rd reality: we can redefine the way that we think, feel and do church in Jubilee.
Reality 1: God’s resolve in carrying out his mission
What's Jesus' mission? (John 17)? Come to die and to take our punishment, we had substituted ourselves for God, calling our own shots in life, living for our own glory and fulfillment. We have put ourselves in God's place, So He puts himself in ours. Taken upon himself the things that we deserve.
And he draws believers together with new purpose and being as his body to carry on sharing this Gospel.
When we placed our trust in him, though we are sinful and lost, we are now more accepted and loved by Him.
CS Lewis wrote “Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts, His fingers and muscles, the cells of his body.”
Verses 4 & 5 Barnabas and Saul were the result of a church that prayed, seek God’s direction and are obedient to this mission.
This passage shows God through the Holy Spirit is nudging them along, telling them where to go next what to do next.
A pattern emerge: believers walk into any area, preach the Gospel. They meet opposition. By God's grace, the gospel penetrate the hearts of the people. These people end up loving Jesus and become Christians. Join the church would grow, get going. Then it begin again in the next area and the Gospel work continues.
We may not all be sent out like Barnabas or Saul, but I want us to start by seeing the principle behind it: God’s story, God’s mission, God's church. This isn’t a story about Christians’ making good decisions. This is about God spreading his good news through obedient people who were willing to bear the cost, support and pray wholeheartedly, recognized God’s prompting and went.
The context: obedient servants of an obedient church.
What does this pattern tell us about God?
God is not aloof or passive, he continues working out his plan on earth. This was a trip that changed the destinies of many men and women. Everyone who professes faith in Jesus, is a life touched by the Gospel. You and I are living proofs of that.
At this stage, Barnabas and Saul were not the prominent leaders of the church. This was Paul when he was Saul the Pharisee. They were nobodies, had no political standing in the Roman world. This is a journey of two growing obedient Christians off on mission with an intern. Yet on their very first mission out. God sent them face-to-face with Paulus, governor of the region.
Our mission is God’s mission! That’s the highest mission that we can be on. So congratulations, if you are a believer, you have a part in the mission.
Jesus is building the church together WITH us who are here, FOR the people who are not yet here.
That's the purpose and plan for God’s people for God’s work.
Yet, often in churches, pastors and some leaders trying to do all the work of the church on their own. They preach, they teach, they settle quarrels in the church, they have to plan. While the rest of church, sit and expect to be fed or even worst, they criticize how things are done. Is this true of us here?
If this is true, it just reflects a point that rather than being on God’s mission, we are on mission for ourselves and there is no higher mission in our lives than to get a nicer apartment, or that job promotion you crave, or waiting for mr or mrs right.
The Gospel tells us that Jesus broke into the world, and transforms lives and hearts for himself. And offered us the chance, to be part of a victorious transforming mission. But when we live for ourselves, we fall under the weight of our small time ambition, the highest mission of the Gospel gets blown to pieces.
If Jesus and his Gospel is not our mission, we become a club, not a community of regenerated believers, have a competent “feel-good” Sunday event, and not a God-inspired worship service where hearts are challenged and changed by the gospel; we becoming a social advocacy group, and not a mission-minded community who are furthering the Gospel at every opportunity.
Do you know how easy it is for any gathering of people to be a club, organize good events and take up social causes? But only a transformed people of God can be THE church on God’s mission.
God has already resolved to carry out his mission, so let us decide who we want to be and do.
Be obedient people set for an extraordinary mission, shall we?
Reality 2: the power of God comes through the Gospel in mission.
The Jews are the chosen people of God. God took them out of slavery, grow them into a nation. They knew God’s loving nature. As a Jew, Bar Jesus should have been helping Paulus to know this one God, preparing him to look for the Messiah. But he forsook God for personal gain, if the governor became a Christian he would lose his livelihood and position. So he tried to prevent Paulus from believing. It’s really tragic.
In Romans 2:28-29, Paul talks about circumcision, so he says “It’s not the cut of a knife that makes a Jew. You become a Jew by who you are... the mark of God on your heart... that makes a Jew...” True circumcision is circumcision of the heart. Not that outward things are not necessary; but he was saying there must be an inward reality of faith or the outward things have no meaning.
He was Jewish but he wasn’t really a Jew. He know of God, but he didn't know God.
We tend to look at characters like Bar-Jesus and pass judgement at how ungodly they were, but don’t we realize that we too are capable of the same failure? Think about this: Aren’t we also guilty of placing our self-interest above the Gospel of Jesus? Don't we also give the outward things more priority over our inner heart? He is guilty of it, but aren’t we all guilty?
We need to answer the question: “who is Jesus to you?” The inward reality makes all the difference, it relates to your motivation for church, for service.
If Jesus is your Lord, live like he is! We don’t serve out of guilt or to earn the approval of God (it has been freely given in Christ.) Serve because of Jesus! The motivation comes out of an understanding that through the power of the Gospel we have been served with grace and mercy, and we are loved in Christ. So it transform us into a life of thankful service of empowering and helping others know Jesus because God did that with us.
“Who is Jesus to you?” That's the question that make all the difference in life.
Verses 9-11, Paul by the power of the Holy Spirit, cursed and made Bar-Jesus blind.
While God made straight paths of sending Barnabas and Saul to share with Paulus the Gospel. Bar-Jesus was trying to crooked the straight paths by preventing him coming to faith.
So God showed him an instance of his mighty power, and he became blind.
Yet in God’s judgement, Bar-Jesus' blindness was only for a time, just like Saul, he was given an opportunity to think about the Gospel message, God makes the effort to get him back. Bar-Jesus learnt the hard way that it is always better to be for God than against him. Verse 12 in spit of his scheme, the governor believed, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Gospel. For the power of God comes through the Gospel, transforming and changing lives.
But don't miss this: Nothing can stop what God had intended to happen, that's the God that we can safely give control of our lives too.
God's resolve in carrying out his mission through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that has the power to change and transform lives.
This bring us to the 3rd reality.
Reality 3: How does this redefine us?
Acts 13: the church’s mission began with ordinary people who prayed, had a vision, recognized gifts within the body and were obedient to wait on God. And when God decided to do the extraordinary, they were ready to go.
Jesus says of his mission in John 20:21, “Just as the Father has sent me into the world, I send YOU into the world.”
We are the YOU. Our new reality is: Our mission is the mission of Jesus! That’s the higher calling!
And so The Spirit enables us by taking the truth of the Bible, use it to inform, shape, guide, and direct us for the mission! And give us abilities to serve God in a special way, so in a sense we’re all in full-time ministry.
Whether you are member or leader or pastor, we join hands in this great work! Everything good that will come out of Church life is the result of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit coming to change us, and teaching us to practice being Church here.
If Jesus is building the church together WITH people who are here, FOR the people who are not yet here.
Will your response be: “let's build up the church here” ?
In practice, it means: we keep our eyes on the Gospel, start praying for your church. Give consistently to our church (time and money). Serve our church.
We do this because many Christians are excellent at criticizing but not good at loving. They criticize church service, but they don’t serve at one. They criticize the budget, but they don’t contribute to it. They criticize the pastors but they don't pray for them or work with them.
Don't be that self-righteous, judgmental, cynical, suspicious and unhappy Christian. Do the stuff of Acts 2; devote yourselves to teaching and fellowship, use your gifts, both natural and supernatural, build up the church.
Acts 17:26-27 shows us that God determines the time and the place in which we live. God’s sovereign hand put us there to be part of his mission. If there’s somebody there that doesn’t know Jesus where you work, among your friends and families, or wherever it is that you find yourself in, it is there you have been sent as a witness and testimony of the resurrection of Jesus and the power of the Spirit.
Fact: We are the church throughout the week not just Sundays.
Implication: So that we can serve those in need, spread to them the gospel message, and in the process glorify God. We’re all working on Jesus’ behalf and through the Sprit.
Two thousand years ago, the Gospel changed the hearts of a needy people who were into scripture, prayed and work through life together, when God says “go” they were ready. Out went two ordinary members for the important work of the gospel.
Now the same gospel is still changing the hearts of a needy people. I just want to impress upon you, how important that Jesus isn’t on maintenance mode then and he isn’t now. Think about what this group of people in this room could do when we grasped God's plan and we want to be part of building God’s kingdom!
Let us resolve to live the Gospel, and let it redefine the way we do church here in Jubilee.