The Importance of the Body of Christ Acts 9:10 – 19
Koinonia – the thread of fellowship, partnership, communion among the believers in Christ coming from heaven.
‘Churchgoers are like coals in a fire. When they cling together they keep the flame aglow; when they separate they die out.’ (Billy Graham)
Ananias is called a saint, in other words, he is a disciple of the Lord Jesus, linked with the Body of Christ. He is a flaming coal of fire in the New Testament church in the city of Antioch, Syria. His name is written in the Lamb’s book of Life and God Himself, calls him out by his name. His life is seen worthy of a holy assignment. He is filled with the Holy Spirit, obedient to fulfill the requirements of this task. I suggest he has a track record of consistent faithfulness and diligence to complete his responsibilities. Now he is ready for an assignment that places him on the timetable of history and the text of Holy Scripture.
About 18 months ago, Pastor Lynne and I traveled to New Covenant Tabernacle to participate in the installation of Rev. Joshua Hamlin as their new pastor. Just as the service was about to begin, the ministers assembled. In those brief moments, a friend told me of a ministry opportunity that he believed was a perfect fit right here in Holland. I followed up on that conversation and today serve as a Marketplace Chaplain. That has been a divine appointment made possible by being involved over a long period of time in the Body of Christ.
Observe the koinonia, the Lord said in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Here I am Lord… one called Saul of Tarsus … is praying … and in a vision he saw Ananias coming in and putting his hands on him, so that he might receive his sight.
Ananias is in koinonia and is a man of high credibility among the body of Christ throughout Syria and beyond. He meets Saul, he ministers to him and introduces him to other believers, he had received food, then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Ananias is respected and opens doors for Saul, subsequently, Saul immediately preaches Christ in the synagogues … effective ministry flows from genuine koinonia.
HOTH values friendship and seek to strengthen the heart and soul of our church by being approachable and attentive to each other.
The Body of Christ is important to you as a believer and a person, to us as a congregation and to the community of people of which we are a member. This short but powerful account illustrates the indispensable quality and character of the church of Jesus Christ. I stand before you as an unashamed and confessing member of the church of Jesus Christ. I believe the Bible teaches us the value of the visible church whose roots go deep all the way to Ananias and Saul. The church will continue to be important until the trumpet sounds announcing the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Together, Christ calls us to embrace and demonstrate the advancing movement of the Holy Spirit and the hope of Christ for the church, the community and the world.
Action Point: make church life a priority in schedule, giving and serving
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Shake it Off – Acts 13:42 – 52
Background – this incident happened in a city called Antioch and a country we hear about today called Syria. This is a significant location.
Commercially and economically – it was called “Queen of the East” because of the beauty of its surroundings. It was a strategic location and caravans from all directions intersected at Antioch. It became large in scope and population. It was the capital of Syria from the Macedonian Greeks and when the Romans established it under the authority in 64BC.
The population was mixed between Gentiles and Jews.
Christians came to Antioch following the great persecution in Jerusalem following the martyrdom of Stephen. Think of the refugees today and perhaps a similar situation then. Excavations have uncovered over 20 churches.
Acts 11:19 -21
During this time, Paul and Barnabas made Antioch the focus of their ministry and preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to many.
The Apostle Paul is famous for three missionary journeys. He passed through Antioch, Syria on each one.
Let’s track what happened in the church at Antioch in Acts 13.
13:1-3 – This marked the beginning of the first missionary journey.
11:15 – 41 – Perhaps, Paul’s typical sermon in the synagogues around Antioch.
13:42 – 43 – the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is changing hearts and minds within the city.
13:44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. Proclamation, throughout the New Testament church, came with demonstration. Just like it was with Jesus. And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. (5:12)
13:45 – the waves of opposition are increasing. This opposition from the Jews is not a new thing for the apostles. (5:17) Paul in his BC days known as Saul of Tarsus led the violent persecution of Christians, who were mostly ethnic Jews. (8:1) This led to the migration of Messianic Jews to cities like Antioch, Syria. Saul faced it firsthand at the onset of his ministry, and he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. (9:29)
13:46 – then Paul and Barnabas grew bold – the boldness that rose up was the Spirit of the living God living within them. He is the same Holy Spirit abiding within every born again believer today. The boldness was channeled for the sharing of their faith. Notice the opposition did not stifle their evangelism!
Fellowship with the Holy Spirit will bring boldness out in you! Paul was confident and the confidence came from the fullness of God’s Holy Spirit. He was living for the glory of God and the growth of His kingdom.
This boldness or confidence helped him to explain to the Jews there was a shift coming. Paul explains the shift with a prophetic word, I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth. When we know the Bible, the Holy Spirit can use it to guide us and then we live with a great confidence inspired by God’s Spirit.
Brother Paul Johanssen called it a proceeding word. God gives it and you can stand on it, proclaim and declare it with boldness. That is the rhema word that is a lamp that lights our path!
13:48 – 49 Signs followed the rhema word Paul had from the Lord. The people under their ministry were glad, glorified the word of the Lord . Praise the Lord, new names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. And the word(logos) of the Lord spread throughout all the region.
13:50 – double down the opposition – what will they do now?
13:51 – SHAKE IT OFF – shook the dust from their feet - wouldn’t have been possible to be discouraged or afraid? Were these men made of stuff that is impossible for us to attain to? Did their love for Christ grow cold? From the Scripture record did they dilute the Gospel message?
This is a direct reference to some words Jesus spoke, and whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that city, shake off the dust from your feet. (Matthew 10:14)
13:52 – Faith lays hold of wonderful intangibles at times when it would seem against the odds to keep your head above water. Amazingly, they are wonderfully contagious to those in your company. These buoyant intangibles are sourced through faith by the Holy Spirit.
Paul writes this about an unrelated incident; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds (2 Corinthians 7:4)
Our faith tells us when we feel disenfranchised, alienated, unpopular, even when tragedy and difficulty come our way – contagious joy rises up.
And not coincidentally, they were filled with the Holy Spirit. I submit they were filled, past tense to the stuff that just happened, they were filled is their present even though it is our past and they had every intention to stay filled with His Spirit!
The Holy Spirit is an artesian well of God’s joy living within the believer!
Do not be drunk with wine in which is dissipation; but be (continuously) filled with the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:19)
How does the Christian shake off opposition?
Jesus is confronted by a man blinded by covetousness. This man wants to lay claim to part of an inheritance that legally does not belong to him. Reading between the lines one might get the idea that he has tried this before without success. But witnessing the authority of Jesus both in word and deed, he makes the decision to stand out in the crowd to his brother's share of the inheritance.
His covetousness blinded him to the consequences. "Beware", Jesus told him, beware of the costs of covetousness. Think of the broken family relationships, missing out on family celebrations and occasions. Think of the tensions and stress in the family if he should show his face. He was so blinded by his covetous desires that it seems he either failed to take any of this into account or he simply didn't care. My friends that is a very sad state of affairs when the "stuff" or the "deal" or the "power" is more important than the people, than the relationship with God. Let's not forget the tenth commandment which is a clear prohibition against coveting. This is a warning that we need just as much as in Jesus' time.
Jesus follows this with the account of a man who came into wealth. He hit the jackpot. But he didn't seek God's wisdom or will about it. Clearly, it was all about him, I will, I will say to my soul, my barn, my goods and his new found wealth blinded him from a personal relationship with God. Look around, it seems many may have fallen for the same deception.
From our vantage point, it seems he is living the dream. He is answerable to no one.
He was living with no thought for God, for eternity, for souls. His wealth was all about him. Blinded! Until at a random moment his soul was required of him. He wasn't prepared. He thought life marched to the beat of his drum but was sadly mistaken. Jesus cares about your soul.
My brothers and sisters we have no reason to be sucked into the trap of covetousness. The Father knows our needs and He is our Jehovah Jireh.
Let's remember the words of Jesus,
What on earth is eternal? Robert Morris in his book The Blessed Life posits that people are eternal. I agree. People live for eternity. As we have often heard, "you can't take it with you." Jesus talks about this in a parable in the Gospel of Luke chapter 16.