The Lord downloaded some profound truths about the Church in Antioch, Syria—the congregation that is so often mentioned in the Book of Acts. That Antioch was central to God’s plan of releasing the Gospel to the nations is clear. Yet Antioch’s importance is often missed as we talk about other First Church congregations in places like Jerusalem, Ephesus, or Rome…
As I shared in last Sunday’s sermon, Antioch was a key congregation for several reasons:
- Antioch was the first congregation where the wall of separation between Jews and Gentiles actually came down.
- Antioch was the First Congregation where believers were called “Christian,” a prophetic term denoting the Holy Spirit-breathed unity, humility, and authority that defines true Christianity.
- Antioch was the first congregation to take up an offering for another (Jerusalem) congregation in their time of need.
- Antioch, with Spirit-filled leaders who prayed and fasted—called, ordained, and sent out Paul and Barnabas as the first missionary team of the early church.
- Antioch was the home church of Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and many other early Church leaders—including Peter for a season. These leaders were both sent out by the Antioch Congregation, and reported back to the Congregation.
- Antioch was the prototype of the True Gospel/Full Gospel Church, with a beautiful mix of Jew/Gentile, rich/poor, male/female, from multiple races, nations, and backgrounds—and a boldness to defend the Gospel against religiosity at every turn.
- Antioch’s faithfulness precipitated the first Church Council, where it was determined that the restoration of David’s Tent meant that the church would be Word and Worship based, not law-bound—that Gentiles need not become Jewish to become Christian.
Antioch was an OBEDIENT Congregation—and God was therefore able to use Her mightily in laying the foundation of what the Church of Jesus Christ should always be.
Antioch was a GATEWAY Church—in fact, the Eastern Gate Church from which and to which flowed Rivers of Living Water in terms of leaders empowered and sent, received back, refreshed, and sent forth again. She fought for the truth even when pressured by sincere but misguided members of the “Mother Church” in Jerusalem. She was generous to a fault, yet bold and fearless and unmovable when it came to the Heart of the Gospel.
God says that we are a Modern-day Antioch! We have been chosen to call, empower, send, and receive today’s missionary leaders as they minister in villages around the corner and all over the world. We have been designated an Eastern Gate Church by our Father, with a mission that may not make the headlines, yet is absolutely foundational to the Last Church being like the First Church—and ready for Her Groom’s return!
OBEDIENCE IS KEY! It was then, and it is now. As a congregation, unity in the Spirit, fervent prayer, fasting, discernment, generosity, boldness, and holiness are not optional. We have been called to a different place than much of the American Church—although we are certainly not alone in this call. We have been called to an Obedience that will shake the “Mother Church,” that will call forth leaders, that will reach the neighborhood and invade the world with the True and Full Gospel of Jesus Christ. What an amazing God! What a privilege to be an Antioch Congregation in these last days…!