NT40 Convictions for Acts 11-13
And now the gospel spreads to the Gentiles...
1. About God. The dispersion and strategy for church planting is orchestrated (even "micro-managed") by God! The Holy Spirit tells the prophets and teachers in Antioch, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them" Acts 13:2. The Holy Spirit sends Barnabas and Saul on their way to the first missionary journey (Acts 13:4). And, interestingly, He knows who will respond to the message — "When the Gentiles heard this [when they understood Isaiah 49:6], they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed to eternal life believed" Acts 13:48.
2. About NT Christianity. "Those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed" (Acts 11:19) spread the message of Jesus as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch. In Antioch, we see the first appellation of "Christian" applied to the disciples. This terminological observation by Luke allows us to better define "Christian" (since it's only used 3x in the NT) by equating it with "disciple." That undeniable link brought me to repentance in 1993 (by eliminating my self defined standards for being a Christian)! The standards, expectations, practices, heart, and purposes of disciples are also those of all true Christiains. As we seek to have the Bible inform us as it defines NT Christianity, this verse proves very helpful (and powerful).
3. DWIS (Do What It Says): I've noticed that fasting often occurs during times of anguish, contrition, and persecution in the Bible. However, in Antioch, the church was "worshipping the Lord and fasting" Acts 13:2. Later, "after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off." Here it seems that fasting helped the church better discern God's will for expanding the scope of the mission. While I do not have reason today to fast for such a decision, I will apply this conviction of the Holy Spirit the next time that we face such decisions in our church.