Journal Acts 13 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation and notes are mine)
Scripture: “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers—Barnabas, Simeon (who was called Niger), Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch), and…Saul.
While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’
Then after fasting and praying, they laid their hand on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:1-3)
Observation: I think I am seeing how the function and operation works in a local church—at least the one at Antioch.
Is it THE example, or one example?
Application: While the above reference could be broadly about sending missionaries, I am wondering about the foundations of the Antioch church that precedes this—what was the Antioch church like?
I think I see the following:
- The general church at Antioch is perceived to be in one accord—and that wasn’t a Honda.
- The sense of the Holy Spirit was predominate and palatable.
- The church knew and supported the gift of prophetic ability and had recognized teachers (that may or may not have been pastors and elders—it doesn’t say and, being true to the text, should not be inferred).
- These folks took their following as disciples seriously in worship and fasting (being a fat guy, I am impressed).
These guys (and maybe others, the text doesn’t say) sensed the Holy Spirit giving them a specific message. However, that wasn’t enough—they continued fasting and praying for some time longer (how long it doesn’t say) before commissioning their journey by laying hands on them.
And off Barnabas and Saul go…
While I am aware that the missionary sending aspect gets attention, what about everything that leads up to this? However this can be placed in churchy language, what were the operational and logistic foundations preceding? And did every church operate like Antioch did? Should they have? I am not sure…
Part of the reference scripture infers the following:
- Antioch recognized gifts of men—“…there were prophets and teachers…”—perhaps leaders, but not necessarily leadership.
- Antioch knew intimately and experientially about the moving of the Holy Spirit and trusted it.
- Antioch engaged and exercised worship, not limited to regular meetings; they knew how to worship wherever they gathered.
- Antioch knew that the Holy Spirit brought and used a disparate group of people, including Manaen (boyhood buddy of Herod the bad guy) and Saul (once a leader of Murder, Inc. for the Jerusalem synagogue).
- Antioch knew that New Testament prophecy was different from Old Testament prophecy and double checked via prayer and fasting—they weren’t quick to authorize operations.
On the subject of “was this the SOP of other churches”, I remember the descriptions of churches from Revelation (Antioch wasn’t mentioned there). Every church in Revelation mentioned had good things…and not so good things.
What came first in the vision of those local churches? The mission statement of desired outputs, or the vision of how to present their local gathering unto the Lord at the End of Days? Why did they gather?
I have attended and been a functional member of maybe half a dozen gatherings of believers in my days—not a church hopper looking for a “perfect church” because I found out quickly that as soon as I walked in the door, it stopped being a “perfect church.”
Prayer: Lord God, help me keep my nose to the grindstone; my head in the clouds AND my feet on terra firma. Thank you for allowing me grace to pull this apart and hopefully stay on a straight track.
Journaling is a meditative exercise, good for the mind and the soul. “Think, reason, and worship” is good to do. I want my mind to be firm to the Gospel. Journaling allows me to think out loud and review later for either encouragement or correction of course.
Ricky Two Shoes