God Uses Ordinary People to Build His Churches – Pt 2 – Acts 11:19-30

3 July, 2022

Book: Acts

God Uses Ordinary People to Build His Churches, Pt. 2

Introduce the Message:

  • God does His work, by using Ordinary People, who’re saved & filled, empowered and equipped by the Only Unique, Extra-Ordinary Absolutely Perfect, Spirit of God.
  • God works thru Ordinary men and women to Build His churches
  • Church Planting & Building has nothing to do w/ bricks & mortar
  • Church building has everything to do w/ Christ’s individ Discip.
    • Growing in their understanding of Christ & Him, Crucif’d
    • Increasing in their Faith and Repentance of sin
    • Increasing in their Fear of God, Love for God & ea. oth’r
  • Church Building is God’s Working thru ordinary disciples, who’re gathered together, as local churches to minister to other ordinary disciples for their Good & His Glory


  • Last week, we began 2C, 4 stages of church planting in Antioch


First: we saw that God Births His Churches thru Ordinary Witnesses,


2ndly: we saw God Grows His Churches Thru Ordinary Encouragers


  • These newly-saved Gentile Disciples began as a group of pagan, Idol-worshipping Greeks, but…
  • By the end of the passage, One yr. later, they’re known & called “Christians” by their Unbelieving Antioch Neighbours, and….
  • They’re ministering to the needs of other Disciples…


  • So, How did they get there? And, more importantly…
  • How is it that we @ NPEBC, in 21st Cent, as a similar group of Ordinary disciples, will also be known and called “Christians”,
    • Not just Us referring to ourselves as Christians but being known & called Christians, by our Family, Friends & Neighbours?
  • How does that growth and transformation occur?


We’ll see it the next 2 stages in Church Plant./Growth

  • Carrying on from last week’s sermon point numbers….
  • 3rdly) God Establishes His Churches thru Ordinary Teachers
  • 4thly) God Ministers to His Churches thru Ordinary Disciples


Btw, I’m sure you noticed, But if you didn’t…

  • Please notice that in all of this, it is God Who Does the Work. But He also Delights to move us to be involved, to respond. And…
    • We’re to respond by Faith in God to His leading, moving
    • We’re to respond in Submission to God’s Authority
    • We’re to respond in Obedient Co-operation with God…
  • There are No super-Christians, No super-pastors or elders
    • No super deacons, or missionaries,
    • No Super-Sunday-school-teachers,
    • There are No Super-Christians!
  • We’re All Just Ordinary People, filled w/ Almighty, All-knowing, Absolutely Holy God, and God is the One doing the work thru us


Now, 3rdly: God Establishes His Churches thru Ordinary Teachers

  • In 24, Barnabas is Encouraging & Exhorting the Disciples and considerable numbers were being brought to the Lord.
  • Perhaps at this point, God awakened Barnabas to realise: what was needed at Antioch was Sustain’d System. Teaching & so
  • …in agreement with what will become, the doctrine of the plurality of leadership & eldership in the church….


Vs.25, Barnabas left Antioch for Tarsus, found Saul-Paul

  • and brought him back to Antioch, to teach the church…
  • So, Who is this Saul (Paul)? Why was he chosen to be an apostle, teacher, missionary, pastor and theologian?
  • Saul, like Barn., was an Ordin. Man, used by God 4 His purposes


Saul was born around 9AD, so he was 10-15yrs younger than Jesus

  • Saul was Born a Roman Citizen,
    • his father had rec’d citizenship & he’d inherited it
  • He was Born in Tarsus, which is very similar to Antioch:
    • It was a major population ctr in Asia Minor.
    • It was on a significant commercial route, & therefore
    • It was influenced by current cultural trends/movements
  • Yet, In 22:3, he says he was brought up, in Jerusalem.
  • He was educated under Gamaliel,
    • one of the leading rabbinic teachers of Saul’s day,
    • who had a particular appreciation for Hellenist Culture
    • Saul was very familiar w/ Hellenistic culture & language

Saul was also very much a Jew

  • 3 tells us he was circumcised on the 8th day
    • Of the people of Israel, Of the tribe of Benjamin
    • A Hebrew, born of the Hebrews…
    • he boasted a pure Jewish lineage w/o Gent. Mix.
  • 1, He was advancing in Judaism beyond his contemporaries
    • and was extremely zealous for: traditions of Judaism,
  • 3, He was blameless in regards to the law…
    • In his misguided zeal for God, he even persecuted: Ch.
  • Some scholars view Saul-Tarsus: as 1 of great’st 1st C. scholars


  • So, He really Doesn’t sound so Ordinary… does he?
  • But, God did not, and could not, use him as he was…

God greatly humbled this young, zealous, driven, Jewish man.

  • God humbled Saul greatly, in order to use him mightily
  • Just as God must humble all of us in order to use us,

Listen!  A Proud man, is of little to no use, to God at all.


  • We all know the story of His conversion in Acts 9
  • Shortly after his conversion, he had to flee for his life from Damascus, lowered down the o/s of the wall in a basket
  • He flees to Jerus, only to have to flee again shortly after
  • And, If the scholars are correct, He then spends 10 yrs, working in Arabia & Tarsus…
  • where Barnabas now goes & searches & finds him, and brings him over to Antioch.
  • God humbled this young zealous man to use him greatly


Vs.26, They Met with, and Taught the Church in Antioch

  • Our passage, gives no record of: content/manner of Saul’s teaching, but we can see fr other texts, his manner/way of ministering, we can assume it was at the very least similar to how he taught in Antioch.


Paul Described the Weakness of his Ministry:

  • In 1Cor.2, he spoke
    • Neither with superiority of speech nor wisdom
    • He ministered in weakness, in fear & w/ much trembling
    • …and He used no persuasive words of wisdom
    • He wasn’t a smooth, silver-tongued, orator
  • In 10, he recounts how: Corinthian Believers viewed him:
    • His personal presence was Unimpressive and…
    • His speech was contemptible… mean: of no account!
  • He was an Ordinary, Unimpressive, Unremarkable Serv. of God who faithfully, carefully, taught: whole counsel of God to them


Paul described the Content and Practice of his Ministry

  • 2, He Knew/Preached Christ & Him Crucified and I’m sure he also unpacked all the implications of that to them
  • In Colossians 1, he describes the Manner of his Ministry
    • He Proclaimed Christ – Preached/Heralded
    • He Admonished them       – He Sharply Rebuked
    • He Taught them – Explained/Expounded Script
    • He Laboured, striving to God’s power which mightily working within him – Work of Ministry
  • Acts 20:31, He admonished with tears. – Sorrowful Ministry


  • But, above all these methods of ministry
  • 2, He ministered in a Demonstration of: Spirit & Power
    • It is the Critical key to His ministry: Power of Spirit
    • It was not by his pers. abilities, or learning, or talents
    • It was not, nor will it ever be by those things
    • We make far too much of “the right way to preach”
  • Listen, The Right Way is:
    • The Man of God’s own choosing
    • Filled with God’s Holy Spirit
    • From the Word of God Proclaiming, Teaching & Admonishing the People of God, in weakness, fear & trembling, with much tears and many prayers…


Notice, Saul described the Purpose of His Ministry

  • 2, It was so that their faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
    • He wasn’t looking to build a name/movement for himself
  • In1, it was so he might present ev. man, complete in Christ.
  • Everything Paul did in ministry was for: Glory of God-Christ and
  • for the Benefit/Growth of the church….
  • they grew and were transformed by God, thru Paul’s teaching…
  • …such that they were described by their unbelieving Antiochene neighbours as Little-Christs
  • God powerfully used these Ordinary men, to teach: Disciples


God still powerfully uses humbled men to establish & grow Churches

  • So long as We’re willing, only by the Spirit’s Power:
    • To Preach Christ & Him Crucified
    • To Admonish Wayward believers, with tears
    • To Labour in the Word & Doctrine, according to God’s Power at work within us. (1Tim.5:17-18)
  • So Long as the minister’s goal… our goal, my goal is
    • that Our listener’s Faith rest on God and His Power
      • not on my teaching-preaching
    • that We might present every man complete in Christ
      • not just a list of names on Church Member. Role


God grows His churches thru the ministry of Ordinary men, preaching, teaching, exhorting, admonishing the flock, among whom God has placed them, as His voice to be heard, and an example to follow.


  • So Saul returned with Barnabas, to teach the church, and he did it in the context of a gathering…

2) Vs.26, For an entire year they met with the church….

  • The word church simply means: group, gathering, or assembly
  • A Church that does not gather…. is not a Church
    • Now, Obviously, Pandemics require alternate means
    • But, we still gather, even if it is on zoom,
      • We could see each other’s faces,
      • We could hear each other’s prayers
      • We could receive each other’s ministry, etc….


Listen, God designed his church to be together, to be gathered

  • The pattern/example of Acts is the Church Gathered together
    • In 2: Church was Together when Pentecost Arrived
    • In 4 & 12, they were Together for Prayer
    • In 20, they gathered Together to break bread
    • In Acts.20, they were gather Together as Paul taught them…. All the way to midnight, then further til dawn… an approximately 10-12 hour service!


Why is gathering so important, why did Barn & Saul Meet With them?

  • The church fulfils its 4 central functions in context: together
  • In 2:42, they devoted themselves
    • 1) to the Apostle’s doctrine,
    • 2) to Fellowship,
    • 3) to Breaking of Bread &
    • 4) to Prayers
  • All four happen in context of a Church, Gathered Together
  • Barn & Saul gathered the Antioch Disciples together as a Church for the purpose of Teaching them: Apostle’s Doctrine
  • I would argue, his purposes included those other 3 things


They came together – God drew them together

  • God Commands us to be together, as a church family & body
  • You could argue,
    • I don’t need to be gathered together with the church,
    • I can get great teaching online
    • I can listen to far better sermons, fr far better men….
      • Absolutely! No Argument there!
    • You will hear better sermons from better men & Im not just saying that, I know, I listen to them too!


  • But, Listen, those online men, don’t know you from a banana!
  • Shepherding the flock happens best, just as Jesus said:
    • The shepherd knows the sheep & he calls them by name
    • He leads them out and they follow coz they know him
    • The sheep know the shepherd, They hear his voice
    • It’s his voice calming them & His hands feeding them
  • God designed churches and pastoral ministry
    • to happen in the context of a gathered church,
    • with people face to face with elders/pastors,
    • to get to know each other,
    • to listen and learn from each other….

Before God,

  • I feel strongly that I must say, What I am about to say….

But, Please understand…

  • I love this church dearly, you are my family, so I will say some hard things that need to be said.


{Quietly and Gently}

  • A Disciple, who makes a Habit, of Choosing to be absent fr the Gather. of God’s people for worship, fellowship, prayer and teaching is living in Disobedience to God.


  • That’s not just my opinion, it is God’s Word…

The Bible says in Hebrews 10:23–25, “Let us hold fast the confession

  • of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
  • Notice every statement is in the context of plurality
    • Us, Our, Us, One-another,
  • The Church is about the Body as a Whole, not just Individuals
  • The (+)’s in those Heb. vss. are the reasoning behind: (-)
    • 1) How do We hold fast the confession of our hope?
      • By Not Neglecting to meet,
    • 2) How do we Stir one another up to love/good Wks?
      • By meeting-gathering
      • Texts, Emails, Phone calls R great!
      • But, they’re no Substitute for being, together
    • 3) How do we Encourage one another?
      • By meeting-gathering
      • Again, Texts, Emails, Phone calls R great!
      • But, they’re no Substitute for being, together


Listen, Fellowship in the local church is a two way street

  • We need your fellowship 4 our -up, our encouragem’t and…
  • You need our fellowship, for your building up, your encouragem’t
  • We need each other becoz – we – are – all in this… TOGETHER.
  • Now, obviously, It’s not always possible to be here
    • Sickness, Work Responsibilities, Travel, and so on
  • But, Bro. & Sis., it must be our First-Highest Priority to be together with all the saints, as much as we possibly can.
  • We come together One day/wk 4 Worship, Feeding, Equipping,
  • We go out the other 6 days to witness, to minister, & to work


  • Brothers and Sisters, Strive, Do what is necessary to be together with God’s People to worship together, to pray together, to encourage, to be built up, etc…



  • So, Saul & Barnabas met w/ them for about a whole year and…

3) Vs.26, The Disciples were first called Christians in Antioch

  • The result of the work of God through two ordinary men, Barnabas and Saul, was that the disciples were transformed by God into Little-Christs & recognised as such by Antiochenes
    • The Work of God,
    • thru the Word of God,
    • Ministered by Men of God,
    • to the People of God,
      • results in Transformation into Christ’s Image.
    • It’s a transformation sufficient, that outsiders recognise us
      • as belonging to Him,
      • as those who have spent time with Him!
      • As those who look like, sound like and behave like Christ
    • Remember Acts 4:13. Now as the (Sanhedrin) observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were Uneducated and Untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with
    • The Disciple’s confidence, their Spirit-filled behaviour & words all testified to:
      • Their having been with Christ,
      • Their having been influenced and changed by Christ!
    • These Gentile Antioch Christians are growing and being transformed From self-centred to Christ-centred
      • From ungodly, pagan, idol-worshippers,
        • to Godly, Christ-like, Loving men and women,
      • the church was being changed, grown by God


{Pause and Consider: do you have time & is it appropriate to continue}


  • Their faith was working itself out in Love for God & Ea. Other
  • Which brings us to the last point.

Fourth: God Ministers to His Churches thru Ordinary Disciples

1) vss.27-28, God sent a message of Need….->

  • …to the Antioch Church, via some prophets from Jerusalem
  • Notice first, these prophets indicated-spoke, by the Spirit
    • They were not charlatans or frauds, they were legit.
  • How do we understand these Sp.-filled Prophets & their gifts
  • The simplest way to understand the prophetic gift, as we see it here, is, as part of a transition, from OT ways to NT ways.


In: OT, In Deut.24, the Priests were to teach the Congregation

  • of Israel the truths, statutes, laws, commandments of God.
  • And the Spirit-Anointed OT Prophets were God’s Spokesmen
  • They were Anointed to preach and call God’s people:
    • To Obey God’s Word, God’s Law
    • To Return to the Lord when they had wandered away
  • And, to reinforce their message, they gave prophetic warnings about the results of failing to obey/return to God… but that wasn’t their primary role
  • Some groups and movements in Christianity have made way to much of trying to unravel the whodunits of prophecy


Listen, the OT prophets spoke like our mums… right?

  • “Thus sayeth your mother, Clean Your Room!
  • If U don’t clean your room, Judgement Day will arrive”
    • Well, I didn’t clean my room… and…
    • Judgement Day arrived, via a Wooden Spoon… and…
    • The Board of Education was applied repeatedly to the Seat of understanding…. and…. It produced a Lively Repentance…
  • The OT Prophets called men/women to covenant faithfulness and foretold of God’s dealings with them if they refused, and promised God’s blessings if they obeyed
  • The OT Prophets Rec’d & Preached God’s Word,
    • In the later OT times, they also Wrote: Word of God


In NT, & time of Acts, there’s a transition fr. OT to NT ways

  • The Apostles, no longer the prophets, who wrote, spoke & taught Scripture
  • Yet, occasionally, we see: Spirit-filled Prophets appearing in Acts, speaking, by: H. Spirit, of future events… as these did.
  • But over time, NT Gift of Prophecy transitioned to Preaching


In Today’s age, the gift of Prophecy is Simply: Preaching

  • There’s no more OT Prophets, nor are there any NT Apostles
  • No further need for writing Script. Bible is complete/finished


Remember: the Book of Acts is primarily Descriptive not Prescriptive

  • Acts Describes what happened, fr. which we draw cert. lessons
  • The NT Epistles are Prescriptive, They dictate
  • How we, as churches individuals live-respond to the Grace/Truth of God
  • Having said all of that basically background material….


Here’s the much more important part:

  • 2) God used ordinary Disciples to Minister to others disciples
  • Read again vss. 27-30
  • Jesus was asked once, which is the greatest command?
  • He answered in Matthew 22:37–40
    • ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
  • Jesus Loved the Lord God, His heavenly Father…
  • He loved God by living in sinless, righteous, holy, obedience
  • He loved God by taking every opp. to be alone with His Father
  • He loved God by Obeying His Father, even to death on a Cross
  • Jesus also loved His Disciples…
  • He Loved, by sacrificially giving His Life, by dying on a cross to save them-us, from the wrath of God that is surely coming


  • We, as Jesus’ Disciples, Love God and Love each other when we sacrificially give Ourselves, Our time, Our obedience, our Loyal Devotion to God, to meet each other’s needs


  • They saw and heard of the need in Jerusalem, thru prophets
  • They were compelled, by Love for God & Love for their brother and sister to do, to act, as each was able, to contribute to the needs of the Church in Jerusalem
  • These Antioch Disciples had grown, and were still growing.
  • They’d come to be so Christ-like, they were recognised as such.
  • Christ-likeness is not merely to Love God,
    • Which, in many ways, is easier than loving neighbour
  • Christ-likeness is to Love God and Love our neighbour
  • These Christians were each doing the very same thing on behalf of their believing bros & sisters, whom they’d never met
  • That was their “Faith working itself out thru Love…” that Paul talked about in 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working thru love.
  • They Loved and so they Gave, each according to their means, their resources


  • God worked in the Antioch Church, and He is still working today, here in our church…
  • 1) God Births His Churches thru ordinary witnesses, speaking about Jesus as Lord and Saviour and God…
  • 2) God Grows His Churches thru ordinary encouragers who infuse and impart truth to encourage and exhort fellow believers to remain faithful to God with a resolute heart
  • 3) God Establishes His Churches thru ordinary teachers who, in weakness, fear & trembling, preach, teach and admonish with tears their fellow believers, with a desire to see them complete in Christ, with their faith securely resting on God
  • 4) God Ministers to His Churches, thru ordinary disciples who love God and love their bros & sis in Christ, love that is sacrificial, and practical…


And, what Does all this Require of us?

  • 1) Faith, Believing God’s Truth and
    • Trusting God, Himself, with all our heart
  • 2) Submission to God’s Authority
    • Bowing my thinking, will, behaviour to God’s
    • Our problem is not that we don’t know what God requires of us, Its that we don’t want to do it! Right?
      • We have a better plan, if only God would change to suit our ideas, our plans…
    • No, Submission to Obedience is what God requires.
    • Its Submission to be Scattered when God scatters us
    • Its Submission 2 B Used, when/where/how God uses us
    • Its Submission to His Ways, not ours
    • Its Submission to His Spirit working within us.

Closing Prayer: