Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
So far we’ve talked about 9 ingredients of the early church that we should practice in churches today. The church was consistent, witnessing, caring, united, giving, exciting, Spirit filled, and preached repentance. The Word shows us what a church ought to be. May God help us be as near to the early New Testament church as we can. Our church can be as powerful and Spirit filled as they were. Here are 3 more ingredients.
(10) They were mission minded. From what I see here, Adwolfe is mission minded. God calls and lays on the hearts of people to help send others. Those who support missionaries will have a part in their work and be rewarded for it when they get to heaven. In Acts 1:8 we have the scripture for how it is to work. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. They took it literally. Jerusalem was home. We start here or we’ll never have a burden for people in other parts of the world. From Jerusalem it spread throughout the world. In Chapter 13 the sending came from Antioch, not Jerusalem. It had already spread there and now they were sending. It starts at home, but if it stops there we’re not a New Testament church. It’s exciting to hear of people getting saved. That comes from the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit divinely selected Paul and Barnabas to be foreign missionaries. I’m glad God calls. It came after prayer and fasting. Although I appreciate the national boards of the Free Will Baptists. They oversee missions nationally, but it is the responsibility of the local church. That’s how it is carried out. We support and send missionaries to win others to Christ. The national boards are now helping us do our part.
(11) They were a friendly church. This characteristic is shown through the book of Acts. Statistics prove that it’s not because of doctrine or the preacher. It’s not the location of a church. Some people attend a certain church in spite of these. The Number 1 reason people go to a certain church is the people are friendly. Make people feel welcome. No other group is more able to meet the needs of people than the local church. Have a strong caring ministry.
(12) They were a praying church. James had just been killed. Peter was put in prison and the intent was to kill him. Prayer solves impossible human problems. The early church was up against Herod. What were they going to do to help Peter? They knew their limitations. We can trust God when we realize ours. Remember what Gabriel told Mary: with God nothing is impossible. Prayer changed Peter’s situation. Could God have done this without their prayers? Sure he could. Look at Peter. Even though James had just been killed, what do we see him doing? Acts 12:6 says Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains. Peace and poise were his. No pills. No counting sheep. Through prayer miracle aid and assistance came. Verse 7 says the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. In the Old Testament Elisha and his servant were in Dothan surrounded by the enemy. The servant was afraid by what he saw. Elisha prayed for his eyes to be opened saying Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. He saw the horses and chariots of fire that also surrounded them. God had it well in hand. The situation in America is under God’s control. Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world. Prayer can bring surprises. When Peter arrived at the house they were praying in the people were surprised. Have you ever prayed and prayed about something and been surprised when God answered. May God help us to become a more praying church.
(13) This was also a fasting church. In Matthew 17 the disciples asked Jesus why they could not cast out the demons. He told them in verse 21 this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. The early church prayed and fasted before sending Paul and Barnabas. Fasting is where divine power rests. It’s the grounds for getting things done. There are degrees of faith. This produces degrees of answered prayer. Small faith–small answers. Our prayer should be Lord, increase my faith. Fasting is a way to greater faith. When we give ourselves to the Lord in fasting, faith will grow. We see fasting and prayer gives help in time of trouble. It’s sad that this is the only time some pray. Fasting helps determine why something is wrong. We find this when Israel was defeated by Ai. They fasted and prayed and were shown that Acan had taken spoil and buried it under his tent even though they were commanded not to do this. Prayer and fasting leads to victory over sin. Some have difficulty overcoming. Heavenly wisdom and divine direction come through fasting. It also helps in intercession for others. When we pray for others, we must first make sure our hearts are right with God. Don’t pray selfishly. We have a responsibility to pray for others. Prayer doesn’t have to be done with a bowed head. You’d better not do that driving, but you can still pray while driving. It doesn’t have to be a long prayer. Peter prayed three words: “Lord, save me” and he was brought out of the water. The power of the Holy Spirit comes in response to prayer and fasting. Paul fasted three days after his Damascus Road experience. I believe he was converted on the road. After the fasting he was not baptized with the Spirit. He was filled. Receiving the Spirit comes at salvation, but we can be filled over and over again.
I hope we can model these characteristics. It worked for them; they’ll work today. It costs nothing to be friendly to people. Treat others how you want to be treated. Pray and fast for the needs of others. God help us to have a deeper burden for the lost.