Lessons Learned in the Last Year
Acts 11:26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
Intro: We see God did an amazing work in the hearts of the Gentiles. Notice:
A. Their Conviction – vs. 21 “…a great number believed…”
B. Their Conversion – vs. 21b, “…and turned unto the Lord.”
C. Their Confession – vs. 22. “Then tidings of these things came unto the ears which was in Jerusalem…”
I want to focus on the statement, “and it came to pass, that a whole year…”
A lot can happen in just a year.
This year has been one of the most bizarre, unprecedented years in all of history. We have witnessed things transpire in the last 12 months that we could have only imagined prior to this year.
We have seen and heard and experienced things that would have been in a science fiction movie just a year ago.
We experienced a virus that created such a ripple effect that the world will never be the same.
From Wuhan, China (or so they tell us), a virus was either accidentally or deliberately released into the public.
From that, we have watched unimaginable repercussions and unexplainable reactions.
Almost a year later, schools are still closed; business are still closed; churches are still closed.
People are afraid to come out of their house.
Fear and panic and anxiety has become normal, everyday occurrences, so much so, that if you are NOT afraid and NOT worried, you are labeled as uncaring, unloving and dangerous.
If the virus wasn’t enough to make the year one of the craziest years of this century, then there was the election.
We watched a man that couldn’t fill a phone booth supposedly get more votes than anybody in the history of this nation.
We have the most chaotic, abnormal, unrealistic and unbelievable election disaster in our nation’s history.
One thing I can say – I learned a lot this last year.
I saw and heard and experienced things that I will never forget.
In our text, these people also saw and heard and experienced things they would never forget.
What a difference a year makes! Notice just three things they learned in a year; things we would be wise to learn as well.
I. The Potential of Balanced Teamwork
The Bible tells us in vs. 24 that “much people” was added unto the Lord.
It was more than Barnabas could handle alone.
He realized that he would need help to effectively minister to all these people.
The number of people needing help surpassed Barnabas’ ability.
- Verse 24 ends with “…and much people was added unto the Lord.”
- Verse 25 starts out, “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus for to seek Saul.”
He needed help, and he found a man that could assist him with his labor.
ILLUSTRATION: I find it interesting that Jesus Christ didn’t work alone.
He was all powerful, all knowing, and yet he recruited helpers.
He had 12 men to work with him.
The Bible is clear – the more workers you have, the more you can accomplish.
- Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
There’s always a need for workers in the field.
- 37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
- 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
This year, God has expanded our opportunities and enlarged our coasts.
This year, we brought on Brother Birner to help minister to the Senior Saints.
God brought Bro. Leeder and his wife here to help work with the young people among other things.
We have recruited multiple workers to help work in the Rescue Mission.
That means we need workers; teamwork makes the dream work.
Paul and Barnabas were two completely different personalities, but they worked together.
Both brought things to the table that were necessary to get the job done.
Neither were in in for self-recognition or self-promotion.
They worked together to reach more people and help more people.
II. The Priority of Bible Teaching
It cannot be stressed enough that teaching new converts the Bible is absolutely essential.
Jesus incorporated teaching and discipleship into the Great Commission.
The Great Commission is clear – “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”
Barnabas and Paul were committed to the preeminence of Bible teaching.
They did not conduct a three-day conference.
They didn’t have a two-week crash course in Biblical Christianity.
They assembled with the church for a whole year.
We do not have to worry about what was being taught in verse 26.
- Notice verse 19. These people were products of someone preaching THE WORD.
- Notice verse 20. These people were products of someone preaching THE LORD JESUS.
- Notice verse 23. These people had been exhorted that they should CLEAVE UNTO THE LORD.
The teaching that was done during that whole year was the same teaching that had gotten them saved.
They taught the Word, they taught Jesus Christ, and they taught a relationship with God.
Paul was a firm believer in discipleship.
- 21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,
- 22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
- Acts 20:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,
Notice our text. They assembled themselves with the church, and taught MUCH PEOPLE.
I think it is important to note this:
- In verse 24, MUCH PEOPLE were added.
- In verse 26, MUCH PEOPLE were taught.
We don’t need to just teach preachers, and evangelists and missionaries.
We need to teach EVERY NEW CONVERT!
I have watched Satan steal away a few; pull a few out of church; create fear and confusion in hearts.
I believe God has taught me that discipleship for new converts is absolutely vital to building a strong church.
They must be taught the Word of God!
- 2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
III. The Presentation of a Bold Testimony
This is the first time we find the word “Christian” in the Bible.
Notice the process by which this name came about.
THEY WERE CALLED…
They didn’t call themselves Christians.
They didn’t label themselves Christians.
They were followers of Jesus Christ to the extent that others called them “Christians.”
First, they were TAUGHT Jesus Christ.
Then they EXEMPLIFIED Jesus Christ.
One thing I have been reminded of this past year – people are watching.
Those outside the church are watching those of us inside the church.
Their testimony was the result of ASSEMBLING THEMSELVES WITH THE CHURCH!
You cannot and will not have a bold testimony as a Christian apart from the local church.
The church is a vital component in reaching the world with the Gospel.
- 1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
QUESTION: As we close out another year, can people look at you and call you a Christian?
What are you doing that would cause unbelievers to label you as a Christian?
I’m not talking about you calling yourself one – I’m talking about you being called a Christian.
If you were arrested this morning for being a follower of Jesus Christ, is there enough evidence to convict you?
Conclusion: What have we learned this year?
- People are Wanting to be Saved
- People are Willing to Serve
- People are Watching the Saints