The Spirit and the Church

Douglas VanBronkhorst

READ : Acts 13:1-3

The Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul . . .” (v. 2)

The church in Antioch sent two important members away as missionaries to other places in the Roman empire. The two men chosen comprised almost half the leadership team, including their “senior pastor” (Barnabas) and most effective teacher and evangelist (Saul). How could they do this? Wasn’t this harmful to their ministry in Antioch?

They did it because the Holy Spirit said so. The believers in Antioch came to this conclusion while worshiping and fasting. They confirmed it with prayer and more fasting. They also knew this was utterly consistent with what had been revealed about God’s purposes for the church, consistent also with the Spirit’s work in the world. Jesus’ last command was “Go, make disciples of all nations.” The Spirit came to give us the power to do that.

The Pentecost miracle of tongues was a graphic reminder that our “going” was to be focused on “the ends of the earth”—those from every tribe and nation with no opportunity to hear the good news. The church exists for mission. We are to give our lives away, as individual members and as a body. The Antioch church gave sacrificially to proclaim the gospel in distant places. Every church should follow their example.

PRAYER

Lord, may your Spirit lead me and my church to greater sacrifice for the gospel. Amen.