This is the second part of a set of notes on Terry Virgo’s first session at 300 Leaders. I have previously shared the video and downloads for the whole talk.
3. There was Barnabus. He had been sent. The Apostles were staying in Jerusalem. People have written about whether that was right or wrong. But they heard about another church coming to birth. Barnabas was sent as an apostolic delegate. He was known by the Apostles, and he represented them. It was rather like Timothy later on. Receive him, like you would receive me.
So this church is touched by apostolic ministry. It is in touch with apostolic revelation and gifting. There is a big debate about whether apostles continue today. Some say there were 12. There were several catagories: Hebrews 3 speaks of Jesus the Apostle. He was the one and only. He was sent with authority which is the root of the meaning. In John’s gospel Jesus keeps saying he was sent. Then there are the 12 who Jesus chose. They are unique. A band of apostles that the church is built on. But there are other apostles. Paul, James, Barnabus, (Acts 14:14 doesnt distinguish between Barnabus and Saul). In Acts 13 they were prophets and teachers, now they are apostles. They were sent by God. Some have argued that Paul should have been one of the 12 but Paul doesn’t say that.
Ephesians 4 says Jesus ascended and gave. From heaven. Barnabus gets called. We don’t know for sure that Barnabus ever saw Jesus after the resurrection. Apostles don’t just write epistles so we don’t need them any more. Only a handful of them wrote Scriptures. Some who weren’t apostles wrote Scripture eg Luke. Apostles were not Bible writers only.
There is a job that apostles do. It is to do with foundations. Paul is a wise master builder (architect). He laid a foundation in a local church. It is not just that philosophically we are all built on a foundation. Rather, each local church has a time when that foundation was laid. The universal church was built on the foundation of the initial apostles. The local church is also built on the foundation laid by the apostles. Sometimes a church came to birth like this one in Antioch, getting before the apostles. The apostles then quickly send either an apostle or a delegate of an apostle to make sure the church is being built correctly.
We are looking for a rainbow of ministries as seen in Ephesians 4. Lloyd-Jones believed that only Pastors and Teachers continued and that evangelists had ceased. Some people will allow for evangelists to continue, or perhaps prophets. Some will refer to people who have died as an apostle or a prophet. I believe God has given a blueprint for the church, why should we reinvent another one. We have tried democracy, we have tried ecclesiastical heirachy, why not use the Bible model we see in Ephesians 4?
4. The list of names continues. Barnabaus was a Cypriot, Simeon was a black African, Lucius is also black, Manian was brought up with Herod. He was raised with the kings son. Like he went to school with Harry or William! He mingled with some pretty high people. And Saul who is a Hebrew of Hebrews. A pretty mixed leadership team. What a strange group. What is this? It is the Antioch church getting away from Jerusalem into a gentile world and saying “What kind of house will you build?”
It is a house that is so different than what had come before. There is continuity: we are Abraham’s children. We feel a sense of unity. But we are something fresh and new. God is creating one new man out of Jew and gentile. It is energised by the Holy Sprit. Very different in education, social background. What gives them unity? It is because they are first called Christians there. What do they have in common? It is Jesus. Not just a definition of doctrine, or an agreement of creeds.
When Peter goes to Cornelius and the pagan Roman starts to speak in tongues, the fire had lept across the chasm. It is only that experience of the Spirit that joined them together. The unity of the Spirit is not just a catchphrase. He has got the same as us. The Spirit-filled church is a phenomenon. It is different to what was before. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek. We are allowed to eat Pork and still get to heaven! The restrictions are lifted. There is liberty. We are in Israel’s messiah. We are one. Jesus let women listen to his teaching which was outrageous. Neither male nor female, neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free. The early church would have had many slaves in it. Paul tells his friend to receive his runaway slave back as his brother. The twelve were all Jews, but he had a zealot who’s goal was to kill Romans, and a tax collector who collaborated with them to raise money. They sold their souls and were hated. What did they have in common? Only that they loved Jesus. He is the cornerstone where we find one another. The church is a phenomenal manifestation to the world of the way to break through racial hatred, sexual discrimination, social class war.
5. They were worshipping the Lord. Leaders together. Elders come together with a long agenda. Here is a leadership that said “lets worship.” God does stuff. They are ministering to the Lord. Bathed in worship. Not a business meeting. We are besotted with God. Lets raise churches that are besotted with God. We must model prayer and worship as leadership teams to our churches.
6. The Spirit said set apart. A house which is pre-occupied with world mission. A house that doesn’t think it strange that two of its key leaders go off to do something else. It is a global commission. Jesus said go and make disciples. The disciples went and planted churches. That is how people are discipled. A church is a group of disciples. We are called to world mission. Sometimes leaders will go and start again. Church is not a static thing. We are joined in mission. It is not that someone in our ranks goes to a mission society. The Bible doesn’t say they went and set up mission centres. They went to plant churches. Roland Allen urged us to found churches. His book was a radical call that came out more than a hundred years ago. We need churches that are in partnership with each other. Churches that extend God’s mission together. Fellowship is not a religious word, it is partnership in a shared purpose and action.
What kind of house will you build for him? The church at Antioch is a wonderful model. Came away from the Jerusalem base to start over again. Prophets were there, but tested by the Word, Apostolic involvement, great diversity. God’s church is a breathtaking phenomenon. They were worshippers, they fasted and prayed. They were involved in world mission. They saw the church as God’s agent in making Jesus famous throughout the world.
We do not want to just talk about the Spirit-filled church, we cry to God to multiply many of them.