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Selection by the Spirit exemplified in Acts January 17, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Acts, Apostle Paul, Barnabas, Body of Christ, Church Membership, Holy Spirit, Religion, Sermons, Spiritual Growth.
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Selection by the Holy Spirit
Acts 12:25-13:5

The Holy Spirit is the personnel officer of the Trinity. He is well qualified for this task because He has the ability to see the big picture of eternity, because He can accurately evaluate each one of us, and because He can enable us in areas where we are lacking.

“While he was manager of the Chicago Cubs, Charlie Grimm reportedly received a phone call from one of his scouts. The man was excited and began to shout over the telephone, ‘Charlie, I’ve landed the greatest young pitcher in the land! He struck out every man who came to bat. Twenty-seven in a row. Nobody even hit a foul until the ninth inning. The pitcher is right here with me. What shall I do?’ Charlie replied, ‘Sign up the guy who got the foul. We’re looking for hitters.’ ” The Holy Spirit knows exactly what is needed to accomplish the task of the church (from John Maxwell’s “Developing the Leaders Around You”).

So the first question we need to ask ourselves is this? Has the Holy Spirit selected you?

1. The Scriptures teach that every member of the body of Christ is selected by the Spirit to serve (Compare Acts 11:29-30 and 12:25 with 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 and (Romans 12:3).

This particular passage (Acts 13:1-5) describes the Holy Spirit’s selection of two men, Paul and Barnabas, for missionary service. We read this and forget that the Holy Spirit was working in the whole church at Antioch in this selection process. Acts 11:19-30 tells how the church began and how that every believer was actively involved in ministry in telling others of Christ and in serving other believers. It is this church where they were first called Christians. What we find in this church is Holy Spirit working in every member. This is the atmosphere out of which the Spirit selected Paul and Barnabas.

2. Every ministry of every believer and in every church is important to the Holy Spirit (Every church in Ephesus had an overseer because every group of believers is important to the growth of the overall body of Christ, Acts 20:28-35).

a. Why? The Holy Spirit gives us our ministry to benefit others.

i. For example, the Holy Spirit was given to the body of Christ so that we might be able to witness effectively of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8). This is the theme of the book of Acts, that is, how God through the Holy Spirit used the first believers to reach the world with the gospel of Christ. It is God’s intention that all men should hear the gospel through us. According to Ephesians 4, that is a benefit to us as the body of Christ.

ii. Evangelism is not however the only benefit of ministry. It is also God’s intention that all who hear and believe should be added to the church through the Holy Spirit spiritually and through open identification with Christ and His body physically. This is the way it happened at Pentecost (Acts 2:38, 41).

iii. The church’s task does not end there. All in the body of Christ should grow to be mature spiritually (Compare Matthew 28:19-20 with Acts 2:42). We do not do that in isolation (see Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12-14).

iv. Finally, all who are growing should minister to one another (Acts 2:44-45). Spiritual growth equips us for ministry (Compare Romans 12:1-2 with Ephesians 4:12). Now all this was a result of the gift of the Spirit to the body of Christ (Acts 2:38b).

b. Because the Holy Spirit gives us our ministry to benefit others, every believer has something important to contribute (Acts 11:29 compared with 2 Corinthians 8-9). What do you have? You may not have much but if you have anything at all, God expects you to give it. This may include money but it can also include time, strength, talent, insight, encouragement, and prayer. We all though have something important to contribute.

Even a smile and a handshake are important gifts that God allows us to give to one another. I found out this week why after the offering, our men shake hands with each other. Two of our men got that started some years ago. It is a joyful symbol of Christian hospitality. We do not practice the holy kiss here. We are too American for that but when the two ushers smile and shake hands after serving you and serving God through collecting the offering, it reminds us that we are family in Christ, we are brothers and sisters. We are not just gathering money to meet a budget but we are a body of believers who love each other and are committed to each other and to our Lord and to the task which He has given us.

Is that not the significance of the laying on of hands in Acts 13:3? These men were not transferring magic powers to Paul and Barnabas. They were through this symbolic act reassuring these two men and testifying to God that they not only approved but were committed to being a part of their mission to the Gentiles and were through the laying on of hands committing their care and success to God (Acts 15:26-28). This group of men and the church that they led were committed, committed to each other, committed to the Lord, and committed to the task which He had given them to do.

This is an example of the fact that the success of the body is determined by the contribution of many. “At a Midwestern fair, many spectators gathered for an old-fashioned horse pull… The grand-champion horse pulled a sled with 4,500 pounds on it. The runner-up was close, with a 4,400-pound pull. Some of the men wondered what the two horses could pull if hitched together. Separately they totaled nearly 9,000 pounds, but when hitched and working together as a team, they pulled over 12,000 pounds.”

3. Now the reason why the Holy Spirit has decided that it was important to select each of us is clear. The Spirit has decided to make us dependent on each other (Acts 11:29; compare Acts 13:5 with 15:37-40; see also 1 Corinthians 12:12-26). Very few if any physical tasks are performed using just one part of the body. Each believer has a unique design and function that is intended for dependence on others.

Dependence demands more than involvement. It demands commitment. Service or ministry is more than involvement. Football coach Lou Holtz once said, “The kamikaze pilot that was able to fly 50 missions was involved – but never committed.”

That defines one of our tasks as church leaders. We must do more than involve you in ministry. We must challenge you to commitment in ministry with this local church.

There are those who use their ministry to the greater body of Christ as a reason not to commit themselves to a local body of believers. Their lack of commitment to an individual body helps them to maintain their independence. They have chosen to remove themselves from the very source of spiritual strength and growth that God intends for them to be dependent on and have isolated themselves from others who God wants to depend on them.

Dependence on each other and commitment to each other is sometimes a very difficult. There are times when we say, I just do not want to be responsible for someone else. There is, however, no time when a body part can withdraw from the body. There are times of rest, yes, sleep is necessary to the health of the body but even at rest there is no part of my body that can become independent from the rest of my body. Dependence on each other and responsibility for each other remains as long as we are part of the body of Christ.

Independence can be dangerous. Two shipwrecked men sat together at one end of a lifeboat, doing nothing. As they watched intently, the people at the other end of the boat were bailing furiously. One man then said to the other, “Thank God that hole isn’t in our end of the boat.”

4. The Holy Spirit has made us dependent on each other, He has uniquely designed each of us for our ministry (Acts 13:1-4).

That is why no member should think too highly of himself or herself. “The most traumatizing condition in the body occurs when disloyal cells defy inhibition. They multiply without any checks on growth, spreading rapidly throughout the body, choking out normal cells… Physicians fear no other malfunction more deeply: it is called cancer” (from Fearfully and Wonderfully Made by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey). You see cancer is when one cell or group of cells act as if their design is more important than all others. We need to realize that every cell in the body of Christ is uniquely designed by the Spirit of Christ and is necessary to the body.

Four Applications:
1. Thank God for including you in the body
2. Present yourself a living sacrifice.
3. Tell God you’re available.
4. Tell us you’re available.

Next week: Led by the Spirit of God

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