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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The Scriptorium

Grace Visible

Where it's working, you can see it. Acts 11.22-24

Mission to the Gentiles: Acts 11 (5)

Psalm 125.1, 2.
Those who trust in the LORD
Are like Mount Zion,
Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the LORD surrounds His people
From this time forth and forever.

Sing Psalm 125.1, 2.
(St. Gertrude: Onward, Christian Soldiers)
All who trust in Jesus, strong as Zion stand!
Naught shall ever move them from their promised land!
Like the hills surrounding safe Jerusalem,
Christ surrounds His Church and holds her in His mighty Hand!
Refrain, v. 1
All who trust in Jesus, strong as Zion stand!
Naught shall ever move them from their promised land!

Read Acts 11.1-24; meditate on verses 22-24.

Preparation
1. Whom did the leaders in Jerusalem send to Antioch? Why him?

2. What did he observe there?

Meditation

Again we note that the first believers felt it necessary to confirm the work of God in Antioch. So they dispatched Barnabas to have a look-see (v. 22). I always find that phrase striking: “When he came and had seen the grace of God…” What did he see?

It’s not spelled out here, but we know it from previous chapters: People hungry for the Word. People in prayer together, publicly and house to house. Folks sharing with one another of their material possessions and resources. New people coming to Lord. People talking about Jesus and “gossiping the Gospel” all over the city. The whole gamut of what Barnabas was familiar with in Jerusalem was on display here in Antioch as well! Grace is not just a squishy, feel-good experience; it’s power at work for transformed lives.

God is consistent in how He makes Himself known. So Barnabas, true to his nickname, ladled on the good word of encouragement (v. 23), doubtless affirming their work, enlarging their vision, and urging them on in the grace of the Lord Jesus. As a result, “a great many people were added to the Lord” (v. 24). Note again the emphasis on Jesus: “added to the Lord” – not to “the church.” The call is that people must come to Jesus, not to our church.

The presence of the Kingdom was visible in Antioch. The promise of it was becoming the possession of increasing numbers of people. And the power of the Kingdom was winning souls, transforming lives, and turning the world rightside-up for Jesus. What will it take for us to begin realizing more of the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom in our day?

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The Jerusalem church sent Barnabas to Antioch. They didn’t send just any old guy who happened to have a free weekend. Or someone that maybe had relatives there and was visiting anyway. Or send someone who had a religious father or grandfather. Or maybe someone that could really engage a group and make them laugh. Or someone who was clever or smart.

No.

Here are the job requirements for the man sent to Antioch. Needed:
1. A good man. (A law-keeper. One who loves properly.)
2. A man full of the Holy Spirit.
3. A man full of faith.
4. A man with the ability to encourage.

Nominal Christians need not apply.

From the very beginning, the Scriptures have been very clear about the qualities needed for church leaders.
God said, “Hear now My words: if there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; he is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?” (Num. 12.6-8)

I understand that God speaks now to His servants through the Word and prayer; but there is a special bond between church leaders and the Lord God that needs to be evident in someone who is called to tend God’s flock encouragingly and carefully.

Here are the current job requirements for church leaders:
If a man desires the position of an overseer, he desires a good work. He must be: blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well; not a novice; have a good testimony, humble; reverent, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience; just, holy, and self-controlled. And let these first be tested; then let them serve, being found blameless. (1 Tim. 3.1-10; Titus 1.8)

“What will it take for us to begin realizing more of the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom in our day?” Perhaps more men like Barnabas would be a good start.

For reflection

1. Why is it so important that church leaders be men like Barnabas?

2. How should you pray for the leaders of your church? How can you encourage them?

3. How do you expect the grace of God to be visible in your life today?

They believed; they were convinced of the truth of the gospel. They turned from a careless, carnal way of living, to live a holy, heavenly, spiritual life. They turned from worshipping God in show and ceremony, to worship him in the Spirit and in truth. They turned to the Lord Jesus, and he became all in all with them. This was the work of conversion wrought upon them, and it must be wrought upon every one of us. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 11.19-24

Pray Psalm 125.3-5.
Pray that God will shed His peace abroad among His people, to unite us in common witness for our Lord Jesus Christ. Pray that His grace will be visible to the world through His people everywhere.

Sing Psalm 125.3-5.
(St. Gertrude: Onward, Christian Soldiers)
Wickedness shall rest not on this holy land.
Sinfulness shall never come forth from their hand. 
Trusting in the Savior, firm in His caress,
ever shall His favor on this holy city rest.
Refrain, v. 1
All who trust in Jesus, strong as Zion stand!
Naught shall ever move them from their promised land!

Lord, do good and care for those upright in heart.
All who turn to evil shall from You depart.
Sinful men may increase, on their way to hell!
Save Your people, let your peace abound in Israel!
Refrain

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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