I. NOW THERE WERE IN THE CHURCH AT ANTIOCH, CERTAIN PROPHETS AND TEACHERS.
A. In Ephesians 4
, we read that God has set in the church four different types of ministries; apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor teachers.
B. The purpose of these gifted men is:
1. The perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry.
2. To build up the body of Christ.
3. To establish the unity of the faith.
4. To bring the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
5. To bring the church into a fully matured state.
6. That we might be conformed into the image of Jesus.
7. Establish in the word so that they would not be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, and slight cunning of deceitful men.
C. In 1 Cor. Paul writes:
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
[Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles?
Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret.
D. The gift of prophecy, and the office of the prophet in the early church.
1. The gift of prophecy was not so much as foretelling as it was of forth telling. It was speaking forth the word of God under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
2. Because it was speaking through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit it could at times be prophetic.
a. Agabus was one of the recognized prophets in the early church, and he by the Spirit predicted the drought that was going to come in the time that Claudius was the Emperor.
b. He also predicted how Paul was to be imprisoned when he went to Jerusalem.
3. Paul wrote,
But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men [to] edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
4. Writing to Timothy Paul said:
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (elders)
E. It is worthy to note that we have a wide variety of men who have been unified by Jesus Christ in the listing of the prophets and teachers in the church in Antioch.
1. Barnabas was a Jew from Cyprus.
2. Lucius came from Cyrene in North Africa.
3. Simeon was also called Niger, which is a Roman name, and because it was a given name, it meant that he must have moved in Roman circles.
4. Manaen was a man with aristocratic connections having been brought up with Herod.
5. Paul was a former Pharisee, born in Tarsus, and schooled in Jerusalem.
6. Jesus unifies a wide spectrum of people.
II. AS THEY MINISTERED TO THE LORD AND FASTED.
A. We so often just think of ministering as something for the people, but they were ministering to the Lord.
1. The word minister means servant. I am first of all a servant of Jesus Christ. My first duties are to Him.
2. I minister to you, or serve you only because that is what He as My Lord has commanded me to do.
3. So that in serving you, I am in actually serving Him.
4. But I also serve Him in praise and worship, in devotion.
5. He has commanded me to spend time with Him. "Oh the pure delight of a single hour, that before Thy throne I spend, As I kneel in prayer and with Thee, my God, I commune as friend with friend."
a. Have you ever experienced that pure delight?
b. I must wait on the Lord that I might serve you.
c. I must first experience the work of God that I might impart to you the word of God. The husbandman must first be partaker of the fruit.
d. Paul said, "That which I received from the Lord, I also delivered unto you."
B. Note they were serving the Lord and fasting.
1. Jesus was once asked by the Pharisees why His disciples did not fast as did the Pharisees.
2. Jesus answered:
And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.
But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
3. The bridegroom has been taken away, so they are now practicing fasting.
4. Paul speaks of himself as fasting often.
5. What is fasting? It is giving up something that feeds the flesh, food, entertainment, T.V. to partake of that which feeds the spirit, prayer, meditation, feeding on the Word.
6. In a sense you are fasting tonight. You could be at home watching T.V. or at the movies feeding your flesh, but you are here feeding your spirit.
7. Different types of fasts.
a. Not eating meat or pastries for a time. These are often called Daniel fasts.
b. Total abstinence of food, for a meal, for a day, for a season.
c. Using the time that you would usually spend in feeding the flesh to feed the spirit.
8. Our normal pattern is to feed the flesh on a regular schedule, while we so often are starving our spirit.
a. No wonder the flesh so often wins in the spiritual struggles that we have between the flesh and the spirit.
b. Fasting is a reversal of the order; it is starving the flesh that we might feed the spirit. As a result we begin to experience great spiritual victories in our lives.
c. Fasting should be combined with prayer.
III. THE HOLY GHOST SAID SEPARATE ME SAUL AND BARNABAS FOR THE WORK WHEREIN I HAVE CALLED THEM.
A. How did the Holy Spirit speak to them? Have you ever wondered.
1. The fact that in the context it speaks of the fact that there were prophets in the church, I would assume that it was spoken by a word of prophecy.
2. I think that today there could be a real problem in seeking guidance or direction by this method.
3. I would want verification or confirmation through another source than just a word of prophecy.
4. We are told that when one prophesies the rest should judge.
5. It is a serious matter to say, "Thus saith the Lord."
6. Through the years there have always been those who have purported to be speaking for the Lord, when the Lord had not spoken.
a. God told Jeremiah not to use the phrase, "The burden of the Lord" for that phrase had been overused by the false prophets, and God said that He had not placed any burden on them.
b. Peter warned the church concerning false teachers.
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
7. The only time I say, "Thus saith the Lord" is when I am quoting scripture.
8. We need to become like the Bereans who searched the scriptures to see if these things be so. If you cannot find it in the scriptures, you are better off to stay away from the experience.
9. If it is contrary to the scriptures, then reject it.
10. The Bible must be, and remain our final authority for all of our faith and practice.