Theme: THE UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF HIS GRACE
THE EVIDENCE OF THE GRACE OF GOD UPON A CHURCH
Key Verse: “When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord” (Verse 23).
Just as the grace of God can be bestowed on a man, it can be bestowed upon a church. More often than not, it is the presence or absence of grace that is the distinguishable mark between two individuals and two congregations. In Antioch, the evidence of the grace of God was so visible that when Barnabas visited the Church it made him glad.
What possible signs of the grace of God was on the Church at Antioch such that Barnabas was glad? He must have seen Greek-speaking Jews who were believers’ worshiping with Gentile believers in the Church (verse 20). He must have seen that the hand of God was prominent on the Church (verse 21). How do you really estimate the hand of the Lord upon a congregation?
The KJV rendering of verse 23 says, “Who when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.” Barnabas must have been glad because he saw the church at Antioch continuing in the Apostles teaching and doctrine. Let us remember that Barnabas was sent from the Church at Jerusalem to visit Antioch.
The Church at Antioch must have exhibited the traits of a Spirit-filled and Spirit-led Church. They were obviously Christ-like in their conduct to one another and to the wider community such that those around them called them Christians. They must have exhibited such Christ-like love for one another to attract the attention of the Apostles in Jerusalem who then sent Barnabas to go and see them.
From Acts 13:1-3, we gather that they were a homogeneous community of believers of both Jews and Gentiles who were given to prayer and fasting. This spiritual atmosphere made it possible for the Holy Spirit to commission Paul and Barnabas to a higher level of ministry.
The Church at Antioch was not a closed community, but a church that reached out to its community. For we read that, “…for much people was added unto the Lord.” The church was eager to learn more about Christ. From here Barnabas went and sought for Paul whom he brought and they spent a whole year at Antioch teaching the brethren. The Church at Antioch was teachable. Thus, the church at Antioch is an example of how the grace of God can make a church flourish and how a church can exude the grace of God.
PRAYER: Father, may your grace be specially bestowed on our church, He’s Alive Chapel.