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Revival Lesson 9 - Acts 11.19-26


OVERVIEW:  Last week, in Luke 3:2-3, 7-8, and 16, we studied how the preaching of John the Baptist humbled and convicted a very large group of people who needed to seek revival-confess and repent of their sins and restore fellowship with God-so they could receive the "fire" of the Holy Spirit from Jesus as the promised Christ.  This week, we'll move further into the NT age, in Acts Chapter 11, to see how God can use His Holy Spirit to empower and transform one church into the hub from which the gospel of Christ was spread across all of the known world at that time.  

            As modern Christians, we need to study the powerful and long-term revival in the Antioch-Syria church in order to (1) understand the explosive expansion of the early church during the first Century A.D and (2) see what a revived church really looks like.  Early on, the persecution of the many early Christian converts in Judea, Samaria, and Galilee caused them to flee their homeland and seek refuge in Antioch, which is about 300 miles north of Jerusalem.  Antioch, in the Roman province of Syria, was the third largest city in the Empire (500,000 pop. est.), and was home to a large numbers of Jews, as well as Greek-speaking Gentiles from many different places.  The church at Antioch offered a very strategic location that God used to launch the Spirit-led missionary thrust of the church.  From Antioch the apostle Paul was commissioned on the first of three momentous missionary trips.  Originally, the gospel was preached only to Jews at Antioch, but after the Gentile barrier was broken (See Acts 10 generally), huge numbers of Gentiles started entering the fold as believers in Jesus.  Remember that "Gentile" was a broad generic term to describe any non-Jew that included people of various races and ethnicity from Europe, Asia, and Africa, though Greek was the most common language spoken among them.  Perhaps more than any other church, Antioch exemplified obedience to Jesus' final command:  "but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).


20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.

v. 20: "But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene (see map), who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus" - Historically and culturally, the Jews were an exceptionally close-minded, insular people who considered any non-Jew to be "unclean," and the early Jewish followers of Jesus were no exception to this mindset. However, these "men of Cyprus and Cyrene" (remember Simon who carried Jesus' cross), together with the apostle Peter at Caesarea (See Act 10:34-48), were prompted by the Holy Spirit to cross these traditional racial and ethnic barriers in order to share the good news of Jesus Christ. 

  • These men from Cyrene and Cyprus were possibly among the Jewish pilgrims who received the gospel of Christ when Peter preached at the Pentecost (Acts 2:14-21). These Spirit-led men, who subsequently became leaders-that is, revivalists-in the Antioch church, were ground-breakers and risk-takers who engineered an explosion of faith. In the context of our own church today, we could call this a multi-cultural and racial leadership model. 
  • Here in Mountain Home, Arkansas we have an increasingly diverse mix of people coming to live here. The largest single group is American Caucasians who have grown up in the predominantly secular-human culture that has taken hold in this nation over the past 60 years-people who've never been to church and know little about God. We also have (though not in big numbers yet),  immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and Asia coming to live here.  Like the country as a whole, the Christian population of Baxter County has suffered a steady decline in recent years, with some churches closing their doors forever and others (like us in the recent past) just barely hanging on. 
  • Mountain Home Baptist Church, on a smaller scale, has a lot in common with the church at Antioch. We are strategically located on the middle of the Hwy. 62 Bypass on the southern part of town and can easily be found and accessed from virtually any direction in the County. According to the Ark. Bapt. State convention, we occupy a demographic area within a five-mile circle that predominantly consists of low and middle-income retirees.  People come from all over the U.S. to live here because of the quality of life.  According to the "Best Places to Retire" website, about half of the 41,432 people who reside in Baxter County aren't affiliated with any type of religious denomination.  So, how do we reach them?  Same as Antioch:  Spiritual revival-personal and church-wide.  It cannot be activities where we try to organize something that will simply get people's attention, but must be an effort that is empowered, directed, and controlled by the out-flowing of God's Holy Spirit-revival.               

v. 21: "And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord" - The Church at Antioch grew exponentially because "the hand of the Lord was with them"-what I like to call the "Holy Spirit Fire"-and the result was "a large number who believed turned to the Lord," which likely numbered in thousands of new Christians. It was a matter tens of disciples making hundreds disciples who made thousands of disciples and so onThey came from Different races, with different customs and languages, but they were all united in Jesus.  Amen?    

  • The inescapable point we learn from this is that Spiritual revival is God's proven method of reaching a lost world, which includes those 20,000 or so lost souls in Baxter County. Financially supporting missions like the Cooperative Program and SBC's IMB are good things our church should be routinely doing, but we should never lose sight that our primary mission field is reaching those lost souls who live in that five-mile circle around our church, at least for now. We can always enlarge it in the future.  While Paul was planning his initial visit to Rome, he was also preparing to double the size of his mission field with a future trip to Spain (Rom. 15:24).  Jesus didn't tell us to huddle-up in meeting rooms to come up with plans:  no, He said to go meet people where they are as His "witnesses."

Read Acts 11:22-24 - SON OF ENCOURAGEMENT         

22 The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. 23 Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; 24 for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. 2

v. 22: "The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch"- These passages show what the revival of just one believer can accomplish. Barnabas, a Jew originally from Cyprus, is introduced us in Acts 4:36-37.  He first came to the church in Jerusalem with the birth-name Joseph, but after showing incredible generosity and faithfulness-what we might call a real "shaker and mover"-they renamed him Barnabas, which in Hebrew translates to "son of encouragement."  After the leaders in the Jerusalem church heard about the happenings at Antioch, they sent Barnabas up there on a fact-finding mission. 

v. 23-24: "Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; 24 for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. - These two verses tell us that real revival can be contagious. Barnabas was already a strong, spirit-led Christian when he came to Antioch, but what he saw there literally set him aflame with the Holy Spirit Fire.  This fire led him to witness to many people who came to Christ, then it gave him a far bigger idea.               


25 And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; 26 and when he had found him, he brought

him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

v. 25-26: After Barnabas came to Antioch, the Holy Spirit gave him a new and truly extraordinary picture for the future of the church-to expand it to what Jesus termed "even to the remotest part of the earth" (Acts 1:8c), by that, the known world at that time.  And the Holy Spirit prompted him to choose the best partner for the job, Saul of Tarsus, the former persecutor of the church who would become better known as the apostle Paul.  The Spirit also told him that he and Paul would need time and training to prepare for this huge undertaking, so they trained a year by teaching (which I can attest is a highly effective learning process).  By that time, the world began calling these exuberant people "Christians."


1. A Revived church is willing to cross racial and ethnic barriers to reach the lost. The mission field of the Antioch church literally exploded in revival after the Holy Spirit convicted its Jewish leadership to abandon long-held traditions in order to share the gospel with the Gentile world. Like the Antioch Church, Mountain Home Baptist Church is strategically located In terms of access to a large and diverse group of lost souls (20,000+).

2. People in a revived church will let the "hand of the Lord" guide their mission in the church. Spiritual revival is God's proven method of reaching a lost world. The church at Antioch grew exponentially because Spirit-led members went out and made disciples who made even more disciples and on and on.  This is how it's done.  Jesus doesn't tell us to gather in meeting rooms to organize elaborate programs; He tells us to go and share our witness with the lost where they live. 

3. People in a revived church are prepared before they "go." Paul and Barnabas, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, trained together for a year before embarking on their first missionary journey. Just like them, we need to prepare ourselves to be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ.  First and foremost, through prayer, Scripture reading, and meditation we need to ask God to use His Spirit to direct us every step of the way when we "go."                      

PRAYER:  OUR FATHER, Creator and Master of all things, we come before Your mighty and everlasting throne today to thank You and praise You for the love, mercy, and undeserved grace You constantly show us.  We thank You, Lord, for all of the blessings You give us every single day, but we thank You most of all that You loved us enough to send Your only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross for us so that we may be forgiven of our sins and spend eternity in heaven with You.  We pray, Father, that You will continue to guide our pastor, JR, our associate pastor, Phillip, our deacons, and all those who serve in this church as we embark upon a new year.  I pray, Lord, that you will protect every one of us from infection by this Coronavirus and guard the health of those who especially at risk from this terrible disease.  I pray, Dear God, that all of those who watch this Facebook video program will be strengthened, encouraged, and convicted by hearing the power and truth of Your Word.  As we continue our study of revival, Lord, I ask that You will open our hearts and minds to fully comprehend the reality of how You can bring revival to us both as individuals and as a church.  I pray God, that every person hearing this will know that You, and only You are the reviver.  I pray, Dear Father, that You will empower and inspire Brother JR as He preaches the Word to us, because we know that revival comes through the power of your Word.  I pray, Lord, that every person hearing this lesson today will pay attention and fully understand what a revived church looks like.  And I pray that they would not only be convicted but excited about the possibilities that Mountain Home Baptist Church could become a revived church that will set this community on fire for the gospel of Jesus Christ.   Finally Lord, I pray that through the preaching and teaching the people of this good church have been hearing now for two months will give them a burden to humble themselves in prayer and seek Your Face in honest confession and repentance of their sins, and that according to your promises, You will revive us-as individuals and as a church-with the power and the fire of Your Spirit.  And I ask all these things in the name of our blessed Savior, Jesus Christ, AMEN.