SEEK 2018 – Saturday Morning – Tim Crouch – Antioch Patterns for Being in Step with the Holy Spirit – Toledo

July 17, 2018


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“When we go deeper with the Holy Spirit, His desire will be to push us outward, beyond barriers, because that’s what it means for the Kingdom to come to earth.”


The following is a raw, unedited transcript provided by a digital transcription service and may contain grammatical or spelling errors.


John: Be seated. And Tim, come on up, my friend. Tim and I have gotten to serve together for four years now. Tim has served in Russia as a missionary, and he and Shelley were overseeing our teams throughout north and central Asia. I needed a guy who had a strategic mind and a passionate heart, and you’re going to find that in what he’s about to share, so I respect and love you, and it’s yours.

Tim Crouch: Thank you, John. Hey, it’s good to be here. I’m going to move the little lanterns, those are pretty cool.

Speaker 1: Lights, yeah?

Tim Crouch: We’re good. Hey, this session is really focused on the world. It’s focused on missions. And I don’t know what you thought when you looked at your Seek registration, or you came here. Last night, at the beginning, we referred to this event as a deeper life and missions event. What do those two have to do with each other? What does it mean that we talk at one and the same time about deeper life of the work of the Holy Spirit? And we talk about missions? Well, I hope, in this next little while, to share with you that these two go together because the Holy Spirit is the spirit of missions. The same Holy Spirit that sanctifies us completely, the same Holy Spirit that fills us and changes us, and enables us to live like Jesus would have us live, is the spirit that moves us to the world that Jesus wants to reach. It’s one and the same Holy Spirit.

And so, it’s fitting, in our weekend, and in our movement, that we talk about these two things together. We’ve made a lot of reference, both last night and today, to what we read in Acts chapter one, verse eight. Acts chapter one, verse eight, by the way, is like the trailer for the book of Acts. It tells you, you know, if you want to watch this movie, here’s what you’re going to see. And Acts chapter one, verse eight, tells us, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the Earth. You heard John a little while ago talk about the ands in that sentence. There aren’t any ors. And the reason is, that the Holy Spirit is a spirit that is constantly pushing us outward.

What I want you to focus on in this study, where we’ll look at another section of the Book of Acts, is that we’re taught the deeper we go with the Holy Spirit in our own lives, the more he’ll be pushing us outward toward the world. And the reason is, because he wants to see the will of Jesus down on Earth. Do you remember the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray? We prayed it together last night. Jesus prayed, “Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come thy will be done, on Earth, as it is in heaven.” There’s a will that God has for Earth that reflects what is true in heaven. And that is that Jesus Christ is Lord of all.

So the same Holy Spirit that wants to transform our lives inwardly wants to thrust us outwardly. And if we seek him, we will find that that what he’s calling us toward. So get ready to hear the Lord’s call today. Now what I want to do is, I want to look at a section of the Book of Acts that tells us the story of a church. It’s the story of the church in Antioch. So we’re going to read some verses from Acts chapter 11, and from Acts chapter 13. If you are likened to follow along in your Bibles, you’ll want to get those pages open. We want to consider today, what does it mean that the Holy Spirit that enfills us is the spirit of missions that would send us out? I think of it kind of like water. Think about this for a second. If you knew somebody that needed to be cleaned up, or maybe refreshed. Or Terry was talking a little bit ago about being baptized. Your disobedient baptism, you went down a wet sinner and came up … Or, you went down a dry sinner and came up a wet sinner.

So think about water. If you knew somebody that wanted to be cleansed, you know, water is for cleansing. That’s the way to wash up, right? You’ve got to use some water. Water is for refreshing. There are those times on hot days when you just want to dip in that cool, refreshing water. Water is for baptizing, for that immersion that signifies what’s going on. But this person that you’re talking to says, “Man, I really need to get cleaned up. I’d love to be refreshed. My only problem is, I don’t really like to get wet.” We can’t wash with water, we can’t be refreshed by water, without getting wet. Because water is wet.

When welcome to the Holy Spirit and seek him for all that he has for us, we can’t not be thrust outward in terms of what God wants done in this world. Because he is the spirit of missions. Like, water is wet, the Holy Spirit is one who sends out, in Acts one, he teaches us that he sends us out across barriers. Each one of those four parts that become the outline for the Book of Acts represents the movement across a barrier to another group of people. From our own home, to our own area, to those that are near us but not so much like us, to those that are far, and without opportunity. God’s desire is to move us across those barriers.

Now we see how this plays out in the life of this church, the Church of Antioch. So I want to begin reading from chapter 11, verse 19, to the end of the chapter, and then I’m going to go right into chapter 13. And you can follow along on the screen. Beginning in verse 19 it says, “Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks, also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

“News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. And when he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad, and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. And a great number of people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul. And when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year, Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. And the Disciples were called Christians first, at Antioch. Now during this time, some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch, and one of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the spirit, predicted a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. And this happened during the reign of Claudius.

The Disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.” And now let’s flip over to chapter 13. “Now, in the church at Antioch, there were prophets and teachers. Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manahen, who had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, ‘Set apart for me, Barnabas and Saul, for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.” And there begins the Book of Acts story of the first missionary journey, that Paul took in this case, with his friend Barnabas.

Let’s take a look at the experience of the Church in Antioch. And we’re asking the question, what does it mean that when we go deeper with the Holy Spirit, his desire will be to push us outward, beyond barriers, because that’s what it means for the kingdom to come to Earth, as it is in heaven? What does it look like in the experience of the Church in Antioch? Well I think there’s really two things that I want us to see about this today. And they’re both about how the spirit compels us toward mission. If mission is about the crossing of barriers for the sake of people finding Jesus, the Holy Spirit of God is a spirit that compels us toward that activity.

What I want to focus on today is not so much Biblical teaching that would convince us to be involved in missions. Though there is Biblical teaching that should convince us that that’s what God would have for us. Rather, we’re focusing this morning on the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. And I want to tell you that, the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts compels us to be part of what God is doing. Part of kingdom come on Earth, as it is in heaven. The spirit compels us. That word, compels, might ring a bell for you if you know some scriptures. I can think of at least two. One in Romans chapter five. In Romans chapter five, we’re told the Holy Spirit is pouring out-

PART 1 OF 3 ENDS [00:12:04]

Tim Crouch: … chapter five, we’re told the Holy Spirit is pouring out into our hearts the love of God. He pours out into our hearts the love of God. And then in 2 Corinthians, chapter five, Paul tells us, “It’s that love of God in my heart that compels me to preach the gospel where it’s not been heard.” It’s the Holy Spirit that compels us. What did this look like in the life of this church in Antioch?

Well, let’s take a look. First of all, think about the founding of this church. At the beginning of our passage, we read that those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia. This tells us one of the reasons that this story of the church of Antioch is an important story in the Book of Acts because it actually sits on one of those hinge points from Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and the ends of the earth. Each one of those ends represents a hinge point in the story, and the church of Antioch sits on one of those hinge points, and we’re reminded of that back here by Luke.

You see, in Acts, chapter one, verse eight, Luke gives us this outline. In Acts, chapter eight, verse one, we see an important hinge point when the gospel moves from Jerusalem and Judea to Samaria, people that earlier in Luke’s gospel the Jewish people wanted to avoid and even the disciples had a problem with. In Luke, chapter nine, we read about the fact that one day Jesus wanted to preach in a Samaritan village, and the disciples said, “Hey, they’re not responding to you as they ought. Should we call down fire upon them to consume them?” And then we get to Acts, chapter eight, and Peter is one of those who begins to preach the gospel in the villages of Samaria. That’s a hinge point.

Now it’s to that hinge point that Luke refers here in 11:19 when he says, “Those had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed.” That was the beginning of chapter eight. Chapter eight, verse one, tells us, “After Stephen was killed, a great persecution broke out against the church and believers were scattered.” And that’s how they got to Samaria. Now, he’s telling us we’re at another hinge point. Remember, after that persecution, believers were scattered and they didn’t just go to Samaria. Some of them went even further to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, and most of them were spreading the word only to Jews, but some of these guys got it in their head somehow to begin to speak to Greeks also.

And lo and behold, these gentiles responded to the good news of Jesus in Antioch. We’re told that it was in Antioch that disciples of Jesus were first called Christians. Have you ever wondered why? Why there were they first called Christians? I think the reason was it was a recognition that they weren’t Jews. Up to that day, all the followers of Jesus were Jews. They were just Jews that followed Jesus. Now, you get to Antioch and we got gentiles and we got to call these guys something else, and they were called Christians because they followed Christ, even though they weren’t Jewish.

So, it’s interesting for us to note that the church of Antioch itself was born out of the move of the Spirit that sends us across barriers, but notice what kind of move of the Spirit it was. It was after persecution broke out and Stephen was killed that they were scattered, and the Spirit sent them. When we are compelled by the Spirit of missions, what compels us may not necessarily be a joyful journey. In this case, the word I’d like to use to describe it is disruption. Do you like it when your life is disrupted?

Speaker 2:             [inaudible 00:16:34].

Tim Crouch: The disruption we experience in our life may not necessarily be the persecution that this church experienced in Jerusalem. It may not be to the extent like Stephen, who lost his life, but I want you to consider that when we seek to go deep with the Holy Spirit, he’s likely to disrupt our lives in ways that will help move us across barriers to people who need Jesus. So, the life of the Antioch church, we see that the compelling work of the Spirit included this kind of disruption.

The second thing we see about the church in Antioch is that it became a very diverse church. For the first time in its history, the church wasn’t just made up of hometown boys and girls. It wasn’t just Jewish people that knew the scriptures. It wasn’t just those of us who grew up with this religion. It wasn’t just my kind of people. In Antioch, for the first time, the church faces and reflects great diversity.

One of the things that we read about Antioch, it was the third largest city in the Roman Empire at this time, and it was also in the top three in terms of its diversity. The city of Antioch sits in what today is a little tiny thumb of the country of Turkey that curves down around the Mediterranean Sea, along the coast, before you get down here to Israel. And right in that little thumb of Turkey that sticks down southward on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea is today the city called Antakya, which was the city of Antioch.

In that location, Antioch was a wonderful crossroads. Goods and commerce and people that were moving from Rome heading into the Middle East or into Africa went through there. People from Africa, from places like Carthage and Alexandria and the goods that they were moving would come up through Israel and through Antioch on their way to Rome. Then off to the east you have the mountains where today we find Armenia and Georgia, and those people had also become part of the Roman Empire and there were different goods and access to the Orient, and so those goods came in and all those things met in Antioch.

Antioch was a interesting city to study from an archeological point of view. One of the things that we know about the city is it was divided into sections, sometimes what we call quarters, though not necessarily just four of them. The city of Antioch was actually divided, and different people from those different regions lived in different parts of the city. So, there was an Armenian corner, there was an African area. There was a quarter of the city for the Jews. People lived in those, and interestingly, in the city of Antioch there were actually walls built between these different sections of the city.

The place no walls existed was the center of the city because you know what was in the center of the city? The marketplace, all of those goods coming and going from every different direction. It was the marketplace where the peoples mixed together. Now look what happens in the church of Antioch. We read in the beginning of chapter 13 about the leaders of the church of Antioch, and we discover that they’re quite a varied group of people. In them are Barnabas. We know that Barnabas was a Jewish person, but born in Cyprus. He might have been present in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. He might have been one of the 3,000 souls who came to the Lord that day.

What we know about him is that he stayed in Jerusalem and began to work with the church. Simeon called Niger, was called Niger for a reason, probably because his skin was black. His name is Simeon, so we’re pretty sure he was a Jewish background person, or at least a proselyte, a convert to Judaism, but he came from somewhere in North Africa.

Lucius of Cyrene is interesting to me. Lucius of Cyrene has the same name as the author of the book. Luke is the guy who wrote this book. His name in his Jewish tradition was Lucas, but he doesn’t call this Lucas Lucas. He calls him Lucius. Why is that? Probably because he wasn’t Jewish. He was a gentile. He was from Cyrene, where some of these guys that got it in their head to speak to the gentiles came from.

Manaen, interestingly, had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch. Here’s a guy that grew up with royalty. He was a person of privilege, but he met the Lord. What a crazy bunch of people, and then, of course, there’s Saul. Saul had been this Pharisee of Pharisees that he talks about until he met the Lord on the Damascus Road. What a bunch of leaders in this church.

Now here’s my point. The church sounds a lot more like the marketplace than it sounds like the quarters of the city. The church wasn’t hidden in one of those quarters. It wasn’t an underground church that over here, you kind of have to go to the Armenian section and that’s where you’ll find those people. Those Armenians are kind of interested in this guy Jesus. The church somehow had a life in the marketplace. Those barriers, those walls in the city somehow got crossed. That’s what the Holy Spirit does. He’s the Spirit of missions, and missions is about crossing barriers so that more people will hear the good news of Jesus. That’s what happened in Antioch.

I can’t help but reflect on the fact that Barnabas went from Antioch to get Saul, who later became known as Paul, and Saul comes to Antioch and for a whole year they taught there together. Later in chapter 13, we see that Saul and Barnabas, Paul and Barnabas, are the ones the Holy Spirit calls out to send further as missionaries. And if you read the works of Paul in your New Testament, you read through the Book of Ephesus, you get to chapter three in the letter to the Ephesians and you hear him talking about how the Jew and gentile have been made one.

And the image he uses is this. The great barrier wall between them has come down. Isn’t that interesting, that this guy who lived in Antioch, where people were separated by walls, but the church somehow lived in a marketplace setting where they mixed together. The church was full of these kinds of people and it shouldn’t surprise us that it’s this kind of church to whom the Holy Spirit speaks about barriers still to be crossed.

And that’s what we find at the beginning of chapter 13. We make that jump. So, the Holy Spirit is the spirit of missions. Missions is about the crossing of barriers so that others will have the chance to hear the gospel, and we’ve seen it reflected in the life of the church of Antioch. Where did these guys …

PART 2 OF 3 ENDS [00:24:04]

Tim Crouch: In the life of the Church of Antioch. Where did these guys get it in their heads to go to Antioch and start preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles as well as the Jews The interesting question, you know, this story comes in the book of Acts after we’ve heard the story of, Peter ministering the Gospel to Cornelius who was a Roman centurion. You read about that in Acts chapter 10 and 11. Peter, this is where he received the vision from God, the sheet full of non kosher food. And God says to him, “What I’ve made clean, don’t call unclean.” And the next thing he knows, he’s standing before the centurion and his family, and as he speaks the words of the Gospel to them, the Holy Spirit falls on the Gentiles, breaks down barriers, and they become followers. Maybe these guys from Cypress and Cyrene heard the story of Peter and Cornelius, and they thought, “Man, when we get to Antioch, let’s do it. Let’s preach to the gentiles. Let’s see if they are interested in Jesus. Maybe that’s what happened, maybe not.

One thing we know for sure is that Jesus had taught from the very beginning, “When the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Sumeria and to the ends of the earth.” Sometimes I might like to think about these guys from Cypress and Cyrene is they didn’t need anything else, but Jesus’ word and that Holy Spirit coming upon them in power. I don’t know. Maybe they knew Peter’s story. Maybe they wanted to emulate him, maybe not. But the point is this, we are told by Jesus, “When the spirit comes, you will be my witnesses in ways that break barriers. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of missions and missions is about breaking down barriers so that others will hear the word of God.”

Now, 13, chapter 13. The sending of the two missionaries on the first missionary trip. Notice what’s happening here. These seven people as leaders, at the very least, if we’re not led to believe the church at large is gathered together and they’re worshiping the Lord and fasting, and it’s then that the Holy Spirit says, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I’ve called them.” The Holy Spirit is saying to this church in the city where walls have come down, “There are more barriers to cross and to get there, I’m going to call out these two.” I want it to be impressed upon us that it was in the context of seeking the Holy Spirit deeply, that the Holy Spirit speaks words about the next barriers to cross. You see, that’s the way it works. That’s like the water that is wet. This is the Holy Spirit. That is the spirit of missions. We can’t seek him for our own lives without expecting that he will speak to us of others.

We can’t seek him for our own experience without expecting that he is going to push us beyond barriers for the sake of those who need to hear. He is the spirit of missions, and missions is about crossing barriers for the sake of the Gospel. So the Holy Spirit calls out these two. They lay hands on them and send them out, and look in verse four, we read the result, described this way by Luke. The two of them sent on their way by the Holy Spirit went out, went down to the places they were going to go to. The result of the calling of the Holy Spirit in that church is that when these were sent by the church, they were sent by the Holy Spirit. A couple things I want you to notice as we draw this together about the sending of these. If the Holy Spirit is the spirit of missions, and we’re seeking him, what this passage teaches us in chapter 13 is that he will be calling.

Now we’re together this weekend and we’re seeking what the Holy Spirit would have for us, so I know that he’s calling. He’s speaking to us about next barriers to be crossed as we say “Yes” to the call that he places on our lives. I’m moved by these couple of interviews that we did with Ben and Sarah. I’m moved by them and I knew the stories before we started the interviews. I don’t know about you, but think about it. Vartan is just a little town, a couple of hours northeast, if I’m not mistaken of Berlin, just who would have thought? Who would have thought that somehow, these guys from Ohio, or wherever y’all grew up, we’re going to wind up there. There’s a whole ocean and what used to be a wall and a division in that country between them growing up in this little town that’s probably been the same as it’s ever been for a long time, but God’s not forgotten. About that little town of Vartan.

And it was in his heart to break down some kind of barrier or barrier after barrier after barrier to create an opportunity for those willing to listen to the call of the Spirit to be used with him in remarkable ways. And I’m pretty convinced that the stories we’re going to hear from Vartan are not over. This is the way the Holy Spirit works. It’s like water being wet, the Holy Spirit when it gets into our lives, calls us to mission. So I want you to look at this. In the example of the Church of Antioch, here’s what happens when the Holy Spirit called. If you were seeking the Holy Spirit that day in Antioch, you were part of that group of people, you’re praying and fasting. The Holy Spirit spoke and you had three, four things you could do, I guess I’ll say. Number one, maybe you got to go. Maybe you got to go away. The Holy Spirit speaks, he’s calling out someone to go somewhere. It might be you. When the spirit of missions calls, we might need to go away.

Secondly, when the spirit of missions calls, we might need to give away. This church gave away two of their pastoral staff, and I think they not only gave that away, they gave from their hearts. Do you remember what we read at the very tail end of chapter 11 when there was a famine affecting the whole Roman world, and they heard about it from Agabus, the prophet that had come up from Jerusalem, these guys emptied their pockets to send a gift to the people they knew were going to face suffering in Judea. When the spirit of missions is at work, you might need to go away. You might need to give away for leaders like those seven, for leaders like you may be. Pastors and leaders of churches in this room today you might need to lead the way, and the only fourth alternative I can think of is that you might need to walk away.

Why? Because water is wet. The spirit is the spirit of missions. If we’re going to seek him, he’s gonna call. And our choices are going to be to go away if that’s the call that he places on us, or to give away if we’re not called to go away. To lead the way if he’s putting us in a place of leadership, and the only other alternative, because he’s the spirit of missions, is to walk away. When we seek him, he will call. Like water being wet, he’ll call us to break barriers that more will hear the gospel. So here’s my question for you as we wrap this time up, and I think as Adam comes, we’ll have some reflection time before we close. What’s the spirit of missions saying to you today? We’ve been seeking him, and this is who he is. So I want you to focus on how the Lord is calling you because I really believe it’s inescapable. One of these four is always a response to the spirit of missions.

So is he calling you today to go away? Is he placing a call on you today like he placed on Ben and Sarah? I spoke to some of you today who have felt that call from the Lord. Maybe you’re feeling it for the first time today. I want you to respond to that call with your “Yes,” and I want to dare to say that if the Lord is not calling you to go away, he is calling you to give away. Someone is going to go, and we gotta let them go. Someone is being called and we’ve got to send them. We’ve gotta empty our pockets for what it is the spirit calls us to do. Some of us are called to give away, and like I said, if you’re a leader, I want you to go home and lead the way. As we seek the spirit, he will be calling. Let’s respond. Don’t let your response today be to walk away. Adam, would you play?

I’m going to ask you if the Lord is speaking to you to come, come to this place, say “yes” to him today. Give him your yes. He’s the same spirit that wants to transform your life inwardly, he wants to use us outwardly because there are still barriers to cross so that people will hear the good news of Jesus, and he’s calling today. So as he calls you, would you make this a place of giving him your “yes”? Is that a quietly praise? Don’t hesitate. You come. You respond.

PART 3 OF 3 ENDS [00:35:17]


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