Reformed/Charismatic/Missional Conference - Session 2 - Terry Virgo

Friday, March 04, 2011

Session 2
"What Kind of House Will You Build For Me?"
Terry Virgo


Terry Virgo leads the Newfrontiers team, which is currently serving over 700 churches in over 60 nations. He travels widely and has written several books, including No Well Worn Paths. he and his wife, Wendy, are based at Church of Christ the King, Brighton, UK.

Acts 6:11 ff.

11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God."
12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council,
13 and they set up false witnesses who said, "This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law,
14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us."
15 And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Acts 7:45 ff.

45 Our fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David,
46 who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.
47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him.
48 Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says,
49 "'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest?

Acts 11:19 ff.

19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews.
20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus.
21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
22 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.
23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose,
24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.
25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul,
26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.
27 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.
28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius).
29 So the disciples determined, everyone according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea.
30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 11:25 - 12:1 ff.

And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark.
1 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

This new international community called the church was finding its way into the life of the culture at that time. It was a new wine that would not fit into the old wineskin. So it spills outward to the nations becoming the emerging people of God. Outside of Jerusalem, the most prominent place in which this emerging people of God began to build a new house of God was Antioch. Jerusalem was soon to be destroyed and a different kind of house of God would be constructed, one made of living stones, the people of God.

1. What do we find about this house in Acts 13? In Antioch we find first of all prophets.

There were people who prophesied. A supernatural element was found in this house. Indeed this was the beginning of the age of the Spirit. The dispensation of the law was over, and the dispensation of the Spirit had begun. Condemnation was gone and righteousness was ushered in.

This was all a part of the prophecy of Joel spoken hundreds of years earlier with regard to the outpouring of the Spirit on all people. That prophecy was fufilled at Pentecost and has not been consummated yet. Under the Old Covenant, you might be fortunate to run into the prophet Samuel while he was doing his prophetic rounds and receive a word. But a new day came in which the Spirit was poured out on ALL people who followed Jesus. It was a widespread outpouring, which was the mark of the age we are living in. Surprisingly it is NOT an age of committees and meetings!

God had come back to dwell among His people, not in a glory cloud found in a temple or tabernacle, but in a glory that dwelt among and in His people by means of the Spirit. Thus the significance of the question that Paul asked at Ephesus in Acts 19, "Have you received the Holy Spirit." They had no earthly idea what he was talking about. So he explained it to them, prayed for them, laid hands on them, and they received the Spirit. What resulted was a planted church and a whole culture undermined...all because the Holy Spirit's presence was manifested among His people. And this continued to repeat itself by means of unlearned, uneducated fisherman.

Even when Paul goes to Galatia and plants a church, he moved along only to have the Judaizers follow behind him and deceive the believers into moving AWAY from the Spirit, and back to the Old Covenant. This infuriates Paul and he writes his angriest letter, asking the most crucial question in the entire letter: "Did you receive the Spirit by faith, and were miracles done among you by doing the law and proving yourself as lawkeepers externally?" This was the stamp of the early church then: the Holy Spirit and His miracles and faith among His people. The coming of the Spirit was the mark of the new age, and the church was the place where it was worked out, the place where God dwelt on earth by His Spirit.

Returning again to the first mark of the presence of the Spirit, we find the presence of men through whom the Spirit spoke, or prophets. This included the presence of miracles by which the Spirit authenticated His presence and communicated God's love. People were attracted to this because they wanted to meet God personally. God was among them prophetically and miraculously. He was among them in the prophet Agabus, who would come up from the church in Jerusalem to Antioch who seems to resemble something like an OT prophet in the New Covenant. He was among them in the four daughters of Philip who were noted prophets in the early church. This was an ongoing ministry that continues in His church even today. That is the model which we followed today.

2. The second mark of this new house of God is the presence of teachers.

These are men who are filled with the Spirit to instruct and teach the people of God "many things" just like Jesus did in His earthly ministry. We find His example in His journey with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Starting from Moses and the Prophets, Jesus explained how the entire OT spoke of Him, teaching them how all of it pointed to Him. He stayed later with them over dinner and continued His Bible study. He got them lined up with the truth which was the background against which their minds were opened to see that it was Jesus, when He broke the bread with them.

"The problem with most Christians is not their lack of effort, but their lack of acquaintance with their privileges" (John Owen).

3. The third mark of this new house of God was the presence of apostolic representation.

In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul explained his work as that of building the foundation of the local church. This is in keeping with what he wrote in Ephesians 2 that apostolic men build foundations. In Ephesians 4 they are given by Jesus Himself to build up the body of the church until they are mature.

"But didn't they have to see the resurrected Christ?" Several others were named apostles who did not see the resurrected Christ.

"But don't they have to have written Scripture?" Luke didn't, and he was referred to as part of the apsotolic representation.

This is how we see Barnabas depicted in Acts 13. He was an apostolic representation sent to ensure a firm foundation was laid for the local church. This is ensuring that a church is taught true gospel conent in order that people may have a solid foundation on which to build their lives. This is the work of laying and building, of caring and shepherding. His care and concern for the church had a ripple effect to the nations because the results directly impacted his apostolic sphere of ministry. This is a radically different kind of house than what we see in the Old Testament.

4. The fourth mark of this new house of God was the presence of multi-cultural, multinational, unifying leadership.

Barnabas was a Cyprian. Simeon and Lucius were black Africans. Manean was educated with the prince, the son of the King. And Saul (aka Paul) was a Jewish rabbi converted to Jesus. The Spirit gives us this description through Luke to show us that He marks His presence by the calling of men from all different backgrounds and cultures. He is no longer the Spirit just of the Jews, but now He is an every-nation Spirit, filling men whose only common denominator is that they have been washed in the blood of Jesus. These men were knit together in love.

We see the same thing in the instance of Cornelius' house. Peter receives the vision, goes to a Gentile's home, and begins to speak to them. While he was speaking the Spirit fell on all of them and they began speaking in tongues. This proved that they had the same Spirit as Peter and the 120 originally received. They were drinking of the same Spirit, even though they were hated Romans, whom God now seemed to love so much! The unity that comes from the Spirit bound them together in Christ. And the Spirit became the force which actually splashed these people of various nationalities together into one people.

This also included gender...and cultural status. Men and women were filled with the Spirit and unified with each other. Slaves and free were filled with the Spirit and unified with each other. Men and women were unified with slaves and free. They gathered together to pray and ask for the Spirit's presence and power. His presence was primary for them as a unified people.

5. The fifth mark of this new house of God was the people of God on a mission.

This group of leaders gathered together and heard the Spirit's call to send out two for the mission. The continuation of Jesus' great commission is seen clearly here in this situation. The Spirit's presence among His people swells to its peak in the missional planting of more churches where the whole process can start again and again.

At Antioch we have one of the most glorious model churches. It was formed from people who came from Stephen undoubtedly asking the same question he did: what kind of house will you build for me? One with prophets, teachers, apostolic representation, multi-cultural leadership, and a constant missional focus.

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