Big Hill Bible Studies
25 July Entry
For the next few days I'd like to share with you some things I've read and studied during the past week while on vacation. I have always been fascinated by the church in Antioch, so when I had the time recently, I took a week and studied more on the church's beginning and the Antioch church in particular. I'm going to share some thoughts and challenges with you and I hope and pray you will participate in this study by asking questions, providing comments, and most importantly praying the Lord will reveal Himself to you and your role in the church you attend. So, let's go ahead and dig in . . .
First, I'd like for you to read Acts 2 in its entirety to build the foundation for our study. Then picture this - One church can change the world.
How do you feel about that statement? Jeff Iorg, in his book "Building Antioch" states, "Some Christians believe the church, by nature is a flawed organization since it's made up of human beings, and the best option is simply to accept the church's inherent shortcomings. Others see those shortcomings as a call to abandonment and conclude there's really no need to be part of a church at all." But he goes on to say, "The church is God's eternal plan, the summation of His redemptive work and its glorification in the culmination of history. Local churches, with their flaws, are God's strategy for advancing His kingdom. We cannot abandon our commitment to that which God has closely aligned Himself."
It would be a tough sell to get the people of Antioch to see this and leave their church. This church is the standard for church, and what a church should be. This church consisted of flawed humans - it was not the squeaky clean church consisting of perfect Christians, located in the perfect community. It was far from it. Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire - population between 500,000 to 800,000 people. Imagine a city that size without the modern conveniences we enjoy. No A/C, no public water or sewage system, and no multi media. This church was about as unlikely a group as you could find, due to the fact Antioch was a center for cult worship. They worshipped Zeus, Poseidon, and many other foreign gods and philosophies. They were proud of their Greek heritage and it's polytheistic religious practices. This was a cosmopolitan city with diverse religious practices.
Read Acts 11:19-26 and see that after the church in Jerusalem began to be persecuted, the move of some of the disciples was to scatter abroad. Some came to Antioch and we see in verse 21 that the "hand of the Lord" was with them. Verse 26 even concludes, "the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." How is that possible given the community and the various beliefs in the area? As you reflect on this, consider these questions as well.
1. What is "the church"?
2. Is being part of local church necessary for every Christian? Why, or why not?
3. Describe the church at Big Hill in 3, one word descriptors. Why did you choose those 3 words.
Now read Ephesians 3:8-12 and let's get ready to discuss it tomorrow.