Friday, September 24, 2010

6 Panels and 5 Markers for Church Expansion in Acts

Max Strange

The six panels found within Acts and the five markers help develop Luke’s intention and give us a model for the church’s establishment expansion for today. Below is an annotated list of the six panels “books” within Acts. They are accompanied by five transitional markers that signal a major panel change and Luke’s advancement of the book.

Panel #1: Establishment of the Church in Jerusalem (1:1-6:7)
1. The establishment of the kingdom would not be an Israel-centered endeavor but a local launch from Jerusalem to a global encompassing extension to the ends of the earth (1:8; 2:1-13; 39).
2. The foundational twelve Apostles were solidified as the witnesses of Jesus life, death, and resurrection and commissioned to pass the gospel deposit to the churches (1:1-26).
3. The leaders knew well the Word of God (2:14-36; 3:11-26; 4:5-14).
4. The leaders took a unified stance on the truth…the eleven apostles stood with Peter as he delivered his Pentecost sermon (2:14).
5. The church was devoted to corporate gathering that consisted of apostolic teaching, fellowship, prayers, and meals (2:42-47)
6. When the Word of God increased (spread), God added new believers to the Jerusalem church (2:47; 4:4; 5:14; 6:1,7).
7. The leaders appointed men as deacon-like qualified servants to free the Apostles to continue the preaching ministry and maximize the Word ministry (6:1-7).
8. The unity and sincerity of the church was threatened by the display of religious activity without inner integrity (5:1-11).
9. The early church in Jerusalem was temple centered (2:46; 3:11; 5:12).
10. The leaders of the church were bold witnesses (4:5-31; 5:17:-42)
11. The leader’s witness was centered on the person and work of Jesus (2:22-36; 3:12-26 ; 4:8-12; 5:17-32, 42)
Marker 1: “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied great in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priest became obedient to the faith.” Acts 6:7

II. Panel #2Keys to the Establishment of the Church in Judea and Samaria (6:8-9:31)
1. The leaders/subordinate leaders had a deep knowledge of the Old Testament and understood how to build upon it to explain the gospel (7:1-51; 8:35).
2. The leaders had a Christocentric witness (8:5, 12, 35, 40).
3. God-ordained persecution and suffering due to gospel witness promoted Word expansion by preaching (8:1, 4-5, 12).
4. There was a leadership connection between the Jerusalem church and Samaria (8:14-15).
5. The leaders at Jerusalem (the Apostles) were supportive and sensitive to God’s unfolding plan as they heard the Gospel going out to Gentile lands (8:1-25).
6. The leaders exercised their authority to protect the church from false leadership (8:9-24).
7. Subordinate leadership (Philip), took initiative, yet did not resent or buck their superiors (8:5-25).
8. God directed the movement of His gospel southward towards Ethiopia (8:26).
9. Acts 1:8 continues to unfold.
Marker 2 “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.” Acts 9:31

Panel #3 Keys to the Establishment of the Church in Antioch (9:32-12:24)
1. The church begins to shed its false view of separatism (10:9-22, 28; 11:1-3, 18-21)
2. God works in people’s hearts prior to salvation (Cornelius-10:1-8, 24-48).
3. God worked through aggressive evangelism by those who had a right view of God’s purposes to draw many Gentiles to Himself (10:34; 11:19-24).
4. The Holy Spirit is poured out upon the Gentiles in Cornelius home (10:45; 11:1, 17-18).
5. Baptism is commanded immediately after salvation (10:46-48).
6. Jerusalem church leaders sent Barnabas to Antioch in response to Hellenist’s Gentile’s responding positively to the Gospel (11:19).
7. God chooses the new Christian capitol called Antioch (11:25-26).
8. The teachers worked hard to preach and teach (11:23-26).
9. Barnabas worked diligently in the basic follow-up of these new Christians at Antioch (11:21-24).
10. Barnabas and Saul met with the whole group and taught them intensively for one year (11:25-26).
11. The Antioch church was involved in inter-dependence with the Judean elders to meet the needs of the Christians (11:29-30).
12. Violent persecution continues (12:2).
13. When the Word increased the kingdom increased (12:24-25).
Marker #3 “But the word of God increased and multiplied.” Acts 12:24.

Panel #4 Keys to the Establishment of the Church in Asia Minor: (12:25-16:5)
1. Under the Spirit’s direction, Antioch commissioned their best men, Barnabas and Saul. They sent their best men by laying their hands on them, an Old Testament sign that meant a transfer of authority (13:1-3).
2. The men who sere sent left a maturing, living local church (13:1-3).
3. Barnabas and Paul were sent to: (13:1-14:28)
     a. Proclaim the gospel
     b. Gather into a local community of believers
     c. Strengthen those who believed
     d. Appoint elders (14:23)
4. After the expansion work, the men went back to home-base Antioch to report and ready themselves to head back to do kingdom work (14:16-28).
5. Early church leaders of apostle and elders guarded the Gospel. Antioch sent representatives (15:2-3) and met at the Jerusalem council to protect sola gratia and sola Christus.
6. The mission team of Paul and Barnabas continued to return to Antioch, give report, and make vital mission decisions within the Christian capitol (15:35-41).
7. Leaders were committed to training faithful men to help and carry on the Apostolic deposit and the work of finding new Christian communities (15:37-39; 16:3; 2 Tim. 2:2).
Marker 4: “So the churches were strengthened in the faith and they increased in numbers daily.” Acts 16:5

Panel #5 Keys to the establishment of the Church in the Aegean Area: (16:6-19:20)
1. Under the Holy Spirit’s direction, Paul worked aggressively in seeking new areas in which to take the gospel (16:6-7; Matt. 28:19-20).
2. Paul had a ministry strategy that was flexible and malleable to the Spirit’s direction and open Gospel portals. I.e. Conversion of Lydia and Philippian jailer (16:6-40).
3. Paul skillfully contextualized the gospel to the worldview of his hearers (17:1-34).
     a. Paul knew the gospel and its connections to the Old Testament.
     b. Paul went where he knew he would gain a hearing and piggy-backed off the existing Jewish synagogue structures (17:2; 19).
     c. Paul boldly explained, reasoned, and proved the Christ from the Old Testament Scriptures with a gospel/kingdom centered message (17:2-4, 17; 19: 8).
     d. Paul reasoned in public venues to gain a hearing (17:17; 19:9).
     e. Paul found common presuppositions with his audience-common starting point (17:22-23).
     f. Paul corrected the worldview of his hearers (17:24-31).
4. God is the author of salvation and opens hearts as He determines (16:14).
5. Gospel work had three responses: some mocked, some wanted to hear more, and some believed (17:32-34).
6. Paul was terrified but trusted God in the midst of it (18:5-9; 2 Cor. 7:5).
7. Paul was occupied with the Word ministry (18:5).
8. Paul was able to do full-time ministry due to the financial giving of believers.
9. Paul established the churches by years of dedicated teaching (18:11; 19:10).
10. Paul and his team were careful to correct any who did not teach the way of God with accuracy (18:24-19:10).
Marker 5: “So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.” Acts 19:20.

Panel 6: Paul’s Completed work and the Gospel Westward Bound (19:21-28:end)
1. Paul revisited his congregations to further establish them (20:1-12).
2. Paul gave elder qualifications that he himself modeled (20:17-38).
3. Paul spent much of his time developing leadership (20:31).
4. Paul charged the elders to shepherd the flock and rely on God and His Word (20:28, 32).
5. Paul understood the role of authorities (spiritual, governmental, antagonistic) in God’s workings and used them as tools of God (Rom. 13:1-6; 21:17-26; 28:17-22).
6. Paul used the authorities to protect himself (23:16-23; 25:10-11).
7. Paul’s boldness led to his persecution which also led church-wide boldness.

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