This whole sermon series has been building toward the formulation of this church in Antioch: A Church For All, and we finally here come to the start of this church. This is not so much about a label, as it is about an identity. Who are we as the people of God? They question were are looking at this morning is what is unique about Antioch that the disciples would first be called Christians there?
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Luke records the interesting note that “He became hungry and wanted something to eat” and then he has a vision about food. The entire ethnic makeup of the early church hinged on a hungry person’s daydream about food. How do we know this “vision” is from the Lord? And so a big part of Luke’s purpose in these chapters - and he takes at least three chapters to tell this one story - is to show, step by step, how the Holy Spirit led the church into the conclusion, confirming Peter’s vision.
Here in Acts 6, we see the first real internal tension in the Jerusalem church. And we’ll see that the tension arises, before the “bad” Gentile’s come in. Before the “good” Gentiles come in. Before the Samaritans come in. It’s a tension that arises between the Hebrew Jews and the Hellenistic Jews. Now, we don’t know how identifiable these two groups were in the church - we don’t know if they had separate services for different languages our churches does, but we do know that they were distinct enough that tensions at times did arise between the groups, and here in Acts six we see the heart of the issue is that one group is feeling neglected, not only feeling - they were being neglected - as if they were not fully part of the priorities of the church.
"Is the gospel for people like me?" - I've often heard this question asked, especially in sharing the gospel with people from different backgrounds. Many people think that Christianity is a Western religion for Europeans, yet in the ancient world the perception was exactly the opposite. To the Roman "European", Christianity was an Eastern, Jewish religion. The Book of Acts was written to one such Roman believer to assure him that Christianity was indeed a faith for all people. In the Book of Acts, Jesus continues his ministry through His Spirit-empowered church to save people from every nation for the glory of God.