Laying Hold of the Antioch Vision
It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians. The Antioch Church was described in the Book of Acts as a church that was filled with the Holy Spirit and fully committed to spreading the Gospel. It was a church that was directed by the Holy Spirit, led by the Holy Spirit and guided by the Holy Spirit. The result was that many new believers were added to the Church.
FGA is a church birthed by the Holy Spirit. Our Elders first embraced the Antioch Church Vision in 1996 following prophetic words spoken to the church over the years.
The Vision and Mission of our Church are expressed in these statements:
OUR VISION – A Spirit-filled Church that makes Christ known to all peoples.
OUR MISSION – To Evangelise and Raise Disciples across Generations and People Groups.
WATCHWORD – Go Make Disciples
When the church is led and directed by the Holy Spirit, His presence will be central in all our activities, be it in a life group, a home fellowship, a young adults’ group, a youth group or at a weekend church service. It follows that the whole purpose of being filled with the Spirit is to make Christ known to all peoples. In the Book of Acts, Jesus Christ told the disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them and they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. The Holy Spirit is a spirit of witness. He is the one that will make Christ visible to people from all walks of life and across generations.
To make Christ known to all peoples is to reach out and disciple people from all age groups from the children to the youth, adults and senior citizens. One of our strengths in FGA is our Children’s Ministry because many people are willing to send their children to church and eventually they themselves (parents) come to know Christ.
What does the Lord want us to do as an Antioch Church?
Firstly, we are to spread the Gospel by equipping the people to do it. In the Antioch Church, it was the ordinary men and women who went about preaching, proclaiming, speaking and telling the Gospel and many believed and turned to the Lord. In the entire book, the word ‘reaching’ is mentioned 14 times, ‘proclaiming’ 8 times and ‘speaking’ or ‘telling’ 61 times. The essence of it is that every ordinary Christian in FGA ought to be able to speak, share the Word and tell others of what Jesus Christ has done for us wherever we are. We should be so filled with the Gospel and so full of the Word that we would be ready to share the message at every opportunity made available to us.
Secondly, we are to shepherd people for growth by encouraging them to spread the message. Leaders play a very important role in encouraging and exhorting people to do evangelism. To mobilize people, leaders have to lead by example and emphasize the need to obey the Lord’s command to proclaim the gospel message to others. In the Church of Antioch, Barnabas was a man full of the Holy Spirit and he encouraged, demonstrated and emphasized evangelism and the result was many new believers were added to the Church. It is interesting to note that out of the seven Spirit-filled men chosen by the disciples to serve in the distribution of food (Acts 6), only two of them were further mentioned in the book. They were Stephen and Philip who were men full of the Holy Spirit and passionate to make Christ known to others. The Holy Spirit was tracking them because they were sharing the Gospel. The same Holy Spirit tracks us when we have a burning desire to make Christ known to others.
Thirdly, we are to send our missionaries by enlisting them to spread the message. The missionary world is changing very fast. In the past, conventional missionaries have played a significant role in evangelism but today, I believe that tent-making missionaries will have the edge.
Fourthly, we are to step into the supernatural. The first supernatural thing that broke upon the early church was that when the Holy Spirit came upon the people, they all spoke in tongues. Speaking in tongues is the key and gateway to the supernatural.
The Bible says that the miracles point to the Son and to the coming of the Kingdom. John puts it in John 20:30-31 that the miracles are written that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing we may have life in His name. From the miracle of changing water into wine, to feeding the five thousand and to raising Lazarus from the dead, the point of it all was that people would believe in him as the Son of God. The Holy Spirit is definitely one of the reasons why FGA grew as we stepped into the supernatural. We started with healing and deliverance and it was the ordinary believers who prayed and people were healed.
Finally, laying hold of the Antioch Church Vision means we are to remain true to the Lord and to be faithful to what he has called us to do. We read in Acts 13:47 that the Lord has commanded us to be “a light to the Gentiles so that we may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”
When the Lord Jesus Christ met Paul on the road to Damascus, Paul was not looking for Christ. It was Christ who took hold of Paul and the apostle Paul says in Phil 3:12: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” It is God who takes hold of FGA for the vision He has for us and our response is to lay hold of the vision that God has given us until the vision takes hold of us.
As I conclude writing this message, I felt that the Lord is calling us to be brave. The more we pray in the Spirit, the bolder we become and we will have the strength to be faithful to the Vision. We need to be bold to spread the message, brave to shepherd people for growth, brave to send our missionaries and brave to step into the supernatural.
Written by Elder Dorai
Note: The above is a short article extract of the original published in the 2014 issue 001 of Rejoice magazine.