Back To the Beginning: When Church was Church
"Get With It"
Before We BEGIN today I want to tell you about something coming up on our calendar May 5-15
We will be seeking God's Face and expecting God's Move during those days
There will be prayer services daily beginning the 6th at 6:00 AM and PM
Then in addition beginning on Wednesday night the 11th - Saturday the 14th we will have nightly Crusade Services at 7:00 following our prayer service. Concluding on Sunday Morning the 15th.
We are praying that God will Light Fires of Revival among those who are his people and will Give Salvation and Life to those who do not know him as Lord and Savior.
The 5th of May is the National day of Prayer but it is also Ascension Day, 40 days after Resurrection Day. Then the 15th, 10 days later is Pentecost Sunday!
God is NOT bound to a formula, but I believe God wants to do something supernatural in our hearts and lives those days so set it aside on your calendar NOW and don't let ANYTHING get on your schedule those days that would conflict with our time of seeking the Lord together.
The book of Acts records for us much of the work of the early church, the foundation for church work, life, mission, and ministry is found here in this book
Author Luke - writer of the Gospel
While Paul penned more books in the New Testament, Luke penned more pages, through these two books than all of Paul's books combined.
Luke was a Physician, Educated, and very much a person who gave attention to detail.
He wrote the Gospel to A Friend, Theophilus, possibly a man of noble birth who was a friend of Luke.
He wrote the Gospel to him, so that he would know about the life and ministry of Jesus and could have a firm foundation for his new belief.
The first book was about what Jesus did in person on earth.
THIS book is about the work of Christ through the Holy Spirit in the lives of the believers and the young church.
Read Luke 24:45-53
Read Acts 1:1-11
There is two things I want us to see today as we begin looking at the early church.
What was the fertile ground that caused the early church to grow?
What was the firm foundation on which the early church was built?
What empowered the transformation of this sect of Judaism into a movement that changed the world?
We will see two things that made the ground fertile, gave power, were a foundation.
What are did THEY DO in response to these two points and what do we do in response today?
One thing, one response, one challenge.
Well let's get to it
Remember that the great leader of the early church, the Apostle Peter denied Christ, BEFORE he was crucified, 3 times
Remember that when Jesus was arrested ALL of the disciples fled after an initial resistance.
Remember that only John was at the cross
Remember that while Christ was in the tomb, they were hiding for fear of their lives
Also we will see in Acts and can see in scripture and history that these SAME disciples suffered, were arrested, were martyred, were persecuted. Countless millions have suffered persecution and death in the centuries SINCE the death of Christ
so what made the difference?
What were the two critical ingredients?
First of all … they did and we MUST …
1. Believe He is Alive v3
v3 - he "showed himself … gave many convincing proofs that he was alive …"
- appeared to them
- 40 days
- spoke (teaching) - not just a vision
- eating with them - ghosts - visions - don't bother to eat
- Paul said he appeared to as many as 500 witnesses
Why was it important to know that he was alive?
- he SAID he would die and be resurrected
- DOING what he said he would do was IMPORTANT to the future
- it meant that he WAS and IS who he SAYS he IS
- John the Baptist in prison, about to die, sent his disciples to Jesus to be sure Luke 7:19 - "are you the one, or should we expect another"
Jesus said - Luke 7:22 - Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard …
Well Jesus was telling the disciples, "hey you may be wondering if I AM who you thought I was or should you expect another … well, I AM HE. I am alive …
So what I believe … right? Well …
A. Belief Requires Response
1. if Jesus is alive, we can't keep hiding in the upper room
2. when Jesus was born the expected response was for the shepherds, the wise men, Simeon at the Temple, Anna, was that they TOLD of his amazing birth
3. If Jesus is Alive, the disciples would have to go away from the tomb a different way, like the wise men went home a different way
B. Changed from Timid to Triumphant
We will see different people here in Acts than we saw at the end of the gospels, at the end of Christ's life on earth before crucifixion.
The belief that Jesus is ALIVE … Changed them from Timid to Triumphant, Changed them from reluctant to Resounding from Fearful to Forceful from Powerless to Powerful from Unable to Understand to Unshakeable to the Uttermost parts of the earth.
The Belief that JESUS Christ IS alive still today is critical to New Life Baptist Church being a Church Like the Early Church. AND like Heaven. Anyone in Heaven DOUBT that Jesus is Alive?
Do you believe that Jesus is ALIVE?
Do you Really?
Prove it to me
Live like it
If Jesus is alive be Triumphant
If Jesus is alive be Resounding
If Jesus is alive be Forceful
If Jesus is alive be Powerful
If Jesus is alive be Unshakeable to the Uttermost
The Belief that Jesus Christ was Alive was the first thing that made the ground around Jerusalem fertile soil for the growth of first Church
It was critical to the foundation of the House of God
But where would the power come from?
The second foundational powerful piece to this puzzle
Was that they were …
2. Baptized with The Spirit; v4 v8
Luke 24:49 - I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high
V 4, 5 - do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father has promised, which you have heard me speak about … John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit
A. Wait - ?
Jesus told them to wait until they received power from on high
He said that they "would receive power"
1. Before Pentecost, the Holy Spirit empowered believers for particular purposes and he departed from some even after filling them.
King Saul, God's Spirit left after disobedience
Samson, God's Spirit left him and he didn't even know it.
David is the only one beside Christ Jesus in whom God's Spirit filled and indwelt continually before the cross and didn't leave.
So he told them to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit would indwell the believer
The Holy Spirit would give power
The Holy Spirit would give wisdom
The Holy Spirit would give gifts
The Holy Spirit would give direction/guidance
All of these things would be critical for the developing church.
Jesus had promised the Spirit in John 15:26-16:16
He would -
- testify about Jesus 15:26
- convict the world of guilt of sin, righteousness, judgment 16:8-11
- guilty in the nature of sin that we are sinners by nature
- guilty in our attempt at righteousness - the Spirit shows us that we are a self-righteous people and our righteousness is NOTHING, shallow, hollow, too short to save, and to recognize that Christ's righteousness is the only way to God
- guilty in our definition and dispersion of judgment. Our judgment is based on the prince of the world and he himself is judged so stand under him as guilty by association
- 16:13 - guide you INTO all truth
- 16:13 speak ONLY what he hears, not what he says on his own
- 16:13 will tell you what is to come
- 16:14 will bring glory to JESUS
Do we have to wait?
For the Holy Spirit's power?
For the Holy Spirit's wisdom?
For the Holy Spirit's direction / guidance about the basic ministry of the church? NO - for direction and guidance for how to flesh out ministry in the world/community in which we live - perhaps
For the Holy Spirit's gifts? NO - the gifts are given as part of the Gift of the Holy Spirit as Grace from God in Salvation
Are there times when we want to do a particular ministry and there isn't someone in the body with those gifts so we must wait on the Holy Spirit to gift those areas while we continue in the areas where he has gifted us
For the Holy Spirit's indwelling? - NO if the Church HAS the gift of the Holy Spirit deposited in the lives of those who are receivers of grace
We will discuss more later in Acts about the filling of the Holy Spirit but let me just leave it here today that you have EVERYTHING you need for Life and godliness if you are a believer in Jesus Christ
The Holy Spirit is a …
B. Gift of Grace
Acts 2:38 - says that when we repent and receive forgiveness of sins, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit
Deposited by God into our life as a down payment, "earnest money", guaranteeing more from God's hand and plan later
2 Cor 5:5 now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come
2 Cor 1:22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Alright so we have determined that the fertile soil that enabled the growth of the earthly of the early church was the Resurrection and the fact that Jesus Was and REMAINS ALIVE
The Power that enabled them to grow, spread, was gift of the Holy Spirit
If we are to be and remain a church like the early church, a church that is fellowshipping with, and empowered by the Spirit of God then we will live by the understanding, a Belief that evokes action that Jesus is ALIVE and he defeated Death
Also we will not only be inhabited by the Holy Spirit but we will LIVE in and Move in his Power for Daily Living.
Now, so where did that leave the disciples after Jesus ensured them of his Victorious Resurrection and Empowered them with the Holy Spirit, he told them to be … them to grow, spread, was gift of the Hothe gro
3. Busy About His Business
Jesus commissions his disciples in Verse 8 as we preached a few weeks back. You WILL receive power and you will be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the Ends of the Earth
Then Jesus is caught up into the clouds and disappears.
It seems that it happened slowly and then he could be seen no longer.
Have you ever watched a Rocket fly or watched a plane leave.
I remember as a kid going to the Columbus airport when my Dad would leave on a trip. When the weather permitted, we would go up on the observation deck above the terminal. We would watch my Dad walk out and climb the stairs to his plane. Then we would watch the plane take off and watch it as far as we could until all that was left was a trail in the sky. Then just kind of stare off where the plane disappeared, like perhaps it would turn around and come back.
But I knew that in a few days or a week, we would be back at that airport and just like it took off, it would come back and land.
There was no sense sitting there waiting, there was life to be lived, school to go to, baseball to play, bikes to ride etc. (HEY I was a kid)
Well we need to get busy about HIS Business because
A. He Will Return
1. As he left -
2. how did he leave?
a. In the Clouds
b. suddenly - they were NOT expecting it, he had NOT told them, "come on out today and watch me leave!"
3. John 6 says "I am going to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL return so that you can be where I am." He is preparing a place. That means when he is done preparing, he's coming so we need to be busy and not be found lazy because you don't know WHEN he will come but you know he WILL come
B. Why are you Staring? V10, 11
It seems we always want to be philosophical and Jesus wants us to get busy.
v 4,5 Jesus is telling them he's going to give them God's Spirit and in verse 6 they are like, "cool so does that mean you are going to Make us Top Dog again" to which Jesus says "FOCUS PEOPLE we've got work to do."
Let God take care of the judgment and end of the world stuff, you join us in the Mission Part!
A matter of seconds later they are still not getting it and so the Angels show up and say "FOCUS PEOPLE
Stop staring, he's coming back, just like he left but NOT RIGHT THIS MINUTE so GO DO what he just told you to do!!!"
"Get with it!"
If you believe he is alive, and you believe that he went to heaven to prepare a place, and you believe that he is returning, you MUST believe that he is going to expect something when he returns
1. Traveling master who leaves Talents 1, 2, 5.
If he is coming back he is going to expect us to have something to show for the investment he has left with us.
1 Cor 4:1,2 men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
1 Peter 4:10 each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms
2. He has deposited grace in us and made us "stewards" of it. And if he did that he will return and like the Master who entrusted resources to his servants he expects us NOT to bury our resources but to invest them in Kingdom ventures and enlarge them
So … the bottom line … we need to …
C. Get With It
1. don't spend all of your time trying to figure out when, where, how, why, what. Why? Because you won't ever know. That's for the Father, you get WITH IT!
2. There is a time for everything
3. There is a time to "look into the sky" and imagine his returning
4. There is a time to stand in his presence and look toward his face
5. There is a time to kneel before him in humility and worship
6. But as long as we are here, there is more to the Christian and Church life than just standing in a church or on a hill looking, hoping, imagining what his return will be like.
7. I want us to imagine heaven more full than it would have been.
8. Imagine being greeted by people who will be in heaven because YOU participated in their coming to Christ.
9. Imagine them being a byproduct of the ministry of God through the life of New Life Baptist Church
Talk about last Year's Baptisms #5 in St. Louis
#40 in State
People down at the Edward Jones Dome that may be in Heaven some day because you gave them a tract and shared Jesus and then never saw them again, but they will remember you in Heaven as will the Father
- The disciples had an excuse, before Pentecost for staying inside their "upper room" gathering place. Because Jesus said so!
- But once they were given the Holy Spirit they had a Mission here on earth and it was time to get busy.
Remember what Jesus said to John's Disciples
GO BACK and Report … what you have seen and heard …
Jesus is alive, all who believe in him are indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit, so
Let's Get Busy,
Live Like it,
Talk Like It.
Walk Like It.
There's a hurting single mother on your block who thinks the world will fall in around her
Let's Get With It!
There's a drug addict or alcoholic around the corner who needs to know that there is a BETTER Eternal Fix to his yearning
Let's Get With It!
There's a couple fighting to save their marriage or maybe they've already given up and they need to know that Jesus rebuilds love and mends broken hearts
Let's Get With It!
There's a family who have lost everything precious to them, a loved one, or they've gone bankrupt, or a fire has stolen their goods and Jesus is the comforter, is strength and owns the cattle on a thousand hills
Let's Get With It!
There's a heart or cancer patient out there who needs to know that their diagnosis doesn't have to be the final word even if death comes it doesn't have to be the final word
Let's Get With It!
There's a boy or a girl in Romania, Mexico, Central America, Africa, Asia, that needs to know that Jesus Christ loved them so much that he gave his only son that whoever would believe in him should not perish but have everlasting life
Let's Get With It!
There's someone who's just moved into your neighborhood and has no friends no family and doesn't believe those things really exist and they need to know that we are a family here at New Life Baptist Church that always has room for another one at the Table of God
Let's Get With It!
Let's Get With It!
Let's Get With It!