Back to the Beginning: when Church was Church
Prayer, Power, Proclamation
In Acts chapter 2 we find "The World" in Jerusalem. God-fearing people from all over the world, 16 regions named here had gathered to worship the Lord. They had celebrated Passover, then the Feast of Weeks or the 7 week Feast of the Harvest or of Pentecost. It was a time to celebrate the Lord to care for the poor, to remember their deliverance from Egypt. This 1st day of the week, 50 days after the Passover God was about to SHOW HIMSELF through his CHURCH for the FIRST TIME.
Colossians 1:15 says he is the "firstborn of all creation"
This feast of Harvest would see a great Harvest of souls as Jesus would be the first to know the power over death and would bring about salvation and live by the power of the Spirit and now he ushers a new dispensation as the Church is birthed in power and presence.
We here at New Life Baptist Church are preparing for a 10 day focus on the Lord in May. May 5-15. We will begin with the National Day of Prayer and participating locally calling for the Lord's blessing on our city and country. Then beginning on the 6th we will seek the Lord's face for 10 days. 6 am and 6 pm every day we will gather to pray. Many fast and pray. Beginning on Wednesday the 11th we will also gather at 7:00 each evening for Proclamation Services where God's People will be challenged to walk with God and those without a relationship with Christ will be called to Follow Christ. Those days will be days of Prayer, Power and Proclamation.
That brings us to Scripture for today and we will use these three words to guide our outline of this part of Chapter 2
What were the keys here on this day to the Early Church. IF we are going Back to the Beginning: when Church was church, the first thing we see is …
Read Luke 24:51-53; Acts 1:14, 15b
Deuteronomy 16:11 - tells us that the Feast of Weeks ends on the 50th day in the Temple, the Place of God's Name.
But they had stayed together, 120 of them, for 10 days, both in the Upper Room, and the Temple
They continued in Prayer and Worship at the Temple.
Why? Jesus had given them instructions that they would be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the Uttermost … so what was the importance of the component of prayer.
These people always seemed to have answers for Jesus about what to do and what not to do, when to set up the Kingdom, who would get to sit with Jesus.
Why are they devoted to praying now?
1. Recognized that this was NOT something that they could produce - Jesus had cast a vision for them that I believe SCARED THEM so they NEEDED to Pray
2. They Recognized, FINALLY, that God was NOT operating by THEIR Agenda nor by THEIR Wisdom
a. what was their agenda? - Chapter one - verse 6 - "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?"
b. their agenda had been an earthly Kingdom and they finally realized that God was doing something different -
c. We MUST realize that God is doing his OWN thing and Prayer is the place to find out what God is doing if we are going to join them
3. Recognized that the plan, the path, and the power to implement were going to come from God
If we are to be a church like the FIRST CHURCH we must come BACK to the Realization both in our head and in our actions that we aren't sharp enough, smart enough, talented enough, to conceive or achieve the plans of God, We NEED his wisdom, his power, his hand.
Prayer is where we gain that.
One of the most powerful, honest, and great prayers is found in 2 Chronicles 20. King Jehoshaphat and God's people are under attack.
His prayer is found in verses 6-12 of 2 Chronicles 20 - Oh Lord, God of our Fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over the Kingdoms of the nations. Power and Might are in your hand, so no one can withstand you. 9 If calamity comes upon us, … we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you … you will hear us and save us … 12 … we have no poer to face this vast army … We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you."
We need to pray because We Don't know what to do
So our eyes, heart, thoughts, should be on the Lord
We have a great task to the Church of Jesus Christ but as we seek God's face, be warned, It is costly to Pray.
4586 Prayer Costs
"I want you to spend fifteen minutes every day praying for foreign missions," said a pastor to some young people in his congregation. "But beware how you pray, for I warn you that it is a very costly experiment."
"Costly?" they asked in surprise.
"Yes, costly," he replied. "When Carey began to pray for the conversion of the world it cost him himself. In mission to India
"Brainerd prayed for the dark-skinned savages, and, after two years of blessed work, it cost him his life. In Service
"Two students in Mr. Moody's summer school began to pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth more servants into His harvest; and, lo, it is going to cost America five thousand young men and women who have, in answer to this prayer, pledged themselves to the work.
"Be sure it is a dangerous thing to pray in earnest for this work; you will find that you cannot pray and withhold your labour, or pray and withhold your money; indeed, you will find that your very life will no longer be your own when your prayers begin to be answered."
-F. E. Marsh
If you pray for God to reach your community it's going to cost you some freedom to walk past a neighbor in need of Christ.
If you pray for Christ to reach the world it is going to cost, money, time
If we want God to reach Metro St. Louis, it's going to cost New Life Baptist Church
If we want New Life to be a Church like Heaven, it's going to cost us in comfort, in tradition, in experience, in style, in attitude, in plans, relationships, in money
The disciples / followers sought the Lord in prayer and God Poured out his Power on them
Power is what we seek, but there is NO POWER for us without the Currency of Prayer
No Power without the currency of surrender
The first church devoted themselves to prayer and then God poured out his Spirit in Power on them
Read Acts 2:1-13
What was the Source of the Power?
The Source - The Holy Spirit, God had promised that he would pour out his spirit on them. He had promised that he would baptize them with Fire, with power.
We place a lot of focus on the wrong things when it comes to looking at Pentecost.
We will see what empowered them, but the "who" of Pentecost is more important.
Pentecost is about Jesus Christ keeping his Word and pouring out the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit being true to his purpose and Glorifying and lifting up Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Let's look quickly at what the Holy Spirit used to empower this early Church, this Fellowship of Believers.
The Church was FILLED individually with the Holy Spirit and these same people who were clueless before the cross, afraid after the cross were now BOLD in the other side of the tomb
The Holy Spirit gave them
A. Gifts necessary for the Task
1. after the rushing wind and the fire came down and separated and baptized them into one body
2. they began to speak in other "tongues" NOT in this case UNKNOWN tongues, but literally other languages
3. Why? -
a. to show God's power
b. because it was NEEDED for all of these people to be drawn to God as his WONDERS were proclaimed to them in their OWN language. I'm sure all or most spoke Greek, but the praises of God were being sent up in THEIR language and that drew them to hear the proclamation of the gospel.
4. What we need to see here today as a church is that when we humble ourselves and seek God's face and his Spirit is free to move in our lives, he will GIVE us the Gifts that are necessary for the tasks at hand.
5. we don't have another outpouring just like this because there wasn't another gathering just like this
6. God doesn't always move the same but if we let him he WILL move and empower us as needed
Remember that the WHO is more important than the WHAT
But I wanted us to see something else today from this first church that I think was a vehicle by which God was able to empower this fellowship through the power of the Spirit … They were …
B. Together in God's House
1. When we separate ourselves from the body we diminish our POWER
2. Each member of the BODY is MEANT to operate as part of the BODY and NOT meant to operate apart from the body, apart from Christ. If Christ is the head of the body and you separate from the body you are separating from fellowshipping rightly with Christ. Jesus said "I am the vine, you are the branches, apart from me, you can do nothing"
3. There is power in numbers
4. We feed off of each other
5. Iron sharpens iron
6. where 2 or more are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them
7. Luke 24:53 - they stayed continually at the Temple praising God
8. Psalm 14:3 Will evildoers never learn - those … who do not call on the Lord? They are overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the Company of the Righteous …
This is NOT to say that continually means that they camped in the Temple nor that they didn't live as citizens in the world, but The Gathering together of Believers was "home base" it was the place on earth where they gathered strength and encouragement and everything else moved out from there.
And what happened in that gathering Together in the House of God? Was it a gripe session about the latest change, was it a critique time for the sermon or the singing or the choice of the color of the carpet or "did you see what she was wearing?"
No they were empowered by the Holy Spirit as they were …
C. Celebrating God's Victory in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
1. Luke 24:52 they worshipped and returned with joy, 53 - praising God
2. Acts 2:11 - declaring the wonders of God
3. what did they have to Celebrate? Jesus Christ defeated death, hell, and the power of sin
4. In the Old Testament battles, warriors were often led by the musicians
a. Jericho came down after the trumpets blast and the people shouted God's praise
b. Gideon won victory after the shout and trumpet blast
c. in 2 Chron 20:21,22 - Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: "give thanks to the Lord fro his love endures forever." 22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir … and they were defeated.
There is POWER in his Praises
Remember the WHO is more important than the WHAT.
If we look at Pentecost and only focus on the miracle of the Tongues of Fire and Other Languages spoken, we MISS it and dishonor the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost was where God provided us Eternally with the Gift of the Holy Spirit and Jesus told us in John 16 that the Holy Spirit would testify about Jesus, would glorify him, would remind us of everything he had said
So the Gift of the Holy Spirit manifested in speaking the languages of the people from every race on earth was for the PURPOSE of Proclaiming Jesus Christ.
So let us look quickly at this …
There were two basic things that Peter Proclaimed here that WE must proclaim every time we share Jesus Christ. That is, the TRUTH about Jesus and the NEED for us to individually TRUST him
Read vv22-24; 29-36
A. The TRUTH about Jesus
1. Sent from God - God put his stamp of validation on him through miracles, signs and wonders, they had seen them and couldn't argue
2. Died on the cross - by the hand of man but at the will and purpose of God - Jesus said in John 10 "I lay down my life and I take it up again, they cannot take it from me I give it freely"
3. Raised on the 3rd Day - by the power of God - freed from death - because death had no control on him
4. Exalted in Heaven at the right hand of the Father - Seated at the Right hand of God until his enemies are defeated once and for all
5. Poured out his Spirit on his people, his church - v 33
6. Lord and Christ - There is no other NAME under heaven by which men must be saved than Jesus Christ - God has given him a name above every name - what is that name? Jesus? No, the name is LORD -
Those hearing responded
Read vv 37-41
The Truth of Jesus is Just information, fact, truth, and is even Judgment if you don't Trust and Receive it
B. Trust the Truth for Yourself
1. Repent -
a. turn away from going your way -
b. admit that you are going the wrong way -
c. acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the only way
d. - it is an internal decision to Follow Christ
2. Be Baptized - Baptism does NOT MAKE you a Christian, but it IS the Outward expression of what has happened on the inside. Paul says that we are "buried with Christ in baptism". I.E. since we have died to ourselves and are new creations in Christ, Baptism is our physical way of proclaiming to the world that we HAVE died to our old life and thus been resurrected to live a new life in Christ. If we Trust Jesus Christ as Savior, and we recognize that he commands us to be baptized, then we will be obedient. If someone says they have trusted Christ but refuses to follow him in Baptism it leaves doubt about the authenticity of their trusting Christ.
3. Forgiven - when we trust Christ we are trusting that we can and will be, we are forgiven of all our sin, past, present, and future. That we will be right with God because of Christ Jesus' work at the cross.
a. I have known so many people that get stuck here.
b. They say "God can't forgive me".
c. Yes he can and yes he WILL but YOU must trust it and receive him.
Story of BRANDON
Ok, I can repent, and follow in Baptism, I can trust his forgiveness but
HOW will I live the Life that God calls and saves us To?
But Christ IN you is the Hope of Glory
Christ IN you is the WAY to Heaven, YES, but the WAY to LIFE here on Earth
Jesus said I will NOT leave you as orphans
John 14:15-18 If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - The Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be IN you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you
Repent, Baptize, Forgiven
4. Filled with his Spirit - just has he poured out his Spirit on them he has poured out his Spirit on ALL who believe in Jesus Christ and give themselves to him.
Peter gave those hearers from every race, tribe, color, and tongue, Hope and a Promise that what you have seen and heard that day could be JUST as TRUE for THEM.
The salvation of Jesus Christ, the Outpouring of his Spirit in Forgiveness and Power was and remains NOT just for a select few, NOT just for a certain people group or nation, it is FOR ALL who believe.
It is for YOU, It is For Me
Prayer, Power, Proclamation
When we are on our Face seeking the Lord, humbling ourselves to follow his plans and purposes, then we will live in and experience his Power for the purpose of Giving Praises and Proclaiming Christ Crucified, Resurrected, Exalted, and Lord
Then Church is Church
The Church's One Foundation
The church's one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord;
She is His new creation,
By Spirit and the Word:
From heav'n He came and sought her
To be His holy bride,
With His own blood He bought her,
And for her life He died.