The church is beautiful. Why? Because of who she is and what her purpose is and that’s what I want us to talk about today. What is the purpose of the Church? I hope that in the next few minutes, you’ll begin to see the focus and the purpose of the Church and its people.
We are going to start off this morning in the book Acts, so please turn your bibles with me to Acts chapter 1 and as you do,
I spent Friday night and yesterday morning at the Men at the Cross conference, which only confirmed for me that we are on the right track for our sermon this morning.
Please stand with me as we read from the Holy Bible Acts 1:1-8
1In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
6So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
7He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Churches in St. Louis and across the country are closing there doors and selling there property, because they are dying out. They are fizzling out.
But, why is this happening? I believe that that they have lost the focus on the purpose of the Church. And so this morning we are going to answer that call, what is the purpose of this church located in Soulard, Mo?
Our first point is:
We are part of the plan; God’s people are part of His plan to accomplish His will.
Luke begins and he explains a very important truth about his last book that many people seem to over look, He says that in verse 1 and 2
1In my former book, Theophilus, (Talking about the Gospel of Luke, Theophilus was a roman official and he was a Christian) ) I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2until the day he was taken up to heaven. Lets stop here for a moment.
Here is what a lot of folks miss it, the flicker begins here. This is the beginning of the church He said…
“All that Jesus began to do and to teach”
Do you see the word “began”
Scripture does not tell us that Jesus finished His ministry… it is saying the beginning,, all that he BEGAN to do and to teach.
Luke is saying that his death on the cross is only the beginning, It was Jesus that started the ministry and it is through the church,, that Jesus will continue with His ministry. Now it is going to be through His people that He will carry on with His work.
Jesus taught his disciples by word and deed the truth necessary to carry on with His work and with the ministry.
I am turning over to Acts 3:6
The Crippled Beggar::
Now in verse 6 Silver or Gold I do not have, but what I have I give you , in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazereth “walk”
It is not through the power of the Apostles or Peter alone that he could make this crippled beggar walk.
You see the hand may have been Peters but the power came from Jesus Christ. Peter could not have healed the man with out Jesus. Without the death and resurrection of Jesus the Crippled beggar could not have been healed.
We are part of the plan, and by being part of Gods plan does not mean we can complete anything on our own. We must let Christ work in us. Just like Peter.
Lets move on to verse 3
. 3After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God
Jesus was proofing to the Apostles, that you did see me on the cross but now I am alive! All the things I have been teaching you,,,,,,, are now true.
He showed them that he was alive by:
walking and talking to them
by eating and drinking with them.
He showed them the wounds of His hands, feet and side. They even touched them
While he proofed to them He was alive He continued to teach them
He spent 40 more days proofing that he was resurrected and teaching them about the Kingdom of God.
Their testimonies became eye witness accounts of the resurrected King of Kings.
We are part of the plan, Jesus will fulfill his ministry through His people.
Our second Point comes in verse 4 and 5.
There are times in our lives and in the Church we need to wait.
Verse 4 says that 4On one occasion, while he was eating with them,(Proof), he gave them this command: (this was not a thought or a suggestions it was a command) "Do not leave (CHILDREN) Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
To often something will happen in the church and our lives that seemingly sees as a great potential and we jump on the band wagon without waiting and praying about it, we just do not wait for God’s answer. Niki the shoe company spent many years and millions of dollars with the saying of “Just Do It”. When we just do it without God chances are it becomes a failure.
Often times we get mixed up in Lures..
A lure in fishing terms is an object attached to the end of the fishing line and designed to resemble and move like an item of what fish prey (a minnow, a worm, a crawdad). The purpose of the lure is to use movement, vibrations, and color to catch the fish's attention to make them bite the hook. And then they are caught! Once their caught they fight the line to get loose as they are reeled in.
A lure in the church or in our lives is an object that resembles and moves like a ministry. Its movement, vibrations and color catch our attention. The purpose of the lure is to catch us so that we spend our time fighting the line as we are being reeled in to make that so called ministry work and we forget what the real ministry is about. We are Caught! We become so busy doing all the lures in our lives, that we rarely see the true ministry right outside our doors.
That is what happened to my Pastor, he had a ministry given to him by the Holy Spirit, to go out and witness (similar to what he does at the Olympics) to the people at the All Star game.
He went to the Assocoation
He had a few committed people at the church.
VBS, a sickness, a block party, problems in the church with personnel,
All these became lures for the one purpose the Holy Spirit gave him which was to go out and witness,,,
Jesus commanded the Apostles to wait; and that command is for us and the church, to wait for the gift that God has for us, for the direction from God. The key is to get direction from God the Holy Spirit,..
We wait our turns at the bank, in line at the grocery store and amusement parks. We wait for our turns to go through intersections (well some of us do). We even wait for the service to start at our church. Waiting is what we do every day of our lives, so why is so hard to wait on the Holy Spirit?
This brings us to our third Point in verse 8 and it gives us the last two insights of the churches purpose.
8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
When we receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit we must allow Him to take charge and to give us His Power.
In the 5th chapter book of Joshua. God called Joshua to replace Moses and he sends them to cross the Jordan river and they camp on the plains of Jericho, they are in the promised land. Joshua was heading to Jericho and he is ready for what God wants him to do. And then he looked up and saw a man in front of him with his sword drawn, Joshua went up to him and asked him are you for us or for our enemies? (the Canaanites)
Neither he replied, but as the commander of the Lords Army I have come down.
What he is saying to Joshua is this; he said I have not come to take sides I have come to take charge, because he is the commander of the Lords army. He is saying to Joshua I am the one in charge not you. We see that at Jericho,,, Joshua is told to march around the city …. Sounds kind of crazy.. to me.. so they march around the city and the next day they march around the city for six days and the seventh day what happened? On the seventh day and the seventh time around they sounded a trumpet blast and shouted and the walls came tumbling down. You see Joshua was not the one in charge, He knew where the Power came from,, in chapter 5 verse 14 of the book of Joshua it said that Joshua fell to the ground in reverence and asked “what message does my Lord have for his servant. He knew where the power came from and he was going to exactly what he was told to do.
Here in the book of Acts the apostles are not in charge the Holy Spirit is.
Jesus tells them specifically that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on them.
After waiting the Apostles get their Baptism by the Holy Spirit by tongues of fire that came and rest on them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit Scripture tells us. It says that they were talking and each tribe heard in their own language.
Power from the Holy Spirit is not limited to strength beyond the ordinary. That power also involves courage, boldness, confidence, insight, ability, and authority. The disciples would need all these gifts to fulfill their mission.
Once they received the power of the Holy Spirit the true purpose of the Church is reveled and here it is in verse 8
“you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
These were the last words that Jesus spoke to His Apostles.
These are the recorded last words that Jesus spoke to mankind. you will be my witnesses
Pause count to 5
It sums it all up, the mission of the church is to be Jesus’ witnesses.
The scope of our task was given in geographical terms, and Acts presents the evangelization of the first three graphical regions Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria,
, but what does that mean to us today?
Our Jerusalem is right outside the doors of this Church. That is were it starts for this Church. And as the witness is taken to Soulard, it then will move to other connecting communities and Downtown St Louis.
As you study Acts you will find that there is a constant reminder that God continually added to their numbers When the Church followed the Holly Spirit.
The Apostles knew that they were part of Gods plan, they waited for the guidance from God, and they knew that the Holy Spirit was in charge. They became Jesus’ last words on this earth; they became witnesses.
This is the purpose for the Church.
It is the Spirits directing, controlling and empowering ministry that strengthens the church and causes it to grow in numbers.
You may be thinking this morning that’s great information about the Church but what about me?
My answer is simple
You are the church. This building does not make the Church, God’s people make up the church to accomplish His purpose.
I told you that I was at the conference this weekend and I seen a guy wearing a t-shirt saying this ..
The Church just left the building!
WE are the Church,
For some of us it starts right here, this morning in this Church by giving Jesus your heart and confessing with your mouth that He is your Lord and Savior. You see If you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can experience the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. The courage, boldness, confidence, insight, ability, and authority to carry out the your Purpose not to mention the bonus of eternal life.
For others it will start right outside the doors of this Church Building. Soulard will become the witnessing field, and as the Holy Spirit directs the church it will grow and move outside into surrounding communities…
If you are here today and you cannot say, if the is a shadow of doubt. That you if you died today you will not go to heaven this time of invitation is for you.
Hear and feel the Holy Spirit directing you to the saving grace of Jesus this morning,, you must act,,, Come and I will be happy to guide you through the process, maybe you here and you want to join the church this morning or you just need a helping hand with prayer this morning, I would be glad to do that with you, this time is for you. During this invitation just come…