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Carry on Christians. Carry on!

Notes & Transcripts

Carry on Christians. Carry on!

Acts 2:41-47

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - June 30, 2013

*Have you ever been tempted to give up on church? Have you ever been tempted to just give up and quit? Listen to this testimony from Pastor Larry Overstreet:

*"The first Pastors Conference my wife and I attended was in 1969, and the speaker was Dr. Howard Sugden. He was the pastor of South Baptist Church in Lansing, Michigan for his entire ministry, from 1954 to 1991.

*During one of the question and answer times at the conference, he was asked, 'Pastor Sugden, have you ever been tempted to quit the ministry?' He paused just briefly. Then with a twinkle in his eye, said, 'Most every Monday.'" (1)

*When it comes to the church, sometimes we are going to be tempted to quit, and many people have. But here God's Word shows us that we need to carry on! We need to stick to it.

*The early church had this "stick-to-it" attitude. Verse 42 says: "And they CONTINUED STEADFASTLY in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." Then vs. 46 says: "So CONTINUING daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart."

*They "continued." The idea is that the early Christians were constantly committed to persevere. They were constantly diligent with unwavering devotion. They carried on in every situation. And God wants us to carry on. Tonight's Scripture tells us how to do it.

1. First: Keep studying God's Word.

*Verse 42 tells us that the early church "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine." They stayed in the Word of God, and so should we!

[1] We should stay in God's Word first, because it had the power to save us.

*It was the Word of God that brought salvation to 3,000 people on the Day of Pentecost. Peter had preached the truth to them about Jesus Christ. We saw this back up in vs. 22-24, where Peter said:

22. "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know

23. Him, being delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;

24. whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it."

*Then Peter told them how David had prophesied about Jesus in the Old Testament. And Peter got to the heart of the matter in vs. 32-38:

32. "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.

33. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

34. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand,

35. till I make Your enemies Your footstool.'''

36. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.''

37. Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?''

38. Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

*These 3,000 people were saved by the Word of God, and if you are saved today, so were you. How does it happen? Verses 32-38 showed us: We hear God's Word. We're touched by the Word. We turn to the Lord. We trust in the Lord. And we are transformed by the Lord.

*Now, since they were saved by the Word of God. They were bound and determined to stay in the Word of God. And we should be too!

[2] We should stay in God's Word, because it had the power to save us. And because it has the power to strengthen us.

*The Bible is God's source for our spiritual growth. In 1 Peter 2:1-2, the Apostle Peter put it this way:

1. Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,

2. as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,

*And listen to what King David said about God's Word in Psalm 19:7-11:

7. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

8. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;

9. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

10. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

11. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.

*God's Word has the power to save us, strengthen us, and transform our lives in amazing ways. If we want to grow as Christians, if we want to have victory, if we want to hear from God, if we want to have wisdom, joy and faith, we must stay in God's Word.

*Some of you will remember how New York City was terrorized in the mid 1970's by a serial killer. He called himself "The Son of Sam," but his real name is David Berkowitz. He was caught after he murdered 6 people and wounded several others. Berkowitz was sentenced to 365 years in prison.

*If anybody ever seemed beyond hope, it was David Berkowitz. But one day a fellow inmate began to tell David that God loved him. He told David that God was ready to forgive all of his sins, even the murders he had committed.

*Then someone gave David a Gideon New Testament and Psalms. Berkowitz ignored it for a long time, but one night in his cell, he picked it up and began reading Psalm 34. Listen to the first six verses of that Psalm:

1. I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

3. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.

4. I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

5. They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

6. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

*By the time David Berkowitz got to vs. 6, his heart was melted, and he later wrote this testimony about that memorable night: "It was at that moment, in 1987, that I began to pour out my heart to God. Everything seemed to hit me at once: the guilt from what I did, the disgust at what I had become.

*Late that night in my cold cell, I got down on my knees and I began to cry to Jesus Christ. I told Him that I was sick and tired of doing evil. I asked Jesus to forgive me for all my sins. I spent a good while on my knees praying to Him.

*When I got up it felt as if a very heavy but invisible chain that had been around me for so many years was broken. A peace flooded over me. I did not understand what was happening. But in my heart I just knew that my life, somehow, was going to be different." (2)

*Now David Berkowitz leads Bible studies inside the walls of his prison. And he has devoted the rest of his life in prison to reach more people for Christ. That is the power of the Word of God! -- So we must keep studying God's Word.

*That's how we carry on as Christians: Keep studying God's Word.

2. And keep sharing with God's people.

*We must keep sharing with God's people, and we see this truth in vs. 42-46:

42. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

43. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.

44. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,

45. and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

46. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,

[1] Notice that these early Christians shared their time. They shared a lot of time together in Bible study, meals and prayer. They shared a lot of time together in the temple, and opening their homes to each other.

[2] The early Christians shared their time. -- But they also shared their treasure. Please listen again to vs. 44&45:

44. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,

45. and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

*This radical sharing was necessary, because of their circumstances. Many of these believers were Jews from other countries. That had come to Jerusalem for Pentecost. Acts 2:5 tells us that they had come from "every nation under heaven." And the reason why is because Pentecost was one of the three great feasts the Jews celebrated every year.

*When these Jews came from those other countries, they had no idea they would be staying, so they had a special need. God does not ask all Christians to sell our possessions, but He might if there was a need.

*And God does command us to share our lives together, to work together, to help each other, and to help the people around us. I have heard countless testimonies over the years from people who have been helped in times of need. Sometimes we get help, and sometimes we give it. God wants us to share our lives with each other, so we must keep sharing with God's people.

*That's how we carry on as Christians: Keep sharing with God's people.

3. And keep seeking the Lord in worship.

*We see this truth in vs. 46-47:

46. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,

47. praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

*The early church worshiped the Lord, and there are several things to notice about their worship.

[1] First: It was habitual.

*In vs. 46, they continued "DAILY with one accord in the temple." And we don't worship in church every day, but we ought to have a lifestyle of regular worship.

[2] Their worship was habitual. -- And it was harmonious.

*They continued "daily WITH ONE ACCORD in the temple." They worshiped the Lord together in harmony. And this is harmony is vital, because it is impossible for us to truly worship the Lord when we are mad with each other.

*It just makes sense: A cup can't pour out vinegar and honey at the same time. Just so, we can't pour out praises to God when our hearts are overflowing with bitter resentments.

[3] Their worship was harmonious. -- And it was in their homes.

*In vs. 46, they also went "FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE." It's great to come to church. But that's not the only place we should worship the Lord. God wants us to worship Him in our homes. This includes personal quiet times, family devotions, and small group meetings. All of these have a place in Christian life.

[4] Their worship was in their homes. -- And it was in their hearts.

*In vs. 47, they had praise in their hearts. And in vs. 46 they had "gladness" and "singleness" or "simplicity" of heart. That word "gladness" meant they had extreme, exceeding joy in their hearts. The root-word picture is a spring of water gushing up, a spring of joy was gushing up in their hearts.

*And the word picture for "singleness" is that they were not stubbing their feet on any stones. Not that there weren't any stones around mind you, but they weren't letting the stones steal their joy.

*Some of us remember when gas stations had self-service and full-service pumps. Of course, it cost more to have someone else pump your gas. Kent Crockett tells about the time his wife, Cindy, went to one of those stations. She meant to use the self-service pump, but pulled up to full-service instead. Until she paid, Cindy didn't realize that full service cost 50 cents more per gallon.

*When she told Kent, he really began stewing about it. He thought: "That extra 50 cents per gallon surely has to be a violation of some federal law!" Then he quickly calculated that the extra 7 dollars she spent on full-service would have taken their car 128.33 miles farther down the road.

*Kent later said: "The 'full-service gas station robbery' had me fuming for several hours. Then as I was mulling over this terrible injustice, God showed me what I had done: I had sold my joy for seven dollars!

*I never realized how cheaply I would surrender something so valuable. Just as Esau exchanged his birthright for a bowl of soup, I exchanged my joy for seven dollars worth of gas." (3)

*Let's refuse to sell our joy for any price! And the more we think of Jesus Christ, the more we think of how good He is, and how good He has been to us, the more we think about what He did on the cross for us, the more our hearts with overflow with joy. That's the way God wants us to worship Him, so we must keep seeking the Lord in worship.

*That's how we carry on as Christians: Keep seeking the Lord in worship

4. And keep shining for the Lord.

*These early Christians shined for the Lord, and we see an example in the first part of vs. 47. There these believers were "praising God and having favor with all the people."

*They had favor with all the people. How did they get it? Many years ago, John Gill explained three ways:

-"They behaved with true and sincere love towards one another in their church."

-They had "so much wisdom, courtesy, and friendliness towards those outside the church."

-And they "walked so fitting of their Christian faith that they gained the good will of the majority of the people." (4)

*They were shining for the Lord Jesus Christ! They were shining just as the Lord told us to shine in Matthew 5:16. There Jesus said: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

*That's what the early church did, and that's what we need to do. But many churches don't. James Hewett told about a man who visited 18 different churches, trying to find out what the churches were really like.

*In every church, he was well dressed and gave the people lots of opportunity for fellowship. Then he used a scale to rate the reception he received. These are the points he awarded:

10 for a smile from a church member.

10 for a greeting from someone sitting nearby.

100 for an exchange of names.

200 for an invitation to have coffee.

200 for an invitation to come back.

1,000 for an introduction to another worshiper.

And 2,000 for an invitation to meet the pastor.

*Shockingly, 11 of the 18 churches got less than 100 points. Five of the churches got less than 20 points. (5)

*God will help us to do better than that! And we must carry on.

*The Lord wants us to keep on shining. He also wants to keep saving the lost. As vs. 47 says, they were "praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."

CONCLUSION:

*God surely wants us to carry on. -- How can we do it?

-Keep studying God's Word.

-Keep sharing with God's people.

-Keep seeking the Lord in worship.

-And keep shining for the Lord Jesus Christ.

(1) "Preaching Magazine" sermon "Don't Quit!" by Larry Overstreet - Exodus 6:1-9 - Source: Preaching.com

(2) Adapted from SermonCentral illustrations contributed by Brian La Croix and Karl Eckhoff

(3) Kent Crockett, "I Once Was Blind But Now I Squint", Chattanooga, TN - AMG Publishers, 2004 - pp. 40-41

(4) "John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible" - Acts 2:47

(5) James S. Hewett, "Illustrations Unlimited" - Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. - 1988 - pp. 94-95 - Source: SermonCentral sermon "The 10 Commandments of Fellowship" by Darrin Hunt - Romans 12:9-21

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