Committed to the Gospel (Acts 2:42-47)

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In early February of this year, a blog post appeared on the Museum of English Rural Life's website about an antique mousetrap displayed in their museum, which proved that it may be old, but it's not obsolete. The 155-year-old contraption was recently found with an unfortunate mouse trapped inside!
The trap, first patented in 1861, has rusted, warped metal bars and a faded label that reads "Perpetual Mouse Trap," aptly adding that it "will last a lifetime." Apparently it's capable of lasting even longer than that. It is timelessly effective. (
Many people today think of the church, and the Christian way of life, as relics of the past. Just because something has been around a long time doesn’t mean it’s obsolete! You'll hear the argument that the Bible, which contains the great gospel message of how Jesus saves you, is not relevant today.
The Gospel is ancient, reaching back to God's determination to save the world through Christ before the foundations of the earth were ever formed, but that doesn’t mean it is irrelevant to us today.
The Gospel continues to deliver sinners from the penalty and the power of sin.  As Jesus promised, "be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."” (Matthew 28:20). The gospel is timelessly effective.
V.42 tells us that the early church was devoted to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship
DEVOTED: προσκαρτερέω proskarteréō : to persist in something; busy oneself with, be busily engaged in, be devoted to (William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 881.)
They persisted in the Apostles' Teaching. What was this exactly?
When Jesus was on earth before His resurrection, he was teaching the apostles and all people about the kingdom of God that was then at hand.
When Jesus was on earth for 40 days after His ressurection, “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3, ESV) Even then, Jesus was teaching about the kingdom of God.
Jesus also affirmed the OT Scripture when He taught.
After Jesus' ascension to heaven, the Apostle's were teaching what Jesus had taught them. Their teaching would have included Jesus' resurrection, the Old Testament Scriptures, and what Jesus taught when he was on earth.
One of the best examples of this is found immediately before our passage-- Peter's sermon in Acts 2:14-39. This sermon was aggresive. "This Jesus... You crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men." And it was a summary of the OT--God's work through Jesus the Messiah and how that applied to them at the moment.
We would say that the church was devoted to the gospel. Gospel is one of those words that is used frequently in the church and most people have an idea of what is meant, but it's hard to come by one solid definition--there are many ways to define it. Trevin Wax has compiled a list of definitions of gospel from historical and modern pastors/theologians -->
The term gospel is found just under 100 times in the NT.
Gospel is the translation of the Greek noun euangelion, literally meaning “good news".
Very simply, the gospel is the Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ, which ecompasses the teaching of the entire Bible, OT & NT.
Ed Stetzer gives this longer definition of the gospel: "The gospel is the good news that God, who is more holy than we can imagine, looked upon with compassion, people, who are more sinful than we would possibly admit, and sent Jesus into history to establish His Kingdom and reconcile people and the world to himself. Jesus, whose love is more extravagant than we can measure, came to sacrificially die for us so that, by His death and resurrection, we might gain through His grace what the Bible defines as new and eternal life." (Ed Stetzer,
The apostle's teaching, the gospel, is recorded throughout the rest of the NT and the church was devoted to it. They persisted in it.
And churches today must persist in proclaiming the gospel. We started this series of messages titled "Committed Church" last week, looking at how we should function in order to glorify God. Last week, we saw that we are to be committed to the fellowship, and this week we will see why we should be committed to the gospel.
If you don't know Jesus as Savior or if you've been walking with Him for 50 years, this message is just as important to both of you.
I hope you hear that we should be committed to the gospel for at least 2 reasons: 1) the gospel saves you; 2) the gospel sustains you.
It's easy to think of reasons why we shouldn't persist in the gospel: 1) it hurts our pride because it reveals our sin; 2) it's challenging to understand at times and requires study; 3) our culture looks down on it and considers it intellectually inferior; 4) it requires time, which is wrongly so easily given over to other priorities.
All of this would have been true of the early church too--maybe with added persecution!
This might be countercultural today, but it's what we need: I'm encouraging us this morning to be committed to the gospel. Let me explain the first reason why:


Romans 10:13–17 (ESV) 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
It is so important that we are all preaching the gospel message! At some point in every Christian's life, they heard the gospel message proclaimed and they responded in faith.
It might be as a child, like me, when I heard that message and realizes for the first time that it was for me.
It might be as an old man who the Lord softens his heart to be able to respond.
It might be an exact moment you can remember or it could be something that sort of progressed with multiple hearings of the gospel in different ways, and you know that at some point you trusted Christ and it is evident in your life.
Whenever it happened, it happened because you heard that gospel message of Jesus. We need to be committed to the gospel because the Gospel saves you. Let me point out 2 things here:

The Gospel Saves By Revealing Righteousness

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”” (Romans 1:16–17, ESV)
Paul tells us how the gospel saves us: it reveals the rightousness of Christ. It is the power of God for salvation...for in it the righteousness of God is revealed.
A person's greatest need is righteousness because sinners aren't right with God. We can muster up morals, but we can't create righteousness. Only trusting in Jesus Christ can make you right with God because Jesus imputes His righteousness to us when we trust Him for salvation.
This is what is called triple imputation. Impute= to ascribe or attribute something.
Adam's sin to us. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—” (Romans 5:12, ESV)
Our sin to Jesus. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24, ESV) “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, ESV) “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13–14, ESV)
Jesus' Righteousness to Us. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV)
That's the gospel message--it's understanding the bad news that you are a sinner in need of a savior, and then accepting the good news--Jesus Christ died in your place, took the punishment for your sin, and is the only hope you have to spend eternity with God.
If God asked you why He should let you in to heaven, what would you say? The only acceptable answer is "you shouldn't. But I believe in Jesus Christ and by grace, his blood has covered my sin and through faith, has allowed me into your perfect presense. Without the righteousness of Christ, we can not dwell in the perfect presence of God.
Church: we must keep the gospel a priority. The message of sinners needing a Savior is getting less and less popular.
I stole this from a FB post I saw from one of you this past week. It's attributed to a guy named Ron Smith, who I don't know who he is, but it wouldn't matter--it's a good quote. "There was a time when people went to Church, heard the truth, and wept over their sins. Today people go to church, hear motivational speech, and ignore their sins."
We must know our sinful condition, and we must accept the solution. The Gospel saves you by revealing righteousness. The second thing I want us to see about the gospel saving us is that...

It Transforms You

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)
When we're saved, our hearts are regenerated. That's a big word to say that there was an inner change in us. Definitions:
Regeneration is the concept of new birth, the beginning of the process of the inner re-creation of a person’s fallen nature through the activity of the Holy Spirit. (William A. Simmons, “Regeneration,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).)
The transformation of a person’s spiritual condition from death to life through the work of the Holy Spirit. (Kirk R. MacGregor, “Regeneration,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).)
Regeneration is that act of God by which the principle of the new life is implanted in man, and the governing disposition of the soul is made holy. (Alan Cairns, Dictionary of Theological Terms (Belfast; Greenville, SC: Ambassador Emerald International, 2002), 375.)
When someone is genuinely saved, they are made a new person. The Holy Spirit now dwells in that person and helps continually shape that person into becoming more like Christ. This is the only way someone will genuinely change to break through the sinful ways that have plagued them.
Alcoholics can become sober.
Addicts can become clean.
Liars can make a habit of speaking the truth.
Angry people can learn to love again.
So many other examples could be given. But let's be clear that the gospel saves you and it saves you at the innermost level--salvation in Jesus is not superficial!
There's something so interesting at the end of Peter's sermon in Acts 2:41. “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:41, ESV)
Notoce the word at the end--souls. The Greek word is clearly "soul" there, referring to the internal part of a person. Those who received Peter's word, the gospel message proclaimed, were baptized and that day were added 3K souls. Not person. Not church member. Not volunteer. SOUL.
When you're saved, there is an internal change which will begin to manifest itself externally. The gospel reveals righteousness and the gospel transforms you.
The gospel saves you! And here's where many people stop. Many right now even might be thinking they've heard everything that has been said. They already know that. Stop wasting our time. The early church could have thought that too. Once they heard it, they could have put it away and gone back to what they normally did without anything else. But they were devoted to the teaching. They persisted in it. And we all must persist in the gospel because the gospel that saves you is the same gospel that sustains you.

The Gospel SUSTAINS You

It elevates you above your circumstances

Positive and negative circumstances can hinder us from allowing the gospel to sustain us. Let's start by talking about positive experiences-- look back at the beginning of chapter 2--Pentecost. This was an incredible experience for the new believers!
Acts: An Expositional Commentary A Learning, Studying Church

It could have been a temptation for the early believers to look back to Pentecost and focus on the past. They might have remembered the way the Holy Spirit came and how he used them to speak so that those in Jerusalem each heard them in his or her own language. They might have longed to experience something like that again. They might have been praying, “Please, Lord, do something miraculous again.” This is not what we find. They are not revelling in their past experiences. Instead, we find them revelling in the Word of God.

They are not revelling in their past experiences. Instead, we find them revelling in the Word of God. Right after the record of Pentecost, Luke records Pater's sermon there, and then he summarizes what the early church prioritized. The first thing on that list is not emotions or experiences or circumstances. They were devoted to the apostles' teaching.
They weren't saved for that experience. They were saved to glorify God through obedience to His mission. The way they became part of the family of God was through their salvation, which came through the gospel message, not some experience. So it would make sense that if they want further experiences with God, they need to continue to understand His Word.
The danger: if we remove Scripture, we'll forget who we are and how we are to function.
It should be alarming how many churches are shying away from the Bible. Becoming less of a church and more of a club. The very thing which brought them into existence becomes hidden, possibly for the reason of not offending anyone.
Just as we need to focus on the gospel, not just the positive experiences, to sustain us in our Christian walk, we need to the gospel to sustain us through the tough circumstances. The gospel which brought you life is the gospel that will keep you holding on to life.
You need to stay committed to the gospel because it will guide you and fill you with hope when you have to deal with difficulty.
When you go through that miscarriage.
When you lose that job.
When you're fighting with your spouse.
When you're health is going downhill.
When you're tempted to sin.
You need the gospel to sustain you! Colossians 2:6–7 (ESV) 6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Do you see the past tense--received Jesus; you were taught... Paul encourged the believers not to let it stop there. We are to keep walking. The circumstances you face might tempt you to separate yourself from the gospel. The overwhelming circumstances might tempt you to think you don't have time to spend consulting God's Word. But you need it even then. You need the gospel to sustain you! To help you through that time and keep your focus on the Lord. We need God's Word even in difficult times.
The LA Times ran an article in July 2002 about religious book sales surging after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in NYC. From that article: "
Bible sales surged after Sept. 11 and still are going strong, up 20% or more from a year ago.
"Any time there are world events that shake our faith, people turn to the Bible for answers," said Mark Rice of Zondervan, a subsidiary of book publisher Harper Collins.
"It's ... the magnitude of sales--that's what has been surprising."
In the last year, Zondervan sold more than 2 million Bibles; $1 million worth of stock was shipped out shortly after the attacks on New York and the Pentagon. Within weeks, the company was temporarily out of copies of the best-selling book of all time.
"An event like Sept. 11 is an opportunity," Rice said. "As a publisher with a mission like ours, you have to take advantage of that opportunity. If we can get Bibles in the hands of people who need them, we have to take advantage of that." (
The gospel elevates us above circumstances. That message of salvation helped us become a new creation, and we need that same gospel to keep us living like that new creation. In the same way of thinking, my last point here is that the gospel guards us from unsound doctrine.

The Gospel Guards From Unsound Doctrine

I don't need to try to convince you that there are so many teachings out there that undermine the teachings of Scripture. And the early church even shows us how easy it can be to get caught up in false teaching. Listen to Paul's words in Galatians 1:6-12:
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. 11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
Paul could have been writing that today! We know that so many teachings will distract us from the truth of Scripture and will rob us of the joy that comes with obeying God's Word. If we leave the gospel message as something we heard and maybe even believed in some time ago, we will be so much more prone to man-made ideology that will distort the truth.
That's why the church cannot allow the place of the Bible to slip away from being the priority. If God's Word is not the priority, then a church will just become an organization of people-pleasing endeavors. It will go from being "God-said" to being "I think..."
if we remove Scripture, we'll forget who we are and how we are to function.
I hope you will personally be committed to the gospel. It will save you; it will sustain you.
Our church will stay committed to the gospel. It will be proclaimed and lives will be transformed. It will be proclaimed and lives will be sustained as we strive for holiness.
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