Summary: This series examines the life and continuing mission of the church after the resurrection of Jesus. And reminds us that there is work to be done!
(I started with a dram about 2 people Jan and John who had become disillusioned about the church.)
In the book of Acts the church emerges and enters the world in a powerful way. But somehow, over the years something has changed. Like Jan and John’s relationship the church has lost it’s passion. Our love and devotion have diminished. We are a shadow of the church we see in Acts 2.
What saddens me about that is that I believe the church has the message that can transform the human heart!
It is the message of the love of Jesus…
• The love that conquers sin and wipes out shame…
• And heals wounds and reconciles enemies…
• And patches broken dreams and restores ruined lives…
• And ultimately changes the world, one life at a time.
This radical message of transforming love has been given to the church! The hope of the world, rests in the hands of local congregations like ours.
How can we release this life-transforming message?
The same way the 1st century church did. There was something attractive about the church in Acts 2. Contrast and compare…
“They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching, and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (slide) Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. (slide) Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. (slide) They broke bread in their homes, and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God, and enjoying the favor of all the people. (slide) And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
1. (slide) They were common people with an uncommon spirit.
• They shared everything, They loved each other
• They had everything in common
• Prayed together on a regular basis.
• Hung out together, Had good reputation.
The bottom line: They valued each other!
Because they recognized that God lived in them. And they treated each other like they were temples of the living God!
Illus. Ark of the Covenant. (slide) Celebrated God in a box!
Recognized that the presence and power of God inside!
God is in us! Look at person next to you…God is in them!
We are the new Ark of the Covenant! God in us!
Just as there were rules for how people were to handle the Ark,
God’s word is filled with instructions about how we are to treat each other. We are Holy and should not mistreat each other. When we do, it makes God angry.
The early church loved and valued each other; that was an uncommon way of seeing others. They truly loved each other.
2. (slide) They were scattered, but they were united.
Imagine gang members and drug dealers, racists and sex offenders being transformed by the gospel. Imagine politicians, judges and other influential leaders taking stands based on the Word of God. Imagine hundreds/thousands of people being saved in a single church service!
It all happened in the early church. And it can happen again.
See, the early church was a dynamic, growing church that turned the world upside down!
And they didn’t have a nice building, Sunday School rooms, fellowship hall, PowerPoint, sound system…
The early church didn’t meet in a church building like we do. They didn’t have a place where each and every person gathered together once a week.
They met in houses. They ate and shared and prayed and worshipped in small groups, in homes. (breaking bread: entire meal. Slaves and free sat at table as equals.)
They were scattered physically, but they were united spiritually!
Look at verse 42: (slide)
“They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teachings, and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
They were untied because they were all devoted to the things that mattered! (slide)
• They were devoted to learning and doing God’s will!
Have you ever gone to a car show?
Illus. Carlisle PA. Some guys are Chevy guys, some like Ford, others are into Pontiacs, or Oldsmobile or whatever. But when you get to a car show people are talking with each other, “ooh” and “ahh” over cars and engines… Why?
Because they share a like passion. Devoted to the same thing!
When we are devoted to learning and living the Word of God it will draw us together!
It gives us a purpose together. It helps us see progress.
It enables us to help others who are not as far down the road as we are, and to look ahead with admiration and assistance to those who are further along than we are.