Summary: Four attributes that contributed to the success of the early church that can be applied to the church of today.
In a Peanuts cartoon, Lucy demands that Linus change TV channels and then threatens him with her fist if he doesn’t.
"What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?" asks Linus.
"These five fingers," says Lucy. "Individually they are nothing, but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold."
"What channel do you want?" asks Linus.
Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, "Why can’t you guys get organized like that?"
1. Introduction – The Organization of a VIBRANT CHURCH
A. Organized; Edified; Unified and Evangelized. Four words that summarize the beginnings of the church as recorded in the book of Acts. But what made it so powerful?
01. Maybe it was the incredible beginning it had
02. Maybe it was the sermon Peter preached at Pentecost
03. Maybe it was the size of the church
04. Maybe it was the way it was intended to be
B. Christ loves His church. He also has expectations of it.
01. He wants us to organize
02. He wants us to grow in our knowledge of Him
03. He wants us to work together
04. He wants us to be strong in our community
C. We have a wonderful opportunity here at Fontana; an opportunity to be a VIBRANT CHURCH, just like the one we read about in our text this morning (turn to Acts 2: 40-47)
01. We are in a time of transition; a new pastor, a new year
02. This is an opportunity to establish our VISION for the future (short and long-term)
03. As we look ahead, we can learn much from the success of the early church that we can apply to our own experience
04. This morning we will look at four characteristics of their success, and how God worked among them to spread the Gospel message everywhere
2. Characteristics of a Vital Church
A. THEY RESPOND TO THE MESSAGE (vv. 36-41)
01. No one would remember Peter’s sermon at Pentecost were it not for the incredible response it generated
a) His testimony was convincing…he knew his message was accurate and credit-worthy, and he shared it with conviction
b) Yet nothing happens until people respond – thousands of them!
(1) Remember, 3000 did not include women
02. There are people who die every day without a Savior. Doomed to eternal separation from God in a place so terrible that He sent His son to die that we might avoid it.
a) When I say it that way, it’s hard to imagine anyone not responding
b) Yet millions die this way every year; some because they choose not to respond, others because they haven’t heard the Gospel
03. The VITAL CHURCH is made up of people who chose to respond; but it cannot grow without the continued response of others
B. THEY MATURED SPIRITUALLY (vv. 42-43)
01. Continued steadfastly… use of an adverb to describe how they continued
a) Greek pros-kar-ter-eh’-o; Pros: to the advantage of; Kar-ter-eh’-o: steadfastness
(1) never relaxing, unrelenting as if in a quest, incessant
02. …in the Apostles’ teaching; the Word of God
a) They stayed in the word daily; filtered everything through the teachings of Christians
(1) Imagine what our lives will be like with a world view like that!
(2) Everything we hear, read or receive report of is first compared to God’s Word
b) Minister’s seminars (Monday nights); encouraged to begin a spiritual journal (what I’m feeling today)
(1) As a result of my time in the word; prayer time; challenges and conquests
03. Did they see results? See verse 43!
C. THEY GREW IN LOVE AND HARMONY (vv. 44-46)
01. United in a common cause; they sold their possessions and met needs as they arose
a) Not a cult-like act of foolishness, but in sincere concern for others, in anticipation of the return of Christ
02. Breaking bread – they enjoyed the fellowship and company of each other
a) Strengthened their love and understanding of each other; allowed them to be stronger corporately; building a team of evangelists and disciples
(1) Strong relationships hold together in good times and bad times, as the church of Jesus Christ would face within thirty years under Nero
03. They could not show love outside the church until they loved those in the church!
D. THEY REACHED OUT TO OTHERS (v. 47)
01. The first three have little impact without this one
02. A VIBRANT CHURCH must reach out to the lost in order to “add to the church those who are being saved”
a) Look at the results God brings to their commitment
(1) Not because they want it, because they are active in their pursuit of it
(2) Committed to the spread of the Gospel; one at a time or thousands