Summary: How do you achieve deep community and fellowship within a group of believers?
What took a small, scared group of believers and filled them with so much confidence that they eventually became the dominant religion in the Roman empire?
We are looking at the aftermath of Peter’s sermon.
On that day 3,000 believed. The church went from 120 to 3120.
A few days latter another 2,000 joined. Why?
There was spiritual power that attended the message. They were "cut to the heart" by the gospel. They then repent, experience freedom from the power of sin, and live radically obedient lives.
But there is more. We will see this week that they are changed in the way they think about others.
This belief produces changes.
These characteristics mean the Spirit has really come, that conversion has taken place.
I’ve been reading Iain Murray’s book called Heroes which is about men and women God used to bring revival to their lands and how it came out. They were all attacking nominalism (those who claimed to be Christians but showed no signs.) They preached and taught the Word.
1. Problem of Nominalism
2. Affects of being cut to the heart
3. We praise what we find beautiful
I. Problem--nominalism in the church
We have passion for our music, our sports, movies, maybe our jobs. But not really for God; not for His Word, or telling others about Him, or worship, or fellowship.
We are distracted by entertainment. We can scream our heads off at a game... We can be overcome with the beauty of Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, but not with God.
Can you say something like this?:
"God is manifested and shines forth in full glory, in beams of love; there the fountain overflows in streams and rivers of love and delight, enough for all to drink at, and to swim in, yea, so as to overflow the world as it were with a deluge of love." Jonathan Edwards
Why not? What is missing? Have we been cut to the heart?
When the early disciples understood the Gospel, radical change took place. We saw this last week. This week we see more of it.
Let’s look at more affects and ask ourselves whether we have experienced these.
II. Affects of being "cut to the heart."
A. Learning community
They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ doctrine.
Modern people don’t like doctrine and dogma. But the Apostles devoted themselves to it.
Some say, "Doctrine divides and Jesus unites." But who is Jesus? Once you try to describe Jesus, you need doctrine.
John 3:16 is full of doctrine.
Some say we are beyond doctrine. But you can’t get beyond it. To say you can’t be dogmatic is to be dogmatic.
"You must not convert people" is a dogmatic statement. You are trying to persuade me that your version is better than mine.
"You don’t need doctrine, you just need to be a good person" is the doctrine of justification by works.
We need to be devoted to the Apostles’ teaching--those taught and trained by Jesus. The Apostles bear the truth about Jesus.
(Ephesians 2:19-20) "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,"
Always go back to the Apostles’ teaching.
Jude: "This is the faith once delivered to the saints"
Signs of new life is that they are committed to doctrine. You could not keep them away. They were devoted to it.
All true revivals see an intense interest in the preached word, in learning theology, and studying doctrine.
Jonathan Edwards: "We see it common in enthusiasts, that they depreciate this written rule and set up the light (read: experience) within or some other rule above it."
Wesley’s and Whitfield’s "bands." He gave two hour sermons, and they followed Whitefield around from place to place. They were hungry for the Word; they could not get enough.
It was not the sensational doctrines that people were after, they were hungry for sermons on the holiness of God, sin, salvation, justification, and sanctification: the great glorious doctrines of grace found in Scripture.
B. Loving Church
Who are these people that came together?
They had great awe; a sense of God’s presence. People were in Jerusalem from all over the world.
(2:8-11) "And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians--we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God."
Radically different people of race and culture were coming together.
But we as Americans are divided.