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Summary: Why was this early church SO powerful? It had discovered it could help its members not stop with HAVING faith, but fortifying their faith! What could this focus do for you? *HANDOUT INCLUDED*

Let me ask you: Why is the church here? (By ‘the church’, I don’t mean this building, I mean the group of people that makes up the church.) I’m looking for your feedback – *DON’T RESPOND if you’ve attended this church for over 1 year.*

Don’t you wish you belonged to a church like that?

- A church that reached out to everyone, of every race and background, and let them know that God loves them, and Jesus died for them?

- A church that ministered to the needy, hurting, addicted, divorced, and lonely.

- A church where you could come and hear clear, interesting Bible teaching that applied to your life.

- A church where you knew you were getting closer to God.

- A church where you just could SENSE God’s presence as we worshipped Him.

WELL, many years ago, there was such a church. This was a church where they were literally seeing new people saved daily. (That’s at least 365 people a year!)

Let’s read about this church in Acts 2.

Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

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,

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

(NKJV)

WOW. . .what a group of people!

What made this church so powerful? Let’s look a little closer:

This church was powerful because they had discovered the secret to being a church that functions the way God intended. I want to share that secret with you. This church discovered that it could help it’s members do 5 things:

1. Fortify their faith. (Discipleship)

“They continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine...”

2. Find their talents. (Ministry)

“[They] sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.”

3. Focus on God. (Worship)

“Continuing daily with one accord in the temple. . . praising God. . .”

4. Face life’s problems. (Fellowship)

“Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common. . . and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.”

5. Fulfill their mission. (Evangelism)

“...having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

This month, I’m starting a new series where I share with you the dreams God has given me for this church. *ESPECIALLY on Thanksgiving Sunday, I’m going to be sharing a special sermon on the vision for this church. If you want to know where this church is headed, you won’t want to miss that Sunday!

In short, I want this church to become exactly what that early church was: A biblically functioning community.

In other words, a church that works just like God intended.

I believe that the secret to this is found in doing the five things that I just shared with you: They are the 5 Purposes of the Church - - the 5 Reasons God put us here.

We can do all sorts of fancy stuff. . .

we can have huge church buildings. . .

We can spend millions of dollars each year. . .

But if we fail to be a community of Christians that works together just like God intended, we’ll never have a great church.

Let’s examine the first couple purposes this morning:

OUR CHURCH EXISTS TO: Fortify your faith.

We call this purpose “Disipleship”. Being a disciple is simply being a follower of Jesus, being a learner from Jesus.

When we choose to follow Jesus, that’s only the beginning! We can either have a strong faith, or a weak one. We can have one that will hold us through the tough times, or let us down when things get hard.

Listen to this verse describing what we are to do:

2 Peter 3:18 “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

GRACE and KNOWLEDGE.

When you begin to build your faith, and learn more about who God is and what He is like, and more about His Word, it will change the way you think. It will give you a new PERSPECTIVE.

Perspective is very important. It means the way you look at things. I remember going to the Cincinnati Zoo when I lived there. They had a huge ant display, and a bee display. Both were behind large panes of glass so you could see the ants and bees working inside the hive and in the dirt. They also had a tiny camera hidden in both, projected to a large screen on the wall, so you could see the insects REALLY close. . . I’ll be honest with you. If you looked at the screen, you’d see nothing but chaos. The bees were climbing over top of each other, and the ants just appeared to be running for the sake of running.

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