Summary: Great expectations for God's Church: 1. Expect new strength (vs. 32). 2. Expect new support (vs. 33-34). 3. Expect new service (vs. 35-36; 39-41). 4. Expect new starts (vs. 37-39). 5. Expect new struggles (vs. 37-40). 6. Expect new success (vs. 37-41).
Great Expectations for God's Church
The Book of Acts - Part 51
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - August 3, 2014
"Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God." You've probably heard that quote before. It's one of my favorites. Mary cross-stitched it for me years ago, and it's hanging on the wall in my office.
"Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God." William Carey said that in a sermon in Nottingham, England on May 31st, 1792. Then he lived it for over 40 years as the father of modern missions in India.
*What are you expecting for our church? What should we expect the Lord to do here? Let's look at the early church to find some great expectations for our church.
1. First of all, expect new strength.
*Church, we can find new strength! We can find the kind of strength we see in vs. 32, where the prophets Judas and Silas "exhorted the brethren with many words and strengthened them."
*The KJV says they "confirmed" them. Some Protestant churches offer formal "confirmation classes" to children when they turn 12. I went through classes like in the Presbyterian Church we attended back in Georgia. But the word "confirmed" in vs. 32 isn't talking about anything like that. The original word here simply means "support, establish, strengthen."
*It reminds us that God will give us all the strength we need! And we need it! David White compared us to weightlifters and said, "The weight lifter who regularly picks up 500 pounds cannot pick up his own 250 pounds. You cannot lift yourself. That's true both physically and spiritually." (1)
*We need strength from above. And there is a lifetime supply of strength for us here in the Word of God. But we have to seek His strength. Most every Christian knows this but knowing it is not enough. We actually have to do it. We have to seek God's strength.
*James Wilson put it this way: "If you ask the young children in our Sunday School, 'How can I be a better Christian?' They are likely to respond, 'Go to church, read your Bible, and pray.' Even the youngest among us know the value of doing these things." Yet, he says, "Every week there are empty pews at the church, and dusty, unread Bibles in our homes." (2)
*There is a lifetime supply of new strength for us in the Word of God. And when we seek it, we can expect new strength.
2. We can also expect new support.
*In vs. 32-34, Silas stayed in Antioch to give more support to the church:
32. Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted the brethren with many words and strengthened them.
33. And after they had stayed there for a time, they were sent back with greetings from the brethren to the apostles.
34. However, it seemed good to Silas to remain there.
*Silas was a great guy. Back in vs. 22, the Jerusalem church sent Silas to Antioch. They trusted him to help clear up the terrible confusion about salvation that the legalists had created. Those false teachers claimed that you had to be circumcised and keep the Old Testament religious laws in order to be saved.
*But the truth of God's salvation is summed up in Ephesians 2:8-9. There Paul tells all Christians:
8. . . by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
9. not of works, lest anyone should boast.
*Silas was sent to Antioch to help clear up the confusion about how we are saved. And the Jerusalem church chose him, because as vs. 22 says, Silas was one of the "leading men" in that church. Then in vs. 32, Silas helped strengthen the church in Antioch. And when Paul needed a new partner, in vs. 40 Silas stepped up to help.
*God sent Silas to help with His church. And He will give us new partners too. I cannot begin to count all the people God has sent into my life to bless me. Just one example is a guy named Richard Mencer. In the mid-1990's Rich owned a kiosk Christian Bookstore at the mall in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He also served on staff in a church up there.
*I got to know Richard through his in-laws at Emmanuel Baptist Church. In early 1997, I was going through one of the lowest points in my ministry. Looking back, I can't even remember why, but I was really discouraged. Then one day Richard called out of the blue. He told me he was going on a mission trip to Ukraine that summer with David Guinn. He said they needed another pastor to go with them, that they had prayed about it, and felt like the Lord was leading them to ask me. Then he told me he had shared all of this with the city-wide singles group he was leading, and they had volunteered to pay the $3,000 cost for the trip. I couldn't believe it!