Summary: The final miracle of the Holy Spirit on that day of Pentecost was the birth of the church. You may wonder why I call that a miracle. It is because I know human nature. Next to the transformation of persons, the second greatest miracle is oneness or un
INGREDIENTS OF A HEALTHY CHURCH
The final miracle of the Holy Spirit on that day of Pentecost was the birth of the church. You may wonder why I call that a miracle. It is because I know human nature. Next to the transformation of persons, the second greatest miracle is oneness or unity with others who have been transformed.
The best of human relationships, apart from the Holy Spirit, are based on the exchange of human needs...interests...causes...or fears. We do not just naturally live in close, harmonious, giving, and forgiving relationships.
Unless there is something we either need to get or need to provide, we are not drawn into either friendship or partnership. Without the Holy Spirit, we use people or are used by them depending on our dominant or subservient personality.
Loneliness drives people into one place, but that does not mean they are "together", really. We are basically selfish people.
But when the living Christ sets us free, we are able to participate in His purpose for His people...that they become one - one with Him and one with each other.
When He performs the miracle of His love in us, it is then that a character transformation begins which makes it possible for us to love unselfishly. The church as it was meant to be is made up of those people.
It was made up of 3,120 people who had come to a sure knowledge of salvation through Christ's death and resurrection...and had received His living presence - the Holy Spirit...and they were one!
Arguing theology or judging who was an inside-outsider or an outside-insider came later, sad to say...but these newly filled believers on Pentecost night were sure of who they were because they were sure of Christ.
In those first days they were in a state of infancy, but also in the state of its greatest innocence. What were the ingredients of the early church that made it the standard for us today?
This morning I want to show you, briefly, the four ingredients of a healthy church and also the life that is possible if we'll follow the formula set by that early church.
1. Teaching. The events on the day of Pentecost were such that Peter had to get up and give an explanation of what took place. From the very beginning a Scriptural foundation was laid for that mighty outpouring of the Spirit.
And it didn't end there. The apostle's continued daily to teach, guided by the Holy Spirit. There were 7 basic themes taught:
1. The promises of God in O.T. are fulfilled in Christ
2. Jesus' earthly ministry was verified by the miraculous power of God
* 3. Christ was crucified and raised from the dead ...of which they were witnesses. There was an emphasis on the resurrection!
4. Jesus was exalted as both Lord and Christ (resurrection. proves this)
5. He sent His Holy Spirit to form and energize the church
6. Christ will come again for judgment and restoration
7. All who hear this message must repent and be baptized...thereby receiving forgiveness and the promise of the Holy Spirit
This is what the apostles would daily teach and preach about. Now how does that compare with most of the teaching and preaching that goes on today?
We've all heard many men who become quite well known...men who really draw the crowds...but who draw the same comments from people after the service: Wasn't he great...he was so funny...etc. So many personal illustrations...amusing stories about things that happened to him...
And don't get me wrong, I really believe that a humorous story or illustration can really help to make a point...and I do that on occasion. But far too many preachers are becoming stand-up comics.
There is far too little preaching that is Christ centered. But that is what the early church was. A Christ-centered church is a biblical church. And the Lord guided these believers in the study and preaching of the Word.
2. Fellowship. [Christianese for pigging out] In this case fellowship can properly be translated "partnership." They devoted themselves to being in partnership with one another.
If you want to choose a partner for a business, you look for someone who has the same basic ideas and goals as you. He may have certain gifts and talents that are different from yours, but at the same time will complement yours and work toward the common goal.
This was a key to the success of the early church...they were in partnership...uniting themselves because they shared a common bond and their ultimate purpose was also the same - to be witnesses...
The Bible says they will know we are Christians by our love...these were believers who were deeply concerned for one another.
READ v. 44-45
This doesn't mean they lived in a commune and put all their stuff in a big "kitty" to be used when anyone had a need. It means that when there was a need among them they would do what they had to do to meet that need...