Summary: Sermon examines the life style of the early church to learn principles for Spirit-filled living.
Life-styles of the Revived & Fervent in Spirit
There used to be a series on TV entitled “Life-styles of the Rich & Famous”. Each week they would give the viewer a candid glimpse of how some celebrity lives. They would show all their expensive clothes and cars. They would give a video walk-through of their plush home. I was amazed at how many things I saw that I didn’t even realize I wanted until I watched the show. Not only was it entertaining but it made you want to be rich. The desires it provoked were very worldly in nature.
This morning I want to provoke desires in you that are motivated toward the presence and glory of God. We want to look at the life-styles of the Revived and Fervent in Spirit. A good place to begin would be Act 2. That chapter is filled with the excitement of revival.
There are the 120 united in prayer, waiting upon the Lord as He had told them to do. When the Day of Pentecost arrived, suddenly a sound like the rushing of a mighty wind filled the house. The fire of the Holy Spirit descended upon each of them and they all began speaking in tongues as the Spirit gave utterance. In a moment’s time those people were thrust into revival and wonderful things started happening. Signs and wonders occurred and thousands were saved.
What prepared these people for such an awesome outpouring of the Holy Spirit? What were their lives like during that powerful move of God? What would our lives be like if we suddenly found ourselves in revival? What life-style changes might we expect if we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a move of God?
We can get some idea of that by looking into Acts 2:42. Here God has chosen to give us a glimpse into their daily lives. Here we discover how they spent their time. Here we find four key activities of the Revived & Fervent in Spirit. Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Let’s take a tour of each one of these activities:
1. What does it mean to devote oneself to the apostle’s teaching?
What was the apostle’s teaching? It was founded upon the Old Testament scripture. The early church preached out of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. That revelation formed the bedrock for all their doctrine. From that foundation they taught the sayings and stories about Jesus. There was special emphasis on His death and resurrection because everything in Jesus’ life led up to that monumental event. The apostles also gave instruction for godly living under the New Covenant. Our New Testament is a reflection of the apostle’s teaching as they wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. You might say these people devoted themselves to the Word of God.
They were doing exactly what Jesus told us to do in the Great Commission. Matt 28:19-20 Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you...” Teaching is an essential part of God’s program for people’s lives—“teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”. I was saved in a Pentecostal culture that had little real appreciation for the apostle’s doctrine—very little emphasis on teaching. What we wanted to do was feel good! Everything was geared toward that and we did have some exciting services. Prayer was emphasized and I did benefit from what I received in that context.
But something very essential was missing. We were not being established in sound biblical teaching. Certain pet doctrines were constantly taught to the neglect of many others. I learned a lot about the importance of teaching by simply observing the results of that neglect. What happened to those people? The majority of them fell away from God—and great was the fall of most of them. Why was the casualty rate so high? They were not established in truth. Their understanding was very deficient in some essential areas. Once the feeling subsided, they fell away like flies. It convinced me that devoting ourselves to the Apostle’s doctrine or teaching is essential. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God.” The sustenance of our lives is found in the word of the Lord. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:11, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
This emphasis on teaching is prevalent all through the book of Acts.
Acts 15:35 35 Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. (NKJV) When revival broke out in Corinth Acts 18:11 tells us Paul, “...continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.” (NKJV) The book of Acts closes with these words: Acts 28:30-31