Summary: A look at the Early Church in Acts as the pattern for what makes a truly "great" church today.
Looking For A Great Church
Text: Acts 4:23-33
Today, many people are searching for a great church. A great Church in the minds of many means that it is a church that has many programs and ministries that cover all ages. A great church also means having an upbeat, updated music ministry with a dynamic worship team having instrumentalists and good vocalists. A great church to many means having a spacious state of the art facility that is attractive and pleasing to the eye. A great church to many means having a dynamic pastor that can preach a good message, and a congregation of people that are outgoing, warm and friendly to first time guests. To some, a great church also means having a coffee or café area where they can gather and fellowship over a hot cup of java or cappucino.
Yes, many people are seeking out a “great church” with all or many of these features.
Did you know that God is seeking out and looking for a great church? The eyes of the Lord roam throughout our land looking for a great church. But the great church that He seeks is not one that necessarily has coffee, or state of the art, contemporary facilities, or an enormous worship team with a full scale choir and orchestra, tons of programs or even a world renown preacher.
In His eyes, the church that is great is the church that humbly and wholly acknowledges their need of Him, their dependence on His Spirit and will seek His awesome face and His mighty hand. The “great church” comes not by the works and doing of man—but is brought about by the Spirit of the Living God—and is powerfully seeing lives reached and changed by the life-changing Gospel and power of Jesus.
In Acts 4, we see a powerful example of the “great church”. This Church was great in the things of God because God was in their midst. It is my absolute conviction by the Scriptures that the “greatness” of the Acts 4 church is the same “greatness” that God would have for the 21st century church.
In this passage we will see what we desperately need if we are going to be a great church for the Kingdom of God:
1. The foundation and strength of a great Church is great prayer. (verse 31)
Verse 31 “And when they had prayed…”
The apostles endured persecution for preaching and ministering in the name of Jesus Christ. The religious Jewish leaders had threatened them and told them not to speak in His name.
When the apostles came back to be with the saints, what did they do?
Notice they did not call for a board meeting or call for a business session to talk, discuss and brainstorm a plan on how to handle the threats.
They did not ask for man’s advice.
In the midst of hardship—the Church went to prayer.
Look at verse 24 “So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord…”
The Church knew that in order to persevere and stand firm against the onslaught of their enemies, they needed to approach the throne of God in prayer.
WE WOULD DO WELL TO TAKE HEED TO THEIR EXAMPLE AND FOLLOW ACCORDINGLY!!!
For we too have the same ultimate enemy, satan and his hosts of demons, that want nothing less than the Church torn and destroyed.
Our enemy comes against us with power and vicious force—and the Church needs the divine, heavenly, supernatural power of God in its midst if we are going to stand firm, move forward in the Kingdom and wage war against the forces of darkness.
The early church was great because they were a church of prayer.
It is through prayer that the awesome Presence, grace and power of God is experienced and where battles are won.
If we are going to be a great Church that will see the Spirit of God move and see lives turned from darkness to light and from death to life and discipled in Christ—then we must be a church of great prayer---Heaven- empowered, hell –shaking, wonder-working prayer.
The Lord Jesus will build His church whenever His people will seek Him and call out to Him in prayer.
Without fervent, Spirit-empowered prayer in this place—we will grow spiritually ill and eventually die. MAY WE COMMIT TO BE A PEOPLE OF PREVAILING PRAYER IN CHRIST’S NAME!!!!
2. A great Church needs a great shaking by the Presence of the Holy Spirit (verse 31).
Verse 31 “…the place where they were assembled together was shaken…”
It is obvious from these words that the Church experienced a powerful move of God in that place.
As theologian Stanley Horton comments: “After they prayed the place where they were gathered was shaken (by the Spirit, not an earthquake), indicating a mighty move of God”.