Summary: A sermon detailed why the NT church grew and what we can do to grow too.
“Multiplying By Addition or How Churches Grow”
Act 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
I’ve been a minister now for better than 39 years and one of the main focuses of my life during that time, the thing that has occupied my thoughts, hopes and dreams has been the growth of the church. During that time I have had the opportunity to hear about every kind of church growth program and plan available. I’ve given it a great deal of consideration and I’ve come to the conclusion that they all have certain things in common. They may differ in methodology but they are similar in several areas.
ILL - Jawanza Kunjufu, who has written a book concerning black churches in America, says that only 10 to 20% of churches are empowering people to be bold witnesses for Jesus Christ. According to him, the other 80-90% of American churches fall into the entertainment or containment, just keeping their doors open on Sunday, categories.
One reason for this is that in many churches, whether black & white, man-made opinions & traditions that have been handed down over the years are held in higher esteem than the Holy Scriptures handed down by God.
ILL - Dr. Terry Teykl, in his book, "Acts 29," writes this challenge to us all: "Imagine gang members, drug dealers, racists & sex offenders being transformed by the Gospel. Imagine politicians, judges & other influential leaders taking stands based on the word of God. Imagine hundreds & even thousands of people being saved in a single church service! Imagine the unimaginable." Then he goes on to say, "It all happened in the pages of Acts, & it can happen again if you are willing to pay the price." He’s right! The early church, as recorded in the Book of Acts, was a dynamic, growing church that turned the world of its day upside down! In spite of incredible opposition & terrible persecution - first from the Jewish authorities & then from the might of the Roman Empire itself - the church began & grew so dynamically that within 300 years the Roman Empire had surrendered to the gospel of Christ, & the emperor himself had become a Christian, too.
How was this possible? Why did it happen? What was there about the early church that gave it the strength, enthusiasm, & unity to face incredible odds & outlast strong opposition in its conquest of the hearts & lives of those around them? MELVIN NEWLAND
First, there was:
I. The Scriptural Dynamic
A. The Communication of the Word
There is one truth that is inescapable as you read this second chapter of Acts. There was a strong commitment to the proclamation of the Word of God. Churches that grow understand this and strive to use every means possible to accomplish this goal. Preaching and teaching the Word is the prescribed methodology and nothing has ever been given by God to take the place of verbal proclamation! The following is a sampling of verses that reinforce this truth:
Mat 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
Mat 4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom…
Luk 9:6 And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.
Act 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.
Act 15:35 Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
1 Co 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
B. The Content of the Word
1. A renowned Savior v. 22
Act 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
2. A rejected Savior v. 23
Act 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
3. A resurrected Savior v. 24
Act 2:24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
C. The Conviction of the Word
Notice in verse 37 that it is the preaching of the Word that brought real genuine conviction of sin. Nothing else will do this my friend!
D. The Commitment to the Word
One of the inconvenient truths about the church today is that there are far too many professing Christians who have no idea about what God’s will is for their lives. Folks 20, 30, and 40 years old who are saved but not sure where they fit in the Work of the Kingdom. There is a good reason for this problem. We cannot find God’s will apart from His Word. We must immerse ourselves in the Scriptures, reading and feeding upon it’s truths to grow in Christ in order to find our purpose in His kingdom. “…all too often the church fails to challenge them to truly be a disciple, learning His Word & will for their lives. As a result, there are people, some of whom may even be here this morning, who wouldn’t know Matthew, Mark, & Luke from Larry, Curly, & Moe”. Melvin Newland Notice in verse 42 that these folks “…continued stedfastly in the apostles doctrine…” Paul addresses the problem of Scriptural illiteracy in Hebrews;