Summary: When you look closely at the history of the first church there in Jerusalem, you see an exciting & growing church. And as they grew, they became more & more concerned about helping those in need. (Powerpoints available - #133)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
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A. During the past 2 weeks we've been looking at the purpose of the church & found that as a church we're called first of all to seek & to save the lost, & then to build each other up so that we may be the best that God can help us be.
This morning I want you to see that a 3rd part of our purpose is to minister to those in need. But there are a couple of things to be considered.
#1, we must not get our priorities mixed up. Luke 9:2 says, Jesus "sent them out to preach the kingdom of God & to heal the sick." Notice the order. Our first task is to proclaim the good news about Jesus & His love. Then, as a result of that love, we will heal the sick & care for their physical needs.
#2, helping those in need is sometimes an individual responsibility. I know that we're tempted to think, "That's not my job. There are all kinds of organizations & government programs. They're not my responsibility!"
But listen to these familiar words of Jesus found in Matthew 25, "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, & all the angels with Him, He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him. . .” (Matthew 25:31-32)
Jesus goes on to say in vs's 34-40, "Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
‘For I was hungry & you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty & you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger & you invited me in, I was sick & you looked after me, I was in prison & you came to visit me.’
"Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry & feed you, or thirsty & give you something to drink?
‘When did we see you a stranger & invite you in, or needing clothes & clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison & go to visit you?’
"The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’"
B. When you look closely at the history of the first church there in Jerusalem, you see an exciting & growing church. And as they grew, they became more & more concerned about helping those in need.
PROP. This morning I want you to see some of the ways in which they minis¬tered to the people.
I. THE EARLY CHURCH MINISTERED TO PHYSICAL NEEDS
A. First of all, they ministered to their physical needs. Acts 4:32-33 says: "All the believers were one in heart & mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.
“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, & much grace was with them all."
ILL. Some of you will remember that during Desert Storm we saw a tremendous unleashing of power, & we called it “shock & awe.” Our bombs struck target after target in Iraq. One commentator said, "There was more explosive power in that first raid alone than in the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan during WW2."
But I suggest that when Christian people become one in heart & mind, that can unleash power greater than any in this world.
ILL. A cartoon pictured two men walking out of church after the sermon was over wearing only their under shorts. One turned to the other & said, "Boy, that's the most powerful sermon on giving I've ever heard!"
I think that's the attitude the church in Jerusalem had. When they realized what God had done for them, & that everything they had came from Him, they expressed their love for God & each other by being unselfish & generous to those in need.
B. Vs’s 34-35 say, "There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales & put it at the apostles' feet, & it was distributed to anyone as he had need."
1. Now notice: the people were giving sacrificial gifts. They just brought their gifts, & it was strictly voluntary. No one was telling them to do it. But because of what God had done for them, & because they saw fellow Christians in need, they brought their gifts.