Summary: We were created for community and we need community.
Opening Statement: We were created for community and we need community. While life is very enjoyable the journey of life and faith is often trying, difficult and painful. Discouragement. Relentless temptation. Debilitating sins. Doubts. Ridicule. Burdensome weaknesses. Heavy burdens. Unanswered questions. Rejection. With all of this in mind, is it any wonder that God has given us the family of God and the fellowship of believers? It is an absolutely essential source of strength and guidance.
Transition: Nowhere do we see this Call to New Community more clearly than in the book of Acts.
Observation: Luke-Acts explains how an originally Jewish movement became an offer of salvation to the whole world. He shows how God can take those from many ethnic backgrounds and dimensions and mold them into a new community of God. As he shows us the work of this growing movement, Luke includes six summary statements or ’progress reports’ (6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20; and 28:31). He regularly interrupted his narrative to provide a report on how the New Community was doing through the power and enablement of the Spirit in carrying the Gospel to the whole world.
Title: Pleasant Interruptions
Theme: What Happens When We Answer the Call to Community? (Taken from the Summary Statements in Acts)
Opening Statement: Not only are we called to believe the Gospel. We are also called to belong to a New Community of people that are dedicated to keeping the memory of Jesus Christ alive in our families and our culture. God has a purpose for putting us together. In Acts 2:42-47, we read about the church coming together to worship together, to learn together, to fellowship with each other, and be equipped on how to live the Christian lifestyle in such a way as to be a positive influence in society. When we stay true to these basic purposes of the church, we can expect certain things to happen. These things are mentioned in Luke’s summary statements.
Background: In effect, these summary statements provide “snap-shots” of what a healthy church of New Community people looks like. The Holy Spirit waves cover on average about 5 to 6 years with each wave.
Holy Spirit Waves in Acts – From Jerusalem to Rome
Wave 1 – Acts 1:1-6:7 Carries the gospel from the heart of Jerusalem to the whole city
Wave 2 – Acts 6:8-9:31 Carries the gospel throughout Palestine
Wave 3 – Acts 9:32-12:23 Carries the gospel to Antioch and all Syria
Wave 4 – Acts 12:24-16:5 Carries the gospel all over Asia Minor
Wave 5 – Acts 16:6-19:9 Carries the gospel over to Europe, Macedonia, Greece
Wave 6 – Acts 19:10-28:31 Carries the gospel to capital of the world - Rome
Acts 6:1 Now in these days, when the disciples were growing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Greek-speaking Jews against the native Hebraic Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food… [They were able to overcome the problem by appointing deacons. Now, note the result.] Acts 6:7 The word of God continued to spread, [because the work of the deacons freed the Biblical teachers up to teach] the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly, and a large group of priests became obedient to the faith. [Here were men who were active all day long in religious ritual. These priests were the ones who had to slay the animals that were offered as sacrifices on the altars of the temple. They had to perform many rituals and read certain prescribed passages. They were religious people performing ritualistic observances. But now, with the word of God hitting them, and the truth about Jesus being set before them, something was happening. They were discovering that Jesus was the key to their ritual, that all these sacrifices, all these animals, all these ritualistic practices had an explanation in Jesus. They all pointed to him. If you want to see this, read the book of Hebrews. That was undoubtedly the book used most widely in the early church to reach the priests, because it speaks about all the sacrifices and how they find their culmination in Jesus. The priests began to be obedient to the truth as they heard and saw the application of these sacrifices to themselves.]
Acts 9:31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria [It was not just a church of a single city now.] experienced peace [because Saul or Paul had been converted to the faith] and thus was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it [the church] increased in numbers.
Acts 12:24 But the word of God kept on increasing and multiplying [This is a significant place for one of Luke’s summary statements. At the beginning of Acts 12, James is dead, Peter is in prison, and wicked King Herod is on a rampage – arresting and persecuting church leaders! When Acts 12 ends, Herod is dead, Peter is free and the word of God marches on! You get the feeling that no one can stop the Holy Spirit enabled community from doing its job!]