Summary: When the church functions as the body of Christ, members can count on these three: power, persecution and a pathway
Bible-Teaching Ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
a fellowship of faith, family and friendships
Acts 5:16-42 November 28, 2004
god’s family, the church, is certainly not one-dimensional. A great many folks outside the church would look at the church and say the church is there to serve the “religious side” of people’s needs. While they would be right in one sense, that is too simplistic an evaluation. The church, like any family is complex and multi-dimensioned.
Our study in Acts shows us many things…three that stand out as the important benchmarks of Christian living:
The Birth Pangs – of the early church show us that these early followers of Jesus struggled. They were successful and sinful; there were ministries that went forward, and some that went in the wrong direction. All through the process, God was there.
The Emerging Patterns – of togetherness within the church and unflinching unified stand towards the world. God consistently brought the believers together within, and scattered them to work without.
The Eternal Purposes – of God do not change. Pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback Community Church identifies at least 5 dimensions, or purposes of the church, worship, fellowship, discipleship, serving (ministry), and evangelism. All of these purposes serve the larger purpose of God as He develops His Kingdom.
The purposes also have their pattern, as we see worship, fellowship, discipleship and ministry within the church body; ministry was also extended outwardly toward the world as the opening gate of evangelism in the world. There has always been a debate among believers about the social gospel and the spiritual gospel. There is no difference; the social gospel is the entry point to evangelism (the “spiritual gospel).
God started all that in the era we are studying about in Acts; it is the era of the beginnings of the church. When you see how it started, and notice the patterns that emerged, you can have a much clearer understanding of what we should be doing as part of God’s Kingdom. Unfortunately, you also get a pretty clear picture of just how far we have wandered from the main path of God’s intentions for His bride, the church.
God’s Intentions for His Bride, the Church
The intention of God for the Bride of Christ is that we function as His people, His family. Those functions are the purposes. In so-living-out these five purposes we bless God and establish His Kingdom. And in so-doing we can count on these other realities we see in our text this morning:
POWER TO BE GOD’S SERVANTS
16Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed. Acts 5:16
We must remember that the Apostles were not the typical faith-healers we see today. These men really possessed the gift of healing; their touch restored people. They did so in the name of Jesus, but there was no doubt that when Peter entered the hospital ward, everybody checked out!
Today the “healers” cannot seem to replicate that. There are a multitude of excuses why; however, today’s so-called healers fall a good bit short of the Apostles’ impact on society.
The primary reason is in the true power of God’s Holy Spirit, as opposed to tricks and gimmicks. I went hunting for “healing” on the Internet. I found:
· 8 Weeks to Optimum Health
· The healing power of gemstones
· Exploring the healing power of the mind and animals
There was even a book entitled “Grandmother’s Secrets; the Ancient Ritual and Healing Power of Belly Dancing”.
We live in an age where there is a market for everything, and religion is no exception. True power to be God’s servants was granted to those who had no agenda other than a desire to be faithful to God through Jesus Christ.
You can expect power if you will serve Him; you can also expect:
PERSECUTION TOWARDS GOD’S SERVANTS
17Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20“Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life.” 21At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.
When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. 22But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23“We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were puzzled, wondering what would come of this.