Summary: Learning how to be the church in today's world through learning from the book of Acts.

God is so faithful! He’s faithful to us as individuals and faithful to us as a church. And as long as we continue to be a church that’s all about [2] loving God and loving others, God will continue to bless us and show us His faithfulness.

We show our love for God when we’re devoted - to His Word

- to worship

- to prayer

- to lifestyle obedience

We show our love for others when we’re devoted - to fellowship

- to ministry

- to evangelism, missions

We must continue to be devoted to loving God and loving others. God will be faithful to us and will place His hand of blessing upon this ministry. And I tell you what, I’m so excited to see just what God is going to do next! (I can see…)

But, there will be opposition. There always has been and there always will be opposition to what God is doing on this earth. Jesus faced opposition, the early church faced opposition, and ministries down through the ages even up until this present time have faced opposition for one reason or another.

[3] But as long as we keep Jesus as our foundation, our rock, our Cornerstone, we will continue to see God’s favor in this place.

In Matthew 16 we see Jesus anticipating the church’s opposition while talking with His disciples. We also see Him give them the key to ministry survival.

[Read Matthew 16:13-18.]

Jesus uses a play on words here to help us understand just what the foundation of the church should be. When Peter correctly declares that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus blesses him and calls him Peter using the Greek word petros which means “little stone”. Then Jesus goes on to say that “upon this rock I will build by church.” The Greek word Jesus used here for rock was petra or “foundational boulder”.

The foundational boulder that the church is to stand upon is what the little rock, Peter, had said – that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

The foundation of the church is Jesus. The church isn’t supposed to be built on programs and personalities. The church is supposed to be built upon Jesus Christ. And when it is, even the gates of Hell won’t be able to destroy it.

But they sure will try. And the very first church understood that all too well.

As we continue to go through the book of Acts finding out how we can be the church in this world, we’re going to see how [4] Jesus’ people will be opposed.

Remember what’s going on here? Peter and John spoke healing into the legs of a man who’d been a cripple since birth. After the miracle they all went into the Temple to praise the Lord together. When the crowd gathered Peter spoke to them about the reality of Jesus Christ and that they needed to turn to Him for salvation. Then came the opposition.

[Read Acts 4:1-7.]

Talk about overkill! You’ve got these two fishermen and a former cripple being worked over by literally dozens of the most powerful men in the city. The Sanhedrin ruling council, the elders, the scribes and several high priests were surrounding these poor men and questioning them as if they were in the midst of a national crisis!

Of course these were the same men who just a couple months before this had done the same thing to Jesus and eventually had Him crucified. They thought they had secured their religious power with Jesus’ death but now, “Here we go again! These guys are teaching the people something other than what we’re teaching them. They must be silenced!”

“By what power or in what name have you done this?” Done what? Oh you mean heal this guy? We’re in trouble for healing someone?

Seems kind of silly doesn’t it? I mean, the healing was evidence that God was involved. And if God’s involved in the healing, maybe just maybe, He’s involved in the message as well! But they didn’t want to hear the message so they ignored the healing.

Listen, opposition will come against the church. Even though others can see the church doing good things for people. Even though they can see people’s lives changing for the better through the ministry of the church. Even though they see polite, loving, gracious and giving church people. The world will ignore all those evidences that God is real because they simply don’t want to hear God’s message.

But regardless of the opposition, [5] Jesus’ message will bring forth fruit! Did you catch what God was doing in the midst of them being carted off to jail?

[Read Acts 4:4.]

Up to this point in the early life of the church 5,000 people had gotten saved. 5,000 in just a matter of days! (This number included the 3,000 that got saved after Peter’s first sermon.) It didn’t matter that the main leaders of the church were being taken away to jail. God’s message had gone forth and had done an amazing work.

And what a wonderful encouragement that is to us. We don’t have to convince someone that Jesus is the way by our own eloquence or by our human means. God will supernaturally do a work in someone’s heart when we simply present His Word.

[Read Isaiah 55:10-11.]

Isn’t that encouraging? Our faithful God will use His Word to change lives regardless of the opposition we face.

You know before I came to Christ, I ridiculed just about everyone that shared the gospel with me. Not only did I publicly ridicule them but I inwardly tore them down. And not only that, but I also avoided them like they had some sort of contagious disease. And this went on for years and years.

But one day when my life was at it’s lowest point the Message of Jesus Christ, the message those people gave me, came flooding into my head and it changed my life.

Those people that witnessed to me over the years might have thought they had failed since I gave them such opposition. But in spite of my opposition God’s Word did a work in my heart that no man could have done. Jesus’ message will bring forth fruit.

But that powerful, miracle-working, transforming message needs to get to the people somehow, right? That’s where we and the church comes in. We must get that message to the people. Will we be opposed? Sometimes. Will we get nervous? Sure we will. But through it all [6] Jesus will empower His people. Look at how he empowered Peter to speak in front of that hostile, judgmental crowd of non-believers.

[Read Acts 4:8-10.]

Remember what’s going on here – Peter, John and the former cripple have been jailed by the most powerful men in the city. These are the same men who had Jesus crucified. And now they’re all surrounding them with accusations and questions.

So Peter does a couple of things that given the atmosphere in the room are nothing less than amazing. He gives his accusers a triple-whammy response.

- First of all, why are we on trial for doing a good deed?

- Secondly, the resurrected Jesus healed this man, (Sadducees)

- Finally, Jesus is the Christ and you killed Him

Can you see the former cripple leaning over and desperately whispering in Peter’s ear,

“Are you trying to get us killed? These guys mean business!”

But the Bible says that Peter was “filled” or controlled by the Holy Spirit which gave him the confidence to tell his accusers what they needed to hear. (Which was not necessarily what they wanted to hear.)

You see, they needed to hear the truth about Jesus Christ. They didn’t need some watered-down, apologetic response that would have given Peter his freedom. They needed to hear the truth that would give them their spiritual freedom! So Peter gave it to them.

You and I are the messengers of God to this generation of people. We give people the message of Jesus first through our lives and then through His Word. I know that sometimes we feel insecure or scared or even embarrassed about it. But if we are willing to help bring light into someone’s dark life, God will empower us to be His messengers.

[At Packers/Cowboys game in Wisconsin story.]

We might feel like the only people in the world talking about Jesus Christ. But I promise you, allow yourself to be controlled by God’s Spirit and He will give you the strength and the power and even the words to be His messenger.

And just what is that message? [7] That Jesus is the Cornerstone!

[Read Acts 4:11-12.]

Peter gives them the bottom line of it all. This explains the miracle, this explains his boldness, this explains Jesus’ resurrection, this explains life! That Jesus is the Christ, the One that the Jews have anticipated for centuries. The One who is the cornerstone of life.

[Read Psalm 118:22-29.]

[Cornerstone demonstration.]

Our individual lives, and our church, must be built upon our Cornerstone Jesus Christ!

[Read Ephesians 2:19-22, I Peter 2:4-6.]

When we line up our lives with the cornerstone of Jesus then and only then will we be living as God wants us to live. When we line up our church’s ministries with the cornerstone of Jesus then and only then will we be the church that God wants us to be. He is the foundation, He is the focus, He is our Cornerstone!

[8] You know, this church has been through a lot of hills and valleys over the past 50 years. But our faithful God has kept this ministry moving forward because Jesus has always been our Cornerstone.

As we begin another 50 years of ministry, we will keep moving forward by God’s grace and God’s strength as long as we keep Jesus our chief Cornerstone.

Will their be opposition? Probably. Will their be hills and valleys? Of course there will. That’s a part of life. But if our foundation is secure in Jesus Christ, not even the gates of Hell will prevail against us. And we have that promise from Jesus Himself, who is our Cornerstone.

[Stand, hold hands, closing prayer.] [9]