On This Rock (Part 3)
Text: Acts 2:14, 42 – 47
Ok… so we’ve been looking at the Church… and if I can I’m going to try to wrap this little series up next Sunday (hopefully)… And we’ll get back to our study in Romans, and maybe… Lord willing; we’ll finish it up at the end of September. That’s the plan anyway. We’ll see how it works out.
So we’ve been looking at the Church, and so far here’s what we’ve seen.
2,000 years ago, there was this guy. 30 years old. His mom was a teenager when He was born. His dad was probably quite a bit older than her, based on what we know of the customs and the culture of the time. And His dad worked as a carpenter. They lived in a small town, probably didn’t have a whole lot of money. And most likely this guy grew up working with His dad. But then at the age of 30, he started preaching and teaching, and He started out small… with a group of 12 followers. That’s it. And He’s gathered these guys around Himself and then one day He looks at His disciples and He tells them, “I will build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”
Of course we know that’s Jesus. And He’s made this statement… and it’s a powerful statement. And I want to remind you of this… Jesus didn’t tell Peter and the others that “THEY” would build the Church. No, Jesus said, “I WILL” build My Church. So it’s Jesus’ Church, and He’s going to build it.
So that’s what we saw first, and then last week, we saw that the disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem. They had been given the Great Commission by Jesus… they had been told to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, and make disciples… but before they were turned loose and allowed to do that, Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit… and He told them that they needed the Holy Spirit because He would give them the power to be His witnesses. So they needed this power… they needed the Holy Spirit to empower them, and indwell them, and equip them so that they could be His witnesses. And if they needed that, so do we. In-fact; if we try to do what Jesus has called us to do in our own strength, we’ll fail. We can’t do it in our own strength. We need the Holy Spirit leading us, guiding us, transforming us, changing us, and empowering us so that we can be witnesses for Jesus! And that’s what the Holy Spirit does… He doesn’t glorify us. He doesn’t glorify our ministry… or even Himself. It’s all about Jesus!
And that brings us to our texts today.
So if you have your Bibles, open them up to Acts chapter 2:14 and we’ll start here (READ).
So; it’s the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has come, and just like Jesus has promised, the disciples have received power… and instead of getting together and forming a committee and deciding how they can best market their new ministry, and how they’re going to accommodate this particular group and that particular group… instead they go out and do exactly what they’ve been empowered to do… they witness for Jesus.
And I love this… Peter gets up, in verse 14 and he preaches a sermon. The Church starts with a sermon. Now why does it start with a sermon? Well Paul tells us why in Romans 1:16. He says, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Jesus said it this way in John 5:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” And again in John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” And again; Paul in Romans says this… “How shall they believe unless they…” What? Unless they see us gather on Sunday? No… Unless they see us clean up our lives? No… What’s he say? “How shall they believe unless they HEAR.” God in His infinite wisdom has ordained that faith comes by hearing. And not just by hearing anything… but hearing the Word of God.
So Peter… the guy who was so afraid he denied Jesus three times… now stands up, in the middle of Jerusalem, with boldness and conviction, and he preaches a sermon about Jesus. So Jesus has said that He’s going to build His Church… and it only makes sense that He does it through the preaching of the Word. Because after all… He is the Word made flesh.
So the Church starts with a sermon, and its sustained through the preaching of the Word of God. And the Church is equipped through the preaching of the Word of God… and the Church is empowered by the Holy Spirit, through the preaching of the Word of God.
This is why at Sharon First Baptist Church, every Sunday the Bible is open on this pulpit, and the Bible is taught from this pulpit, and the Bible is expounded on from this pulpit.
So Peter preaches this sermon… it’s not a long sermon. Most scholars say it probably took maybe 10 minutes to preach… Now; before anyone gets any funny ideas and says to me, “Hey pastor Ken, you should take a cue from Peter and preach 10 minute sermons…” Let me just remind you that a little later in the Book of Acts, Paul preaches a sermon that lasts all day and all night… he goes so long a guy falls asleep and falls from a 3rd story window. The idea here isn’t that a preacher should preach for 10 minutes… or that a preacher should preach a 24 hour sermon… the idea here is you preach as the Spirit of God leads you. And by God’s grace, we here in the United States have the luxury of having a safe place where we as the Church can gather and hear the Word of God preached, Sunday after Sunday. In China, the Middle East, and Africa… it’s not that way, so they’ll gather early in the morning, and preach into the evening… because they don’t honestly know the next time they might be able to gather together and hear God’s Word expounded upon.
But let me get back to my point. The Church is starts with a sermon. The apostles did it God’s way and God brought about the increase… 3000 people get saved! Isn’t that amazing!? The Church grows from 120 to 3120 in one day. So notice this… Jesus does this right? He does this through the preaching of the Word. And 3000 people get saved. Now this is important… because when Jesus builds His Church, He does it with born again Church members. A lot of people might come “to” church, but they aren’t part “of” the Church. Only Jesus Christ can add you to His Church… and He does that by saving you from the wrath of God, that you deserve, because of your sin. He does that by redeeming you with His precious blood, and adding you to the Church. The Bible tells us that we are not our own, we are bought with a price. How does this happen? By the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
So… when Jesus builds His Church, He does it with born again people who have been saved by the grace of God.
Now look at what happens next: Acts 2:42 – “And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Isn’t that awesome! You’ve got 3000 people who have just been saved by the miraculous grace and power of God. They’ve been born again through the preaching of the Word… And they’re like… “WOW! Isn’t God amazing! We want to know more about Him! We want to know His will! We want to draw closer to Him! We want to have our lives guided by His will and His ways, and live lives that are pleasing to Him, and that bring glory to Him! And we want to know more about this Jesus who died for our sins… Who gave His own life for us, even while we were still sinners. We want to know Him better and better. So, how can we do that? How can we grow closer to Him, and find out God’s will for our lives?” Hey I know… Let’s devote ourselves to the teachings of these guys who walked with Him, and who knew Him personally, and let’s fellowship with them and one another, and let’s remember Him through communion, and let’s be people of prayer… If we were going to translate it to our modern language we might say it like this. Study God’s Word, listen to it as it’s preached and as its taught. Spend time in it. Study it, learn it. Apply yourself to understand it better and better… and stay in Church. Join with other believers who can help you learn God’s Word, and who will encourage you in your walk with the Lord, and who will come alongside you in your journey of faith… and let’s honor the Lord through the sacraments… He’s told us that we do communion to remember Him, and proclaim His death until He comes… and let’s pray for one another, and let’s pray with one another, and let’s be devoted to prayer and communicating with God. This is what happens when Jesus builds His Church… it’s Word centered, it’s fellowship centered, it’s prayer centered… and it honors Him by doing what He’s told us to do.
Now look at verses 43 – 44 (READ).
This is so cool… I could spend an entire sermon on just these two verses… If the Lord leads me to do that, I will, but for right now I just want you to focus on a couple of things from verse 44.
First off – it says “All who believed WERE TOGETHER.” Now let me ask you. What does that mean? What does it mean that they were TOGETHER? I’ll tell you. It means that if you were one of these believers, then you were with the other believers when the Church gathered for worship. You weren’t at home. You weren’t by yourself doing something… you were with the other believers. ALL who believed, were TOGETHER. So understand this… if Jesus has added you to His Church, you need to be with the Church when the Church assembles.
Pastor Ken, do you mean to tell me that all 3120 of these first Christians all joined together at the same time, in the same place and had a worship service? Read what it says. “All who believed were together.” Now whether they continued to meet at the temple… or out in the open… or something else, we don’t know… probably both of those things. But the text tells us that they were all together. But what’s even more amazing than that, is the last part of the verse… “They had all things in common.” Now if you were to read through the Book of Acts, you’d see that was a theme that ran throughout the book. The Church had all things in common. That doesn’t mean that they all dressed the same, or they all liked to go to the same restaurants after church or anything like that. It doesn’t even mean that they all liked the same sports teams, or that they all came from the same socio-economical background. What it means is that their purpose, their mission, their goal… as the Church, and for the church was the same.
The Church that Jesus builds is a unified Church… Unified in love. Unified in doctrine. And unified in practice. Here’s what that means. It means we love one another. We love one another, even when we annoy each other, we still love one another… because we’re family and that’s what families do. You know; we’ve got brothers and sisters, and sometimes they might annoy the heck out of you, but you still love them… and we love one another… if for no other reason; because Jesus loves them. And we love Christ in them, even during the times when we don’t always act like Christ is living inside of us. We love one another, and we’re unified in that love. And when you love someone you stand by them… you take care of them, you help them out when they need help, you keep them accountable, you love em… that’s what you do. So we’re unified in love; but we’re also unified in doctrine. And this goes hand in hand with being unified in love and unified in practice. Doctrines the glue that holds it together. If you have a brother or sister in Christ and they’re believing the wrong thing, then we have to correct them… because we love them. Ideas and beliefs have consequences. The bible tells us if we see a brother or sister overtaken by a fault, then you who are spiritual go and restore them. That means get back on the right track. Try to help them out. We have to be unified in doctrine because as Jeff always tells the youth, “What you win them with, is what you win them too.” False teaching leads to false converts. False teaching leads to faith in the wrong things. False teaching leads to disillusionment and despair. It doesn’t give you the victory over sin. It doesn’t glorify God. So we’re unified in doctrine. And being unified in doctrine leads to unity in practice. The Church that Jesus builds is unified in its mission.
Now look real quickly at those last three verses 45, 46, and 47 (READ). These are transformed people. There’s are unified people. They’re meeting at the temple. They’re meeting at one another’s homes. They’re sharing meals together. They’re giving up their worldly goods to bless their brothers and sisters in Christ. Nobody’s forcing them to do this. They want to do this. They see a need and do what they can to meet that need. They don’t form any committees. They just move in love to bless their brothers and sisters in Christ. And as they’re doing these things… Jesus continues to build His Church. The Lord ads to their number, day by day, those who were being saved. So they’re doing this things… and they’re preaching the Gospel, and they’re unified in it.
Isn’t God amazing! Isn’t Jesus amazing!