Summary: It is important to restore not only the form of New Testament Christianity, but also the heart of New Testament Christianity. One word that sums up the heart of New Testament Christianity is COMMITMENT.
A. I like the old story told of the preacher and song leader who didn’t like each other very much and refused to cooperate with each other.
1. One week the preacher preached on commitment, and how they should dedicate themselves to service. The song leader then led the congregation in singing, “I Shall Not Be Moved.”
2. The next Sunday, the preacher preached on giving and how they should gladly give to the work of the Lord. The song leader then led the song, “Jesus Paid It All.”
3. The next Sunday, the preacher preached on gossiping and how they should watch their tongues. The song leader led the song, “I Love To Tell The Story.”
4. The preacher became disgusted over the situation, and the next Sunday he told the congregation he was considering resigning. The song leader led the song, “Oh, Why Not Tonight.”
5. The next Sunday, the preacher announced his resignation, and emphasized that Jesus had led him to that decision. The song leader then led the song, “What A Friend We Have in Jesus.”
6. One of the things we are going to talk about today is the need for us to have a spirit of cooperation in our hearts.
B. A number of years ago, I went shopping for a used car.
1. I looked at adds in the newspaper and also visited a number of used car lots.
2. I had many disappointing experiences.
a. Some of the cars sounded great in the paper, but were unimpressive in person.
b. Some of the cars looked great as I walked up to them, but then they ran terribly.
c. One car was exactly the make I was looking for, but it wouldn’t stay running. The second I put it into drive, it stalled. The salesman was surprised that I had no interest in the car even though he said I’m sure it is a simple problem that I can fix.
3. When I go looking for a car, it would be nice if it looked good, but more importantly it had better run well.
C. In recent sermons I have been trying to articulate what it means to be Christians only, Christians who are striving to be just like the church that Jesus built through the apostles.
1. I believe that it is very important that the church take only the form of the church that God intended and instructed.
2. Therefore, we should be organized only as God has specified, we should worship only as God has specified, and our mission should only be the one that God has specified.
3. But just like the used car that looks good, but runs terribly, we can have all the right forms for the church, but be spiritually dead as a doornail and that is not what God wants!
D. Today, I want to help us understand that we must focus on more than just restoring the form of NT Christianity, we must also restore the heart of NT Christianity.
1. It is vital to restore both aspects of Christianity. Neither of them can be over-looked, and neither can be magnified over the other.
2. So, my aim is to help us understand and experience the heart of NT Christianity.
E. To accomplish this goal, I would like us to begin by reading some of the accounts of the early church. This will help us get a picture of what life looked like in the early church.
1. Then I would like us to consider what attitudes of the heart brought about that kind of life, and how we can restore that kind of heart and life in us, the church, today.
I. The Actions of the Early Church – What did Christian life look like in the early church?
A. Acts 2:42-47
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
B. Acts 4:1-10, 13-14, 18-21
1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. 5 The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem… 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.”