Summary: Dealing with a number of issues at EBC led me to a series by Pastor Jerry Shirley which God has graciously allowed me to revise and use to speak to our congregation.
Secrets of a Great Church Acts 2:37-42
Listen to this statement. “It is easy to determine when something is aflame. It ignites other material. Any fire that does not spread will eventually go out.
A church without evangelism is a contradiction in terms; just as a fire that does not burn is a contradiction.” SOURCE: Christian Theology in Plain Language, p. 162.
How does a church become defined as “great”?
One way a church can be defined as great is when that church is serious about Christ’ command to go into “all the world and preach the gospel”
No church can become truly great without fulfilling the great commission.
One of the key characteristics of a Great Church is a transformed membership, not just a bunch of people signing the dotted line.
Look at verse 41: What happened?
Now look at verse 47: Who did it? The LORD did it! How often? DAILY!
It was not accomplished by some membership campaign; it was of God and it was genuine!
We can triple our membership by simply signing people up for Sunday School but that does nothing for their eternity!
Salvation is about truly being born again! It’s not about making some verbal agreement with God or signing a commitment form.
I don’t want your signature on the dotted line…I want your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Let’s look at salvation from 2 major perspectives: God’s part & Man’s part.
1. God’s part in salvation: Look at v. 37:
You and I need to pray for genuine conviction…I can sell my wood crafts, my scrap metal and a lot of other things BUT I cannot sell someone on salvation any more than you can talk someone into being saved!
THERE MUST BE TRUE, HOLY SPIRIT LED, CONVICTION!
There is a 3 step process that I want to show you:
1. The Holy Spirit calls the sinner
Look at verse 39. This is why we must constantly ask God to show us the person He wants us to share His salvation with. God will set up circumstances in a person’s life in order to expose them to the truth.
I want you to understand that when everything just seems to work out that it’s not by accident or some coincidence… It is happening by divine appointment!
God put you in the presence of that person and He WILL tell you what to say…
IF YOU LET HIM… Too many think they know what God NEEDS to say…
Not only does the Holy Spirit call the sinner…but
2. The Holy Spirit convicts the sinner
Verse 37 tells us the people were “cut to the heart” [NKJV]
The absolute truth is that no one can be saved until they are convicted and realize that they are lost!
Why do you think so many churches see people walking the isle, only to have them disappear a few months later? Look at us! Is that what we’re experiencing? Where have all the people gone that walked these isles? When we talk someone into walking the Isle and shaking the preacher’s hand nothing happens…
No matter how great our message or how much our illustrations cause people to weep. No matter how touching and emotional our worship service may be, salvation based on mere human emotions is as useful as a screen door on a submarine.…
The Holy Spirit is the ONLY one who can bring true conviction!
So the Holy Spirit Calls and convicts the sinner… and third
3. The Holy Spirit convinces the sinner
Have you ever thought about what the invitation is about? Have you ever wondered why I get so vocal about walking in and out as soon as the invitation starts?
Here’s why I want it quiet in this place with no one slamming doors, on the way out. What we are asking people to believe is something unbelievable!
We are asking people to believe that a woman, who was never touched by a man gave birth to the son of God. This baby grew into a man who lived a perfect life, died on a cross but came back to life. We want them to believe that this Man, Jesus, went away on a cloud but is coming back on a white horse!
I’ll tell you the truth, when you put it like that it’s a wonder we EVER convince anyone to believe.
BUT that’s the whole point, we DON’T…the Holy Spirit DOES!
He not only calls and convicts them of their need, but then He convinces them of the truth!
That’s God’s part in salvation…He takes the initiative, He makes the first move, then the He puts the ball in our court!
When we read the book of Genesis we see that when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they didn’t go looking for God, He came looking for them! “Adam, where art thou?”