Summary: “They devoted themselves…”
SPIRIT FILLED FELLOWSHIP
This message is different. Most times we talk about our personal relationship with God, but today I want to speak directly about our personal relationship with each other. Last week we talked briefly about how things changed after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Did you know that there was not a church to be found anywhere…actually for thousands of years. In the Old Testament, people came to worship at the local synagogue or at Solomon’s Temple (in Jerusalem). The people did not know God very well and depended on the High Priest to forgive their sins (with bloody sacrifices of bulls, lambs or doves.
Things changed dramatically (in the book of Acts) for the people worshipping God. Approximately 120 followers of Christ were gathered on the Day of Pentecost, in Acts 2. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit suddenly fell on the people that were gathered. It was an explosive event for the New Testament Church. The people of God had never seen or heard anything like this before. Here were the results of that day:
TEXT: Acts 2:41 – 42(a)
“They devoted themselves…” Another translation - ”committed themselves” This is what God wanted for His people in the Book of Acts at the First New Testament Church in downtown Jerusalem! This is what God still wants for New Life Church in downtown Shelbyville!
Peter, James and John had never started a church before, but they were blessed (overnight) with 3000 people who wanted to commit their lives and souls to Jesus Christ, the newly Risen King! There would be no going back to the Temple or the synagogue.
Imagine what this must have been like with 3000 unchurched and unsaved people coming to church for the first time…rushing to speak to a handful of disciples about how to be saved…how to obey God…who Jesus Christ was…what happened to Him…where did he go? When is He coming back? Oh, and do you have anyone to take my children? Do you have a FoodBank? Can you help me with my rent this month?
What made the difference for this new Fellowship of Believers?
1. They were filled with the Holy Spirit.
2. KJV – “They continued steadfastly in the Apostle’s doctrine and fellowship…”
QUESTION: Could this suddenly happen to us here in Big Springs Plaza? Why not? We keep telling ourselves:
“God is the same yesterday, today and forever!”
I can only give to you the Truth of God’s Word and tell you to believe it. Acts 2 is the historical and biblical Truth of what happened in that first Spirit-Filled New Testament Church. The fact is there are many who try to come to join a church. They come to us from all kinds of backgrounds. Most people (coming into the church) don’t know what to expect, or what is expected of them.
Here’s an example of the struggles of some churches:
In the last couple of months I have spoken to 2 different people from 2 very different churches in 2 very rural towns here in Tennessee. They each told me about their church and how they are struggling to keep their doors opened. They both are over 100 years old and both are listed with the US Historical Landmarks. They both are loosing members and seldom ever get any visitors.
TEXT: I Timothy 3:14 – 15
Many have asked themselves (when they come to church), “What do I do? What should I say? What should I wear? How should I act?” AWKWARD AND STRESSFUL!
In order for the early church to survive, the Apostle Paul had to give specific instructions to everyone (in those early days), and Paul’s writings gives us instructions to us.
1. BE HONEST WITH ONE ANOTHER
Eph 4:15 - …speak the Truth in love.”
Prov 24:26 …An honest answer is a sign of true friendship”
Many times church life can be so superficial. We often sweep our problems under the rug and hide from reality.
Prov 28:23 …people appreciate frankness more than flatery”
Can I be HONEST with you? This is the toughest job of being a pastor … that is being Honest with church people. Do we want, can we handle being HONEST in the church?
Can we be “steadfast (fully committed) to the Apostle’s doctrine and fellowship…”?
2. DON’T FLOG THE SHEEP
I Tim 5:1-2 says to …never use harsh words” and to speak kindly to each just like you are family. I could be your father and you could be my son or my daughter, but we still need to be told what really needs to be said.
So then, can you accept constructive criticism?
3. WALK WITH HUMILITY AND HARMONY
Be understanding with each other.
Phil 2:3 - …esteem one another more highly than ourselves”