Summary: God’s looking for a few good men... and women and children... to accomplish His will on the Earth. If each member of the church will do their part, the church will grow.
SUPERNATURAL #6: GOD’S LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD MEN
This weekend is a very special one for me. I am celebrating 20 years with Jesus! August 14, 1989 – a farmhouse outside of Lacombe, Alberta, is where I met Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.
INTRO TO THEME:
• The theme of the Book of Acts is found in Acts 1:8: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me.”
• Acts is a HISTORY (of what happened in the first century) but it is also a BLUEPRINT (for what God wants to see happen in the church today).
• In the first five chapters, we see the promise of the Holy Spirit coming, empowering the disciples to be witnesses for Jesus. There are many signs and wonders, power, boldness, and many people are saved.
THE GROWTH OF THE EARLY CHURCH IN ACTS:
• The story of Acts is also an amazing story about the supernatural growth of the church.
• Jesus made a powerful promise in Matt. 16:18, “I will build my church!”
2:41 - Those who believed were baptized and added to the church – about three thousand in all
4:4 - But many of the people who heard their message believed it, so that the number of believers totaled about five thousand men
5:14 - And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women
16:5 - So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily
• What was it about the early church that caused them to see such incredible growth?
o One of the things we looked at last week = Signs and Wonders (transformations)
o Another key = we’re going to look at in our Bible story for today.
THE BIG IDEA: God’s looking for a few good men... and women and children... to accomplish His will on the Earth. If each member of the church will do their part, it will help the other parts grow, so that the whole church is healthy and growing and full of love.
KEY TEXT: Acts 6:1-7
“1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.
• The Hellenists were the Greek speaking Jews, and there were the Hebrew speaking Jews.
• This story is about one of the first threats to the growth of the church, and how the early church dealt with it. See the framework for this story:
o v.1 - “the number of the disciples were multiplying…”
o v.7 - “the number of the disciples multiplied greatly…”
• We remember from Acts 4:32 how the church was caring for the needs of the poor. However, the Hellenists’ widows were being neglected.
2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.
• Some people must have been suggesting that the apostles should take on this work.
3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
• What was the leaders’ response to this crisis? Delegation and Devotion.
• Delegation – they recognized that caring for widows and the poor was very important
• Devotion – they also realized that their first responsibility was to the Word & prayer.
• Lesson for all of us: All believers should be devoted to prayer & the Word.
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, 6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. 7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:1-7).
• What was the fruit of the way the apostles responded to this crisis?
o The Word of God spread (because they devoted themselves to this important ministry and would not allow themselves to be distracted from it).
o The number of the disciples multiplied greatly
o And – great miracle – many of the priests were obedient to the faith! (Why is this miraculous? Remember – the priests were the ones attacking the church and threw the apostles in prison in Acts 4:1-3).
QUOTE: I like John Piper’s wise insight on this situation: