Summary: First of 14 sermons from the book of Acts. For many people, the church seems out of step and old fashioned. But it is intended to be revolutionary and in step with the very Spirit of the Living God. The end of the Gospels is the beginning of the church!
(First in the series, What’s Next? The Adventures of Growing in Christ)
Listen to the words of Francis Chan:
"You go to a building, someone gives you a bulletin, you sit in a chair, you sing a few songs, a guy delivers maybe a polished message, maybe not, someone sings a solo, you go home. Though Christians believe in an almighty and all powerful God who places His spirit in believers,
The response among His people today is, ‘Hi, welcome to church. Here’s your bulletin. We’ll get you out in an hour. Come back next week.’ I mean, really? Is that all God intended for us?”
Is that the church we see germinating and growing throughout the New Testament book of Acts?
Hear the words of Jesus:“You shall receive POWER…You shall be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8)
Jesus has resurrected from the grave. So what’s next? How does this fact of history affect me?
The first four books of the New Testament are called “The Gospels,” or “good news.” They tell us of the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Christ.
The fifth book of the New Testament tells us, as Paul Harvey used to say, “The rest of the story.”
The end of the Gospels is the beginning of the church. In Acts 1 and 2 we find:
1. Promise (1:1-11)
Luke is credited as the author of the book. He addresses Theophilus, the same person addressed at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke.
Since “Theophilus” means “Lover of God,” this book is also written to us.
The story begins with two promises. The first comes from the resurrected Christ, who commanded his followers to stay…and wait. Wait for what?
The promise of the Father; the abiding Holy Spirit of God. He would instruct them what to say; what to do; how to behave.
The fact that they still did not understand is shown by the question in verse 6: Will this Holy Spirit help us overthrow the grip of Rome on Israel? Jesus reproved them and told them where real victory comes from: “You shall receive POWER…You shall be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8) The battle plan was drawn. They would start where they were at and eventually spread the news of Jesus Christ to the entire world.
The second promise came from “two men dressed in white” who suddenly appeared as Jesus ascended into heaven. He will return…just as you saw him leave!
The same resurrection body; in the clouds; with great glory!
Some things in life are worth waiting for! And discovering what God almighty would have us do with our lives is one of them!
2. Preparation (1:12-26)
The believers returned from the Mount of Olives to the Upper Room to wait. This group of believers numbered 120.
To be fully prepared for the next step in their adventure, the Apostles felt the need to be whole. Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ and committed suicide. The remaining eleven prayed and selected Matthias to take his place.
Like these early followers in Jerusalem, we are on the edge of a great work and ministry for Jesus Christ! Are we doing all we can to prepare ourselves? Are we reading His Word? Are we praying? Are we learning more about His will?
3. Power (2:1-36)
Pentecost is a special festival for the Jews. It is a thanksgiving celebration, a feast of harvest. Many would come to Jerusalem to celebrate and worship.
The believers were gathered together, and God entered the room again! But this time He did not show up in the form of Jesus; He revealed Himself as the eternal Spirit, coming to live in the hearts of each believer!
A rushing wind. Tongues of fire. The ability to speak languages they had not learned. A proclamation of the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophet Joel: God’s Spirit is now poured out on all who will follow His Son!
And the completed work of Christ is preached!
4. Praise (2:37-47)
Convicted, the listeners, asked, “What shall we do?”
“Repent” Not simply be sorry for your sins, but change your minds and hearts!
“And be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” A submission of ourselves to the Savior. Baptism unites us with His death, burial, & resurrection.
“For the forgiveness of your sins” No one can receive pardon without faith, repentance, and obedience to Christ.
“And you too will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Peter was saying, “Do you want what we’ve got? Here’s how to do it!
Lots of companies tinker with their formulas. Coca Cola has; Wendy’s has; Domino’s Pizza has. Brothers and sisters, praise God that the formula for becoming a Christian has not changed in 2000 years!
The results? 3000 gladly responded to Peter’s invitation! They did not argue about it; they did not debate over exactly when a person is saved. They responded… gladly!