Summary: An overview of the five purposes of the church: namely, worship, discipleship, service, evangelism, and fellowship.
Title: The Characteristics Of The New Testament Church
Series: The Church God Wants Us To Be, Sermon # 1
COPYRIGHT © Joe La Rue, 2008
Text: Acts 2:41-47
Date Preached: January 13, 2008
A. Hook: When it is functioning properly, the Church of Jesus Christ is the hope of the world. It is the only organization that has ever existed that is capable of healing broken lives, pointing people to God, and fulfilling the deepest longings of our souls. It is in the Church that the rejected find acceptance, the sinners receive forgiveness, and the lonely experience love.
1. It is in the Church that we discover and live out our true life-purpose. (Worship)
2. It is in the Church that we receive teaching and training for how we can be the people that God has called us to be. (Discipleship)
3. When the Church of Jesus Christ is functioning properly, each member is using his or her God-given gifts and talents and abilities to serve one another and the world beyond. (Ministry)
4. And there is community and fellowship, withing the Church of Christ, that fulfills our longing for friendship and intimacy with others (Fellowship)
5. When the Church is functioning properly, the lost—those without a relationship with Jesus—have the Gospel preached to them, and receive the opportunity to accept Christ as their Savior and come within the folds of the Church and experience everything we just talked about. (Evangelism)
When it is functioning properly, the Church of Jesus Christ is the hope of the world.
B. And so, for the next few weeks we are going to spend some time talking about the type of church that God wants New Richmond Church of Christ to be. It is not enough that we come to this building on Sunday mornings, if we fail to be the Church God wants us to be. It is not enough that we sing the songs, it is not enough that we take communion, it is not enough that we give our offerings, it is not enough that we sit through the sermon—it is not enough that we come to church, if we fail to be the church. And so, for the next several weeks we are going to talk about the type of Church God wants us to be.
C. This morning we are going to begin this study with a sermon I am calling The Characteristics of the New Testament Church. If you have your Bibles with you, open with me to Acts chapter 2, verses 41-47. This is the account of the very first church. The Holy Spirit had come upon Peter and the other apostles, and they preached the Word of Christ in Jerusalem with great success. Many were converted to faith, and a church was born. And the account of that first church demonstrates for us the characteristics that God wants in the New Testament Church. Look with me at Acts 2:41-47.
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 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, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:41–47, New International Version).
D. Trans: This church had five characteristics that God wants in churches everywhere, for all time. These five characteristics are so important that we are going to take the next five Sundays and discuss each one in detail. This morning, though, let me introduce them by simply sketching the briefest of sketches of each one. First,
I. The New Testament Church Grows Warmer Through Fellowship
A. That’s what the church we read about was doing. Look at verse 42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship.” And verses 44-46:
All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 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 . . .
They were devoted to fellowship. They were sharing their lives with each other. They were becoming a family.
B. We live in a world where families are fragmenting and disintegrating. We all know that divorce is an ever-present reality. But its not just divorce that causes families to splinter. We live in a mobile society. Kids grow up and move away. People move in and move out of neighborhoods and homes because of job transfers and new opportunities. While many of you have lived in the New Richmond area all of your lives, there are many other people living in the area today who did not grow up here.