Summary: This message focuses on following the model of the early church in order to be a church God will bless.
The Church God Will Bless
By Tom Dooley
Several years ago in the movie Hoosiers, Gene Hackman played the part of Norman Dale, a former college coach with a tainted past who was hired to coach a rural high-school basketball team from Hickory, Indiana. Coach Dale leads the team all the way to the state finals. On the day of the semifinals, the team arrives at Butler Field House, the huge inner-city arena where they’re to play in just a couple of hours. When the players enter the arena, their jaws fall slack and their eyes open wide. Gawking at the seats, the stand-alone goals, the suspended scoreboard, and the lights, they are awestruck and intimidated.
Coach Dale instructs one of his players to take a tape measure and determine the distance between the free-throw line and the goal.
“What’s the distance?” he asks.
“Fifteen feet,” the player says.
The coach then tells the smallest player on the team to climb on the shoulders of the taller player so they can measure the goal. “How high is it?” he asks.
“Ten feet,” the player says.
Coach Dale says, “I believe you’ll find these are the exact same measurements as our gym back in Hickory.”
The team members nervously laugh and everybody begins to relax. As they exit the gym, Coach Dale turns to his assistant and whispers, “Sure is big isn’t it!”
The challenges that lay ahead for the church in the 21st century are big as well.
It is important to remember that when measured by the rule of God’s Word, weather in a large metropolitan city or a small rural community the ministry and purpose of the church has not changed.
For the church to be blessed of the Lord there are certain principles that must be followed. These principles were established by and embodied in the first church there ever was.
The book of Acts, written by Luke, is a history book of the early church. By the time we get to our text, Jesus has been crucified and resurrected. He has appeared to the disciples in the upper room. A group of 120 people form the nucleus of the church, Peter preaches on the day of Pentecost and three thousand are saved and baptized.
From the moment the first church came into existence it modeled the characteristics of a church God would bless.
Let me ask you a question. Do you want to be a part of a church that God will bless?
Let’s examine God’s prototype together and follow their example. Notice first of all that God will bless a church that is marked by…
I. A LOVE FOR GOD’S WORD
The beginning of verse 42 tells us that they were continuing “steadfastly in the apostles doctrine.” That simply means that they were committed to following the teaching of the apostles.
What was the teaching of the apostles?
Let’s remember that the New Testament was not written at this time. The apostles taught from the Old Testament Scriptures and showed how they pointed to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. They also taught from the teachings of Jesus that they had learned first hand.
The majority of these new believers were Jewish by birth. Now that God opened their eyes they saw the scriptures as something more than just a set of rules and regulations, more than a history book about their people, but a living and relevant book that could transform their lives.
A couple of months ago I purchased a book titled: When God Builds A Church.
In the book Bob Russell, pastor of the Southeast Church in Louisville, Ky. tells about a special staff meeting that he called as they prepared to move into their new church building.
He asked his staff to meet him at the new building. When everyone arrived, hard hats, magic markers, and Bibles were passed out. He then instructed his staff to go to the classrooms and offices in the building where they would be working and write scripture verses on the concrete floors.
Pastor Russell told them, “Someday soon the scriptures will be covered with carpet. But I hope you will always remember what you have written today. And what we do today will be a visible reminder that we are always to stand on God’s Word.”
The staff really got into it. Some of them found some spray paint and began using it so the words would show up better.
Those in the children’s ministry wrote things like, “Let the little children come unto me…for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
In the education wing, the adult educations ministers wrote, “Study to show yourself approved unto God…”
In the music practice rooms the music minister wrote, “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.”