Summary: The success of the early church was that they prayed, their prayers brought unity and their unity brought productivity.
November 16, 2003
The Church – On Mission With Christ
The Book of Acts
Intro: I heard a story about an older couple that had finished their lunch and made their way into the living room to prepare themselves for an afternoon nap in their recliners. They were both about to doze off when the grandfather clock began to chime signifying the new hour. It began one chime, two chimes, three chimes and all the way up to thirteen chimes. The husband turned to his wife and asked, “What time is it?” The wife said, “I don’t know, but it’s later than it’s ever been before.”
I’m convinced more today that perhaps the last hour is upon the church. As we look around at the more climate of our nation we have to admit it’s not good. There is corporate greed on Wall Street, political bi-partisan on Washington Street, child abuse in churches, steroids at the ballpark, drugs in the mountains, violence at the polls, profanity and homosexuality on the television and sex at middle school parties.
As Gary Fielding would say, “Today we live in the midst of crooked deals, pet pills, cheap thrills, and sometimes you can’t tell the Jack’s from the Jill’s.”
Several years ago someone asked Dr. Billy Graham why he was trying to set the church back one hundred years with his evangelistic crusades. To which he responded, “One hundred years, well excuse me, I was trying to set it back 2000 years.”
It just seems to me that if we are going to be individuals, or churches, or associations, or as a convention that is ON MISSION we must realize that it is later than its ever been before and we must look back 2000 years ago when Jesus gave the Great Commission to be ON MISSION with Him.
Jesus’ last recorded words are known as the Great Commission. Those words are recorded in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8. The book of Acts, written by Luke, is the story of men and women who took that commission seriously and began to share the news of a risen Savior.
The book of Acts is an incredible account of the beginning of Christ’s church and tremendous church growth. Notice three key transitional verses that made the early church unique – ON MISSION.
The first transitional verse is 1:8; the second one is 1:14 and the third one is 9:31. The first two verses seem to lay the foundation for all the other events that take place in the first nine chapters.
The question I have been raising is this – What took them from Acts 1:8 to Acts 9:31? What made the church prosper and be successful? How was the Gospel able to reach so many people in so many different tongues? How did the church grow from 12 to 120 to 5,000 to over 10,000 in nine chapters?
This morning as we begin our Revival meetings together I want to share with you what made the First Baptist church in Jerusalem be ON MISSION with Christ.
I have identified three statements about the early church that will not only help us with our Revival days together but for all times that God allows us to have here on this earth as a church.
I. They Prayed (1st Statement)
A. Repeatedly you read the two phrases “and they prayed” and “and when they prayed.”
1. Acts 1:14 is the first time it is used.
2. It begins in chapter one and the theme of prayer continues all through the book.
3. There is clear evidence in these first nine chapters that reveal the early church as a praying church.
B. Notice how the early church used prayer.
1. They prayed for themselves, others, enemies, guidance, healing, wisdom, leaders.
2. They prayed in the streets, in houses, on rooftops, on the shore, in a boat and in the Temple.
3. They prayed specifically at the ninth hour and at midnight and everything in between.
4. They prayed individually, in small and large groups.
5. We’re asking the question, “What made the early church so successful?”
6. I’m not a church growth consultant but I’ convinced that prayer was an absolute priority for the early church.
C. Prayer was never a second thought, it was never a time when the church said, “Oh I think it’s time for prayer.”
1. The spirit and mission of prayer was in the worship service, Sunday School, and yes even in Business meetings.
2. God blessed the early church and He added to that church daily because the church had a spirit of prayer.
3. They remained in a season of prayer.
4. Praying for their ministries, their pastors, their leadership and for the lost in the community.