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Summary: Characteristics of the first church.

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The First Church

Chuck Sligh

TEXT: Acts 2:37-47

INTRODUCTION

Many Christians today are playing church. In this age of affluence and pleasure-seeking, some come to church once-a-week to salve their conscience so that they can go back and do their own thing the rest of the week.

This is the age of superficial Christianity. This is an era of surface commitment, where people claim the name of Christ, but shun the sacrifice and commitment Christ talked about when he said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37-38)

This is a day which, in the lives of many professing Christians—TV is more important than time with God.

Sports activities are more valued than attendance to the Lord’s house.

Personal time is more meaningful than prayer time.

Everything comes before witnessing.

God deliver us from half-hearted Christianity!

God deliver us from the kind of Christianity that puts everything before the Lord—family, pleasure, entertainment, work, and puts God “in His place”—that is, a once a week church service, and maybe a little token recognition during the week.

In Acts 2:37-47 you have an illustration of a group of people who did not just go through the motions of Christianity.

They did not just play church.

And they did not relegate God to His little corner of life.

God wasn’t in a little compartment of their lives Who they took out on Sundays.

In the first church we see a congregation that was completely transformed by the message of the Gospel and totally committed and sold out to God.

As we continue our series through the book of Acts, let’s look at some things in the first church at Jerusalem that are models for us today:

I. FIRST, NOTE THAT THERE WAS CONVICTION OF SIN - Acts 2:37 - “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

This was just after Peter had preached his great sermon on the Day of Pentecost. When he finished, verse 37 tells us that his listeners “...were pricked in their heart...” This caused them to ask “What shall we do?”

What is “conviction” Conviction is the “still, small voice of God which makes a person feel ill at ease about his sin and direction of life and pulls him toward salvation and the things of God.” The reason that there were so many totally committed people in the church of Jerusalem was because these people had been truly convicted of their rejection of Jesus as God and Savior, and this led to people being genuinely converted to Christ. Today, many people have “made a decision for Christ” or “walked an aisle” or filled out a card, but they were never truly saved. Why?—because they never had a sense of their desperate need for Christ and because they never saw themselves as lost sinners deserving of God’s judgment.

To be saved you have to be convicted of three things:

1. First you must be convicted of you sinfulness before a holy God - Romans 3:23 says, ”For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (EXPAND AS LED)

2. Second, you must be convinced of the penalty for sin - Romans 6:23 - “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” That death does not just include physical death. It also includes what Revelation calls the “second death” when lost sinners are cast into the Lake of Fire forever. In Revelation 20:14-15 we read these sobering words, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

3. Finally, you must be convicted that Christ is your only answer - John 3:16 - “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Good works will not get you into heaven. Church membership will not save you. The ONLY one who can save you is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Himself said, “...I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Have you come to a place in your life where you realized your exceeding sinfulness before God.

Have you come to realize your eternal doom without Christ? If not, then do not leave this room today without settling the matter of your eternal destiny TODAY.

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