Summary: Fourth in a series from the book of Acts. This message focuses on the importance of the resurrection.
“It is a sin to be good if God has called us to be great.”
For the last three weeks we’ve been looking at how God took the early church from good to great and some principles that we can apply so that God can do the same thing with our church.
So far we’ve seen that sometimes God calls us to wait for Him to pour His power into our lives. We’ve also seen that we plug into that power through the filling of the Holy Spirit. And although we’ve covered a lot of material over the last three weeks, we saw last week that we can really boil everything we learned down into just four things that we need to be doing in order to wait on God and to provide the right conditions for Him to fills us with His power through the Holy Spirit:
• Spend time in God’s Word
• Obey what God reveals
• Confess any sin
I still remember the first sermon that I preached quite a few years ago. I’m not sure anyone else remembers it, but I sure do. It was in one of the largest churches here in Tucson, back when they still had a Sunday night service. But not only was it a Sunday evening service, it just also happened to be on Super Bowl Sunday. I guess the pastor figured I couldn’t do too much harm since there wouldn’t be very many people there to hear what I had to say.
The title of my sermon that evening was “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”. I know that was probably a pretty ambitious topic to pick for my first sermon, but that’s what God laid on my heart as I prepared for that night. And even if no one else took away anything from my message that night, at least God used it to teach me some pretty important things about life.
In Acts Chapter 2, we find the very first sermon in the early church. Unlike my first sermon, Peter hadn’t had a lot of time to prepare. He didn’t have commentaries to study. He couldn’t go to the internet to see what others had preached. He didn’t have any place to go to find jokes or illustrations. But he had something much more important. As we saw last week, he, along with the other disciples, had been filled with the Holy Spirit, who had given him the power to boldly proclaim the word of God.
Peter had all kinds of topics he could have preached that morning. Had God led him to, he could have even preached on why bad things happen to good people. But instead, the Holy Spirit led Peter to focus on just one topic in that message. And it seems to me that Peter’s focus, since it was obviously also God’s focus, ought to also be our focus. So let’s look at Peter’s sermon and see what we can learn.
You’ll remember that the sermon actually began in verse 17 when Peter used a passage from Joel to describe the coming of the Holy Spirit. But let’s pick up this morning with verse 22:
Read Acts 2:22-36
It’s obvious from reading the words of Peter that day, that he had just one focus – the resurrection. And no wonder. That’s the historical event on which all of our faith is based. If the resurrection didn’t happen, then our faith is futile. But if it did indeed happen, which I believe with all my heart that it did, then it is without a doubt the most significant event in human history. It is the resurrection that makes it possible for us to have an intimate, personal relationship with God. If Jesus had just come to this earth, lived a good life and died on a cross and there had been no resurrection, then we would have no hope. It is the resurrection that makes it possible to deal with my past sins, live an abundant life right now and guarantees that one day I’ll get to spend eternity in the presence of God.
I think that today, we sometimes lose our focus on the significance of the resurrection. Sure, we believe it, but is the resurrection really the focus of our faith? Sometimes we get so caught up in our programs, plans and ministries that I think we kind of push the resurrection aside. But I’m also convinced that one of the most important things that Peter and the early church did in order to move from good to great was to keep a single-minded focus on the resurrection. So the question we need to ask is “how do we focus our faith on the resurrection?” Let’s see what we can learn from Peter.