Summary: The last of the 5 part series based on the Core Beliefs of HBC
The Local Church Is the Hope of the World
* This morning I begin with a confession. These five Core Beliefs which we agree and have now spent 5 weeks on have been my personal core beliefs for almost 15 years. In praying about this message, I was attempting to recall where I had first heard this concept and was reminded that while at Glorietta (1996), Bill Hybels spoke these words and the truth contained therein stuck, “The Local Church IS indeed the hope of the world.”
* Then in 2002, Bill wrote “Courageous Leadership” and included his personal words about this truth; “There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken in the context of community. It builds bridges to seekers and opens its arms to the forgotten, the downtrodden, and the disillusioned. It breaks the chains of addictions, frees the oppressed, and offers belonging to the marginalized of this world. The potential of the local church is almost more than I can grasp.”
* When we read the words of Jesus, it becomes crystal clear that Jesus had and has big plans for His church (I.E. building, body, and bride). Does this strike anyone but me as “Odd?” In no uncertain terms Jesus states that HIS church will be able to stand against the gates, forces, literally the doors of hell. And the early church did this well. Turn with me to Acts and let’s get a glimpse and rag-tag group of believers who had few resources & turned the world upside-down. (Acts 1, 2, 4,6)
I. A Display of This Church – Just like the picture on a puzzle box, thishelps.
1. God Plan – (2:1) they were altogether. The local church will never become the “hope of the world” until 2 things happen; a) we can identify who the real church is and b) we all come together in unity. Today, we simply need people to “not forsake assembling.” Last Monday, Bro. Mickey and I were talking and he referred to a syndrome which seems to be permeating the “CHURCH” today. It is what I call “attending in shifts.” Like them, if we were to get everyone who attends occasionally to regularly assemble, there would be a need for chair all the time. God’s plan is not for 2 or 3 to gather, His plan is for all to gather. By the way, to pick and choose what you support in the church is to give Satan an inroad into the life of the church. Through our inconsistency, Satan can send the spirit of discouragement & disunity throughout the body.
2. God’s Power – When they were altogether in one accord and one place, the manifest presence of God fell in power. All of a sudden this normal prayer meeting turned into something which could not be explained by the words of man. God power showed up like flames of fire, indwelt each one of them, and gave them the ability to do some unusual things. This is the norm for the people of God; to do what humans say is impossible.
* One of the reasons why so many churches are many so little difference is that nothing goes on which can only be explained by God’s power. God gave HIS people the ability to speak different languages. This wasn’t a show of pride by God, but it had a divine purpose.
3. God’s Purpose – The way God works is powerful. His people are almost always the instrument which He uses to bring His message to others. The sound (like a tornado) piqued the interest of those outside of Christ so they came seeking and then power was in place for the believers to share the truth with those who needed it. And God kept reinforcing the diligence of the believers to the point that people asked, “What must we do?” Please hear this; their heart that was pierced by the Holy Spirit was softened by the obedience, testimony, and the evidence of the believers. This local church brought hope to this corner of the world because individually they lived by God’s plan, were filled with God’s power, and participated in God’s purpose. The result was 3000 people were saved. A footnote is that they didn’t stop there. For too long we have stopped the process at this point.
4. God’s Pattern – Acts 2:42-47 reveals the nuts and bolts of how a church is to become a World Mission Strategy Center. Every person must take his place, totally commit to the cause of Christ, and engage as a member of the family. God’s pattern for every “church” can be given in 6 actions found here. In verse 42 they engaged in discipleship, fellowship, and prayer. In verse 44-45, they engaged in ministry while verse 46 demonstrates them worshipping (not weekly, but daily). Finally, in verse 47 the overflow of their daily lives was people being saved, evangelism.