Summary: THE PASSAGE BEFORE US TODAY IS ONE OF TRANSITION. WHAT WE ARE SEEING HERE IS THE RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CHURCH AFTER THE ISSUE INVOLVING THE SIN OF ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA. THIS PASSAGE IS ALSO THE INTRODUCTION WHICH WILL LEAD THE CHURCH INTO A MAJOR TIME
THE RE-ESTABLISHED CHURCH
The Pre-Curser of Persecution
Acts 5:12-16 The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.
INTRODUCTI0N: THE PASSAGE BEFORE US TODAY IS ONE OF TRANSITION. WHAT WE ARE SEEING HERE IS THE RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CHURCH AFTER THE ISSUE INVOLVING THE SIN OF ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA. THIS PASSAGE IS ALSO THE INTRODUCTION WHICH WILL LEAD THE CHURCH INTO A MAJOR TIME OF PERSECUTION; WHERE THOSE OUTSIDE THE CHURCH ARE SEEKING TO INFLUENCE THE GROWING IMPACT OF THE CHURCH.
TRANSITION: THIS MORNING, I WOULD LIKE YOU TO SEE THREE SIGNIFICANT ISSUES THAT DEFINE THIS “TRANSITION” PERIOD.
I. THE POWER OF THE CHURCH
a. THE CONDITIONS FOR POWER IN THE CHURCH
1. THE ISSUES WAS THE SIN OF ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA.
2. THE CHURCH COULD NOT MOVE FORWARD WITH THE ISSUE LEFT UNRESOLVED
3. LAST WEEK WE SAW THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THIS SITUATION AND THE SITUATION THAT INVOLVED THE NATION OF ISRAEL WITH THE SIN OF ACHAN.
a. ISRAEL WAS DEFEATED.
b. ISRAEL COULD NOT MOVE FORWARD
c. PROGRESS COULD NOT CONTINUE UNTIL THEY HAD DEALT WITH THE SIN
1. THIS IS A HALLMARK OF THE EARLY CHURCH
2. WE ARE ALWAYS SEEING UNITY IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
a. UNITY OF THOUGHT
b. UNITY OF DIRECTION
c. UNITY OF WORSHIP
3. IN THIS PASSAGE, THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH IS EVIDENCED BY THE FACT THAT THEY “MET TOGETHER”
4. WE CANNOT MINIMIZE THE NECESSITY OF TOGETHERNESS IN LOCATION.
5. THE CHURCH NEEDS TO BE ON THE SAME PAGE IN THOUGHT, BUT ALSO IN PROXIMITY
6. THE ACTION OF UNITY WOULD MAKE THEM VISIBLE BECAUSE THEY WERE DIFFERENT
7. THEIR CHOSEN PLACE TO MEET TOGETHER WAS WHERE PETER AND JOHN HAD PERFORMED THE MIRACLE THAT GAVE THE LAME MAN BACK HIS ABILITY TO WALK.
8. THIS WAS A PLACE OF OPENNESS THAT WOULD MAKE THEIR ACTIVITY VISIBLE TO THOSE WHO SOUGHT THEIR DEMISE.
WE CANNOT DISCOUNT THE IMPORTANCE OF PURITY AND UNITY. PURITY ALLOWS US TO HAVE A POSITIVE PRESENCE IN OUR WORLD, AND UNITY IS THE VISIBLE EXPRESSION OF THE REALITY OF OUR FAITH – IE: THAT OUR FAITH MATTERS TO US!
II. THE TENSION OF COMMITMENT
a. THERE IS A HUMAN RELUCTANCE TO COMMITMENT
i. IT IS A HUMAN TENDENCY
ii. IN ORDER TO MOVE BEYOND THE FEAR OF COMMITMENT, WE NEED TO KNOW THAT IT EXISTS AND THAT IT MUST BE RESISTED.
iii. WITHIN THE CHURCH, COMMITMENT = MEMBERSHIP
iv. COMMITMENT IS HAVING “SKIN IN THE GAME”!
b. COMMITTING TO WHAT GOD IS DOING IS HARD WORK
i. GOD HAS CHOSEN TO INVOLVE US IN HIS PLANS FOR THE WORLD AND FOR ETERNITY.
ii. DOING THE WORK OF GOD IS A HEAVY RESPONSIBILITY – WE ARE PUTTING OURSELVES UNDER HIS AUTHORITY
iii. DOING THE WORK OF GOD SUBJECTS US TO HARSH CRITICISM – BEING “PUT DOWN” FOR DOING WHAT WE DO.
c. REFUSAL TO BE COMMITTED AS A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST PUTS US IN THE POSITION OF MISSED BLESSINGS FROM GOD FOR FAITHFUL SERVICE AND OBEDIENT SERVICE.
i. THE SCRIPTURE IS FULL OF PASSAGES WHERE GIFTS AND “CROWNS ARE GIVEN TO BELIEVERS.
ii. THE VALUE OF HAVING A PART IN THE CHANGING OF A LIFE FOR GOD IS BEYOND WORTH.
d. BEING COMMITTED ALLOWS US TO FIND OUR FULLNESS IN CHRIST.
i. IT IS CHRIST WHO PROMISES US AN ABUNDANT LIFE.
ii. ANYTHING SHORT OF THIS IS A LIFE OF MEDIOCRITY!
e. BEING COMMITTED TO THE WORK OF CHRIST IS BEING COMMITTED TO SOMETHING THAT HAS ETERNAL SIGNIFICANCE.
i. EVERYTHING THIS WORLD HAS TO OFFER WILL NOT LAST.
ii. WHAT IS DONE FOR CHRIST WILL HAVE AN ETERNAL SIGNIFICANCE. IT LASTS FOR ETERNITY.
WHEN WE LOOK AT THE BOOK OF ACTS UP TO THIS POINT, WE SEE SEVERAL REASONS PEOPLE WERE DRAWN TO THE RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST AND THE CHURCH:
THE POWER OF GOD AT WORK
ARE THESE THE CHARACTERISTICS WE EXHIBIT AS FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST?
III. THE CAUSES OF PERSECUTION
WHAT FOLLOWS THIS PASSAGE WILL BE A TIME OF PERSECUTION. WHAT WE NEED TO SEE IS WHAT BROUGHT THE PERSECUTORS TO THE CHURCH
a. THE VISIBLE WORK OF GOD – GOD WAS WORKING IN THE CHURCH