Summary: Jesus came to do 2 things: save the lost and build His church. But how was He going to build His church and what tool did He give us to use to help Him do that?
There’s a true story about a young boy named “Greggy” who was playing on beach. He spent long hours working on intricate sand castles; whole cities would appear beneath his hands. But then one day, some bullies came along and the kicked and smashed them all. And they did this day after day after day.
Now, Greggy wasn’t big enough to fight back, but one day he thought of a solution. He built his sand castles as before… but this time he placed them on top of a foundation - a foundation of cinder blocks, rocks, and chunks of cement. Then when the bullies came along, he … disappeared… and he watched from safe distance as the bullies kicked at what they thought was only sand. (A personal story related by Gregory P. Elder)
Jesus said He was going to do the same thing. He told Peter, “on this rock (Peter’s confession) I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
You see, Jesus came to do two distinct things:
1. He came to save the lost
2. And He came to build His church
Now the church Jesus came to build (of course) is us. Jesus came to take sinful folks like you and I (the LOST He’d come for) and build a church even the gates of hell couldn’t stand against. Peter told the early Christians: “… you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house...” 1 Peter 2:5
WE… ARE… THE CHURCH. And Jesus died to put us together (like living stones) into a living church. Do you remember that thing they taught us in Sunday School “Here’s the church, here’s the steeple. Open it up there’s all the people”? (For the uninitiated, you can see it at https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CX-XmNjVAAAhzuk.jpg). But it’s not true. This (holding up hands to form the church with the steeple) isn’t the church. The Church is not a building. – it’s “the people (you and me).
And Ephesians 5:25 tells us this church was SO IMPORTANT that “… Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
Now, I’ve said all that to lay the foundation for what Luke was writing about in Acts: “In the first book (the Gospel of “Luke”), O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up…” Acts 1:1-2
In his GOSPEL (Luke) Luke did all kinds of research for that book. He interviewed people, checked their stories, etc. because he wanted to tell about Jesus living and dying and rising from the dead. You see Luke wasn’t a witness to life of Christ (like Matt Mark & John) but he wanted to give an accurate description of what Christ did for us for his friend “Theophilus”.
But then God prompted Luke to write a 2nd book – The Book Of Acts - and in Acts, Luke intended to tell us how Jesus accomplished His goals if saving the lost and building his church. Now this is important – because any church that doesn’t make it highest priority to save the lost and build the church is failing to obey and honor Christ.
Of course… the question is: HOW was Jesus going to go about accomplishing those goals?
ILLUS: There’s an old legend which says when Jesus had ascended into heaven and Gabriel asked him, “Lord what plans have you made for carrying on your ministry in the world? How will people learn of what you have done for them?”
Jesus responded, "I left that to Peter, James and John, Martha and Mary. They are to tell their friends and their friends will tell other friends until the whole world has heard the good news."
Gabriel then asked, "What if Peter is so busy with his nets and Martha so full of her housework and the friends so preoccupied that they all forget to tell their friends? Don’t you think you should make a ‘Plan B’ in case this doesn’t work?”
And Jesus answered, "I have no Plan B”
In other words: the Church (that Jesus died to establish) was only going to succeed because His followers (you and I) step up and do our part. And the story says: “There is no plan B”. We’re It!!!
But now – while that’s true - that actually isn’t the whole truth. Notice what Jesus tells His disciples: Acts 1:4 says “… (Jesus) ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem but to WAIT FOR THE PROMISE of the Father…” What was this promise? The Holy Spirit! But why wait for Him? Why didn’t Jesus just say “Hey guys, go out and share your testimony and let’s get this church started.”
Why didn’t Jesus say that? Well, because the Spirit was key to what Jesus wanted done. In verse 8 Jesus said