Summary: The second in a series of messages based on our the 3 points of our church’s purpose statement: "Seek God, Share Christ, & Serve Others."
“THE SHARING CHURCH” Acts 4:8-31
INTRO – Football season is upon us. How many of you are ready for it? Looking forward to it? I know these guys seated down here in front are ready. Monday Night Football kicks off September 10!
Football is a game of strategy, hard hits, and determination. It involves offense or moving the ball down the field. It also involves defense or preventing the opposing team from moving the ball down the field.
This is a lot like the Christian life and the work of the church. Today, as we consider what it means to be a “sharing church” and what it means to live this thing called the Christian life, we’ll see how what we do and how we live is much like the game of football.
Background of Acts 4: Day of Pentecost had come where the Holy Spirit came down and empowered the new Church to be on mission for God. Church was exploding with growth. 3000 were added to the church right after Pentecost. Then as the church began to go to work being the church, God “added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
Then look at Acts 3:1-10. Lame man was miraculously healed. God gave the apostles the ability to heal people and even raise the dead in order to prove that the Gospel message was genuine and these guys were really men of God. These miracles would often draw a crowd which would give the apostles the opportunity to do what they were commissioned to do and preach the Gospel. The miracles would draw a crowd, but more importantly, they would draw people to Jesus!
Result of healing of lame man was that a crowd did gather, and Peter did preach the Gospel, which greatly upset the religious leaders. They grabbed Peter and John and threw them in jail. But look at what happened in 4:4. You might stop the messenger, but you cannot stop the message!
Here’s where we see some of the comparisons to the game of football:
THE OPPOSITION – 4:5-7
The same men who put Jesus’ on trial and sentenced Him to die were the men who were opposing Peter and John and the rest of the church. The rulers were wealthy, influential, powerful, and intellectual. They intimidated people. And they were ticked off that Man they thought they had killed had followers who were just as persistent and promised to be just as troublesome as He was.
What are you going to do when you encounter opposition? Are you going to stand up for Christ or cower down and cave in? Are you going to be like Peter and John and the other apostles who took a bold and courageous stand for the Lord Jesus? Or are you going to be like the religious leaders who looked like they had it all together, but were really living hypocritical lives and opposing the work of God in their own lives and in the lives of others?
“But Jon, I can’t be like the apostles. Those guys were like the superstars of the church, the MVP’s, the Heisman trophy winners of Christianity.” Really? Look at what the v. 13 says about them. Max Lucado said this about the apostles: “It all started with 10 stammering, stuttering men…And send them He did. Ports. Courtyards. Boats. Synagogues. Prisons. Palaces. They went everywhere. Their message of the Nazarene dominoed across the civilized world. They were an infectious fever. They were a moving organism. They refused to be stopped. Uneducated drifters who shook history like a housewife shakes a rug.” (No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, p. 163-164)
When we are living for, standing for, speaking about, growing in, and loving the Lord Jesus, it absolutely does not matter who opposes us. When we as a church are doing what God ahs called us to do – SHARE CHRIST WITH THE LOST OF OUR COMMUNITY & WORLD – we will be opposed. To be a sharing church guarantees that we will be opposed. Sometimes the opposition comes from the outside, sometimes from the inside. But Satan can throw anything and everything he wants to throw at us – and he will! – and we can and will keep on going.
THE DEFENSE – v. 9-11
If you play on defense, stand up. The guys on defense love stopping the ball. Love putting a good hit on somebody, don’t you? Defensive linemen are big brutes that love stopping the run. Love it when they break through the offensive line, catch that quarterback not looking their way, and put him on his back. Safeties, defensive ends, and linebackers love it when they get to stick a guy who is running the ball. The guys on offense depend on the strength of the defense to stop the other team from scoring, so they can get back out on the field and drive the ball down the field and score.