Summary: This sermon is designed to underscore the power of a praying church.
In the book of Acts, Luke the physician gives us a chronological and historical account of the evolution of the church. Luke’s primary purpose is to help believers understand the purpose and mission of the church. Make no mistake about it; no one should be part of an organization without understanding the purpose and mission of that organization.
The problem with the church is that there are too many people who are in it and yet they don’t understand the true purpose and mission of it.
The Church is not a social club. The Church is not a hang out spot. The Church is not a place where you come to exercise authority and control because of your title and position. Just because you are the pastor does not give you any right to mistreat the members of the church. Just because you are a leader of the church does not mean that you are always right; and it does not mean that you can do what you want, when you want.
The church is not a place to get gossip or to play politics. The church is not a place to show off your clothes. The church does not belong to you or me; the church belongs to Jesus Christ. Have you not heard in Matthew 16:18 that Jesus told Peter "upon this rock, I will build my church." Not your Church, not the deacons’ Church, not the elders’ Church, but the Lord’s church. And since it is the Lord’s Church everything that happens in the Church should only be about Jesus, and nothing but Jesus. On one occasion Jesus chased out the money changers out of the temple because he said that my house shall be a house of prayer and not a den of thieves.
I got news for you today saints, if you think that you can do whatever you want in God’s Church, He will chase you out. The reason there are so many problems in our churches today is because we do not understand and/or respect the fact that the Church belongs to God. And since it belongs to God we need to adhere to the purpose and mission of the church.
The mission of the church is to spread the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Acts 1:8 Jesus told the disciples: But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be my witnesses not only in Judea and Samaria but also throughout the whole world.
When we come to our text we get a real understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, what it means to spread the good news of the gospel, and what it means to be part of the church. For you see, when you are part of the Lord’s church you will be persecuted, you will be talked about, and you will be maligned. But Jesus said blessed are those who are persecuted, hated, despised for my namesake. So when people begin to talk about you because of your love for Jesus don’t worry about it. When people begin to mistreat you, to persecute and to hurt you, praise the Lord anyhow.
The saints in the book of Acts where persecuted, arrested and executed for the sake of Christ. The Bible tells us that Herod the king laid violent hands upon certain members of the church. He killed James and John, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he arrested Peter and threw him in jail bound in chains with four squads of soldiers guarding him.
Peter had no way of escape. There was nothing that he could do to save his life. Herod had intended to bring him before the people after the Passover perhaps to kill him like he killed James and John. But the Bible tells us that while Peter was in Jail, the church was praying. Things happen when the church prays.
In this case we see three results of the church’s prayer:
1. When the church prays people are set free
2. When the church prays people have joy
3. When the church prays people have victory
over the enemy.
When the church prays people are set free
In verse 1 of this pericope we are told that king Herod stretch forth his hands to terrorize, persecute, harass, and torment the church. He killed James and John, and when he realized that it pleased the Jews, he arrested Peter.
Have you ever been persecuted? Have you ever been harassed and tormented? Have you ever been the target of someone’s evil scheme? Have you ever felt chained up, locked up and imprisoned due to an addiction, due to a bad relationship, due to financial and legal circumstances?