Summary: this sermon was preached at the dedication service of Harmony Community Church. It could be used as a revival sermon, purpose of the church sermon or evangelistic sermon.
Title: What Kind of House will you build for me?
Text: Acts 7:44-50
Theme: church, revival, God’s house, persecution, preaching, faith,
P.S. The house that God is building is a house where His power and Son are preeminent; His presence is pursued; and His purposes is practised.
1. Background 6:14-7:1 Stephen is arrested and charged with desecrating the temple. A charge which infuriated the religious establishment. He uses this occasion to preach. In his message he recounts the history of Israel, culminating with the building of three houses. Each house is significant part of Is reals History. Each house also stands as a symbol of different stages of the church.
a. Moses Tabernacle- House of Promise and Presence- period of beginnings. This was the ‘original recipe’. It was the beginning of Isreals journey with God to the land of Promise. During this period they learned to walk by faith. They learned the keys to warfare. They experienced God’s miraculous provision of manna and water. But That was not all, it was only the beginning.
b. David Tabernacle- House of Praise- period of revival and renewal. It amounted to little more than a tarp stretched over some tent poles to shield the ark from the burning sun. Yet God said, “I will rebuild this one.’ This represents the period of renewal in the life of the believer. God says, I will raise up that which has fallen. I will rebuild the ruins of your life.’ Oh how we love revival. It is spiritual party time! But that is not all!
c. Temple of Solomon- House of Prosperity and Prominence- period of stability, growth and prominence.
Of all the structures that were built, the one that stands out inour minds is the temple. It was a glorious edifice. It was inlaid with ivory, and covered with gold on the outside. Kings from all over the world came to wonder at this great building that Solomon had erected. The temple represented God’s presence with his people, stability, and power of God.
Why were the religious leaders so incensed over the claim that the temple would be replaced or not needed?
Because it was all they knew about God! Their thinking was, “This is it!”. It stood as a monument to the past glory of Israel. Everything that they believed and knew about God was contained within the safe walls of the temple. It spoke of history, power and prestige and tradition. They were safe within the confines of the temple. They did not have to be stretched in their faith. In short, their faith did not go beyond the confines of the temple courts. In their minds ‘This is all there is for me. I do not need anything else’.
The religious leaders had lost focus on why the temple was built in the first place. They had allowed their history and traditions to get in the way of the purpose of God’s house. As a result, they possessed power over the people, but did not exercise influence. Can this happen to a church today?
Illustration: (Show slide)Charles Spurgeon and the Park Street tabernacle- Why did it lose its influence?
When Charles Haddon Spurgeon first went to Park Street church in London, he was nineteen years old. There he found a church with a seating capacity of fifteen hundred but with an attendance of under two hundred. Nine years later the Metropolitan Tabernacle was built to accommodate the crowds which came to hear him preach; his sermons were published in newspapers around the world; a school had been established to train pastors; and a colportage business was started to print evangelistic booklets. It was said that over 23,000 people had heard him preach during those years.
During Spurgeons 38 years as pastor of the MetropolitanTabernacle, his congregation included 6,000 worshippers and added 14,000 members. Clearly the Metropolitan Tabernacle was one of the most influential churches of the 19th century.
In 1972, however, seventy-five years after Spurgeon retired, some pastors visiting his church counted only 87 worshippers for the morning service.
What had happened to this once great church? How did they lose their influence? Many explanations could be given. London had changed. People had changed. The church did not keep up with the times. It should have moved to the suburbs.
In simple terms the church had somewhere along the way, lost its focus.
We are always only one generation away from irrelevancy and extinction!
Stephen closes his sermon by quoting from the Prophet Isaiah. The question is a redundant one. Of course we know that it is impossible to erect a building where God can be contained. Stephen does not intend to insult the intelligence of the Sadducees or us. The question is a reflective one. It is meant to draw their attention to the true purpose of the temple. It is to declare that, ‘This is not all there is.’ God has more. (N.B. This was the second temple. It would be destroyed in just a few years time. Bu8ildings of stone and wood will decay and die, But God’s purposes will remain forever.)