Summary: The Apostles determined to focus on the Ministry of the Word of God and Prayer as their highest priority. Developing a priesthood of believers, they resolved a potential problem, and God blessed their decision.
WHEN CHRIST’S CHURCH ALMOST LOST ITS FOCUS
Dorn Ridge Church of Christ and York Manor Nursing Home
August 24, 2014
1.) This morning we are continuing to look at the Church in the book of Acts.
A.) I want us to see a time when the church faced a situation that could have greatly hindered its ministry in the community, yet when faced with decision, they made the right choice.
2.) It was a time when the benevolent ministry of the church had failed, and through that time the church had to have a right perspective in their priorities.
3.) Today as we get into the Word of God, I to focus less on the problem that occurred, and see the wisdom of the Apostles and the church in putting the ministry of the Word of God and Prayer at the highest place of priority in dealing with the situation.
I. SOMETIMES CHURCH WORK CAN HINDER THE WORK OF CHRIST.
1.) It is possible for the day to day to take priority over the eternal.
A.) At times churches, and church boards can get so caught up in the everyday needs and ministry of the church that major on them to the point of ignoring eternal values.
aa.) Rather it is the cost of a light bulb, or the colour of carpet, or even something as great as a ministry of the church, our primary focus must ultimately be on the spiritual development that Jesus Christ desires for the Church, and through the church into the world.
aaa.) We cannot allow even a ministry within the church to deter us from this goal.
ab.) For the entire history of the church it has always been a challenge for the church to continually “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
ac.) If we are not careful even church work and ministry can keep us from accomplishing the work of the Church.
B.) Perhaps we think early church was different than today’s church, and believe they always got everything right.
ba.) The book of Acts as well as the epistles and Revelation show us that nothing could be further from the truth.
bb.) The early church had the same temptations and problems we face today.
bc.) The truth is Satan found out many centuries ago that by
getting us to focus sights on something other than giving priority to the Word of God, and prayer, he can weaken our effectiveness for Christ.
bca.) In Acts 6, we see that even a valuable ministry of the church can replace the ultimate goal of developing spiritual growth in the people of God, and bringing the truth of God to a world in need of Jesus Christ.
2.) The problem in the early church’s benevolent fund could have redirected the entire focus of the early church.
A.) That is the scene we see here in Acts 6.
aa.) The first three words of verse six makes the statement: “in those days.”
ab.)That Luke’s way of telling us there has been lapse the earlier chapters of the book of Acts.
aba.) We may not be able to accurately discern the lapse of time, but I would guess it to be about 6-7 years since the start of the church.
B.) It would seem that right from its inception the church had been involved in a benevolent ministry to those in need.
ba.) This was a day before pension plans, unemployment insurance, and life insurance policies or other means of helping those in financial need.
baa.) Often, the church was the only group to step in and help those in need.
bb.) In a society such as that, one of the first groups in difficulty were always the widows and orphans.
bba.) Often, the death of the man of the family meant his widow and orphaned children would be left completely destitute.
bbb.) The church in Jerusalem ministered to such people, but this ministry had developed a problem.
3.) The church in Jerusalem had a problem with prejudice.
A.) That issue could have altered the direction and focus of ministry in the early church.
A.) We would like to say that in the church there is never such a thing as prejudice, but we all know that even within the church of Jesus Christ sinful nature can come to play.
B.) The problem was not racial prejudice but rather you spoke Hebrew or Greek?
C.) The church still consisted of an entirely Jewish audience.
ca.) But even with an entire Jewish audience, there was still prejudice.
cb.) Acts 6:1
cba.) The Hebraic Jews would have lived in the city limits of Jerusalem and spoke the Hebrew language.
cbb.) The Grecian Jews were those who PEIers would describe as “from away”.
cbc.) They were true Jews, and perhaps even living in Jerusalem, but by some were considered to be inferior or not as spiritual because of speaking in Greek instead of Hebrew.