Summary: What happens in the church when the Holy Spirit is in control.
A Study of the Book of Acts
Sermon # 5
“WHEN THE SPIRIT REIGNED”
There seems to be some confusion today as to why the church exists. Win Arn , a church consultant, once surveyed members in about a 1,000 churches asking this question, “Why does the church exist?”
Ø 89% said, “The church’s purpose is to take care for my family’s and my needs.”
Ø 11% said the purpose of the church is to win the world to Christ.
“Charles Paul Conn tells of the time when he lived in
Atlanta. He noticed in the Yellow Pages, in the listing of restaurants, an entry for a place called the Church of God Grill. The peculiar name aroused his curiosity, and he dialed the number. A man answered with a cheerful, ‘Hello! Church of God Grill!” He asked how the restaurant had been given such an unusual name, and the man at the other end said, ‘Well, we had a little mission down here, and we started selling chicken dinners after church on Sunday to help pay the bills. Well, people liked the chicken, and we did such a good business, that eventually we cut back on the church service. After a while we just closed down the church altogether and kept on serving the chicken dinners. We kept the name we started with, and that’s Church of God Grill.”
I am afraid that this is what is happening to many churches today.
The closing verses of Acts chapter two describe the early church. It is presented as a model. It was not a perfect church, it had hypocrites in it and fought doctrinal error just as churches today. But the church in the book of Acts was a great church because it had focus. It knew that it should be doing something and knew what that something was. It had experienced the life changing power of Jesus and had also caught a vision of how that same power could change the lives of the people they knew. And they were doing something about it.
“And with many other words he testified and exhorted them saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation.’ (41) Then those that gladly received his word were baptized and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. (42) And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. (43) Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. (44) Now all who believed were together and had all in things in common (45) and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need (46) So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart (47) praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
Four things happened in the church where the Spirit reigned and they are keys to spiritual growth and maturity in the church of today.
I. WHERE THE SPIRIT REIGNED THERE WAS SOUND TEACHING (v. 42)
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine ……”
These new Christians under the reign of the Holy Spirit were hungry for God’s word. God designed the church to be a place where His word is proclaimed and explained. A commitment to the word of God is foundational to the growth and spiritual health of every church. The backbone of a healthy Christian life is teaching. Peter says, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” (1 Peter 2:2). Where the Spirit reigns, a love for God’s word reigns.
Christians should beware of churches where the people do not carry their bibles. Read your Bible. Mark it up. Each of us must make sure that sometime, somewhere in our week we are being taught.
II. WHERE THE SPIRIT REIGNED THERE
WAS SHARING FELLOWSHIP
“And they continued stedfastly in ….. fellowship,”
This kind of fellowship did not exist before the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This the first use of the Greek word koinonia in the New Testament. Every time this word is used it denotes some kind of sharing – either sharing something with someone or sharing in something someone else is experiencing. The foundation of Christian fellowship is giving.
“(44) Now all who believed were together and had all in things in common (45) and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.”
That they “had all things in common” does not, as some imagine, indicate communal living. The first Christian fellowship was not a commune, nor does the passage offer support for such a notion.