Summary: Truly authentic biblical community is irrestible.
The Greatest Place on Earth – Part 3
January 27, 2002
Big Idea: Truly authentic biblical community is irresistible.
In the Bible, Acts chapter 2 records a most incredible day. Less than two months after the public execution of Jesus – 50 days after his crucifixion to be exact – Peter, one of the 12 most loyal and devoted followers of Jesus stands up in the crowded city of Jerusalem to make an announcement. Because it was during a religious festival during which many people made a pilgrimage to the Holy City, a diverse crowd from all over the known world was on hand.
The point of his message was simple. This Jesus that you put to death? Well, He is the Lord of everything as well as the long awaited Messiah, or chosen one that the prophets foretold many years ago.
And through the power of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:41 says that 3000 people accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior and were baptized into Him right on the spot.
The church that at sunrise consisted of 120 devoted persons numbered 3120 by the end of the day. Now that’s some pretty explosive growth. The original members of the church were outnumbered 30 to 1.
I can just see it, can’t you? During the baptisms, one of the church members walks up to Peter and says, “Don’t you think our church is growing too fast? I mean I didn’t even really know everybody when we were running 120 – how can we possibly get to know everyone now? And what about our meeting place? How will we have room for all these new people when we get together? And I know I’m not alone in saying this, but some are questioning if you’ve thought about the commitment level of these people. Aren’t we now going to be a church that’s a mile wide and an only an inch deep? The 120 of us were strong doctrinally, but we can’t be sure these people can even recite the books of the Law in order. We had a good thing going. How can we be sure this massive crowd will really follow through on the decision they are making today?”
Those would have been some legitimate questions. Imagine CCCH growing from 300 to 3300 by the end of services this morning.
But think about it. Were those who were baptized that day destined to simply stand alone? Did they just show up for worship once a week in order to live out the new commitment they had made to Jesus? NO!
I’m convinced that the early church was far more prepared to incorporate 3000 new converts in one day than the average church today is to involve just 30 new people in a year.
That’s because the first church immediately involved these 3000 new people in what they had been doing all along. And the average church has yet to do what they were doing with just 120.
Let’s do a quick recap. We’ve been learning about what it means to live out this vision of becoming a church where no one stands alone.
Two weeks ago we examined God’s essential nature is a fellowship or community. He exists as three equal yet distinct persons in one being. His favorite word is “one.”
Last week we read from Genesis and considered how we are made in God’s image – in part that means we were made to reflect God’s essential nature of community – yet the image has been marred b/c of sin
Today we will look at the first ever Christian church – over 30 strong – and see how they sought to recapture that image
What does authentic biblical community look like?
In The Connecting Church, Randy Frazee lists the 3 biggest obstacles to authentic biblical community:
1. Individualism – thinking of ourselves ahead of others
2. Isolation – fencing ourselves in and shutting others out to maintain our privacy
3. Consumerism – spending on ourselves to please ourselves
Authentic biblical community counters each of these obstacles with three characteristics displayed by the early church.
Let’s read about them: READ ACTS 2:41-47
First church overcame these obstacles (use words from bulletin)
TRANSITION: We see that these first Christians had a…
I. COMMON PURPOSE
The very first church was an exciting, dynamic, rapidly growing community. Something special was going on. People were being irresistably drawn to them. Their group was unique, full of life, and radiant with joy. What they had, people wanted.
This was due in part to their common purpose. They had a set of shared beliefs and values that defined who they were. Anyone who wished to be a part of their community could easily discover what it was that they held to be most important.