Open: Jim and Casper Go To Church - (critiquing versus being critical)
"Is this what Jesus told you to do?" The answer is in Acts.
Quick review of Acts 1:8 - pattern for reaching the world
Acts 1:6-8 (ESV)
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But (this is for you to know...) you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
What Craig talked about last week: followed their orders, waited for the Holy Spirit and when he came *bam* they had power to obey. Power to be witnesses of the risen Christ, and their message would systematically spread throughout the entire world- Jerusalem, Judea & Samaria, last place on earth. And that is what they did.
And this continues to be a pattern, a principal of evangelism for us to follow today as a church and as an individual. Reach your city, reach your nation, reach your world.
Now, if you don't do it this way, you have not sinned. The command is to be witnesses not in the where, when, and how (otherwise we'd all have to move to Jerusalem start our Christian walk there).
Our church's history: "Jerusalames". Church planting chart - Stonebrook in '72, MN '72, Columbus OH '73, Eau Claire WI & Guelph ON '75, East Lansing MI '77, Gainsville FL '79. Singapore '85. Also (DM '84)
So Peter got busy obeying God and preached a powerful gospel message in Acts 2... so much so that 3000 got saved that day. Actually that's more of a demonstration of the Spirit's power than of Peter's oratory skills.
Then what? Move on to Judea and Samaria? That's not what they did. From their time with Jesus and being led into all truth by the Holy Spirit, these new believers got organized and set for us the pattern for how to act like the church.
Focus on Acts 2:42-47 - pattern for organizing/ doing the church
Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
So the church did 6 things:
1) They learned from the apostles teaching,
2) they were built up through fellowship (shared their lives in common with Christ in the center),
3) they remembered the Lord through breaking of bread (ate meals together with specific attention given to Christ),
4) they prayed to God about all that was on their hearts,
5) they gave to one another as anyone had need, and
6) through all of this they were obviously being witnesses because people were being saved daily.
If you ever want to know what the church is supposed to be doing, this is it. These are the big rocks that the church ought to be investing their time into. What it specifically looks like can differ wildly from church to church and culture to culture. Freedom to adapt the gospel to the variety of people and nations in the world is built right into it. No one has to become an American to become a Christian. They keep their culture and add to it new life in Christ.
I'd like to focus on 2 of these 6 distinctives of the church tonight:
Devoted to the apostles teachings
What does it look like to be devoted to something?
How about devoted to the apostles teaching?
What is the apostles teachings?
Many of these teachings are recorded in Acts. How did they show devotion to them? One example is found in the lives of the Bereans.
The Bereans (Acts 17:11)
- Notice: they listened to what Paul said, they examined the Scriptures in accordance to what he said, they did it daily, they did it out of a sincere desire to know truth and not to prove themselves to be right and Paul wrong. Hunger for the truth.
Others are recorded in the epistles.
Read 1 Peter 2:2 (NASB95)
like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,
This longing or craving is reflected in the O.T. in the life of Ezra
Ezra 7:10 (ESV)
10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.
Is this happening today? Are you devoted to the pastors teaching of the Apostles teachings? If so, what would it look like?
Taking notes - it's hard to take notes of a teaching and not listen to it at the same time. (Show binder.) This teaching is drawing from these notes. If you ever want to teach, you better start writing it down and doing it.
Meditate on it - Story: brother thinking about it 4 days later. Hard to do if you are constantly sticking more teachings into your head. Access to other teachers on the internet is a great thing, but it can also be a very detrimental thing.
1) Keeps you from meditating on what your pastors are teaching/ leading you. (Unless its on the same theme).
2) Exposes you to possible heresy or more likely into core values that are not shared by the church you are a part of. This produces division in your heart and with those your with.
3) You can endear yourself to and follow a teacher that knows nothing about you and who does not labor over your life in service and prayer.
Obeying it - Just do it.
James 1:22-25 (ESV)
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
Obedience is a sign of maturity. Doing these things is a sign of devotion.
Now how did the believers obey the apostles teaching?
Acts 2:44-45 (ESV)
44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
Couple questions: 1) Was this just a flash in the pan? Isolated occurrence?
2) Where did they get the idea to do this?
Acts 4:32-37 (ESV)
32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.
Acts 6:1-3 (ESV)
1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 (ESV)
1 Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.
They took care of one another. This is not socialism or communism where some central agency forced them to give and it was distributed equally to all.
Nor did this promote irresponsibility or sponge off of each other.
It was genuine generosity where they saw the needs of others and took personal initiative to meet those needs. No one forced them or coerced them, they chose to do it. And they even did it sacrificially.
This behavior was taught by the apostles who got it from Jesus and it promoted a hard work ethic so as to increase their generosity, not their standard of living. Paul taught the disciples to do this in word and in example:
Acts 20:33-35 (ESV)
33 I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me."
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
A lot of people are really freaking out over the state of our economy, because they are afraid that if they lose their investments, if they lose their job, and the government is not there to save the day then they will starve to death and live in a box.
The believers in Jerusalem were more dirt poor than anyone in America. But there was not a needy person among them. It wasn't because the Roman government took care of them. They took care of each other. This cannot be written off as a cultural phenomenon. Generosity is not a cultural thing, it's what love does.
If a church body is doing what it's suppose to do, then no one here should be left out in the cold, starving to death. You'd have to chose that path by hiding your needs from God and from others in self-pity or pride.
Our Chevy van needed new brake pads, but the hectic pace of life kept me from replacing them. The brakes had gotten so bad, though, that Kristen couldn't bear driving the car.
So, I drove home from scout camp where I was at the time to quick change the brakes which is something I hadn't done in years. And I needed to get it done in 3 hours so I can be back to camp to cover some responsibilities.
Well, after an hour of running to Lowes twice for parts and reading how to do this, I was just beginning to work on my first tire. It didn't look good.
Then, Nick S. just showed up. Nick changes brake pads more often then he brushes his teeth. He just got right in there and changed the brakes on both tires and was done an hour earlier than what I needed!
This month we were short-checked by close to $600. Our expenses were higher than our income. We wouldn't pass on our tithe, but we did hold off on our Z37 pledge payment for the month. The budget balanced, but it exhausted our savings to do so. I asked my ministry partners to pray for us.
Without my knowledge, a couple started supporting us for $35/mo.
An anonymous good Samaritan, left an envelope in our mailbox with $100 in cash in it.
Ever since befriending Muneaki and helping him grow in Christian faith, I wanted to go with him to Japan to share the gospel with his friends. Kristen and I were talking the idea and about the cost and had concluded that it was cost prohibitive. While we were talking this, Savana came to us with the mail. In it was a card from an old friend, Deb Ferry, who said that while in church God put us on her heart and told her to send us a belated Christmas present. In the card, was a check for $6000. Tokyo, Japan... here I come! (Picture!)
What did Jesus tell us to do?
Be devoted to the apostles teaching. Listen and mediate on the Bible and especially on what your pastor's are trying to lead you in. Most of all by doing it! That was the clearest way that the disciples showed their devotion to the apostle's teaching.
While in the upper room, Jesus made it clear that our witness, the very thing that he commanded us to do in order to reach the world with the news of the resurrection, was significantly connected to/ dependent on our love for one another. It's when people see our love for one another, that they will know that we are his disciples.
People, let's imitate the pattern of the original Christian church and do this!