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All In

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Americans have a commitment problem. We are a people who see 50% of first marriages ending divorce and the median age of first marriage on the rise. Todays retirees have worked on average eleven jobs in their careers. Instead of two year contracts for our phone plans pay-as-you-go plans are popular. We recognize that relationships require work, so we satisfy the “commitment” through social media connections. Perhaps no where else is our fear of commitment seen than in the church. One in every seven adults will change churches this year. One in every six adults attends a handful churches on a rotating basis. We fear commitment.
Pentecost is the birthday of the church. God had promised to restore Israel and to send a kingdom in which His Son would reign, but Israel rejected their Messiah because He told them that in order to join that kingdom they needed to be perfectly righteous as God is perfectly righteous. He exposed their sin, which made them uncomfortable, so they killed Him. In killing their King, Israel rejected God’s kingdom. So God set them aside for a time to work primarily among the Gentiles, no longer would God’s people be an ethnic group, but a multi-ethnic blend of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation.
But that isn’t the way that it started; it started out Jewish still. Fifty days after Jesus rose from the dead, the 120 disciples who believed He was the Messiah were essentially hiding out in a room, praying ()
Acts 1:14 NASB95
These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
They were also waiting for the Holy Spirit to immerse them as God had promised through both John the Baptist and Jesus.
Acts 1:4–5 NASB95
Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Acts 1:
Acts 2:1–2 NASB95
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Acts 2:1–4 HCSB
When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. And tongues, like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech.
In the power of the Spirit, Peter and the other apostles stepped out of hiding and began preaching to the Jews gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of First Fruits or Feast of Weeks. The words of Peter’s sermon, in which he proved that Jesus whom they had killed had been raised from the dead is truly Israel’s Messiah, is recorded in . It’s a beautiful, well-articulated presentation of Jesus as the Christ, but I’m not so interested in His sermon this morning as in what happened afterward.
Look at
Acts 2:37–41 NASB95
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.
Acts 2:37–42 NASB95
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Acts 2:37–38 NASB95
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
God uses Peter’s sermon condemning their murder to convict their hearts and create a desperation to be made right with God. Peter encourages repentance and baptism, which is identification with the crucified Messiah, and 3,000 people take him up on it and join the first church in history.
God uses Peter’s sermon condemning their murder to convict their hearts and create a desperation to be made right with God. Peter encourages repentance and baptism, which is identification with the crucified Messiah, and 3,000 people take him up on it and join the first church in history.
Welcome to the church age! Be assured that God still has a plan for Israel and Jesus will still reign in Jerusalem some day after His return, but for now God has chosen to work in the world through the Spirit immersed church: the latest people of God.
But what is the church supposed to do? What’s it suppose to look like?
Acts can be a difficult book for us to consider as we ponder our responsibility as the church. We are constantly faced with the question of whether it is prescriptive, or mandating activity, or descriptive, merely describing what happened. For the most part we must be careful about making Acts prescriptive unless we can find commands for similar activity within the epistles.
The early chapters provide us much to consider in this regard, but one repetition in the early part of Acts stands out. Although the epistles lack an explicit command that matches what we see here, I believe that the epistles imply the same. The repetition I want you to notice is in v42. The Bible says,
Acts 2:42 NASB95
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
The word translated continually devoting themselves appears three times in the first two chapters of Acts, and two of those are here in v42-46. The word means to attach oneself to, wait on, be faithful to someone or something; to persevere in something. This word carries the idea of commitment. Apparently, if there is one word that would describe the first century church, it would be committed. And this commitment gives us a description of the commitment that the New Testament prescribes and church membership demands. And it is this truth that I want you to take home with you this morning:
to stick by or be close at hand, attach oneself to, wait on, be faithful to someone,
William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 881.

We must be committed to be a part of the church.

The church is no place for the uncommitted or for the fair-weather Christian. It is not place for those who think their convenience should be served at every moment. The church is for people who are all in. But how can we improve our commitment to the church.
Two commitments we must make to be a part of the church.
Two commitments we must make to be a part of the church.

We must commit to development (v42a)

When I speak of development, I am speaking of growth, spiritual growth. And this growth is seen in the first part of v42:
“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship.”
The text itself doesn’t explicitly speak of spiritual growth, but I believe it is implied.
What is interesting though is that these newly added members themselves were continually devoted to spiritual growth. They did this by committing themselves to two important demands of spiritual growth: active learning and cooperative fellowship; I’m want to just emphasize these two demands of development.

First, development demands active learning.

It says that they were committed to the apostles’ teaching.
I will agree that the teaching these members of the first church were committing to was the teaching of actual apostles who had walked with and were taught by Jesus. But while you may never have that level of teaching, you should still commit to the demand of learning when you have opportunity.
Right doctrine is essential to spiritual growth. This is evident throughout the New Testament:
Peter emphasizes it in 1 Peter 2:2-3
1 Peter 2:2–3 NASB95
like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
Then again in 2 Peter 1:5-8
In other words, you must
2 Peter 1:5–8 NASB95
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And again at the end of 2 Peter he says this in 3:18:
2 Peter 3:18 NASB95
but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
2 Peter 3:8 NASB95
But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.
2 Pet 1:
The writer of Hebrews says it too:
Hebrews 6:1 NASB95
Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
Heb
and Paul provides the same emphasis; listen to
2 Timothy 3:16–17 NASB95
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:1–17 NASB95
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also. Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Paul also writes what I believe is the most important passage on spiritual growth in the New Testament; listen to
in possibly the most important passage on spiritual growth in the New Testament, Paul says it in
Ephesians 4:11–16 NASB95
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Here Paul emphasizes that those apostles that the first church learned from and your pastors and teachers were given to the church for the same purpose: until we all attain to the unity of the faith, the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man.
Yes, you must be an active learner of God’s truth and the apostles’ doctrine if you going to be a committed part of the body of Christ, which means you’ll be growing, but there is a second demand of spiritual growth here:

Development demands cooperative fellowship.

It says they were committed to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship.
I didn’t mention this earlier, but if we were to write v42 we would probably do it this way: They were committed to the apostles’ teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers. But do you notice in your English translation the word and appears twice? That is because one of the Greek correlating conjunctions appears twice: once it connects teaching and fellowship; then again it connects breaking bread and prayers.
Whenever we see this Greek conjunction in the text, it is emphasizing a correlation, and if it’s there the connection is stronger than in if it isn’t. Luke isn’t trying to say that teaching and fellowship aren’t connected to breaking bread and prayers, but that each pair is more intricately connected to each other than they are to the others.
So what I understand from this is that teaching and fellowship are intricately connected, and this isn’t the only passage that proves it.
Let me remind you of what fellowship is. We need frequent reminders that fellowship is much more than merely standing around the multi-purpose room with coffee or sitting around a table eating food together. Fellowship can happen during that time; that’s why we call it coffee fellowship, but it isn’t default.
Fellowship in the Bible is much deeper than that. It’s a cooperation, a partnership. When Paul writes to the Philippians, he thanks them for their prayers and support in their partnership with him in the gospel.
Philippians 1:3–5 NASB95
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.
The word participation in the NASB is the same word translated fellowship here in , which emphasizes that fellowship is a partnership or cooperation centered on right teaching.
Paul makes this same emphasis in that passage in that I read a few minutes ago. I think if we could unpack everything that it means that the first church was continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, it is what says.
I’m not going to read it all again, I’ll start in v15
Ephesians 4:11–16 NASB95
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Ephesians 4:15–16 NASB95
but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Your growth is intricately connected to right teaching and fellowship/partnership in that right teaching. What Paul is saying in is that as I equip you tools to grow, you must also be committed to helping your brothers and sisters grow. Just like a body needs all the parts to be working properly to grow as it should, so must we as individuals all be growing properly, then (as it says in v16) the growth of the whole body will happen.
Your growth is intricately connected to right teaching and fellowship/partnership in that right teaching. What Paul is saying in is that as I equip you tools to grow, you must also be committed to helping your brothers and sisters grow. Just like a body needs all the parts to be working properly to grow as it should, so must we as individuals all be growing properly, then (as it says in v16) the growth of the whole body will happen.
Mark Goshgarian illustration?
If you want Liberty Baptist to grow spiritually, it starts with you. Start growing yourself, then encourage/disciple someone else to grow along with you.
It is this kind of commitment that we need in the church today: We all need to be committed to spiritual development so that we will be the church God intended us to be. But that isn’t the only commitment we need, we also need to be committed to devotion.

We must commit to devotion (v42b)

This devotion to God is seen in the second part of v42:
“They were continually devoting themselves . . . to the breaking of bread and prayers.”
Why is devotion such an important commitment for the church? It is because we’ll never live rightly if we don’t love God rightly.
Devotion to God is a necessary next step following our commitment to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship. Once we know God rightly, we must love Him rightly, so that we can live rightly. This is what the first church committed themselves to know God and treasure Him as God.
How do we do that? Devotion makes two demands:

Devotion demands memorial worship.

It says that they were committed to the breaking of bread.
No one act of the church should ever encourage devotion to God more than communion. This breaking of bread here connects closely to the Lord’s Table that the church was practicing every day in those first days.
The whole point of the Lord’s Table is to help us remember what Jesus did for us on the cross, how He brought us salvation. makes this clear:
1 Corinthians 11:23–26 NASB95
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
Communion emphasizes our faith in Jesus’s first coming, to die, and our confidence in His second coming, to reign.
And it is much more important to our worship than any song we can ever sing. Let me emphasize to you that worship is not just singing. Surely we can worship when we sing, but worship is much more than that. Worship is supposed to be the body of Christ accepting God’s invitation into His life, the divine life of God as it is expressed in the selfless and absolute love of God lived out forever in the Trinity. It is supposed to be formative, and the experience derived from is meant as a means of grace in which the divine life of God is imparted to us, individually and as the body of Christ.
is supposed to be formative and the experience derived from is meant as a means of grace in which the Divine Life of God is imparted to us, individually and as the Body of Christ.
We need to be committed to this kind of memorial worship as the church. Then as we enter into the absolute love of God lived out in the Trinity, we’ll express that same love to God in our devotion to Him and our changed lives that follow.
supposed to be the Body of Christ accepting God’s invitation into His life, the Divine Life of God as it is expressed in the selfless and absolute love of God lived out forever in the Trinity.supposed to be formative and the experience derived from is meant as a means of grace in which the Divine Life of God is imparted to us, individually and as the Body of Christ.
But devotion makes a second demand; it demands persistent prayers.

Devotion demands persistent prayers.

It says that they were committed to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
If no act encourages devotion to God like communion, then no act expresses devotion to God like prayer. Let me just emphasize to you, how much the early church was committed to prayer.
Prayer is expressing our dependence on and submission to God in the circumstances of our lives and in the church.
But do let me just emphasize to you, how much the early church was committed to prayer.
I already read once, where before Pentecost, Jesus’s followers were in prayer. Listen to it again:
Acts 1:14 NASB95
These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
Did you hear any familiar words? They were continually devoting themselves to prayer. It’s the same word used here in 2:42. It seems the early church had a much better grasp of just how much they needed God than we do. After all, if there is one thing that American culture teaches you is that you can do if you work hard enough. You can pull yourself up by your boot-straps; you can be a self-made man.
That’s a ridiculous world-view, even for an unbeliever, but especially for a Christian. If anyone in this world should recognize that they need help it should be Christians, principally, if we have any idea what we were saved from.
In , Paul tells the church there to pray without ceasing. I believe his exhortation is to the church as a whole much more than individuals, not that we couldn’t pray more as individuals, but I also think we need to pray more as a church.
When have we prayed enough?
Some of you probably get uncomfortable with the length of our prayer in the morning worship sometimes. Some people are terribly uncomfortable with the idea of dedicating an entire service hour to prayer. When I first got here and proposed a prayer meeting only on Wednesday night, attendance steadily declined. So this past year I alternated between teaching and prayer on Wednesday nights, and attendance on non-prayer nights nearly doubled.
Why are we so uncomfortable with prayer?
I believe prayer is so difficult because it is spiritual warfare.
seems to make this connection. Right after Paul outlines the armor of God which we need to wrestle against spiritual powers, he says this in v18
Ephesians 6:18–19 NASB95
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,
Ephesians 6:18–20 NASB95
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Ephesians 6:18 NASB95
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
To boil down what Paul says, “Get yourself ready with your spiritual armor so you can pray for the church and for me.”
We need God, but we are unwilling to pray.
Maybe some have convinced themselves they don’t need to come to our prayer meeting tonight because they can pray at home. Of course you can pray at home, but you also NEED to be praying with the body. Paul told the church to pray without ceasing.
It isn’t enough for us all to just sit at home and pray by ourselves. We need to pray together. That is what they were doing before Pentecost, and it is what they were doing here in afterwards.
Perhaps the biggest problem with the unity and growth of Liberty Baptist Church has much to do with our aversion to pray with each other. Perhaps if we prayed together more, God might do something amazing.
I don’t know what God has planned here, but I do know this, we need God if something amazing is going to happen here, and prayer is the best way to show we need God.

Being a part of the church demands that we are all in; that we are committed. Not just to being here, but to growing and to loving God.

Perhaps you’re here today and all of this seems a bit confusing. I’ve been talking a lot to people who are already believers, but let me tell you that the same message that Peter preached on Pentecost, so many years ago is still valid and still life-changing. God has made Jesus, whom the Jews crucified, Lord and Christ. He did so by raising Him from the dead. Through His death and resurrection, you can be made right before God. He has punished your sin on Jesus. If you will only trust Him to make you innocent; He will do it. Will you believe today?
v43-47 describe for us the amazing work that God did through the church’s commitment to teaching, fellowship, worship, and prayers.
He brought fear on the community around them, and He used them to encourage each other and show grace to others, and through that v47 says, He added to their number.
Which comes first? numeric growth or spiritual growth? I think describes where spiritual growth happened before numeric growth. Could that be why we aren’t seeing people drawn to Liberty? Could that be why no one is getting saved under our ministry and baptized into the church? Is our spiritual immaturity holding us back?
v44 has an interesting clause to begin it. If we were to woodenly translate it, it would say something like, “Now all the ones believing were in it.” The NASB says, “They were all together.” Maybe today, we’d say, “They were all in.”
We need to be committed to be the church we are supposed to be. We’ve got to be all in. The first church was all in. They were all in on the apostles’ teaching and the partnership that they had together to grow together. They were all in on the worship of God and expressing their constant need for Him. Are you all in? If so, does anyone else know it? Can anyone else see it? Apparently it wasn’t subtle in the first church. It was obvious and it changed their community. What’s missing here?
May God strength us to be continually devoted to the His church.
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