A Blueprint of the Early Church
Acts chapter number to we've been going through the book of Acts over the last few weeks and I know Pastor Darren. Going to review this passage that we're going to be looking at today a few weeks ago, but I just really felt led to go back again here to this passage. And I believe this is so important for us as a local church and help us to have the kind of foundation that we need to have it. It really serves as a as a blueprint if you will for us and and so thankful for the opportunity to I've been running around this morning like a chicken with my head cut off. That's a North Carolina saying for those of you I've never seen a chicken run around with his head off.
You know, Isaiah take usually takes care of the slides appreciate Alex taken care of that this morning. He's not here. He's in Tennessee for the wedding Adele and usually takes care of the sound. He's not here. He's in Tennessee for the wedding. Obviously joy and and Melissa and I hear they were in Tennessee for the wedding Pastor. Darren does so much behind the scenes and obviously he's not here. So I appreciate everybody that's filled in and help preciate Flavio driving the van picking people up this morning. We need to volunteer to take me to home today. So if you can do that, let me know after the service. Otherwise are they have to walk nun? Just kidding will make sure they get home. But but we do need a volunteer to help with the van this afternoon. If you can help let me know after the service. I appreciate so many people that have just stepped up and it's helped out so many. Different ways in this past week has been a lot going on in a lot of lot of things on our minds and hearts and you guys have just stepped up and and just done so much and I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. And one thing that I'm really excited about is the fact that Lord willing in the New Year. We're going to take the next step in our on our property their 34th and Washington and that is to have a feasibility study done in the feasibility study. I just helps us to understand exactly what size building we can have on the property size of parking all of those kind of things. I just reminded again Wednesday night people really struggling to get up and down those steps and it breaks my heart to know that this building is limiting people from being able to come dick has not been able to come in years because of our step situation. It it it it it's a bird Know my heart and so I'm praying that God would help us to be faithful with what we have and trust him to provide what we need. That's my prayer. And so but that feasibility study will provide basically for things that will give us a master plan and a site plan it will give us a floor plan that we'll be able to have on display as well as a elevation and will give us a preliminary opinion of the probable cost of the building and later in the process and architect will take the feasibility study and the information that's provided to them by the building committee and will draw up a blueprint now blueprint is a vital tool to everyone involved in every aspect of the Ville building. Obviously. We still have a long way to go and we have a lot of money to raise but we are praying that God will provide and today though. I want to talk. Blueprint of a different sort it's a blueprint that we see in the book of Acts concerning the early church notice in our text Acts chapter 2 will begin reading inverse number 41 the Bible says, so those who received his word were baptized and there were added that day about three thousand souls and they these people these three thousand Souls that receive Christ followed him in baptism along with the other hundred and twenty that it already that were part of that early church. The Bible says they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship to the breaking of bread and the prayers and all came upon every soul and Many Wonders and signs were being done through the apostles and all who believe were together. And had all things in common and they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all as any had need and day-by-day attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes. They received their food with glad and generous Hearts praising God and having favor with all the people and the Lord added to their number day-by-day those who were being safe. Would you join me in prayer one more time father God. I thank you for the privilege and honor that we've had today to worship you. I thank you for the reminders of your birth. And the reason why you came was to provide Redemption for us that we might be saved and set free from the penalty and power-efficient. I thank you God for those that have gathered here today. I think you for Andy and Jen and their willingness to come and minister to us. Play thank you for the safety of travel. We're praying for for those that were out of town this weekend that you would give them safety as they returned and that we thank you for the privilege that we have to open up. The precious inspired word of God to hear what you have to say to us. And as we look at this model of the early church a help us to understand how these things need to also be true in our lives as well. We ask and pray all of this in the name of Jesus our savior. Amen. We find such qualities in this infant church that I believe are important for Flagship church or for that matter every local shirts. The first thing that we see is found in verse 42. The Bible says that they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and The Fellowship of the breaking of bread in the prayers notice the first part of that verse they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching we find out first of all, that instruction was very Important in the early church, the early church was a learning Church. The Bible says that they devoted themselves. They gave themselves. If you will to feeding upon the teaching of the Apostles of these new Believers certainly were learning more about the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They were learning about his spirit that now had moved in them. It was indwelling them that were certainly learning about Jesus and and everything that Jesus had top because part of the Great Commission was what teaching them all the things that I have taught you and so they were learning about the teachings of Jesus and the apostles were willing teachers. They were investing their lives into these Believers and these Believers were willing Learners. It's a proper instruction in the word of God is vitally important and we should never ever get to the place in our lives where Quit learning surely we where we get to a place in our lives where we quit learning God's word that you will never reach. The depths of God's word. There is always more to learn but even more important than that is that we take what we learn we take what the word of God says and we put it into practice James tells us in a chapter 1 verse 22 that we are to be doers of the word not hearers only Paul told Timothy Timothy. I what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to Faithful Men Who will be able to teach others also. It's so you should have as a believer in Jesus Christ as a person who has been made Alive by the spirit of God. You should have an appetite for the word of God. Jesus said men shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God We have every word that has proceeded from the mouth of God that he wants to reveal to us found in God's holy word. And so we should have an appetite appetite. If you are healthy, you're going to have an appetite. If you are a healthy Christian you are going to have an appetite for the word of God. If you do not have an appetite for the word of God, then you need to ask yourself. Am I healthy Christian Christian because I believe a healthy Christian is going to have an appetite for God's word. And so they were a learning Church. They understood that instruction was very important. And I believe that we should follow their example, I believe it is important for us to be in church in the sense that we are in a collective worship service where we can come and we can hear the word of God preached. The Bible says God says that he has chosen to use the foolish. List of preaching the save those which believe and so the preaching of God's word the preached word listening to the preached word digesting the preached word is important be involved in a Bible study right now. I am leaving for different Bible study groups. And that's about all I can handle. I don't think I can add another one to my plate but the cool thing is this we're getting ready to send two of those and one of those groups is going to Branch off and start a Bible study of their own Lord willing and I so they will be able and then you know what my job people say was at your job is do the ministry. Actually my job is to train you to do the work of the ministry. That's one of the pastor's job is to train his people to do the work of the ministry it so I'm excited that now we can start multiplying our self we get people talk with you people trained and then we give them a responsibility so they they can train and teach others and we can multiply ourselves out and We're going to Lord willing start a couple of more new Bible studies after the new year. I want to encourage you to get involved. I get involved in latte ladies get involved in our men's prayer breakfast that we're going to be having in January. I'll devote yourself to learning the truth of God's word and so instruction was important, but another thing that you find is that they understood that Fellowship was foundational look at get it verse 42 Fellowship by Sensational they devoted themselves not only to the apostles teaching but the fellowship nowhere to talk about what that word means here in a moment, but they devoted themselves to that. They devoted themselves to the fellowship part of that verse 44 says that they were together Fellowship is when you come together, you can't Fellowship by yourself. You can't Fellowship in isolation even in the day of social media and and you know being able to see people on a screen and all of that that cannot take the place of Fellowship God designed you to be in community. He designed you to Fellowship verse 46 says that day by day. They attended the temple together they came together. They broke bread in their homes together. And so they spent time with one another Lord Fellowship here in verse 42 is comes from the Greek word coordinator. And I love what one commentator a commentary said about that work. He said it's a relation between individuals now, which is really think about this definition a relation between individuals individuals which involve a common interest and a mutual Artisan x-word active participation in that interest and in each other, what's think about that and how it relates to the body of Christ a relation between Christians are relation between Brothers and Sisters in Christ, which involve a common interest do I wonder what are common interest is common interest is Jesus a man or a common interest is the word of God are common interest is the fact that we're part of the family of God. So it's a relation between Christians followers of Christ which involves a common interest and a mutual active participation in that interest and you can't be interested in God and Christ in the things of God being interested also in his mission in his mission is to go and preach the gospel to Every Creature. His mission is to go into Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria the outermost part of the earth that we are his Witnesses. So we're coming together as common Believers with a common interest who have a common Mission and we're working together. We're taking an active role an active participation in that interest. and in each other each other we're spending time together. We're taking an interest in each other. We are participating together. We're participating in each other's lives. We are a family that the Bible says they came together to break bread. They enjoyed meals together. They gather around the Lord's table together. They celebrate it. What they had in common is their reflected on the body of the Lord and we are going to do that next week at the end of our service as we observe. The Lord's Supper. They were reflected on the body of the Lord that was broken by the nails in the spear in the blood of the Lord that poured out freely as he was being crucified and they were together. That's how our bond is going to grow stronger is if we're together and I think we got to be together more than just 52 days out of a year in the time that we are together to make that a special time to make it a meaningful time working together praying together. It was such a blessing to me as I saw all those people on Wednesday night Gavin together and it for a common purpose to pray for family in our church that we love and that's hurting. Until you see that in verse 46 for their coming together. They're going to the temple together. They're breaking bread together. They understood that Fellowship is foundational. This is an Old Testament principle is well Solomon recognize that please you ask Jeeves chat before he said two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil for if they fail one will lift up his fellow but woe to him who is alone when he falls he has not another to lift him up again if two lie together they keep warm, but how can one one keep warm alone in the room and my Prevail against one who is Alone 2 will withstand him a three-fold cord is not quickly broken the other some places that you don't necessarily want to be alone. Right? I mean there is never maybe certain scenarios that that you may feel threatened. You may not want to be alone. But if you have you know a couple of nice size bodyguard Walking with you you you feel a little bit more secure. Well when you know God I know what they mean when they say this and that they probably don't mean to but they have. That's all I need. Yes, but the same God that you have is a shame guy that created you to need one another he's created us for Fellowship. He's created us for Community. The writer of Hebrews says let us consider how to stir up one another love the King James. It says how to provoke one another some of your good for provoking people, but probably not the way the Bible talking about let us consider how to stir one another to love and good works. It's so we need to be thinking you got to be thinking right now. Look at her looking around at the people around you right now and ask yourself, how can I provoke them to love and good works? How can I stir them up to love and good works? What are the best ways I think is by your own example by your own example. And he says there's 25 not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some so what's your habit is your Habit to be in church when the doors are open understand you are the church, but we come together on a weekly basis to worship, but encourage one another and all the more. As you see the day Drawing Near in other words for the Christian Fellowship should not be become less important. You should become more important because we are living any more hostile world to the things of Christ. So we need one another we need that fellowship and in as a church, if we're to be strong and unified week, we cannot neglect the assembly. We cannot neglect assembling ourselves together. We need to meet together and pray together and talk together and I asked God how we can be a better and more effectively have active participation for the cause of Christ and interest in each other and for the work that he's called us to do in Erie, Pennsylvania around the world. And so I would encourage as I said earlier to get involved and be faithful and understand that Fellowship is foundational a third thing that we see is that they understood that prayer was powerful prayer was powerful. Look at verse again verse 42 They devoted themselves never one to the apostles teaching number to the fellowship to the breaking of bread in the notice sign leave the prayers. They understood the power of prayer. Now, we see that early church coming together in Collective prayer will talk more about that as we go through the book of Acts, but I understand please understand a collective prayer never takes the place of individual prayer. Your prayer life. I hope is more than than just you know, what happens in this building. I hope that your prayer life is Alive and Well outside of these walls, but collected prayer is important that we see them praying for Peter when he was in prison. We see them praying for the sick and other times and other places and you hear people say things. Well, all I can do is pray. It's the greatest thing that you can do is pray you pray you are talking to the creator of the universe who has the power to do what you and I cannot. Do, you know what you and I cannot do collectively. We are inviting the shopping Creator and sustainer of the universe to do while we cannot do to go nowhere. We cannot go to minister in ways that we cannot minister to help in ways that we cannot help and to intervene in ways that we cannot intervene prayer is an awesome awesome tool that we have at our disposal. I love what doctors wire said. He said prayer expresses the core belief that life on Earth cannot be live as it should without Heaven's assistance think about that life on Earth cannot be lived as it should without Heaven's assistance. So very true. The fourth quality that I see in this blueprint is that they understood that sharing was significant looking at it versus 4445 all who believe we're together and had all things in common and they were showing their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all as any had need.
It's interesting. And when I read that I thought about I thought about the way we do things today often times, you know, when there's a need and somebody maybe has a benefit or something. And and we we we we did that to Summer at our church property when we had the big yard sale and are you guys didn't sell what you had and give but you brought what you had and gave so somebody else could sell it and then we could take those proceeds and be a blessing to the need that that we were aware of and we see that happening in the early church. They had all things in common and it doesn't mean that that they just signed over everything that they had but it does mean they took what they had willingly. It wasn't coerced. It wasn't mandatory. It wasn't anything that they had to do was it communism it was that they willingly took things that they had and said, you know what I can sell. And I can use the proceeds of this to be a blessing to somebody else. And so they understood, you know, the things that I have do not have a self-centered purpose. Need to remember the things that God has blessed us with a do not have a self-centered purpose release. They should not have a self-centered purpose. And so they took their belongings they sold some of those belongings and use those proceeds to benefit administrative their brothers and sisters in Christ. It was done out of love it was done because they wanted to do it Jesus reminds us and Luke chapter 6 verse 38 give and it will be given to you and tell you something I found over and over and over again. You cannot outgive God. You you you you you take out with a with a sand shovel and God God puts in with a with with a huge shove. I mean, he says give and it shall be given to you good measure pressed down shaken together running over will be put into your lap for with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. I'm not talking about some type of you give to get scenario, but I'm just saying you can't outgive God we are reminded in Acts chapter 20 and all things. I've 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. Paul said in 2nd Corinthians 9 the point is this whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever says bountifully will also reap bountifully if you want a Hundred Acre you don't plan on just one acre, right? Do you want a Hundred Acre crop you plant on a hundred acres and that's how you get a Hundred Acre crop and if we want to reap bountifully we need to show Bountiful. Each one must give as he just decided in his heart not reluctantly or under compulsion. Fur God loves a cheerful Giver. He doesn't want us to give because work guilted into giving or because somebody else might be looking at what we're giving you want us to give because we want to give he wants us to give a call. We have a generous heart that has been changed by the power of the Holy Spirit and God loves it when we give cheerfully Right of Hebrews says in that chapter 13 verse 16 do not neglect to do good and to share what you have for such sacrifices. That's interesting. I thought we were just supposed to give stuff is easy to get right or sometimes. It's a sacrifice. But he said such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Flagship Church in his people should be known as generous people people who not only generous with their Treasures but their time and their talents it's not about our agenda. It's about his agenda in the body is made up of many members. We've got to come together and pull together as a body to focus on his agenda part of that is being generous and Can't say enough how proud I was on Wednesday night when we were able to come together and give a v characteristic is that we see in this church. Is that preys? Is primary praise is primary look at verse 46 and 47. The Bible says day by day attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes. They received their food with glad and generous Hearts praising God. And having favor with all the people. They had received what was given to them to verse 46 with lad and Generous Heart and verse 47. They praise the one who they recognize and understand that those blessings that came from they understood that God is the source of those blessings that show whether you're only giving in or whether you're on the receiving end. You need to understand who owns it all. On Junel. We're just Channel. We're just conduit that God chooses to use through which His blessings and generosity will flow and so the maximum expression of gratitude and appreciation for what were able to give should be directed to God. Think about these songs is often referred to as the Hebrew handbook think about these verses from Psalm Psalm. 98:4 Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord. I'm so glad that's in there because that's about all I can do is make a noise Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord all the Earth Break Forth into Joy song and sing praises, you know, even when Paul and Silas after they've been through everything that they've been through it after they had were beaten and after they were thrown into prison and after they were put in the stocks the Bible says they still lifted their voice up in praise to God a joyous song. So I want to search first one praise the Lord O give thanks to the Lord for he is good for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 117 verse to for great is his steadfast love toward us and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever praise the Lord Psalm 118 verse 29. Oh give thanks to the Lord for he is good for his steadfast love endures forever over and over and over again. We are encouraged and commanded and told the praise the Lord wetherby through stringing whether it be through prayer, whether it be expressing our faithfulness through words of gratitude or writing down our prayer journals. Just thank God thank you for your blessings of this day praise needs to be a primary part of our lives. But out of all of the things that I see happening in the local church is one thing that I think is the most important.
That is this. God is the Difference Maker. What's the difference make? We find a verse 43 that all or fear Came Upon every soul and Many Wonders and signs are being done notice through the apostles. The apostles were just a conduit just a vessel of God's power. God place just power upon those individuals and they were in able to do Miracles and they were unable to touch people and bring healing and and they were but they were just a vessel of God power God's power is what was making the difference. We see the same thing happening in the end of verse 47 the Lord added to the number day-by-day those who are being saved Peter cannot save any by John cannot save any money they were kind of which to preach the message of the gospel and it tell people that good news, but they weren't able to save anyone Soul. God was doing the saving they were doing the preaching God is the Difference Maker. And that's much got to make the difference in us as well. It's got to be him. I think somewhere along the way the body of Christ has ceased to be about Christ has become about us. you see that even in the Book of Revelation chapter 3 I know your Works. Jesus said that you're neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot. I'm going to vomit you out of my mouth for you shay. I'm rich. I become wealthy and need nothing. Jesus said you don't realize that you're wretched pitiful poor blind and naked. Wow. The powerful sad thought this church and they had everything going for it. I mean in modern-day terminology, they had a nice building Tuesday had you know, they had the worship Banning that everything at church could want this and we've arrived we don't need anything and God says you you don't understand. You're Pitiful When God says You're Pitiful and that's like a saying in the southwest your heart, I mean that's bad news, right?
Man, I thought they were self-sufficient. God said you're naked.
Bless your heart. But I just want to know what else Jesus goes on the same verses 19 and 20. Those whom I love I reprove and discipline. Should be zealous and repent and we talked about what repent means last week's I won't spend any time there first 20 is a verse that so many times we use in talking about salvation, but that is not the content. I don't think it's a bad way to talk about salvation, but that's not what the verses talking about. Jesus is talking to a trick. He's talking to his bride. He's talking to his bride and he says to his bride.
You've left me out in the cold. I'm standing at the door and knocking. I'm on the outside looking in you have gotten so self-sufficient. You have gotten you have arrived in your mind to such a degree that you don't even realize. I'm no longer in your midst. It is a sad. Sad commentary. in the state of mature The day they had programmed God right out of their Ministry. What is sad? Jesus says behold, I stand at the door and knock if anyone hears my voice and opens the door. I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me. They were on autopilot. There were no autopilot to the degree that they didn't even realize the presence of the Lord is no longer in their midst. They don't recognize it or riches and their self sufficiency in their pride and their inward Focus has driven the Lord Jesus awaits and now he is in a sitz on the outside looking into the church that he had redeemed with his precious blood.
And the day that this local church become self-sufficient the day that this local church becomes more about us and less about Jesus more about what we want and less about what he wants. Then that's the day that we can expect God's hand of blessing to be lifted and we might as well change our name to Flagship social club and take the church off the name. God Almighty is the one that makes the difference in the church. And he's going to be the one that has to make the difference in our church. And if he's going to make the difference in US collectively, right? I mean she has to be making a difference in US individually. Because a local church is just made up of the of the individual believers who are a part of the bigger Body of Christ.
So we need to understand that. All right, let's take this home. What do we need to do? How do we apply this to our lives? I like what someone said. I don't know who to give credit to but they said go through the word and let the word go through you. They understood that that instruction was important so they devoted themselves to the apostles Doctrine. They didn't have the privilege of having the completed word of God. Like we have it today. We have God's complete if I'll be expired inerrant word and we need to go through the word of God. But more importantly you need to let the word of God go through you. God's word is like a mirror. And sometimes when I get up in the morning and look in the mirror, I don't like what I see. When I want to go to the fair and get one of those mirrors that make me a little thinner or make me a little taller or whatever. It's not overlooking gods were we don't like what we see, right? Shows us things that we don't like. So we so well, I'm on my way. I'm not going to throw in that verse I'll leave that for somebody else. I'll try to find something else that I like better. We let God's word go through us. Somebody says I go through. Somebody said I go through God's word every year. That's great. But it's God's word go through you every year. I got word go through you. Let it penetrate your heart your mind your thinking I would rather you meditate on a verse a day and get something out of it and Obey it the retention diapers a day not get anything out of it and not a pea. She let God's word go through you. Secondly spend time with people who love God and love his work. He said over and over again. Don't be a loner. God did not call you to be a loner. I like what doctor dryer said about Fellowship. He said Fellowship is sometimes best understood as having people to partner with and sharing life issues. This is one of the deepest needs of human life. We need one. We need each other. number three talk to God all the time about everything talk to God all the time about everything all set it this way the church intestinal 9th and pray without ceasing. number for remember you have been blessed to be a blessing. You've been blessed to be a blessing. Understand things that God has placed in your hands. Are not just for you they are for his glory and sometimes he uses you to be a blessing to somebody else with them. We think about missions and giving to missions giving to other organizations that help Reach people with the gospel Romans 10 reminds us how then will they call on him and whom they have not believed in how they do believe in him of whom they have not heard and how are they to hear without someone preaching and how are they to preach unless they are sent.
We need to understand we've been blessed to be a blessing number 5 reflect upon God's goodness and express your gratitude. We talked about praise. We need to practice raising him thanking him for who he is and what he's done and number six. Allow your insufficiency, excuse me, egg knowledge your insufficiency and rest in his sufficiency acknowledge your insufficiency and rest in his sufficiency. God is the one who will make the difference. Would you go out with me in prayer? Heavenly father I come to you today. And I thank you Lord God for who you are. Thank you for what you've done. I think you for what you've provided. Thank you for this reminder today from your word. Of what it was like to be a part of the early church. Those were exciting days as we'll find out later. Those were also very scary days. And early church will have to depend upon one another for a lot of things. Lord I am afraid that we are all too often like laodicea. We become a little self-sufficient we become independent we become.
To the place where we think that we have somehow spiritually arrived and we don't need the church. We don't need one another we don't need Fellowship. We don't need encouragement and that could be the farthest from the truth floor. We do need one another. And of course most of all we need you. And I pray that you would help us and teach us to learn to lean upon you and lean upon your strength and lean upon your power and lean upon your word.
I thank you for the opportunity and privilege that we have. 2 The pray for the needs that were mentioned earlier. Lord we continue to pray we continue to ask you to intervene in ways that only you can
it's times like that when I feel so insufficient. You know what to say or what to do. And I just pray that you would help us to proceed to try to be the hands and feet of Jesus and she could try to be an encouragement to this precious family.
And I thank you for the church. And now there's so many people in this world today. You don't have a church. I don't have a Fame. They don't have people that they can lean on. people that can help bear their burdens
Lord Jesus I just pray that you help us to learn. I understand that this blueprint that you've given us in your word it is so applicable to us today. I ask that you help us. Supply turn our lives
I wonder this morning before we dismiss if there's someone here today that maybe you come to realize and understand that. There's never been a time in your life that. That you became a part of the body of Christ it. You never acknowledge your sin to God and Trust to Jesus to forgive you of your sin and wash you and his precious blood.
in reality Cause of that, you're not part of the body of Christ. That's the bad news. The wonderful good news is you can be the wonderful good news is that it's really what the Christmas story is All about that God left Heaven became a man walking this Earth for 33 years and lay down his life in your place to forgive you of your sins to reconcile you to the father so that you can have a relationship with him and be a part of the family of God and be a part of what we call the church the church is not buildings in