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The Start

Fully Devoted: A Study In Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Jesus continues to do new things in and through his followers.

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Introduction

I think you will agree with me that the question of authority is primary and fundamental. When people think they have the right to announce, “This is what I think Christianity is, and this is what the church should do,” then we have the right to ask, “Can that be fitted into what we have here in the book of Acts?
How many like what’s familiar? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Routine is the spice of life.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Christianity—The Only Hope,” in Authentic Christianity, 1st U.S. ed., vol. 1, Studies in the Book of Acts (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000), 7–8.
The apostles
The only reply to that is the one that was given so perfectly by the late G. K. Chesterton when he reminded us, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” That is the simple truth. The world, speaking generally, has never tried Christianity. It has talked a lot about it, but it has not really tried it. So I argue that this is still the only hope for the world. Therefore it is urgent that we should ask what Christianity is. Or, to put the question another way, what is the Christian church? What is her business, and what is her message?
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Christianity—The Only Hope,” in Authentic Christianity, 1st U.S. ed., vol. 1, Studies in the Book of Acts (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000), 5–6.

The Church starts with Jesus. (1-3)

Acts 1:1-3
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
The author of the book of Acts is Luke, the same man who wrote the third Gospel that bears his name.
The book of Acts is basically a second volume to the Gospel of Luke
And Luke addresses his work here to the same person to whom he had addressed the Gospel of Luke, a man by the name of Theophilus.
Don’t know much about Theophilus - may be person - may be title for a group of people (Luke - “most excellent”)
Based on what Luke writes in , it would seem that Luke is writing to Theophilus to either help convince Theophilus
Luke refers to his first work as dealing with “all that Jesus began to do and teach”
Acts of the apostles
Acts of the Holy Spirit
Jesus’ Works and Words
Luke’s Gospel shows that Jesus is who he claims to be - the Son of God.
This is what sets Christianity apart from other religions.
We’re not talking about a religious set of rules - philosophy and ideas.
We’re talking about a man - and not just a man that gave us a good example to follow
While the world wouldn’t need a historical Buddha to have Buddhism, it must have a historical Christ to have genuine Christianity.
Merida, Tony. Exalting Jesus in Acts (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary) . B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Jesus taught the truth about life and God. He backed up his words with his life, his miracles, and ultimately his resurrection from the dead.
He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking
This is where the church began. This is where Granger Missionary Church began.
The start of the Church is described here, but the Church starts with Jesus.
Jesus is the cornerstone of the Church and Christianity
There can be no Christianity apart from Christ.
The start of the Church is described here, but the Church starts with Jesus.
Acts 20:28
28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
Jesus bought the Church with his blood
He empowers the Church with His Spirit
He commissions the Church with His message
He sends the Church in His name
We must be very careful in ever thinking the church is ‘our church.’
We are building His Kingdom, not our kingdom
The Church is the bride of Christ - DON’T MESS WITH MY WIFE!
Jesus is in every verse of Acts 1:1-11
Acts is a continuation of what Jesus is doing
Acts of the apostles
Acts of the Holy Spirit
ILLUSTR - better than the original? - most movies have bad sequels - Not Acts! It’s the start of something new. . .
How many like new things? You’re the first to get the new iPhone, you love the new car smell, you love meeting new people, and trying new foods.
How many like what’s familiar? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Routine is the spice of life.
(I’m indebted to Matt Chandler for his key points of - power, purpose, plan. https://www.tvcresources.net/resource-library/sermons/the-beginning-of-the-church#video)
Acts 1:4-5
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), .

The Church starts with a new power. (4-5)

Promised Power
, 26
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), .
Spirit’s Power
Romans 8:11
11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), .
Delayed Power
Why did they need to wait? Perhaps it was to remind them that they needed God’s power to accomplish the mission.
I imagine they were excited and ready to go.
They had seen the risen Jesus, they had a story to tell.
They had just spent a 40-day intensive learning session with Jesus, yet Jesus told them to wait for the Spirit’s power.
Notice what they did while they waited:
Acts 1:12-14
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet,. . . 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, . . . All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
I doubt this new thing called the Church could have been effective if the apostles were not expecting God to do something, waiting, wanting, devoted, changed by Jesus.
We can try every new program and church fad, but until we become a people empowered by the Spirit through prayer, we will accomplish little of any value.
WE are constantly on a stretch, if not on a strain, to devise new methods, new plans, new organizations to advance the Church and secure enlargement and efficiency for the gospel. ...The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. . .
What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men—men of prayer.
 Edward M. Bounds, Power through Prayer (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1999).
Acts 1:6-8a
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), .

The Church starts with a (re)new(ed) purpose. (6-8a)

The apostles were essentially asking if now Jesus was planning on building the kingdom of the people of God.
Jesus redirects them and tells them the power they will receive was not so they might become royalty in their own kingdom, but witnesses for God’s expanding Kingdom.
Witness = Martyr
How much do we really wish to give all we have for God’s Kingdom? And how much would we rather establish our own?
This is not a new plan but a renewed plan
Isaiah 49:6 ESV
6 he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
Isaiah 49:6
6 he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
This is what we call God’s redemptive plan for history.

The Church starts with a new plan. (8b-11)

8b-11
you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, end of the earth
Jerusalem - Yes
Judea - OK
Samaria - What?!
End of the Earth - NO

The plan has started.

The plan has started.

. . . a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went,
ILLUST - Remember your first time driving alone? - OK, it’s all on me now.
Never had a more important assignment been given to a less qualified group of people. (J D Greear)
I wonder what these guys were thinking:
Wait! We have a ton of questions.
What will this “Holy Spirit” do? What kind of power will it be? When will it happen?
Why Samaria? How will we get to the ends of the earth?
Young adults spend longer in college than these men spent with Jesus and yet Jesus left the entire plan of redemptive history in their hands.
Never had a more important assignment been given to a less qualified group of people. (J D Greear)
Why would Jesus leave this plan for the Church - for the spread of the gospel?
Things we know:
Jesus left this plan to the Church on purpose.
Jesus does not want this plan to fail.
Jesus KNOWS this plan will succeed.
Jesus knows that the Church has everything it needs to be successful. - Even with all of the unanswered questions.
The success of the

The plan is ours.

There is no plan B for salvation!
You are here because someone took their role in God’s plan seriously.
Who is not here yet that will be as we become more fully devoted.
How exciting is is to think that we we are doing what Jesus did - In fact, we will do greater things than Jesus!

The plan is not finished!

This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Power through Prayer 20 A Praying Pulpit Begets a Praying Pew

That which has been done in spiritual matters can be done again, and be better done. This was Christ’s view. He said “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” The past has not exhausted the possibilities nor the demands for doing great things for God. The Church that is dependent on its past history for its miracles of power and grace is a fallen Church.

Jesus is coming back!!
Power through Prayer 20 A Praying Pulpit Begets a Praying Pew

That which has been done in spiritual matters can be done again, and be better done. This was Christ’s view. He said “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” The past has not exhausted the possibilities nor the demands for doing great things for God. The Church that is dependent on its past history for its miracles of power and grace is a fallen Church.

This mission is one with accountability.
That which has been done in spiritual matters can be done again, and be better done. This was Christ’s view. He said “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” The past has not exhausted the possibilities nor the demands for doing great things for God. The Church that is dependent on its past history for its miracles of power and grace is a fallen Church.
 Edward M. Bounds, Power through Prayer (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1999).
Jesus is still at work within the Church and in the lives of those within the Church.
We
God is doing a new thing here at Granger MC.
Stats on children attendance baptisms.
Plug for baptism.
It’s not because of me. We jumped on board because we saw God was already at work and there are many that I meet weekly recognize God is at work here and do we have questions we know God is doing something and we want to be a part of it join him on his mission.

Conclusion

Where do you need to see Jesus start something new?
Where in your life do you need to see Jesus REnew?
I want us to cry out to God to do a new thing - to do a renewed thing and I don’t want us to stop until he does it.
I want us to cry out to him in desperation, in expectation, in celebration, power.
I want to look more like the early church - fully devoted to God, fully devoted to each other, fully devoted to taking the gospel of Jesus.
I long to see the Church plant churches, souls saved, I want to see healings, baptisms, marriages restored.
Like you, I have questions, I don’t know what exactly all this looks like, how it will all work out, what new things there will be, what things will be renewed.
But I do know this:
Jesus continues to do new things in and through his followers and he wants to do them here.
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