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#2First Steps in the Kingdom

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FIRST STEPS IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD

(First Steps Sermon Series)

Westgate Chapel 12/02/01 a.m.                                                   

PROPOSITION:  That God has provided some first steps that are indispensable for every disciple of Jesus to follow in their new life in God’s Kingdom.

i.    introduction

-     REVIVAL has begun in the Northwest!

-     THIS is God’s word to us, and we are already seeing the signs of this revival all around us.

-     ONE of those signs is that God is drawing unprecedented numbers of men and women to Himself.

-     AS one congregation in the Northwest, we believe there is an urgency for us to respond to God’s promise.

-     THERE is an urgency for us to prepare for the harvest, to prepare a discipleship strategy for new Christians, called First Steps.

-     AS the name implies, First Steps are the basics, the fundamentals of being a follower of Jesus…a disciple.

-     AND the purpose of these messages, starting last Sunday, is for us to have a common understanding, and a common language, for the most important life of all….the life of a follower of Christ.

-     LAST Sunday we talked about “Stepping into the Kingdom of God.”

-     TODAY I want to talk about some of the “First steps (we take) in the Kingdom of God.”

-     YOU see, being a Christian is about much more than just getting your sins forgiven….sort of like a fire insurance policy, a get-out-of-hell free pass.

-     BEING a Christian is a totally new and revolutionary way of living…made available now to you only through the person of Jesus Christ.

-     IT is life lived from a new center…the person of Jesus.

-     AND this new life is not just based on what He did on the cross, 2000 years ago (as essential as that was), but on who He is TODAY, living in and through you now, in the kingdom of God.

-     REMEMBER from last Sunday that God’s kingdom is “the range of His effective will,” says Dallas Willard in his book, The Divine Conspiracy.

-     THE kingdom of God is where what He wants done is done!

-     GOD’S kingdom has always existed.

-     GOD’S kingdom governs and pervades the whole universe.

-     IN fact, the only place in the universe where God’s will is challenged is here on earth….as puny humanity shakes their fist in God’s face and tries to govern their kingdoms without Him.

-     HOW foolish!

-     AND look at the mess we have made of our lives, of our hopes, our dreams, of our marriages, of our children, of our nation, and our environment….trying to govern God’s creation without Him.

-     IT should be obvious by now that it cannot be done.

-     SO, the reason Jesus came to earth, 2000 years ago, was not to simply provide a sacrifice for our sins and leave.

-     JESUS came to earth 2000 years ago to announce that He was our access back into the life of God’s kingdom.

-     HE is the bridge across the gulf of sin, that separates you and me from God….the “bridge” that leads us into God’s kingdom.

-     IN Luke 4:43, Jesus said,

      “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of Godbecause that is why I was sent.”

-     THAT is also why, whenever Jesus performed a miracle, or cast out a demon, He would say,

      “The kingdom of heaven has come to you!” (Luke 11:20)

-     JESUS said to His disciples, in Luke 12:32,

      “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”

-     AND in Luke 17:21 Jesus says that the kingdom of God is not in any geographic location,

      “…it is within you.” (Luke 17:21)

ii.   stepping into the new you

-     SO, through repentance and faith in Jesus, you have stepped over the bridge into God’s kingdom.

*     And you became a child of God (Galatians 4:4-7).

*     And God remembers your sin no more (Isaiah 43:25).

*     And you are set free from bondage to sin (Romans 8:2).

*     You are dead to sin and your past (Romans 6:2)

*     And you became the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

*     The old you is passed away and you have become a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

-     THIS is the new you!

-     THIS is your new identity, your new life.

-     SO it makes complete sense that the very first step Jesus asks you to take, as His disciple, is water baptism.

-     SIMPLY because water baptism captures, in one vivid, descriptive action everything that happened to you when you crossed into God’s kingdom.

1.   You died to your sin, your past, and your broken self, when you repented of what you had become and put your trust in Jesus (Romans 6:4).

•     And what do you do with a corpse?

•     You bury it.

•     So, down in the water you go, burying your sin and your past with Christ!

2.   But you also received the resurrection life of Jesus within, when you put your trust in Him.

•     And what happens at resurrection?

•     The corpse comes out of the grave to live a new life.

•     So, up out of the water you come to live a new life in the power of the resurrected Christ within.

-     WATER baptism is an outward celebration of what Jesus did for you when you were born again into God’s kingdom.

-     IT is a celebration that formally identifies you with and unites you to the Church of Jesus….from the first century to the present.

-     WATER baptism doesn’t save you. Jesus did that in response to your repentance and faith in Him.

-     BUT He submitted to water baptism in the Jordan River as our example.

-     AND He commanded it in Matthew 28:19, where He said to His disciples,

      “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

-     IT is a command…but that shouldn’t be a problem because now your greatest joy is to please the One who gave His life for you, and has gone to prepare a place for you.

-     THAT is what disciples in the kingdom of God do…they obey. It is not forced. It is as natural as breathing (Matthew 28:19).

-     IT is humbling…but that shouldn’t be a problem, because your pride was crucified with Christ on the cross, and Jesus is now living His life from your heart out.

-     WATER baptism is your public declaration that you have taken citizenship in the kingdom of God…and frankly should come up out of the water shouting praises.

-     IT is one of the first steps you take now that you are in the kingdom of God.

iii.  stepping into your new power

-     BUT there was another step that was  taken right away by the new Christians in the New Testament Church.

-     THE first step was baptism in water, a baptism of allegiance.

-     THE second step was a baptism of power!

-     THIS new life is not for the faint of heart.

*     You have a very real devil, prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for people to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

*     You have a world full of very real temptations that he uses to gain access to our lives (1 Corinthians 10:13).

*     You have weak places in your life, where you allowed Satan a foothold (Ephesians 4:27).

-     YOU also have a new, full life that God intends you to live to His glory (John 10:10).

-     THERE are untold victories that God intends you to experience.

-     THERE are ministries and gifts He has in store for you (Romans 12:6-8, I Corinthians 12:1-11).

-     AND there is a powerful witness that He intends you to have to a lost and dying world (Acts 1:8).

-     THERE is spiritual fruit to be grown in your life and mine…like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22 calls them the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

-     ALL of which are going to require that you live by a power you and I do not posses in ourselves.

-     WHICH is why, right before Jesus left this earth and ascended to His Father’s right hand, He said to His disciples…

      “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. (5) For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”  (Acts 1:4-5)

-     AND it happened, just like Jesus said.

-     ABOUT ten days after Jesus ascended to His Father, the disciples were in a prayer meeting when the glory of God’s power fell on them…and they were all baptized in the Holy Spirit.

-     ACTS 2:1 says it was on the Day of Pentecost, the feast of harvest celebration.

-     ALL kinds of amazing things happened in the lives of those disciples as a result of their Spirit baptism.

*     The group of them that had been huddled in seclusion in the upper room, burst into the marketplace of Jerusalem praising God and worshipping in tongues unknown to the worshipper.

*     Peter, who had turned tail and run, when challenged by a chamber maid in Herod’s court….became so bold in his witness that he preached his first sermon to thousands in the temple courts.

*     Philip went out to preach the good news to the hated Samaritans, and when he prayed for crippled people they were healed and whole towns turned to Christ.

*     Visitors to Jerusalem, who had come just for the Pentecost celebration, got saved and left their homes, families, and jobs to be a part of that first community of faith, the church of Jerusalem.

*     The new Christians in Jerusalem were so filled with God’s Spirit that they sold properties and gave it to the apostles so that housing and food could be provided for all the new believers staying in town.

-     ALL these people, as Christians, already had the person of the Holy Spirit in residence in their lives (I Corinthians 3:16). That happens to us all at  salvation.

-     THE baptism in the Holy Spirit is subsequent to salvation, and is the power of God for witness, power for ministry, and power for the fruit of the Spirit in your life.

-     EVERYWHERE the gospel was preached, as soon as people got saved, they were baptized (that means filled to saturation) in the power of the Holy Spirit.

*     It happened in Samaria, after Philip’s converts believed and were baptized in water (Acts 8).

*     It happened to the apostle Paul, when Ananias laid hands on him. In Acts 9:17 Ananias says to Paul,

      “Jesus…has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

*     It happened to Cornelius’ household, while Peter was preaching the gospel to them. Acts 10:44-46 says,

      “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. (45) The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. (46) For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.”

*     It happened to new believers in Ephesus, recorded in Acts 19….and Paul laid hands on  them, and prayed for them, and they were baptized in the Holy Spirit.

-     ONE of the first steps for every disciple of Jesus is to receive this baptism in the Holy Spirit.

-     THE apostle Paul writes to the new Christians in the city of Ephesus, in Ephesians 5:18-19,

                           “…be filled with the Spirit. (19) Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord...”

-     AND the Greek for the verb, filled, is in the present continuous tense, and means “be being filled.”

-     HOW?

-     BY hungering for the fullness of God in your life.

-     BY believing that Jesus’ promise of Spirit baptism is for you…today!

-     IN Acts 2:38-39, the apostle Peter told the crowd that day on Pentecost,

      “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (39) The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-- for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

-     THE same faith that God gave you to believe Him for your salvation….is the same faith with which you and I reach out and receive this gift of God’s power in our lives.

-     AND in any service, in any prayer meeting, in any of our classes on the Holy Spirit, or in your home….you can ask and receive this gift of God for you.

iv.       conclusion

-     THERE they are! The first two steps of the disciple of Christ….who has crossed over into the kingdom of God.

-     BEING baptized in water!

-     AND baptized in the Holy Spirit.

-     THEY were natural and immediate steps for the new believers of the New Testament church.

-     HAVE you taken those steps yet?

-     WOULD you like to take them this morning….

*     …confessing your need for a Savior?

*     …confessing your allegiance to Jesus in water baptism?

*     …receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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