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The Birth of the Church: A Rebirth of Power

The Birth of the Church/Drive-In Service  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Acts 1:8 NKJV
8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
For the next three weeks, as we lead up to Pentecost Sunday, I want us to study [The Birth of the Church]. The subject of my message is, [A Rebirth of Power].
In my lifetime, which reaches nearly three decades, certain events have occured that changed the way our culture works. Generally speaking the events are tragic and it ushers society into a new normal.
The first one I remember occured on April 19, 1995. Downtown Oklahoma City shook at 9:02 am as a car bomb destroyed the Murrah Federal Building. For us it brought terrorism home.
The aftermath included changing Oklahoma History Curriculum to focus on the event. Also, all federal buildings have barricades close to them to prevent another act of terrorism.
Anyone alive and old enough to remember knows where they were on September 11, 2001. Just the date reminds us of what happened.
The aftermath included the growth of the federal government in combating terrorism. An ongoing war in the Middle East and air travel has never been the same.
One day, history books will write about the Pandemic of 2020. As of now, we do not know how the world will change. Regardless of personal opinions, we will enter a new normal.
I do not know how it will change our culture. But I have prayed about it, however, the focus of my prayers have centered on the church.
How will the church function in a post-coronavirus world?
If we want to go back to business as usual, I fear might miss an opportunity from the Lord to receive a new revelation and touch from Him.
I would love to say, this is what God wants THE Church around the world to do. I cannot say that, for one, I am not responsible for the church around the world.
However, I do believe I have direction for OUR church. We have been on pause, but there is a purpose. For the next few weeks, we will look at the Birth of the Church in Acts 2, 3, and 4.
Though our culture and lives are vastly different than those of the first century. The year 33 AD was a unique year for those who knew Jesus.
Think of Passover. Every year they went to Jerusalem with Jesus to commemorate when God passed over the Israelites as they prepared to leave Egypt.
That year they planned to eat the same Passover meal, read the same Passover stories, and pray the same Passover prayers. But that year was different.
Instead of celebrating with Jesus, He hung on a cross dying for our sins and rising from the dead.
We can relate, we planned on a nice Easter service, (which takes place on Passover), an egg hunt, and all of our traditions. Instead, we were on the Parking Lot.
Now, in Acts 2, they prepared to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, which took place fifty days after Passover. However, this year was different.
In Acts 1, Jesus ascended to heaven ten days before the Feast of Pentecost, and the disciples waited in the Upper Room. When the day of Pentecost came, it was unlike anything they ever experienced.
A sound came from heaven
Fire rested on their heads
They all began to speak in tongues
They had celebrated Pentecost their entire lives, but on that Pentecost, God birthed the power of the Holy Spirit in them!
We are three weeks from Pentecost and I believe the Lord wants give us a REBIRTH of what the Early Church experienced. In Acts 2, we see how God birthed the church through the power of the Holy Spirit.
My prayer is in May 2020, let God rebirth within us a hunger for the power of the Holy Spirit.
This morning as we study one of my favorite stories ever, I want to look at one person in particular, Peter. When I’ve looked at the various crowds in the story, but I have yet to look at one individual.
We do not have a written testimony from Peter about what happened to him on that day, but we can look at how he acted before the Day of Pentecost and how he acted after.
I want us to notice, the power of the Holy Spirit makes ALL the difference. Let’s look at two parts of what Peter said on the Day of Pentecost, [An Explanation of Events] and [A Declaration of Decision].
Let’s begin
1. An Explanation of Events
Acts 2:12–13 NKJV
12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” 13 Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”
Because Pentecost was a feast that they Jewish people celebrated every year, many devout Jewish men gathered in Jerusalem. They did this every year, but that year was peculiar.
They heard the sound coming from the Upper Room as 120 men and women from Galilee spoke in other tongues. They were confused and wanted answers.
Some of you might remember the first time you heard someone speak in tongues. But imagine the FIRST time it ever happened in history.
People could not understand. Some were amazed and interested. Others mocked what happened, accusing them of being drunk.
I have thought of the scene from the crowds in the street. But I have never thought of it from the perspective of those in the Upper Room.
They heard the mocking, the questions, and the concern. Instead of hiding out as they had before, they determined to use the new power they received from heaven.
Someone nominated Peter to speak. I can picture them looking around and deciding it was best for Peter to speak. This by itself was a sign of the power.
Remember when Jesus died, on Passover. There was a large crowd of devout Jewish men in Jerusalem at that time. They cried out in the streets, CRUCIFY HIM, CRUCIFY HIM.
It is likely some of the same men stood making the disciples of Jesus. But God empowered Peter and he was ready.
Acts 2:14–18 NKJV
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.
Peter looked to the crowd and explained the events taking place. It was part of God’s plan. In fact, it was foretold by the prophet Joel.
When he mentioned Joel, they were hooked. As devout Jewish men, they knew the words of the prophet. They knew it was unfulfilled prophecy.
And now, Peter, explained what they heard was the fulfillment of the prophecy. God’s promise to pour out His Spirit on all flesh happened as Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, which was evidenced by speaking in tongues.
Upon providing the explanation of events, Peter then issued...
2. A Declaration of Decision
Acts 2:22–24 NKJV
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.
After explaining the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, Peter pointed His message to Jesus. Remember, many of these men could have been there when Jesus was crucified.
One thing is certain, they knew who He was. Peter started by speaking of the miracles, wonders, and signs God did through Jesus.
Everyone knew the miraculous power Jesus possessed. One of the reasons the Pharisees stalled their plot to kill Him was because people believed He was a prophet and God used Him.
As they listened, some might have even witnessed a miracle He preformed. Then Peter moved onto Jesus’ crucifixion. Though it happened fifty-three days prior, it was fresh in the minds of people.
HIs controversial death and the disappearance of His body captivated the minds of those in Jerusalem. But Peter declared, God raised Him from the dead.
Acts 2:32–33 NKJV
32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.
God released Jesus from the horrors of death and raised Him back to life. Now He has ascended to heaven and poured out the Holy Spirit on those in the Upper Room.
But Peter made it personal:
Acts 2:36 NKJV
36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
It was not just the religious leaders who crucified Jesus, they had a part. Think of the power of those words. Peter was not intimidated by the crowd, many of whom took part in Jesus’s death.
Peter’s declaration of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension was to get the audience to a place of decision. They crucified Jesus. Now would they let His sacrifice come to nothing?
Peter allowed the Holy Spirit to use him and it worked.
Acts 2:37–38 NKJV
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The crowd was beside themselves as the conviction of the Holy Spirit settled upon them. They wanted to know what to do!
Peter answered, repent of your sins, we will baptize you in water, and you can receive the same power of the Holy Spirit we have!
On that day, 3,000 people decided to respond to Peter’s invitation and they were saved, baptized in water, and filled with the Holy Spirit!
On the day of the birth of the church, God poured out His power. As I mentioned in my introduction, we have a collective testimony of what God did for those in the Upper Room, they were baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.
But what about a personal testimony?
To answer that, think of Peter. Just weeks earlier he:
denied being one of the twelve disciples
disowned Jesus, going so far to cuss
hid in a dark room after he heard Jesus rose from the dead
And just moments before he was baptized in the Holy Spirit, he hid in the Upper Room, waiting.
But ONCE the Holy Spirit fell on him, a power from heaven consumed him. He was no longer the short-tempered fisherman, with limited education, and an erratic personality.
No, he was a child of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, ready to all God to use him.
But here is the good news, Peter’s story is not an isolated incident. He declared on the Day of Pentecost:
Acts 2:39 NKJV
39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
That means US!
Just as they had a unique Passover, one month ago, we had a unique Easter.
Likewise, they had a unique Pentecost. And today, I believe God can give us a unique Pentecostal experience. He can pour out His power upon us.
I do not know how a post-corona world will look. But I can God knows how a post-corona church can look.
It can look how it looked in the New Testament. They did not have beautiful sanctuaries. They did not have Sunday School classes or a Fellowship Hall.
They didn’t even have a trailer, parking lot, cars, microphones, keyboards, or FM transmitters.
BUT they did have:
The power of the Holy Spirit
A word from heaven
An ability to walk in supernatural strength
And today, God wants to rebirth this power within us. He wants us to have a holy dissatisfaction that will decide, I cannot make it in my own strength or power.
He wants our hearts to burn with hunger for His presence.
He wants us to determine, I will do whatever it takes to go deeper in God. Even if that means looking foolish to those OUT there.
I do not even care if they look at me and are perplexed and wonder if I am drunk.
God wants to rebirth His power in us. He wants His church in Vulcan, MO, at 56010 Highway 49 to grow so hungry for Him that we will do anything possible to experience the power of the Holy Spirit.
And if you are unsure if it is for you:
Jesus promised:
Acts 1:8 NKJV
8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
And Peter confirmed:
Acts 2:39 NKJV
39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
So let’s ask God to fulfill His promise in us and rebirth within us the power from heaven!
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