A Community Committed
Big Idea: Capitalize on the momentum we have been building to give a Gospel invitation this week. Talk about baptism as the sign of our commitment and why we get baptized. Give the Gospel strong here! Finish out with a plan to ask people for commitment next week so we can solidify our membership base.
Put it all together this week.
ME: Funny story about not seeing the whole picture (keep it brief). Do IKEA furniture thing…need to see the whole picture.
WE: We can be like this at times (give some examples from our culture and how we do this same thing…maybe use the election). It can be this way with the church as well…we can look at this type of community that we have been talking about the past few weeks and say: “Gee that’s awesome, I’d love to be a part of that community” and yet fully realize that we have never experienced that at any church we have been a part of. At the end of every week I have been asking you if you would commit to something different.
List each of the weeks commitment ‘asks’
Unity - Will you commit to regularly checking your heart for the actions, attitudes, and feelings that glorify self and destroy unity?
Mission - Will you commit to GO on mission with The Outpost wherever God might call you?
Rhythms - Will you commit to a rhythm of Bible reading, and fellowship?
Service - Will you commit to serve wherever there is a need?
Prayer - Will you commit to a lifestyle of prayer?
Giving - Will you commit to giving so that we may be a community defined by our generosity
What happens if we get any one of these out of balance?
Over-emphasize Unity we become a closed group, uninviting to those we should be reaching, and ‘clicky’
Over-emphasize Mission - we start to miss the beauty of people as individuals and their own journey of faith. It produces cringe-worthy evangelism tactics that objectify people into just a project or a mark.
Over-emphasis on rhythms produce legalistic believers convinced their own ‘personal’ walk is the most important thing in the world.
Over emphasis on service is turns us towards some sort of a social gospel that fails to give people the real gospel because (service feels good and feels meaningful and yet devoid of a message of hope in Christ accompanying it is worthless). If we over-emphasize this, we will just make Yelm a better place to go to hell from.
An overemphasis of prayer (as hard as that might be to imagine) looks a little different. Often times it is an overemphasis on waiting to see God work. Many churches that trend toward the more charismatic will often over-spiritualize everything! Robert Coleman says we should pray like a Calvinist (as though everything depended on God) and work like an Arminian (as though everything depended on us).
Finally, an overemphasis on giving usually finds us spending it all on ourselves. Do the church who built a $3M facility and at the end of the article they donated $2,000 to missions…something messed up about that.
So what is the answer? What keeps us balanced and allows us to be the type of community who doesn’t loose focus in any of the wrong areas? This whole series has been about what it looks like to commit to being part of a church. And so this week, we are going to be talking about:
What shapes us as community of commitment?
If you have your Bible (I hope you will bring some form…whether digital or physical doesn’t really matter, just that you would be in the habit of bringing something), turn to Acts 18 and we are going to pick up and work exegetically through a pretty good chunk of this passage.
And having spent some time there, he left and passed successively through the Galatian region and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.
Paul is passing back through some territory he’s already been to do follow-up with some of the disciples he has already made.
Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures.
This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John;
Explain what John was doing. Talk back through the faith renewal movement in the wilderness that John was leading. We meet Jesus there and he comes as the new leader of Israel and the messiah. Talk about all of the different expectations that people had for Jesus. What might have Apollos thought about who Jesus was? Maybe Apollos had been there in Jerusalem when John was on the scene and perhaps he was there for Jesus’ baptism or had heard about it…what is almost certain; however, is that Apollos was not up to speed on Jesus’ death, and resurrection. So...
and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
These are contemporaries of Paul’s and knew the whole Gospel story.
Whatever happened at that moment, we know that Apollos took the correction good because:
And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace,
for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
Do you see the shift that has taken place in Apollos’ approach?
Apollos’ emphasis moves from “the things concerning Jesus” to Jesus as “Christ.”
Give the gospel. We don’t follow a Jesus of our own making. We don’t get to accept half the story either. Jesus is who He is. Explain how the baptism of John only showed us the who…not the how. Following Jesus means that we are dead to sin and are committed to allowing Him define every area of our life constantly re-orienting to where Jesus calls us in obedience. You will fail…regularly. But a real faith in Jesus is a
Did your commitment to follow Jesus look like that?
Or was it some prayer? Was it a card you filled out? Was it some time you raised your hand in an audience during an invitation? All of those things are fine and can be a significant part of your experience, but none of those things are the faith that saves you!
The faith that saves is a recognition of your brokenness and sinfulness before God. Not only are you incapable of not sinning, but more importantly you are incapable of living a life moral enough or doing enough good deeds to somehow put you in a right standing with God. Because of the guilty standing before God, every single person in this world is destined to spend eternity separated from God…not because He sent us there but because we have chosen it through our rebellion.
The faith that saves looks to Jesus as the only person ever to live the life of morality and service and submission to God that we were all meant to. Jesus was the only one that lived a life good enough to be in a right standing with God and yet, He died…not for His sin and brokenness but for yours. Jesus, as God in the flesh has taken the place of punishment and absorbed the wrath of God in your place.
The faith that saves recognizes Jesus as their only hope and accepts the gift of God’s grace, and forgiveness, extended by merit of your faith and your faith only. There is nothing you can do to earn this nor can you be moral enough to keep it (if it were dependent on you maintaining your salvation).
The faith that saves allows Jesus to define every action, attitude, thought, and word and is constantly seeking to realign itself under Jesus’ guidance.
The faith that saves is not a mental agreement with a set of religious facts.
The Faith that saves is a heart, mind, and life completely COMMITTED to Jesus and following Him wherever He leads.
So the question is how do we show that commitment? I’m so glad you asked, that’s where we are headed next.
It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. There were in all about twelve men.
Give background and explain the difference again in John’s baptism and Jesus’. John’s baptism was a repentance of sin and a looking forward to the coming messiah as the hope of the world. Jesus is the fulfillment. We have the whole story of Jesus’ baptism that it pictured that death, burial, and resurrection that I spoke of earlier that we are to put our hope in.
I think we see a couple of things from this.
Baptism is the first step of commitment.
About a half a dozen times in the book of Acts, we get the phrase “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins”. It isn’t that baptism saves, its that it is completely inseparable from a faith that saves.
If a saving faith is one that is ultimately commited to Jesus as ruler of your life and His first command is baptism as a sign of that commitment, how can we claim that type of faith, if that’s not our first action?
Secondly, I believe we see that:
Baptism is a volitional choice in light of the true Gospel.
Explain why this is important. If you grew up in a Catholic home or in some tradition that baptized you as a baby, man we thank your parents for the commitment they showed but if you have chosen to follow Jesus yourself, then we would say that you need to ratify that choice with your own baptism. If you grew up in a tradition that had skewed some aspect of the Gospel to the degree that they had injected some form of works and your baptism was seen as some form of ‘washing away of sin’ (link back to how many Jews viewed John’s baptism this way), then we would say that you should also ratify your choice to follow Jesus with baptism.
If this sets the tone for and begins the pathway of commitment and it is true (i.e. it isn’t just lip service, or a mental ascent to a set of religious facts) then what follows is amazing!
Lets read on.
And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.
Did you notice that even in spite of opposition, what happened? ALL WHO LIVED IN ASIA heard the word of the Lord!!!
Because they were commited to following wherever Jesus would call them to go and do whatever He would call them to do, they were a church on mission that reached ALL OF ASIA MINOR!!!
The Ephesian Church was effective.
Let’s read on:
God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified.
Have you ever seen someone take a beating so bad they are naked when they were finished with them!?!
The Ephesian church was experiencing God’s power and provision!
Because of how God was working in their midst, they ephesian church stood out and ultimately it lead to God’s glory and worship (vs. 17))
How many have ever experienced God honestly working and moving in your life and in the lives of others and through your church so radically that it stands out to the rest of the world? No…you either? I’ve never seen that type of move of God happening in any church I have been a part of…and I don’t even mean the miraculous…I just mean that God is at work redeeming and doing things that only He can do so visibly that it was evident to the world around us that God is the only one who could be responsible for what is happening. The only marveling that I’ve seen the world doing is marveling at how messed up, hypocritical, and dysfunctional the church can be at times (not that there won’t always be scoffers) but I’ve never seen the opposite from people outside of the church. I have never seen people so taken back by the love and generosity of Jesus that they can’t help but lean in for a closer look. I have never seen a world so amazed by how God is working in and through the lives of His children that they can’t help but ask about the source of hope and love that defines our life.
If we are supposed to be a kingdom of priests in the world that displays God’s power, goodness, and love that it might draw all people to Him we should be praying for God to move and work in our midst.
We should live a life so submitted to, and so committed to Jesus that we would open ourselves up to this kind of movement of God in our midst. READ THAT AGAIN!!!
As we move even farther down the story, we read that:
Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.
Explain the 140 years worth of wages. Explain people putting aside witchcraft (explain what that was again) and how it was a visible expression of their commitment to Jesus as Lord and submission to Him (the complete reverse of magic and witchcraft).
About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen; these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business. “You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all. “Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.”
Explain the temple of Artemis. Seven breasted woman (thought to have been a meteorite that fell and the temple was built around it). The temple to Artemis was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and was a huge part of the culture of Ephesus where people came from all over to ‘worship’ at her temple with silver bought from the silversmiths.
Explain the economic impact this would have had (it would have had to outweighed the money brought in through tourism vs. 26).
A Church genuinely committed to Jesus should have a major impact on their city.
It also changed their civic and cultural identity (vs. 27). Explain…they were no longer known for or famous for their temple. In that way, Artemis served them (she made them famous and brought them prosperity).
Following Jesus, however, means that you die to self in service to the king. Following Jesus means a radical realignment of purpose, unity, service, generosity, personal and corporate prayer and worship.
A life genuinely committed to Jesus lives with a new identity.
So…we’ve kind of been all over the place in this story today. Let’s stop and put all of this together.
Give the Gospel as the basis for everything.
Give Baptism as the first step of obedience.
Give the call to commit next week in our membership service.
If that is what we are committed to, I believe the Bible tells us with confidence that we will see God work and move in such a way that the world around us will marvel at what is happening here and it will ultimately lead to His glory.
If that is what we are genuinely committed to, we will have a major physical and spiritual impact on our city.
And so…the question is:
Will you commit to a life of following Jesus?
Will you commit to Baptism as a first step of obedience?
We will be doing a baptism next week if there is anyone who needs to be baptized, I would love to have a conversation with you this week. If you have some remaining questions about joining in the mission of Jesus here at The Outpost Church, I would love to get with you this week and have the conversation about that so that you can join/covenant together with us next week.