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Why Plant a Church? Part 3

Why Plant a Church  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  23:35
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Today we discuss the early church's functions and explore how they are applicable to church plants today.

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We are Fulfilling the Early Church Model

Introduction
This is our third week in this series on why plant a church. We are trying to see why we are crazy enough to do this thing called planting or starting a new church.
Aren’t their risks involved? What if we aren’t successful? What if no one else comes? What if no one gets saved? What if we don’t have a place to meet in the future?
All of these questions can come up in our minds at times. In order to push through during times of doubt is to go back to the basics. We have to look at our conviction on starting a church. Why are we planting a church together?
So far we have discussed that we are called to be the good kind of leaven and not the bad. We are to be a kind of irreversible change in our community like leaven is in bread. We are to be the chemical reaction that leaves our communities forever changed.
The second week we went into how to make that change - sharing the Gospel. We discussed why we need to share to the Gospel and went into some practical ways to do it including the 3 Circles, the Bridge, and the Conversational Model.
Today we are going to address the same question: Why Plant a Church?
Our answer is going to come from the book of acts today. Let’s get into Scripture:
Acts 2:42–43 ESV
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.
Acts 2:44–45 ESV
44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
Acts 2:46–47 ESV
46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Prayer
Today I want us to break down this Scripture and understand how this early church model interacted. I am going to hit the nine details given here by the author of Acts regarding this early church model.

1. The Early Church: Listened to Teaching (42)

Acts 2:42 ESV
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Obviously, we do not have the Apostles of the first century church but we do have their teachings. We are able to gather together and learn from the inerrant Word of God. Gathering together to listen to the expositional teaching of the Bible is one of the main commands we have in Scripture. We do not gather to hear what Jonathan wants to teach. We are to gather together and learn what God wants us to learn - namely the Bible.
What is taught from the pulpit is extremely important.
The great 20th Century pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones stated:
“the primary task of the Church and of the Christian minister is the preaching of the Word of God.” - Martyn Lloyd-Jones
The Word of God must be central to our church.

2. The Early Church: Enjoyed Fellowship (42)

Acts 2:42 ESV
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Here we see the wonderful word fellowship. In order to understand this word well we can start with fellowship with God and work out from there. Our fellowship with God was destroyed through the fall. Yet Christ’s sacrificial atonement restored our fellowship with the Father and we now are reconciled and able to fellowship together!
The key to having solid fellowship is to be in right relationship with one another. We must be humble and quick to forgive and quick to repent. We must reach out to one another and communicate together. We must spend time with one another. There must be effort to create the kind of fellowship the is designed for the church.

3. The Early Church: Had Corporate Prayers and Shared in the Lord’s Supper (42)

Acts 2:42 ESV
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Part of being the church means that we participate in functions that are for the church. In this verse we see the breaking of the bread and prayers mentioned. Obviously we know the church was baptizing new believers as well. We have already mentioned the teaching or preaching of the Word. We discussed what makes a church a church the first week in this series. These are some of the functions that a church does. We should be praying together regularly and corporately. We will be sharing in The Lord’s Supper in the coming future once we start Sunday mornings. And, Lord willing, once we get new converts we will be participating in baptisms as well!

4. The Early Church: Recognized the Miraculous Work of God with Awe (43)

Acts 2:43 ESV
43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.
We may not have the Apostles of the New Testament that were given special signs and gifts in order to propagate the Gospel but we are able to see miraculous experiences today as well. When an alcoholic is freed of his addiction through the power of the Holy Spirit, a miracle has occured. When a lost person is saved, a miracle has occured.
Some may define miracles in a very narrow definition while others may refer to miracles in such a wide definition that they don’t sound that miraculous! A miracle is anything that is supernatural. It is not natural to follow Christ. It is not natural to defeat addiction. These miraculous experiences are when God providentially and actively reaches down into the lives of people and makes an impact and change in their lives.
When these things happen we need to be awestruck at God’s work. We need to praise our Heavenly Father for His glorious grace He is pouring out.

5. The Early Church: Shared Their Belongings (44-45)

Acts 2:44–45 ESV
44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
They were generous. Obviously, I am not going to be preaching communism or socialism here. The Scripture is clear that we are not to be freeloaders. In fact Paul states:
2 Thessalonians 3:10 ESV
10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
This is not to negate generosity and being willing to help those in need however.
1 John 3:17 ESV
17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
God values generosity. We should not only help those who are outside of our church in our communities and around the world but we should also be there for one another. When someone has a child we should be there to help out however we can. When someone has surgery or a medical condition we should be generous with our time and treasures and talents to help them. When someone has an unexpected financial situation, we need to be generous as a church and help that person. We need to be outwardly centered and not self-centered individually and collectively.
Scripture Reference: 1 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 John 3:17

6. The Early Church: Worshiped Together Regularly (46)

Acts 2:46 ESV
46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
We see here the phrase day by day - at times the early church likely met daily, but this mainly also refers to the fact that they met regularly - which became Sunday’s in the early church. They met in the temple as well as in people’s homes. Yet they met regularly and in person even in the midst of persecution.
My heart is broken at the amount of people who are neglecting meeting together as Hebrews 10:25 admonishes us to do. There are those who are high risk to COVID that obviously need to be wise and hopefully will be vaccinated soon and back into the collective body of believers. Yet there are many that state that they may not feel comfortable even after getting the vaccine. Or others that refuse to get the vaccine and yet do not feel comfortable meeting because of the virus!
Brothers and sisters, this is disobedience at its worst. We are to regularly meet together. I am firm believer that this means in person as Christ states where two or more are gathered, I am there also. I understand that there may be certain circumstances that may preclude us from meeting together for at time. However, we must be wise in how we determine whether we will obey or not.
We are to be faithful to the church and moreso to Christ and His commands. We must love Him more than we love our health and safety. The early church we are studying was meeting at the risk of their lives! They were being persecuted and killed just for worshiping Jesus Christ!
Let’s be a church of faithfulness even in the midst of persecution. May we be wise…but also obedient.
Scripture Reference: Hebrews 10:25

7. The Early Church: Shared Meals with One Another (46)

Acts 2:46 ESV
46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
Here we see them breaking bread in their homes. This can very well be another referring to the Lord’s Supper as seen in verse 42. However, it more likely in this context of the homes that these are meals being shared with one another. There is something about sharing a meal with someone in your home that opens up a new level of relationship. People relax a lot more when they are eating together. The home is a less intimidating environment as well.
We need not look further than Jesus to understand this further. There are 14+ instances in which Jesus ate meals with others. Oftentimes, He was eating meals with a very unpopular group of people such as tax collectors! Yet great things happened over these meals. Lives were changed and souls were saved. God has made meal time a special time in the life of humans. Let’s be generous with out home and hospitable and have others over both in the church and outside of the church and let’s share the Gospel and share God’s love with one another and our communities.

8. The Early Church: Practiced Generosity (46)

Acts 2:46 ESV
46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
You may be wondering when I am going to move past verse 46 here. And yes, this is the last point from this verse before we move on to the final point and the final verse! This is quite a power-packed verse and it ends with a wonderful two words:
Generous Hearts
Don’t you love that phrase? It really gets straight to the point. Generosity comes straight from the heart. It becomes more and more clear why Jesus said:
Matthew 6:21 ESV
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Generosity springs up from the heart. We must be a church that is generous. Our treasure needs not be stored up on this earth - it needs to be stored up in heaven.
Scripture Reference: Matthew 6:21

9. The Early Church: Found Favor in Their Communities’ Eyes (47)

Acts 2:47 ESV
47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Finally we come to our last point. The early church found favor with the people. How wonderful is this statement. In a world today where the church is not finding much favor with the people, this early church did.
Favor is an interesting thing. It is an act of gracious kindness. It is undeserving. We see in the Scriptures three basic facts regarding favor:
A) Favor is Given To: The Humble (Proverbs 3:34)
Proverbs 3:34 ESV
34 Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.
B) Favor is Given To: The Obedient (Proverbs 3:3-4)
Proverbs 3:3–4 ESV
3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.
C) Favor is Given To: The One Who Asks (Psalm 106:4)
Psalm 106:4 ESV
4 Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people; help me when you save them,
This is not to say that God never pours out favor on one who doesn’t ask or that He never gives favor even unto one who is not fully obedient as we all fail in some way or another. This is just the standard way that God normally works as He shows favor.
May we pray for favor for CrossPointe as well as ourselves as we seek to make His name and renown known in this community.
Prayer
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