Faithlife Sermons

Marks of a Healthy Church

Acts: To The End of The Earth  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:49
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Acts 2:42-47

a healthy church is a disciple making church.
Acts 2:42–47 ESV
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Devoted to the Word (42a,43)
God’s Book for us so that we can know, grow, and go.
The Word of God is of primary importance for the believer.
So we should be devoted to growing in our knowledge of God.
Growing in our devotion to God.
And being equipped to tell others about God.
This is my vision for our church that everything we do is centered around and based upon the Word of God. More than that it is God’s Vision of what the church should be.
The Bible is the distinguishing mark of a New Testament Church.
The Word of God is the only way to discern the will of God.
God’s Word Informs everything that we should be about both as a church body and as individuals.
We can argue about a lot of differing doctrines. We can argue about different perspectives on the end times. About how often we should take the Lord’s Supper? We can argue about the importance and validity of church membership.
But one of the Core Essentials that we cannot step away from is the Centrality of God’s Word in our lives.
However, unfortunately we often don’t take God’s word as seriously as we should.
We have immense access yet Christians are reading and studying it less and less each year.
Commitment to Corporate Teaching
When we gather together on Sunday Morning we gather together to be fed by the Word of God.
The preaching of God’s Word is central to the Sunday Morning gathering.
The disciples understood that as well. That is why they were devoted to the Apostles teaching.
The Word of God shapes us. The Word of God informs us. The Word of God enlightens us.
My personal pledge to you as long as God will have me as the pastor here is to be dedicated to teaching you the Word of God.
This pulpit isn’t for my opinions. This pulpit isn’t for me to bully you into believing exactly as I do.
That is why I am so dedicated to expository preaching.
I will rarely, if ever, do a topical sermon series. Because it is too easy to manipulate the Word of God for Personal gain.
That is what we have to watch out for. We have to know what the bible says so that we can combat those that say something different.
Unfortunately, pastoral ministry can be used in negative ways to beat people down, to manipulate people, and to force the congregation to get behind the pastor instead of behind God.
My principle role when I stand up here is to say what God says. And if in any way that doesn’t happen I want you to call me out on it.
I am commited to teaching you the word of God, I pray that you are commited to coming and hearing the Word of God.
However, my study and preparation to preach and teach you God’s Word is simply not enough.
You need to make a commitment to:
Commitment to Personal Study
Can I be honest with you…I know that reading and studying the bible can be a daunting task.
But every second that you spend looking at this precious book is worth the time.
Here’s the thing the more time you spend with it the more you will start to understand it.
Coming here and listening to me for 30-40 minutes a week is great, but it isn’t enough.
The depths and richness of God cannot be designated to one hour a week. Or even two hours a week.
Besides how are you going to know if I say something wrong if you don’t know the word yourself?
You may say, “I don’t have the time to read the bible?”
I am not asking you to devote hours of study each day to the bible (though that would be nice) but do you have 15 mins.
If you spend 15 minutes each day reading your bible over the course of a year you will spend 90 hrs reading the bible.
Now it takes between 50 and 90 hours to read the entire bible depending on how quickly you read.
So if you started today, most likely you would be at least close to finishing the bible by the end of the year.
How many of you have read the entire bible?
Then your next argument might be, “I don’t understand what is going on?”
Okay. I completely get that. I know that some of the stories in the bible can shoot over our heads.
But remember, that God uses His Scriptures to speak to you.
The Bible is a collection of 66 books that are all point to Jesus and the redemption found in him.
There are plenty of resources out there to help aid you during your study.
You could get a good study bible that has notes and will answer some of the questions you will have.
There are also books and articles. Or you could come to me and ask the question you may have.
I want you to know that I don’t have all the answers and I don’t expect to this side of glory. So, it is okay if you don’t have all the answers either.
What’s not okay is staying away from it b/c you don’t feel you can understand it.
Here’s a little advice on how to start studying your bible.
Start at the beginning. In Genesis.
It begins with 2 chapters of God’s great and beautiful creation. Where everything is Very Good.
Then it is 48 chapters of man messing it up. We all should feel right at home in that setting.
When you read the bible ask yourself these simple Questions:
What does this teach me about God?
What does this teach me about man?
What do we learn about relating to God?
What do we learn about relating to others?
As we grow and learn through corporate teaching and personal study we start to understand the importance of Sound Doctrine and we need to have a
Commitment to Sound Doctrine
People get scared of the Word doctrine
Doctrine is simply a system of beliefs accepted as having authority.
Why is doctrine important?
If you don’t have sound doctrine you run the risk of running astray or abandoning your faith.
Our whole series in Galatians had to do with the fact that False Doctrine had entered into church life. And when that happens, the death of the church is inevitable.
Even worse the it puts our souls in Jeopardy.
With Doctrine we have to understand that there are at least 3 tiers of importance.
I have borrowed this list from theologian Albert Mohler.
first-order doctrines: a denial of which represents the eventual denial of Christianity itself.
Humanity and Deity of Christ, Salvation by Grace Alone, Sinfulness of Man, Trinity
second-order doctrines: upon which Bible-believing Christians may disagree, but they create significant boundaries between believers, whether as distinct congregations or denominations
Mode and Meaning of Baptism
third-order doctrines: upon which Christians may disagree, but yet remain in close fellowship, even within local congregations
When and How Jesus will come back. Eschatology
Baptists have some different beliefs than Catholics, Methodists, and Lutherans.
New SS Class
Starting on 2/21 we are going to offer a new SS Class. That will go over some of the basic Christian and Baptist Doctrine.
This is a foundations class open to all people, but especially accessible to those interested in know more about the faith they are a part of.
We have to know what we believe and why we believe it if we have any chance of standing firm in this topsy turvy world.
I will be teaching this SS class and I pray that you will join me.
This doesn’t detract from the SS class that is already offered, it is simply another opportunity for you to grow in your knowledge and faith of who Jesus is.
As we learn and grow together we are going to see the need for devotion to one another.
Devoted to One Another (42b, 44)
The Bible has a lot to say about the importance of our devotion to One another.
In fact, there are 59 one another passages in the bible.
Why do you think that is?
If we belong to Christ, then we are a family. Families need one another.
When things are tough we need one another.
When we mourn we need one another
When we rejoice we need one another.
When we doubt we need one another
When we sin we need one another.
Being in each others life is not insignificant.
Here are a few of the verses in the bible that speak about our one-anotherness:
John 13:34–35 ESV
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Romans 12:10 ESV
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
1 Thessalonians 5:15 ESV
See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
Hebrews 10:24 ESV
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
Galatians 6:2 ESV
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
1 John 4:7 ESV
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:12 ESV
No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
Devoted to One Another
You can undoubtedly see the importance of Christian Community.
We cannot live the Christian Life Without One another.
So we need to be committed to:
Commitment to Gathering-Large and Small
Again we need to come together to Worship God on Sundays.
We need to spend time lifting up the one who holds us together.
Gathering together is not an option.
It is for our good that we gather together corporately.
Also we need to gather together in smaller groups so we can build one another up and dive deeper into our relationship with Christ.
This is why we are going to begin a
Small Groups Ministry-
These small groups are going to get together during the week and eat together, worship together, and grow together.
Small group ministry is essential to the health and growth of any church.
During the small group time your small group leader will receive questions from me concerning our sermon. You will talk about any questions you may have.
And really dive into what it means to apply the points of the sermon series.
Devoted to One Another
Not only do we need to be committed to gathering together we also need to be committed to generosity with one another. v. 45
Commitment to Generosity-W/I and W/O
Some like to argue that this verse demonstrates a communistic biblical perspective. Hogwash.
No one was compelled by a governmental body to provide for one another.
Rather the Holy Spirit put generosity on the hearts of the believers.
Generosity comes from the heart of God.
We are generous with others b/c God has been generous to us.
If we see someone in our midst that is about to lose their house or has become homeless, and you have room why don’t you offer for them to come live with you.
If someone is struggling to buy groceries, help them out if you are able.
If someone needs a car and you have an extra one, let them use it or give it to them.
If someone is home bound and needs some company, go visit them.
This can be uncomfortable because often we view what we have as our stuff.
“This is mine. I worked hard for it. It belongs to me.”
But the reality is that everything we have belongs to the Lord.
He has graciously gifted you with something. Maybe he has given it to you to see what you will do with it.
Maybe he is calling you to be generous right now.
We need to be generous especially with the people in our congregation, but we also need to be generous to those outside our congregation.
Generosity demonstrates an attractive faith to the world around us. When people see our generosity and how it runs contra to the world they will ask questions and be intrigued by our faith.
In 125 AD, so just a few years after Acts was written this comment was made about why the church was spreading:
And when they see a stranger, they take him in to their homes and rejoice over him as a very brother; for they do not call them brethren after the flesh, but brethren after the spirit and in God. And whenever one of their poor passes from the world, each one of them according to his ability gives heed to him and carefully sees to his burial. And if they hear that one of their number is imprisoned or afflicted on account of the name of their Messiah, all of them anxiously minister to his necessity, and if it is possible to redeem him they set him free. And if there is among them any that is poor and needy, and if they have no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply to the needy their lack of food.
Our devotion to one another deepens as we come about to worship with one another.
Devoted To Worship (42c, 46)
What is Worship?
Worship is a response to the magnificence of God.
Worship begins with the position of the heart.
“The Heart of Worship”
We can talk like we worship God, but do we really know where we stand.
Matthew 15:8–9 ESV
“ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
Corporate Worship
When we gather on Sunday Mornings it isn’t just because we feel like we have too.
It isn’t just so we can see our friends and socialize.
It isn’t just so we can check something off of our to-do list and make sure that we’re good with God.
No when we come to worship we come together to give praise, honor, and glory to the one who saved us. We come to exalt and lift up Jesus. We don’t come selfishly, we come selflessly.
We need to lay aside our preferences. We need to lay aside our traditions and hold on to the glory of the Lord.
Most of our lives are centered around consumerism.
Where we pay a certain price and we get what we want.
You should not come here to consume an experience. You need to participate in the worship of God almighty.
God Loves it when his people worship him.
When you sing, whether well or not, and you are all in Jesus loves that.
When you take notes and commit to understanding the Scriptures Jesus Loves that.
When you give generously b/c God has given to you, Jesus Loves that.
“It is by the grace of God that a congregation is permitted to gather visibly in this world to share God’s Word and sacrament” (Bonhoeffer)
Awe and Joy
Grace of God
However, Worship is not limited to just the Sunday Morning gathering we also have to be involved in:
Personal Worship
Your life is an act of worship.
The question is who or what are you worshipping.
If you want to grow to know Christ you need to always be worshipping him.
This is what Paul means when he says
Romans 12:1–2 ESV
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Devoted To Worship
Everyday is an opportunity to be drawn closer to Jesus. Everyday is an opportunity to submit to the King of the universe. Everyday we can be transformed to focus more on the things of God than on the things of the world.
Theologian NT Write says
“You become like what you worship. When you gaze in awe, admiration, and wonder at something or someone, you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship.”
So you can become like the world and it’s chaos, or you can become like Jesus.
Finally, when we are devoted to the Word, to One Another, and to Worship, it is inevitable that we become Devoted to Evangelism.
Devoted to Evangelism (47b)
“And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
How did he do this?
When people are authentically transformed by the Gospel of Jesus they can’t help but tell the world.
It’s the greatest news you can give.
God chooses to use us to help bring more people into his Family.
This is what God is passionate about, bringing people to himself.
That is what we should be passionate about.
Many Christians are upset with the way that this world is going right now.
We look out and we see sin, chaos, and hatred.
We HAVE to recognize that we can’t change those people.
We can place on them our morality. We can hold them to our standards. But they will always fall short.
We are strong enough, smart enough, or influential enough to do that.
However, we do know the one who is.
If you want to see society change. You have to approach individuals with the gospel.
The Gospel is what changes lives. The Gospel is the power of God to Save.
If you want to change society, if you want to impact society, if you want to influence society, do it through the only means we have. The Gospel.
If we were as concerned with all the people that don’t know Jesus as we are with the state of our Nation. We just might see Revival again.
If we were as commited to preaching the gospel as we are to preaching our political ideology then we just might see a harvest of souls Like the Church in Acts did.
We have the opportunity to impact society through the preaching of the gospel.
We don’t just have the opportunity, but we have the mandate from Jesus.
I want you to think about that list I asked you to write down last week.
If you weren’t here, I want you to think about 5 people that you know that don’t know Christ.
I want you to commit to either
1. pray for them,
2. Find a way to serve them
3. Invite them to church
4. Share the gospel with them
each day.
When you do this it will change your life and theirs.
As Christians, this first church models for us what a healthy church looks like.
Are we imitating them?
Are You Devoted to the Word?
Are You Devoted to One Another?
Are You Devoted to Worship?
Are You Devoted to Evangelism?
This is your opportunity to join in and follow where God is Leading FBC Louise.
Will you come along for the ride? It’ll be a great one.
If you don’t know this Jesus that we speak about. If you don’t know what it means to be a part of this magnificent yet messy family I invite you to give your life to Jesus.
He Loves you. He cares for you. He wants you to love him.
Open your heart and receive him today.
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