First in new Acts Series

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Writing Acts Chapter 29

 

 

We just finished Revelation.  And God wants us to break the seal on the powerful book of Acts.  Turn in your Bibles to Acts 29 [no such chapter!]

 

You’ll notice there’s only 28 chapters. (like Moses running a special:  “bonus…11th commandment!”)

 

28:30-31—could this really be the end?

 

Acts 1:1- “All Jesus *began*”

Ill.--Schubert’s 8th—known as the “unfinished symphony”

 

The book ends rather abruptly…But I think it’s to send the message of unfinished business, a continuing movement!  We are writing Acts 29 in the church today!

 

Untold Millions are still untold, and so a Bible-Believing, Evangelistic Church like ours continues to write the book, even today.

(I like to imagine Luke continuing to document the work of the local church in heaven today)

 

Chapters like:

The revival of FBC / the Lifewise adventure / the blessings of unity / the power of the Word / another soul gets saved / the healing of a family / restoration of a marriage!

 

And that book would abruptly end w/ a trumpet, and the return of Jesus Christ!

 

Ill.Billy Graham going to a major crusade / a liberal in area didn’t want him to come / went to cmte. and said, we don’t want him here, he’s too old fashioned…he’ll set evangelism back 50 years in this city! / when Graham heard that, he said, I apologize for misrepresenting my intentions…I don’t want to send evangelism back 50 years, but 2,000!

 

We need to get back to doing things the way they did in the early NT church…the one that turned the world upside down!

 

As you read about the early church, you’ll notice the absence of some things we think are important:  microphones / internet / Projector / even pews!

 

But you’ll be thrilled by the PRESENCE of certain things:

Power of God / record of the lives of people just like you, marvelously transformed into dynamic witnesses / a church growing by leaps and bounds / how a normal church is SUPPOSED TO OPERATE!

 

Vance Havner:  “the churches of today are so subnormal, that if one of them gets normal, everybody thinks it’s abnormal!”

 

Even Christian people in the community will say, what’s going on over there at that church?

 

I want to lead us back to being more like an early NT church!

 

It’s back to the basics, and so we go back to the book.  This is the early church handbook.

 

IllVince Lombardi was famous for the basics, the fundamentals / blocking and tackling… “do it right and you’ll win” / one day his Packers lost a game they shouldn’t have / they made some serious errors in the basics / coach didn’t say much on the bus to hotel / nor on the jet to Green Bay / finally, Monday morning he called a team mtg. / pulled the pigskin out of a canvas bag and said, “team, I need to go over something with you: this is a football!”

 

Let’s look together at what God can / will do if we get back to the basics:

 

3 things from opening verses:

I.      Purpose of the church

1st—That the Lord’s ministry should be continued.

v. 1      “began”

            “former treatise”=first book—Luke

I wrote that Gospel to show you what Jesus began to do.  That was only the beginning!  But He’s still working / acting

The book is called The Acts of the Apostles by the publishers, but that’s not inspired, just like Revelation of St. John the Divine!

 

This is actually the Acts of Jesus Christ!

    …what Jesus continues to do

He’s still alive and active, He’s just changed bodies, from physical to spiritual…we are it, we are His body, a spiritual body, we are His hands, His feet!  How special to be chosen to be His body, the church.  Take this seriously!

 

That’s why we should be very careful w/ His Temple, His Body, what we put in, what we allow to come out!  He won’t use a dirty vessel…He doesn’t put His Almighty hand into a filthy glove to do His work!

 

You are writing a Gospel,

A chapter each day,

By the deeds that you do

By the words that you say,

 

Others read what you write,

Whether faithless or true;

Hey, what is the Gospel

According to You?

 

The first purpose of the book of Acts is to show us that the Lord’s ministry should be continued

 

2nd—That the Lord’s mandate should be completed.

v. 2      before Jesus went to heaven, he gave mandates to the apostles, given at the end of each gospel in some words or another. (Great Commission, clearly presented in Mt. 28:19)  Go ye into all the world and preach/teach the gospel!

 

2 important words in the Great Commission:

Go       Somewhere along the way the church has gotten the idea that a beautiful bldg. will attract people to flock into it…not so, lost people don’t care about our buildings, programs, big days…they care about that wayward child on drugs / marriage on the rocks / terminal illness!

 

They’ve got needs…they’ve got questions, and we’ve got the answer, His Name is Jesus Christ!  And it’s criminal for us who have the answer to not take it outside this building…GO!

        Nowhere does the Bible command the lost to come to church.  Rather, the church is told to go!

 

It all begins w/ the word “Go”!

 

teach”=make disciples!

        It’s not just inviting them to church, tho’ that’s a good thing, but it’s also seeking to lead people to the Lord, AND EXPECTING TO! “Each one, reach one”

 

We’re to be fishers of men, but many aren’t catching anything, tho’ they are trying!  (disciples said this to Jesus, and He said, try doing it MY way!  They cast out their nets and couldn’t contain it all!)

 

That’s the purpose of the church…now look at the…

 

II.            Personality of the church

Every story has a personality, a main character, a hero.  We know it’s Jesus…but Luke says specifically, Your hero is:

  1. Alive

v. 3   infallible proofs=undeniable evidence

(there’s more evidence to show Jesus rose again than any other fact in history!)

  1. Active

v. 3b    every funeral you’ve mourned at…He’s been there, speaking to those things, speaking to your heart! / every opportunity you’ve taken to witness, He’s been there, speaking / every conflict you’ve looked to Him during / sickness (I try to be there, but even better, He’s there, He’s active, He’s there, speaking peace! (in sickness, sorrow, salvation)

 

We’ve seen the purpose…personality…

 

III.        The Power

v. 4-5, 8  

Verse 8 is the key to the book of Acts…to understand this verse is to understand the entire book…and the key words in this book are found in it: power / witness

 

You see God’s power all thru the book / people witnessing to it and thru it.

 

3 thoughts:

  1. The Substance of God’s plan

He said to the disciples, you are going to carry out God’s plan (won’t use angels / send back the dead / write it in the sky / won’t be someone holding a John 3:16 sign between the goal posts…)

    “I will make you to be living witnesses for Me.”

 

A witness:   has personal, first-hand knowledge of something (Paul knew Jesus was alive / saves souls / changes lives!)  Look around this room, and you see modern day stories which prove it!  We may not yet be all God wants us to be, but praise His Name we’re not what we used to be!

  • Nature forms us
  • Education informs us
  • Prisons try to reform us
  • Only God can transform us!

 

Everyone loves a story of transformation:

Ill.—Charles Atlas ads in back of old magazines (was a 90 lb. weakling / bully came along and took away his girlfriend / he was powerless to do anything about it…then it shows a before picture and an after picture with biceps like coconuts!)

    What a transformation!

Today it’s the weight-loss commercials that do it…

 

But those stories are nothing compared to the transforming stories we can see in Scripture and still experience in real life today!

 

Jesus said in v. 8—“witnesses unto Me”…not unto yourself (you don’t have to be a celebrity), not unto your church (the kingdom!), not unto your pastor (Paul / Apollos / Peter)

 

There’s a difference between a witness and a soul-winner, compare it to a courtroom w/ a witness and a lawyer being compared…

    …you don’t have to be a lawyer full of knowledge and expertise…just a witness who tells what they know…not to argue a case, necessarily, but to share the truth!

 

  1. The Source of God’s Plan

People hear they are to be a witness and they say, I could never do that / too shy / bashful / afraid / unknowledgable / ungifted!

 

Disciples must have thought that at first, but those 11, by the end of the book, had gotten the gospel out to the entire known world…and history tells us that w/in 6 years the church had grown from those 11 to over 200k believers worldwide!

    How did this happen?  I’ll show you…(turn)

 

4:8

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said… [he was filled with the Spirit and power!]

4:31

And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

 

They plugged into the power source…the Man Who can!  “I can’t!”…probably true…but He can! / He did! / He will again!

 

Acts 1:8 makes it clear…being filled w/ the Spirit is the key!

To say I can’t is to admit you’re not filled w/ the spirit.

 

People do some strange things today in the name of Spirit-fullness (it’s not falling backward…more likely a sign of bad breath than spirit fullness!)  True Spirit fullness empowers you to share your faith!

The Holy Spirit will fill us and override ourselves!

 

Ill.—compare to person getting drunk / it overtakes them / makes them a different person…usually shy, becomes life of party (running around with a lampshade on their head…Kimberly tells me!) / usually wouldn’t sing for all the money in the world and suddenly they’ll sing for everyone / guy who is a wimp will threaten to whip everyone!

    Alcohol overrides normal inhibitions…and 3 X’s in Scripture being filled w/ the Spirit is compared to being drunk…it makes you bold!

 

Peter wimped out on the Lord at the crucifixion…but he got filled w/ Spirit in ch. 2, and preached to thousands / was tortured and beaten / crucified upside down!  What a transformation!

 

A witness isn’t more brave, just brave 10 seconds longer (open your mouth, start into it, God will take over!)

 

Not only boldness, but also effectiveness!

    Some have tried in their own strength, and it doesn’t work (might as well hit on a tree w/ axe handle…no cutting edge)

 

“It’s impossible to do God’s work w/out God’s power!”  D.L. Moody

 

Love and compassion will follow, when filled w/ Spirit (they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!)

 

Plug in to the power source and find boldness / effectiveness / heart full of love and compassion

 

Substance of the plan (it’s us) / Source of the plan (Holy Spirit)…

 

  1. The Scope of God’s Plan

Jerusalem / Judea / Samaria / uttermost…

What’s YOUR Jerusalem?  Your family!  Are they saved?

What’s YOUR Judea?  Extended family!  Have you witnessed to them even once?

What’s YOUR Samaria?  Neighbors…what are their names?  Co-workers, do they know you’re saved, have you witnessed? / told them what you know?

What’s YOUR uttermost part of the world?  People you don’t know / people in foreign lands you can’t reach, but you give to missions and pray.

 

Think about it, we have been called to be part of the adventure…writing the next chapter day by day.  It’s a privilege.  It’s a responsibility.  Lord, help us to plug into the source of the powerful Holy Spirit, Who can do what we cannot!

 

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