“A Real Church”
It’s great to be back together! As we start to meet again, I’d like to reorient us about what we are. By the grace of God, we’re the church of Jesus Christ.
To focus our attention, let’s turn to Acts 2.
I long for us to be the church the Lord Jesus wants us to be.
I know that’s the longing of many of us here today.
And of course each of us contributes to it. It’s not just the pastor or even just the members who determine this. Each of us contributes to the overall atmosphere of our church.
So we long to be the real thing, pleasing to the Lord.
It’s like this overused word “authenticity.” We want the want the genuine article, the original…. whatever. People want authentic ray ban sunglasses … I saw 1 $100,000 authentic wristwatches…. People want authentic sports memorabilia and perfume, authentic Mexican food not Taco Bell.
Give people an option on the table, and they’ll choose Dr. Pepper, not what we had in SC which is Dr. Bobs.
We want to be the church God calls us to be. We have an example in Acts 2:37-47. We’ll read it and then I’ll ask you want you see here generally or some specific necessities of a true church.
The True Church. What we have here are the necessities of a true church.
What is going on in the church here, what do you see? Generally or specific actions?
Did the leadership (Peter, et al) force anything onto the church? Or how would you describe it?
Not only can you not have a successful church without these, a real church will instinctively practice these. It won’t have to be programmed, it won’t have to be a top-down demand of the leadership; verse 42 isn’t forced into a church … but due to the nature of the work of the gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit in the people’s lives, they will be drawn naturally to these things and will be growing in them.
What’s going on here is that the early church is practicing the fundamentals
ILL: When I was in grade school and high school, I played basketball. Fundamentals: dribbling, shooting, passing, layups, jump stop, jab steps. I remember my dad telling me to always go back to the fundamentals of the game.
I wanted to buy a basketball rim you can raise and lower. Dad wanted to make sure I didn’t lose the fundamentals, so he required that I regularly make 10 jump shots in a row before I could buy that rim. Otherwise, I could lose the fundamentals by focusing on dunking on a short rim.
Any church as well could lose the fundamentals by getting distracted.
And those fundamentals are in that 42nd verse: constant devotion to apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer.
Quest: what are some things that could distract us from the fundamentals here? What is not in this list that can be so focused on in a church? If you were to ask someone who goes to a church, “Why do you go that?” What would be some answers they could give that are not on this list?
I. A true, authentic NT church will be dedicated to apostolic teaching (Acts 2:42-46)
Question: This is apostolic teaching, but what exactly is that teaching? (gospel, christian living, relationships)
How did the people respond to teaching? [constantly devoted to, also in v. 46 ‘continuing’; spend much time in, to be devoted to, occupied with, persistent at, cling to]
ILL: Kids, have you ever been so full you couldn’t finish your supper? And then when mom breaks out the cookies and ice cream, you have to say “no thanks mom, I’m too full.” Right? It seems you could always eat another cookie!
Proverbs 27:7 (ESV) One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.
ILL: They longed for the word of God to the point that they had to endure at times!
Like in Acts when Paul preached all night and Eutychus fell asleep and out the window! Dedicated!
ILL: Or when David wanted to drink from Jer. well during warfare in 2 Sam. 23 and so David’s mighty men fought through and got him a drink from Jer.’s well! Dedication!
APP: Now, what are the evidences that someone is continually devoted to the word of God? (answers should be studying and displaying it)
POINT: A real, true church is instinctively dedicated to NT teaching.
TRANS: A real, true NT church builds godly relationships: fellowship (2:42)
II. The church builds godly relationships: fellowship (2:42)
continually devoted to fellowship.
What is fellowship? Is it two fellows in a ship?
This Greek word fellowship also occurs in v. 44. Guess which word? So what is fellowship? [holding things in common]
What do *Christ*ians hold in common?
So if you’re continually devoted to NT doctrine, that’ll come out in your life.
ILL: I suppose not having Christian fellowship with Christians, would be kind of like a sewing club getting together to talk about sports. Or a soccer club getting together to sew or knit.
And so many of us have missed that over the past 3 months! I trust you’ve been able to get with Christians and have Christian fellowship.
APP: How does Christian fellowship happen? What does it look like? (speak of Christ and growth; provide for each other materially when needed; pray for each other; )
III. Breaking of bread (2:42)
Verse 42 adn 46.
APP: we’ll need to get creative the next time we celebrate the Lord’s table.
IV. Prayer: continually devoted to prayer.
What is prayer? Give me a sunday school answer kids?
Fellowship with God through Jesus Christ, expressed in adoration, thanksgiving and intercession, through which believers draw near to God and learn more of his will for their lives. Scripture stresses the vital role of the Holy Spirit in stimulating and guiding prayer. Martin H. Manser, Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies (London: Martin Manser, 2009).
[I’d love to do a study on the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives]
Prayer on Wed. at 7p; other times as you pray with others at work, in town, in our church, over the phone. We’ve been doing Zoom due to Covid.
INSTINCTIVE IN A CHURCH
-not have to work it up.
-is it just the pastor that contributes to the church atmosphere? No, we all do. If each is instinctively devoted to these things, it changes everything!
How do we get here? What do we need to do to get here, back to the fundamentals?
1. Taste and see! Doctrine-> and the rest.
2. Ask God for Ps. 63
3. Some need to step out of their comfort zone and pursue obedience to the Lord, even though it’s difficult.
4. Pray that the Lord would do Acts 2:42 in our church.
It’s a work of God in our hearts!
APP: if this isn’t you, beg God for it. If you’re think “I’m not this” or “we’re not this” check yourself, how do I contribute to this church?
PRAY FOR FARMERS