Christ's Converted Community
Text: Acts 2:42-47, Acts 4:32-37, and Acts 6:1-7
I. Listener’s Mentality...How are we approaching the Word of God?
Attending mindset—“I come to check-off, not necessarily change.”
Yes, there are things in my life, but I am not letting God there…or anyone else for that matter.
WHY? What do you have to lose? (Pride, or else you may end up losing your Purity, or even your heavenly Paradise.)
Pretending mindset—“This will most likely be good for others to hear.”
You are constantly filtering the sermon and bible reading through the needs you see in others and not letting it filter down into your own soul.
Why? Because you don’t think you need it, or because you think others need it more. But isn’t that a gross miscalculation. (1 Tim. 1:14-15). Who needs this sermon this morning? I do!!
Disciple’s mindset—“God has something for me...to disciple me this morning.”
You say, “I’m starving. I need some living bread, and I’m parched. I need some living water.”
God loves to multiply bread for this type of soul!
II. Backward, then forward, before downward—Before we talk about our passage, Acts 2, 4, & 6, I want us to do some work on what precedes it and what follows it so we can really wrap our minds around what’s going on between it.
So, let’s took backward in our passage to what precedes it:
Jesus has died, but after this suffering, he appeared to His disciples and 500 others and said, “This kingdom I was always talking about…its here, and I am alive, so let’s go.” So for us, its day #35 since Easter. Five more days until His ascension. And now we see the Great Commandment, New Commandment, and Great Commission come alive for us in Acts.
Jesus has suffered and risen and now the Great Commandment is worth it—I want to love that type of God and all expressions of Him in his image; the New Commandment will be possible because we are empowered by his expression and example of love to us, and the Great Commission will be finished because of His presence and power by His indwelling Holy Spirit.
Now, as Jesus ascends, He gives two orders—Don’t leave Jerusalem and then, leave Jerusalem!
And then we have these two men dressed in dazzling white, They sober the bewildered disciples and say, “Why do you stand here looking incessantly into the sky…GET GOING…He will return the same way you saw Him to restore this Kingdom!” And how do they wait and obey that order? Acts 1:14, “They devoted themselves to prayer!” How do we wait? We wait by asking voraciously for the promise of the Father! (i.e. praying against the status quo)
Now, then comes the Jewish celebration of Pentecost (a Feast Day), and they were all dwelling together in ONE PLACE. This is what I love about the body of Christ. They are just not waiting alone for God to do something. Its not as though something totally outside the norm has to happen for them to obey that command. Will it help, will it empower, will it secure and seal the success of body life, YES! But the wait for promises of the Father should not exclude us from faithful obedience. The Holy Spirit was not the reward for them being good, but the fruit that they had been made good and clean by Christ’s cross.
Then, this miraculous thing happens! What appeared to be a mighty rushing wind and flames of fire was (in actuality) God’s Holy Spirit landing upon the largest gathering of Jewish people from all around the world. God’s timing was impeccable. Though we may have complained against His timing, it was the perfect timing to reflect His heart! In Acts 2, God sends forth His Spirit to start the world’s first Bible translation ministry. It didn’t start with Wycliffe Bible translators, but the heart of God to see the languages of the earth hear His word (through HIS PEOPLE)! Now, let’s at least note this…These are the ones, the languages of the earth, who will constitute the beginning of the church! God decided to start the first community from such a mixed bag. Different backgrounds, different ages, different cultures, different socio–economic levels, different places. So, in God’s mind, does difference prevent community? NO, it ENHANCES IT!
Now, I find it interesting to look at Acts 2:14 and to see the sub-title “Peter’s sermon at Pentecost…” Let’s make sure we know what this means and what it doesn’t mean. Peter did not cloister himself away and anticipate the topic, research the text, look up cross references, and then, coming up with three salient and compelling points, just manage to stand up at the right time! This was an impromptu and spur of the moment sermon…“Men of Judea, all who dwell in Jerusalem…” He is responding to the misunderstanding of what is really going on. These men are not drunk; they are filled with the voice of God! He gives a compelling, cross-centered, and conversion–invitational sermon and references Joel and David in the Psalms in the process!
How did He do that? How would we write that? God wrote it on His heart through the hard, and I’m sure enlightening, wrestlings in community. He was prepared via praying and pouring over God’s Scripture in anticipation of God’s promise. When the incorrect interpretations came up, it stuck out like a sore thumb, and Peter was able to correct it. Peter’s gospel intuition and lens came from his life embedded in the people of God!
Then, we come to our passage at hand! And we will see the indwelling Spirit’s role in gathering and growing the church.
But, let’s fast forward and actually look at what follows our passages in Acts 2, 4, and 6.
Acts 6:7 as a summary of the church going and gathering! (First of 6 of Luke’s statements detailing the church in overdrive.
Read Acts 6:7…the Word of God is increasing deeply, personally, and broadly. Disciples are built because of it and therefore are multiplying. Disciples should multiply! And when they do, so does proclamational and demonstrational evangelism—and the least likely people on the planet end up coming to faith (ie. the priests).
Now, when you consider this, do you view these happening as “the early church” (its kind of like a different animal altogether) or the ‘earliest church”–same DNA and we are offspring of it?
We have talked backward, forward, now let’s talk downward: Acts 2, 4, and 6—Christ’s Converted Community. You are not your own, you are not alone, but you are being grown.
III. Downward—CHRIST…You are not your own. COMMUNITY…You are not alone. CONVERTED…You are being grown (which means you have been changed and are changing).
We are not our own, but we are owned. Dr. John just reminded me in a discussion from the men in our life group of a group of men in history who answered the question, “what is your only comfort in life and death?” Answer: THAT I AM NOT MY OWN, BUT BELONG BODY AND SOUL, IN LIFE AND DEATH, TO MY FAITHFUL SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST…” (see also 2 Cor. 5:14-15). Your life has been purchased, and your life has been purposed. Are you owned or owner?
Lordship in Luke and Acts—“Ordered” is what Luke says of Jesus’ command to not depart from Jerusalem. “What shall we do” is what the disciples said when they were cut to the heart by Peter’s sermon. When Paul was converted he said, “What is it Lord?” A disciple’s response should be, “Im standing at attention, at your service, Lord!”
We are reminded just a couple of chapter’s over. When the chief priests, rulers, elders and scribes order Peter and John, “Don’t speak again in that man’s name…” An owned people say, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God, you must judge. But we cannot not speak about what we have seen and heard!” (Acts 4:19-20). Jesus owned their heads and their hearts! He owned their lives, their affections, and their allegiances! So, what does He own? Actually, what does He not own? He owns a little, a lot, He owns nothing. Does He own you—all of you?
Does he own you when you get a raise? Or lose your job?
Does he own you in your situation or when you want to make a decision?
Does he own you in compliment and critique?
Does he own your reactions to life, the stock market, arguments, marriage, revealed sin? What are you still RSVP’ing to and you need only say, “YES, LORD, I am yours!” Why would I give myself to another? Including myself, no one has purchased, purified, and purposed my life like you have.
So, how can we boil these two passages down to discover the secret to church life? The key word is “DEVOTED”. GOD’S WORD + GOD’S PEOPLE + GOD’S MISSION. If you devote yourself to those three things, I think you will be at the center of God’s will for your life! Yo can’t err or stray too far. You don’t need to know a lot, but you do need to know those three subjects through and through! Because 99% of the Christian life is summed up here!
We see a submission to God’s word.
We see a submission to God’s people.
Where do we see a submission to God’s mission? Evangelism is having an intentional relationship with the future people of God!
That’s a descriptive, not a prescriptive order. This is just telling history in narrative form and not instructions like biblical letters. I don’t see any imperative commands to imitate this. Instead of saying, I’m not so sure that applies to me, why are you not saying, “I want as much of that as I can get?” I would really hope no one is looking at Acts 2:42-44 for fear or being unbiblical, and we call it a conviction thing. I wonder if those who resist Acts 2 and 4–type living have a character issue masked by a conviction issue. We are given this narrative not to apply precisely and systematically, but rather in more ways and different ways than they did.
So, what is unowned or least owned—submission to God’s word, submission to God’s people, or His mission? Let’s start with this question and boil it down to specifics.
Now, let’s hone in on “they…themselves…” “awe came upon every soul” and “all who believed were together and had all things in common” and “they were selling and distributing the proceeds to all, as many as had need…” What we see is not a command to sell everything necessarily but to strive towards ONENESS.
We see Acts 4:32, “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own…but they had everything in common.
WHY? They just didn’t sell to sell, but they sold and shared because there was need! There was a reason for generosity!! Remember, most of these people are from all over and came to celebrate Pentecost. They only came and brought enough underwear for a week. No one was expecting the Spirit of God to envelope and give eternal salvation to so many in attendance over that period. Now, our needs are different, but there are needs. Be attentive to needs, ask about needs, and act to meet needs!! (See Acts 6:1-7)** Don’t despise our gift and don’t despise your speaking role!
It can be easy to say, “Well, I don’t have money”, but it is about more than that—you have time, you have a trade/skill, you have a good recipe, you have strength, you have smarts, you have some empathy.
But let me say this, it’s hard to discern need when you just show up on a Sunday. Needs get revealed Monday through Saturday too. Informal conversations and occurrences when you are out and about and people are in your house or you are in theirs! (Some of you say, “No way I am letting someone into my house…they will see my cooking needs, parenting needs, financial needs, my marital needs, my emotional needs, my organizational, or cleanliness needs…” YES, they might, and they might be able to help! Come on. Let us in. Let us in on the inside! Some of you need to give invitations and others need to accept invitations! BECAUSE this is much bigger than you. It’s about us!
We must stop viewing ourselves independently, but rather view ourselves interdependently. Let Table Rock give Jesus something to smile at. I think He smiled at them in Acts, and I know the angels in heaven erupted at that type of living! Let’s be the completion of John 17, “Father, I pray that they would be ONE as you and I are one.” WHOA! What a sacred and special type of interconnectedness we share. You see…we image God in community! He is Triune, and we are to be in union—in word, in fellowship, in meals together, in prayer, in evangelism, in exercise, in house cleaning, in shopping, in playing, in hobbies. You don’t have to be alone. And it may be sin on your part when you are!
Okay, so where do I start? Start with “YES.” [Because you want to or at least because you need to. Don’t assume and start with NO. That’s so abnormal now. We have been hardwired like magnets to each other but sin, self, and Satan lure us elsewhere. Then, start with the question, “Will it be good for others for me to go?” As opposed to, “will it be good for me; do I have time; will this benefit me?” Again, body life is so much bigger and better than your life. Start with YES and then ask, “who needs me there?” Don’t despise God’s image and gifting with a pitiful phrase, “No one!!”
So, we are not our own! And we are not alone!
CONVERTED—BUT, we are being GROWN!
“We are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”—2 Corinthians 3:18
When we look back at Acts 2 and Acts 4, we see lifestyle, habits, and rhythms change. So church, Jesus has saved your life, but has your lifestyle been largely unchanged? Have you been converted, but your lifestyle and weekly rhythms are largely unconverted?
DEVOTED submission to God’s word —The Apostles teaching would have been a major shift in their life!! Moses was not king anymore, but JESUS!
Are you submitted to gospel–centered teaching? When you study God’s word, you can ask 3 questions—
How does Jesus flesh this out perfectly? How does He fulfill this prophecy/promise?
How does Jesus further this person?
How does Jesus forgive/free me from this sin?
Daily Changes: Could you open God’s word with another once a week? Once every two weeks? Are you sharing what you are learning with others? One of the best questions to ask someone in a one-on-one is “How is God changing you through His word?” (That’s basically the question we ask at our Life Groups—do you come to these? Do you speak up at these?)
Just to reference it…They were under authority. Are you? Do you have authority in your life that can say, “No” to you, and you would trust it? You may not like it, but you would trust it. Do you have accountability? (Open Life groups are a great way to have this at Table Rock.)
DEVOTED fellowship—Do you gravitate towards or away? Do you sacrifice and come to gather when it’s not convenient. Do you try? Can you try harder? As you want to be devoted to the INTAKE of God’s word, would you also think about being devoted to the INCLUSION of God’s people?
How about not just when you think you need it, but when you think you don’t? Or how about asking, “Do they need it?” YES, WE NEED YOU. The church most of the time is flying with not two, three, or four wing engines, but barely one. That’s just enough to keep it from spiraling but it cannot travel very far.
Now, are you the personal or the corporate fellowshipper? Some of us love the 1-on-1 and push against the larger corporate expressions. Others of us are at all the corporate expressions but despise the closer-knit stuff. So, be aware of that and make a commitment this morning…What do you need to start saying, “YES” to and what/who can you start pursuing? The church needs more members, right? But oh, how it would be blessed by devoted and involved and interconnected ones!
How about decisions in your life? Big purchases? Big moves? Job changes? Children decisions? Dealing with sin? Who have you talked to this about?
How are you living generously? Who have you helped?
Are you an owned, grown, and not alone member of the family of God?!
Are you hospitable—inviting people into your home or accepting invites into other believer’s homes? If not, this is one super incredible way to become interconnected and unite yourself to others!! People will see your needs and also you will serve theirs!!