Monthly Archives: May 2016

Following in the Footsteps of Faith:The Power of the Church


The-Power-of-the-Church-Message-20141012

Acts 1:12-2:47

I remember when my wife was nearing the end of her pregnancy with our second child.  The closer the time came to deliver the busier and more active she got.  She was busy cleaning the floors, dusting the housing, scrubbing the bathroom.  She had this urge to clean the house.  They call this the nesting stage.  Rather than taking it easy while waiting for the baby to come, my wife was working while waiting.  Sure enough, within a few days the baby had arrived.

As we continue studying the books of Acts we see that the birth of the church was almost upon the believers.  They were waiting for the promised Holy Spirit, but while waiting they got the urge to “clean house.”  They wanted to make sure they were ready for the birth of the church, which would require pure leadership.  Within days, the Holy Spirit came and the church was born.

Big Idea:  A powerful church works for the Lord while waiting for Him to fulfill His promises.

Read Acts 1: 12-26

As we are in the early stages of Kitwe Church’s development I am torn between how to present this material.  Although I love preaching, I think what we need most at this stage in Kitwe Church is clear teaching because there is so much confusion about how the church should conduct itself.

As I have mentioned before, the book of Acts presents us with the church in a transitional phase.  Although we can learn a lot from the principles of the early church, many of the things described in Acts are not prescribed as normal for us today.  It is my goal to help us sort through what was described in Acts and help us determine what was unique to the early church prior to the completion of the Bible and what is supposed to be normal even in how we operate today.

1. A Powerful Church Chooses Godly Leaders to Continue the Advance v. 12-26

a. What leaders were being chosen?

Note:  These were the original Apostles.  There are no “Apostles” today, but the principles of choosing leaders can still be applied.

• Definition of Apostles 

  •  Greek Word “apostolos” meaning “one sent forth.”Apostolos was a common Greek word used in non-religious settings; ambassadors, envoys, messengers.
  • This word is used 79 times in the New Testament (10 in the Gospels, 28 in Acts, 38 in the Epistles, and 3 in Revelation).This term is not used exclusively of the 12 chosen by Jesus and the Apostle Paul.  It also is used as a title for Timothy and Titus.
  • Therefore, linguistically this term “apostle” is equivalent to Missionary (from Latin motto). In this sense, Christ was an apostle as He was sent by the Father.  The 70 disciples were apostles sent out by Jesus to preach in Judean villages before He passed through. Paul and Barnabas were apostles sent out from the local church in Antioch.
  • However, in this particular passage there is more than just a linguistic meaning, but also a theological meaning that must be considered.  When the 11 remaining “apostles” chosen by Jesus were looking for a replacement for Judas they weren’t meaning just a “sent one.”  The term had taken on a new more powerful religious meaning of authority.  It was describing an office of leadership within the Church Universal.

• Office of Apostle

1) Had been specifically appointed by Jesus (the original 12 or the Apostle Paul)

                                         OR

2) Had to have been a disciple of Jesus from the point of John’s Baptism to Jesus’ ascension.

3) Had to be a witness of the resurrected Jesus.

b. How did the early church go about choosing?

Selecting a Godly Leader Started with Logic

i. Someone from within the group vs 21

ii. Someone who had been with the resurrected Christ vs. 21

iii. Someone with godly character v. 23

iv. They didn’t know whom to choose, but these criteria certainly helped know who was not even eligible to be chosen.

c. Selecting a Godly Leader Ended with Prayer

i. We can’t trust our human wisdom, we need God’s wisdom.

ii. We see the personality and the ability of people, but God knows the heart.

iii. Never make any decision about Kitwe Church without first bathing it in prayer!

2. A Powerful Church is Indwelt by the Holy Spirit:  The Wait Comes to and End – the Promised Power Arrives

Timing is a very important aspect of missions and church planting.  God made precision plans to introduce the church to the community on a day of significance so that there would be powerfully symbolic images to go with the identity and message of the church.

One important thing must be noted.  God chose the day.  It did not depend on any activities of the Christians.  He did not come when he came because they prayed Him in to coming.  As God, He is sovereign.  He chooses everything.  Men can’t manipulate His plan or timing.

A. The Holiday – Pentecost

The term “Pentecost” comes from the Greek pentekostos,which literally means 50th because this day was exactly 50 days after Passover.  Pentecost is the New Testament name for the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22-23), or Harvest (Exodus 23:16), which was celebrated fifty days after Passover.

• So, let’s put this into terms that we can all understand.  Jesus was arrested on the night of the Passover and illegally tried in court.  He was killed by crucifixion the next day and then rose again three days later (Sunday).

• If we put that into our current day, the Passover would have been on March 24, Holy Thursday.

• Jesus would have been killed on March 25, Good Friday.

• Easter was Sunday, March 27.

• Pentecost would be May 13.  Imagine waiting that long in Jerusalem before the promised Holy Spirit would come.

• But, there was great significance behind the waiting for this day.

This particular holiday took on even more significant meaning after the Jewish people returned from their years of exile in Assyria, Babylon, and Persia.  At this time Judaism began celebrating the giving of the Law to Moses at Pentecost also.

There is great redemptive significance in all of the Jewish Feasts.

God’s redemptive New Testament timetable is pictured in the feasts of Leviticus 23.  The first great feast mentioned in that chapter is Passover.  

The killing of the Passover lamb pictures the death of Jesus Christ, the ultimate Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7).  

– A second feast was the feast of Unleavened Bread, celebrated on the day after Passover.  During that feast, an offering of the first fruits of the grain harvest was made. 

– Fifty days after the first Sunday following Passover, the Feast of Pentecost was celebrated (Lev. 23:15ff) At Pentecost, another offering of first fruits was made (Lev. 23:20).  

– Completing the cycle of the typical fulfillment of the feasts, the Spirit came on Pentecost as the first fruits of the believers’ inheritance (Cf. 2 Cor. 5:5; Eph. 1:13-14).  Further, those gathered into the church on that day were the first fruits of the full harvest of believers to come. 

– God sent the Spirit on Pentecost, then, following the pattern of Leviticus 23, not in response to any activity of men.  

– John MacArthur (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Acts 1-12, pg. 39-40)

So, timing is important.  We prayed and asked God to reveal the timing for the start of Kitwe church also.  Did you notice the careful timing chosen for starting of Kitwe Church – Easter?

B. The Holy Spirit

1. He came suddenly

Although they knew that the Spirit’s coming was imminent (cf 1:5), they were still caught by surprise when He came.

2. There was a sound like a violent rushing wind.

3. Spirit’s presence filled only the whole house where the believers were sitting.

Although the sound of the heavenly wind may have attracted the crowd that soon gathered, the Spirit’s presence filled only the believers inside the house.

4. Tongues of Fire rested upon each one of them.

“It was a uniform, sovereign work of God on all collectively, not something sought individually.  At this point, the baptism with the spirit, they were all made into one spiritual body – the body of Christ.”

5. One external evidence of being baptized with the spirit was the ability to speak in languages that they had never studied, understood, or spoken before.

C. The Servant

The Apostle Peter who …..

Rebuked Jesus when Jesus revealed to the disciples that he would be crucified.  Peter said, “Far be it from you Lord.  This shall never happen to you.”  Jesus responded, “Get behind me Satan! You are a hindrance to me, For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matthew 16: 21-24

Jesus is the disciple who refused to let Jesus wash his feet until Jesus said, then you have no part with me.  Then Peter said, then don’t stop with just my feet.  Wash my entire body because I want to be one of your followers.

John 13: 1-11

The same Peter who said that  he would die before he ever denied beinga follower of Christ and then denied Christ 3 times before the rooster crowed.  Peter felt such shame that he rushed out and wept bitterly.

John 18: 15-18, 25-27

The same Peter felt like such a failure that even after seeing the resurrected Jesus decided to go back to his old life of being a fishermen.  He was not going to be a preacher or an apostle.  He wanted to close that chapter of his life.  The only thing that made him reconsider was a personal visit from Jesus where Jesus asked him three times, “Peter, do you love me.”  When Peter said yes, the Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”  Jesus was saying, “I have called you and equipped you to be an apostle and a preacher.  Don’t go back to fishing.  Stay dedicated to me and your calling.  John 21:3, 15-19

Peter experienced humiliating failures and was tempted to quit forever, but now God reveals that he delights to use the weak and foolish to do His work (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

D. The Message

Part 1:  The Introduction – Explaining Pentecost (2:14-21)

Part 2:  The Theme – Proclaiming the Risen Lord (2:22-36)

      1. 1. The Life of Christ v. 22
      2. 2. The Death of Christ v. 23
      3. 3. The Resurrection of Christ v. 24-32
      4. 4. The Exaltation of Christ v. 33-36

Part 3: The Appeal & Results (2:37-41)

E. The Results

• 120 Christians witnessed with boldness

• 3000 people put their faith in Christ and were saved from their sin

• They devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching (they had church services like this one where they were getting their understanding clear and correcting misunderstandings from previous religious traditions.

• They worshipped God.

• Loved each other sacrificially.

• They continued sharing the gospel so that every day people were getting saved.

Conclusion:

Today we have once again looked at the early church from 33 AD to learn truths for us to apply in 2016 AD.  We have seen that a powerful church works for the Lord while waiting for Him to fulfill His promises.

Well, the Lord has promised that He will return to take His church home.  What should Kitwe Church do while waiting for the Lord to return?

1. Choose Godly leaders.

2. Be Filled with the Holy Spirit

3. Flee false teaching no matter how popular the teaching may be in modern culture.

4. Be witnesses and serve God, like Peter, no matter how you may have failed in the past.

5. Let God use you to impact others however He sees fit.

Following in the Footsteps of Faith: Re-orienting for the Future


the-book-of-acts-outlined

Nearly 360 years before Christ was born there was a great Greek King by the name of Philip.  364 BC he became the King of a city-state known as Macedon.  His military skills and expansionist vision of Macedonian greatness brought him early success. He conquered many other city-states and consolidated power.  By 336 he was invading the Persian Empire, the dominant Empire of the entire world.  It was at that point in 336 BC that He was attending a wedding in the capital of his own Kingdom in Macedon that he was betrayed and murdered by one of his 7 personal bodyguards.  This assassin tried to escape, but was killed by three of the loyal bodyguards.

For 28 years Macedon had grown in power and expanded.  The Macedonians loved their leader and followed him with passion.  But what would happen to this movement now?  Would it die out?  Would it be overpowered by another Kingdom and fade off the scene of history.  That was quite likely, and surely something that the people feared.  However, this was not the end.  In fact, it was really just the beginning.  In 336 Philip’s son, Alexander, would take the thrown and rally not only the Macedonians, but all of the Greeks.  He was the most successful military leader the world has ever known.  He not only turned Greece into the super power empire of the day, but he led a cultural revolution known as Hellenization.  In every land that he conquered he would build sports arenas, museums, and theatres.  He required that Greek become the common language.  People that once were his enemies soon became lovers of the Greek culture and the Greek Empire.  He conquered with military might but won them over with diplomacy.  The world would never be the same because of this man.  No wonder he is known to this day as Alexander the Great.

Well, let’s fast forward into the future.  The year is 33 AD.  Jesus Christ, God the Son, had lived for 33 years.  He was building his Kingdom, but it was not an earthly Kingdom.  No, it was far greater than that.  It was a spiritual kingdom.  He would not conquer with military power, but he was changing the world in far greater ways than Alexander the Great could ever imagine.  He conquered death and hell and sin through the sacrifice of Himself.  He didn’t use war or diplomacy.  He used love!

Yet, when one of his 12 disciples, Judas Iscariot, betrayed him the followers of Christ found themselves trying to figure out what to do next.  Was this the end of “Christianity”?  For 3 ½ years they had swept through Judea and even at times Samaria  and the movement had only gained momentum.  Crowds would come out to hear Jesus.  His disciples would minister to them.  Lives were being changed as the Kingdom of God was growing.  Was the movement over now? No, it was just the beginning!  The followers of Christ would carry on without him, but first they had to get re-oriented.  First they had to re-focus.  Then, through these followers, God would continue to change the world.

Let’s return to Acts chapter 1 to see how these followers re-oriented for the future.  There are lessons from the lives of these Christians that we at Kitwe Church need to learn so that we too can get re-oriented for our future as we go forward to serve the Lord.

Read Acts 1: 6-11

Big Idea:  God determines the people and the plan to build his kingdom!

1. Traits of the Early Christians that Should be True of Us

a. They knew Christ personally v. 3

They didn’t just know about Jesus, they knew him. Yes, everyone here knows about Jesus, but do you know Jesus?  Of course you have not seen him, but you can still experience him.  Jesus anticipated this when he spoke to Thomas. In John 20:28-29 “Thomas answered, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

b.  They obediently waited on the Lord’s Timing v. 4-5

Too often we rush into actions that we think are wise and needed and get ourselves into a big mess. We do this as individuals when it comes to our relationships such as dating or marriage.  We often rush into things with our money decisions.

As we develop Kitwe Church and attempt to mature in ministry we will encounter choices about what to do and how to do it. We will no doubt be tempted to do things we have seen or experienced in other churches.  However, the danger that we could get into is to place our trust in traditions rather than the Lord. There will be great ideas that might be intended to meet legitimate needs, but the timing might just not be right.  We must be people who obediently wait on the Lord’s Timing.

c. They were inquisitive about the Lord’s Plan v. 6

They knew part of God’s plan and wanted to rush to the good part.  You see they mentioned the Kingdom of God.  This is the spiritual reign of God in the lives of the hearts of those who make Jesus their Lord.  As this Kingdom grows it transforms lives and cultures through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Well, these early Christians did want God’s Kingdom to grow and transform the world, although they misunderstood both the timing and the method.  They were expecting Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to now be the conquering King.  He will be that.  That day is coming and is clearly outlined in the book of Revelation, but the timing was not yet right.

In 2 Peter 3:9 we are told that “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” The timing for Christ’s return isn’t yet because the Lord is being patient and he expects us to be working while we are waiting.

d. They were teachable v. 7-8

When Jesus bluntly told them that the timing was not any of their business, they didn’t get offended and stop following him.  They were teachable. They asked one question, but were not given an answer.  Instead, they were given an answer to a question they had not asked.  They wanted to know what Jesus was about to do.  Jesus, instead, told them what they were about to do.

Acts 1:8 is a repeat of the same command in Matthew 28, but this time Jesus gives them some different details about how to fulfill this command. From this verse we get the key word of this letter/book – “Witness.”  From this verse we get the outline for this letter/book.

What we see throughout this book is that the Christians responded with obedient, humble, teachable attitudes and went out to be witnesses first in Jerusalem, then in Judea & Samaria, and ultimately to the ends of the earth.

e. They were hopeful as they focused on the future v.9-11

Jesus promised to return.  Approximately 2000 years have gone by and it is still not for us to know the times or the seasons v. 7, but we can rest assured that he will keep his promise.  He will return in the clouds just as he ascended into them.

Are we ready?  We’ve been given work to do.  Have we been faithful in doing it?  If he came back now would we be ashamed of our laziness or indulgence?  Would we wish for more time to get it right? I hope not.  As Kitwe Church grows we will encourage and equip one another to live for the Lord just like these early Christians so we can rejoice at his second coming because we know we are about to be rewarded for faithful service.

Brothers and Sisters, as we endeavor to be a radically changed community of people that can not be ignored, let me ask you, are these traits true of us?

1. Do we know Jesus Personally?

2. Are we waiting obediently on the Lord’s timing?

3. Are we inquisitive about the Lord’s plan for us?

4. Are we teachable?

5. Are we people who look forward to the Lord’s return with great hope of reward?

If not, I challenge you do something about that today!  Get alone with God and commit yourself to him.  Ask him to develop these traits in you.

Conclusion:  God determines the people and the plan to build his kingdom! Here we are as Kitwe Church, two weeks into our official begging as a church. There as so many directions we could go in.  If we do things according to our own wisdom we will just be yet another church that burns bright at first and then dwindles away failing to really change the world around us.  However, if we are men and women of character who have the traits of these disciples in Acts 1, if we will follow the plan of God for expanding his kingdom, if we will use God’s wisdom in selecting leaders than we too can have a great impact on the world in 2016 and beyond.