We’re Commanded To – Sermon Manuscript

We’re Commanded To

Acts 2:42-47, Hebrews 10:19-25

NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from on Sunday morning. If you want to listen to the sermon to get a better context, please visit our YouTube page.

-Coming out of a unique season of life for many of us. COVID interrupted our routines, our jobs, our churches, our friendships. In short, the past year has taught a completely new way of life for many of us!

-While I’m super thankful for the online technology that has allowed us to “meet” it’s not quite the same

-Time at TGC a few weeks ago

-The past 14 months have brought up a bunch of questions about the church, the purpose of meeting, what we emphasize, what we focus on, HOW we go about our corporate worship gatherings, what is important/essential

-This is really getting to the question of: what is the purpose of the church? Why are we here? Everyone’s got thoughts/opinions/ideas, but doesn’t the Bible tell us some things we should be doing/participating in?

-Add in that almost all of us have previous experience at churches, here, growing up, college. We all walk in the doors every week with a certain list of expectations, and those expectations aren’t always met.

-Church hunters “We’re more looking for the humor of Andy Stanley with the body of Stephen Furtick”

“it was like we left there feeling convicted, like ugh” “We’re looking for more of a Tony Robins type sermon” “Like inspirational, like a TED talk with a Bible verse”

-There’s a tendency to treat church like consumers, and let’s be honest, many of us are conditioned to think that way! If we don’t like the coffee at one coffee shop, don’t worry, there’s a different one just down the street! 

-Introduction from The Church, An Introduction by Gregg Allison 

-The Bible even uses various metaphors to describe the church. The church is a: family, the bride of Christ, branches on a vine, an olive tree, a field of crops, a building, a new temple, a harvest, God’s house, a pillar and buttress of truth, and the body of Christ.

-We’re getting to that idea of what the church is. Wayne Grudem defines the church as “the community of all true believers for all time.” Gregg Allison defines the church as “the people of God who have been saved through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and have been incorporated into his body through baptism with the Holy Spirit.”

-Now we’re getting to the difference between the catholic (universal) church, and the local church!

-Reformers said there is a church anytime the sacraments are faithfully performed

-People today often refer to church as just a building. 

-And if you’re not confused yet, we haven’t even gotten to what a church does

-Here’s the reality – Jesus himself established the church.

Matt. 16:16-19 “Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

-Church’s primary mission is to hold fast and proclaim this reality, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

-On the rock of Peter’s confession (who is Jesus himself) the church will be built. This is one of those areas where we would disagree with Roman Catholics, they built a whole papal order out of this 1 verse!

-There is a heavenly authority that comes with the church. The church today serves as an outpost of Jesus’ kingdom. Us gathering is meant to give everyone watching a little picture of what heaven will look like! Does our church give that glimpse? 

-This series will be based on the early church, as demonstrated in Acts 2.

-I’ve talked to a number of people who say “If only we could get back to the New Testament church” Don’t forget it wasn’t all daisies and roses back then either! In fact, until Jesus comes back, the church is guaranteed to have issues! And if you ever find a church that doesn’t have issues, the moment you (as a sinner) walk in the door, you’re bringing issues with you.

-We need to distinguish between that which is DEscriptive and that which is PREscriptive.

-Descriptive: describes events taking place, not necessarily applicable to every time & place

-Prescriptive: things that should be true in every time & place

-quick example, Rom. 16:16 “greet one another with a holy kiss.” 

READ

PRAY

  1. The First Church (Acts 2)

-There’s a lot for us to unpack in these few verses! So much so that we’ll take a week on each characteristic in turn. Today is just a broad overview of what characterized the early church.

-Always difficult to drop into a book (like we’ll be doing in this series) because we miss the bigger context and picture the author is painting.

-Acts is the 2 of a 2 part series (beginning with Luke’s Gospel) written by the same guy, this would be considered the sequel (The Empire Strikes Back)

1:1 “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,”

-This book picks up where Luke left off. After Jesus rose from the grave, what happened? How did his message spread? How did his disciples respond?

-Quick synopsis of the first 2 chapters: Jesus ascends into heaven, disciples select a new “12th” disciple

-Worth mentioning, more than 12 people had been following Jesus during his earthly life, I tend to forget that because the 12 received most of his attention, but men & women were a part of this rag tag group of people. Actually 10x the 12, Acts 1:15 says there were 120 disciples.

-Then in Acts 2 everything changes. Pentecost comes and the disciples are indwelt with the Holy Spirit. (Don’t have time to dig into this, but if you want to see what Jesus said about the coming of the HS read John 16-17)

-In response to this, the early church is given a new confidence to begin sharing what Jesus meant with everyone they could. Peter preaches the most impactful sermon in recorded history. Look at vs. 41. “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” 

-I’m still waiting for my 3,000 soul sermon! Actually, every Pastor I know is!

-So what characterized this early church? How did they manage adding 3,000 new converts to this fledgling faith?

-Honestly, not super well, because just 4 chapters later there’s a pretty big disagreement that comes up because racism is rampant in this early church (again, don’t have time for that one)

-There are 4 primary things that this early church devoted themselves to in vs. 42: the apostles teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers. Let’s walk through those 4 things:

  1. Apostles’ Teaching

-Here’s the fascinating thing. What you’re holding in your hand (or reading on your device) didn’t exist at the time. They didn’t have the 4 Gospel accounts, didn’t have Paul’s, Peter’s, James’ letters. They had their experience and time with Jesus, and the OT. 

-And that was enough! The word “devoted” connotes the idea of continually, constantly. They were continually devoted to these 4 primary things, so they were constantly listening to the apostles teaching.

-Kent Hughes “Where the Spirit reigns, a love for God’s Word reigns.” This is why sermons take up the bulk of our weekly worship.

-Look at this in more detail next week.

  • Breaking of Bread

-2 aspects to this one: regular table time together at people’s homes, and the penultimate breaking of bread in communion. One of John Calvin’s requirements for a true church was anywhere the sacraments were truly practiced. 

-Communion is 1 of 2 sacraments Christ commanded his church to practice, the other being baptism. Look at this more in 2 weeks!

  • Fellowship

-This is one of the most misunderstood words used in the church today!

-Sitting in a deacon meeting, someone talking about making some meals for shut-ins and then “we’ll have a little fellowship”

-This is the first time this word appears in the NT, denotes something in common, which didn’t happen before the HS indwelt them.

  • Prayers

-THE prayers. While this was still a Jewish sect, they were still following a lot of the customs/traditions they had been following. 

-But also regularly praying for each other.

-What was the implication of these 4 things? Look at vs. 43-47

-The common aspect of fellowship was lived out in the lives of the believers. No one had any needs, and if they did other’s helped take care of them. Doesn’t that sound awesome? This is the radical generosity piece we saw in our Amos series on justice! Willingly disadvantaging yourself for the advantage of others.

-There’s a “day by day” aspect to this. There’s large gathering in the temple, small gathering in the homes (church gathered vs church scattered)

-Having favor with all the people. Do you think the world looks at the church favorably today? Headlines: “Here’s why a New Bedford church is suing Gov. Charlie Baker” “Former New Orleans Church Official Sentenced for Wire Fraud” “Congregation or Cult? Former members accuse Kansas City church of abuse.”

-Yes, I realize we should expect persecution, but is “favor” because of our good deeds an honest marker of our church, or not?

-What do you think people who aren’t believers, who have never set foot inside a church expect when they walk into a church building? There was a movie that came out a few years ago Resurrection of Gavin Stone about a Hollywood actor who’s forced to do community service at a local church (you can probably guess the rest of the movie) But 1 scene stood out to me when I first watched it where he gets ready to go to church.

-If you want to watch it, it’s on Netflix!

-Lastly, the Lord added to their number day by day. The early church was intentional about evangelism. They were always looking for ways to share the good news of what Jesus had done with any/everyone they came into contact with. And their living matched their preaching! They legitimately loved one another.

-Let’s jump ahead now a few decades to look at Hebrews.

-Hebrews is thought to be a manuscript of a sermon.

  • Encouraging (Hebrews 10)

-Again, we’re dropping right in the middle of the book here! Really easy to summarize the entire argument leading up to here with 1 phrase: Jesus is better. Better than what? Yes. 

-First 2 chapters are Jesus is better than angels

3-10:18 Jesus is better than the Mosaic Law

-Then after this rich, deep theology of the supremacy of Jesus, the author turns to the application. All theology is practical and meant to be lived out. Because Jesus is the superior high priest and at the same time the superior sacrifice, we then haver confidence.

  1. Through Jesus

-I love the way this book starts “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our father by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” Jesus even has the final word!

-Just as theology is applicable, we begin with the theology of the cross and Jesus’ atoning death.

-Used to only enter the holy place 1 a year, and only 1 person with fear and trepidation because Heb. 12:29 “Our God is a consuming fire.” 

-Church, because Jesus has died on our behalf we can have confidence, or boldness to enter into the very presence of God.

-There used to be a curtain separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. That curtain was torn in 2 when Jesus died. That means through Jesus blood covering us, we can draw near to God. 

-One way of putting the whole Bible together is God dwelling with His people. Gen. 1-2 is God perfectly dwelling with Adam & Eve, Gen 3 is so devastating because that dwelling is broken, rest of the Bible is how we can try dwelling again with God. Then God takes on flesh and dwells with us bodily, allowing us sinful people to dwell eternally with God. According to Eph. 2:6 we are already seated with Christ in heaven.

-Because Jesus has sanctified us, we then move on to holding fast.

  • Holding Fast

-what do we hold fast to? “the confession of our hope.”

-This is the same idea we saw earlier where Jesus promises to build His church on Peter’s confession. We have to do the exact same thing as Peter and confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. We can’t waver, we can’t look to the right or left, we need to hold fast to this confession.

-We also have the same idea we saw in Amos 9 that we’re supposed to hold on to hope. Our hope is in Jesus himself, so that hope will allow us to endure, or as the text says “he who promised is faithful.” 

-Thankfully our holding fast isn’t up to us! It’s God who remains faithful despite our unfaithfulness.

-After the vertical relationship is dealt with, then we move on to the horizontal relationship. (explain)

  • Together

-In addition to holding fast to our confession, we’re commanded to consider how to stir up (or encourage) one another to love and good works. And how do we do that? By not neglecting to meet together.

-I don’t know if you’ve been feeling this – but I got so tired of worshipping online. Not seeing people’s faces, not talking as we walk in. Not seeing people sing together! 

-Introducing Not For A Moment “You were reaching through the storm Walking on the water even when I could not see in the middle of it all when I thought You were a thousand miles away not for a moment did You forsake me 

After all You are constant After all You are only good After all You are sovereign Not for a moment will You forsake me

-If we hadn’t been meeting together as a group, we wouldn’t have been able to encourage those who were struggling

-We are dependent on each other. There are no lone rangers in Christianity. Rugged individualism (expressive individualism)

-Friend who wanted to go be a hermit. Where is the church?

-The way we encourage each other is by meeting together. Meeting tighter LEADS to encouraging. Think of communion – 1 Cor. 11:17 “WHEN you come together as a church.” 

-I get that this is a weird time to have a sermon about the need to gather, when we’ve been scattered for over a year, some people are still watching online! This is a time where we as the church NEED to be the church. 

-One thing that has fascinated me about the pandemic is every other major disruption in American history, people have turned to the church (attendance swelled after 9/11) This time, people turned to Netflix.

 –Article from Carl Trueman “That’s where community comes in: churches need to build community around clear Christian teaching, serious Christian worship, and practical Christian love.  Done well, those things can grip the imagination because they offer a vision of something better than the thin communities and shallow satisfactions of consumerism. Telling people that the way they live is wrong has no plausibility unless it is set against the background of a vision of something better.”

-South Suburban – we have something better to offer the world – and it begins by us not neglecting to meet together, but instead encouraging each other to live out love and good works. Our gathering is not meant to be a tack on, an addition if you’ve got time that weekend. Our lives are supposed to be lived out, bled out by encouraging each other each and every day until “THE day.”

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: