"What New Christians Did"
With the beginning of the church, we look at how these young Christians devoted themselves and what it might look like for us if we were just as devoted.
What New Christians Did
A. With a new year often comes a renewed excitement, a zeal and desire. It is mindset game that is played by many. I am going to start my diet in the New Year. I am going to read my Bible more starting in the New Year. Well the New Year has come and we are not 8 days into it. How is it working for you?
B. As you study the book of Acts you see this new excitement, zeal and desire as the church began. We last studied together Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 and saw how 3000 people responded with a desire to be saved in repentance and baptism. Our sermon ends with Peter saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Isn’t that appropriate? Many people would look at our society today from a moral standpoint and shake their head. Greed covers over our country and many of us struggle with a desire for the things of this world. Sexual immorality is increasing in many forms and the shame of it has been removed. We see people of power in churches, business and politics all involved in things that are corrupt. Save yourself from this corrupt generation!
C. Look quickly with me at verse 41. Added to whose number that day? Jump to verse 47 and you will that statement again. God added to “their” number. The only conclusion is the 120 that were in that upper room when the Holy Spirit came down. The church began in the power of the Holy Spirit and has not stopped since. But these 3000 were Jews who understood the Mosaic Law. They were people of God, but now became people of Christ. This was not a new sect of Judaism, it was a new religion with a new teaching and understanding. But where does a person start?
D. If Jerusalem can be turned upside down with the gospel of Jesus, so can Pittsburgh. Lord, revive us again. Fill each heart with thy love. May each soul be rekindled with fire from above! The future of the world is in the hands of the church. It is us or nothing. We change the world, not the world changing us. As we examine two areas this week and two next we will see the foundation message to the early church. What it was that propelled them to change affect a city and welcome the growth of souls that God called.
I. Devoted Themselves
A. The NIV begins vs 42 by saying, “they devoted themselves.” Here was a group of people who were used to listening to Rabbis teach. They understood the need to know in order to grow. These were people who were excited about their faith even though it came on the heals of being convicted of sin.
B. When the local church is what God intended, growth become contagious. Brethren we are on a continual journey of transformation, and there are times when you can see it happening in your own life. Times when you both know and feel a deeper connection to God. I want those times in my life to be more continual and there is a way for that to happen.
C. These new Christians devoted themselves. That idea, that phrase, struck me. Devoted themselves. Other translations say they continued steadfastly, or they gave attention to. Acts, Romans and Colossians all connect this word to prayer. The things that we examine today and next week were of such importance that they gave themselves over to them. This was their foundation. They received it, acted on it and retained its principles. You want to put a mission or purpose statement up on a board, this was the purpose of these new Christians. They devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer.
II. Apostles Teaching
A. As Jesus that night before his crucifixion taught his disciples, he spent time teaching them about the work of the Holy Spirit and their role in the kingdom. Listen to some of the thing John records Jesus saying to them:
1. John 14:25-26
2. John 15:26-16:4
3. John 16:12-15
4. John 17:20
B. My point is this, Jesus was preparing them to receive the Holy Spirit in a unique manner. The Spirit of God would enable them to become the pillars of the church. Therefore, when the day of Pentecost came, and 3000 souls were added to their number, those 3000 turned to the only place they could for more instruction. They turned to and devoted themselves to the Apostles teachings.
C. We have been blessed by God an even greater manner than most of the first century Christians for we have a compilation of the writings from these inspired men as others in what we call the New Testament books of the Bible. The NT is for us the Apostles teachings guided by the Holy Spirit.
D. A Christian cries out, “Lord, grant me more faith!” But Paul would write, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of Christ.” You want faith, then turn to the place to gain that faith, God’s Word. The Bible is here for you and me to do more than know and understand, but it here to transform and bring us into a relationship with God himself. As we study this book we hear the message the Apostles taught and it can revive this church and this community in ways we cannot understand. For God’s word does not return to Him void.
A. The fourth part of this list is prayer. I will deal with fellowship and breaking of bread next week. Like the apostles teaching is hearing God’s word, prayer our way of speaking with God. It is a conversation. I try to listen while I pray and not just talk or ask all the time. Prayer connects me to God in such an intimate manner. It allows me to open my soul up before him.
B. In the days before Jesus, coming before God was far more formal and often required a priest to offer a sacrifice. The temple was set up in two parts, the holy place and the most holy place. But at the death of Jesus the curtain separating them was torn in two. The Hebrew writer tells us these words (Heb. 10:19-22 & 4:14-16).
C. Devoted to prayer. Can the same be said of you? I love the opportunities this congregation provides for people to pray together about many things. I don’t know of many churches that devoted as much time to collective prayer and requests as we do. I am proud of that aspect of this family. But devotion to prayer is more than just time, it is also faith. They believed that prayer made a difference. I encourage us to pray like they did. In a few weeks we will talk about praying for courage.
D. They devoted themselves. A new year has started. I want to start with a great devotion and these areas are a great place to get started. I hope you will devote yourselves to them also.