God’s Body is Alive (Acts 4)

Audio:

MOTIVATE

–          Macedonian Empire lasted 482 years. Alexander the Great conquered the world for the Greek empire but a few years following his death his kingdom was split among four of his generals.

–          Portuguese Empire lasted 584 years (1415-1999).

–          Ottoman Empire lasted 623 years (1299-1922)

–          Khmer Empire lasted 630 years (802-1432)

–          Ethiopian Empire lasted 665 years (1270-1935)

–          Kanem Empire lasted 676 years (700-1376)

–          Holy Roman Empire lasted 844 years (962-1806)

–          Silla Empire lasted 878 years (57-935)

–          Republic of Venice lasted 1100 years (697-1797)

–          Kush Empire lasted 1420 years (1070BC – 350AD)

–          Roman (Eastern) Empire lasted 1480 years (27-1453)

(http://history.howstuffworks.com/historical-events/10-long-lived-empires.htm#page=10)

 

–          Even America’s empire has only lasted 237 years, with curious question how much longer it would stand under both internal issues of difference & depravity along with external global threats.

–          And yet… the leader/founder for God’s Church has lasted almost 2000 years and is promised eternal victory; even the gates of hell cannot prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).GodsBody_logo

  • The church is a kingdom and organization like no other. The work and purpose of the church is to continue the work of Jesus.
  • Book of Acts tells the story of the early church continuing the ministry and commands of Jesus.
    • Book was called Acts to speak of actions. The Christian faith is not a noun but a verb. Does your Christian faith reflect action?
      James 2:17 “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

Today’s message will continue our series “God’s Body” with an emphasis on the nature & purpose of the church; specifically several marks for how today God’s Body is Alive in Acts 4:13-31.

EXAMINE   MARKS OF AN ALIVE CHURCH
In context of Acts 4 Peter and John (along with other apostles) are leading others to believe in Jesus and belong to His church. Peter & John pray for a lame man to be healed and he is. The Jewish religious leaders are upset because they are proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection and power to save. Peter & John were arrested unjustly and from here we can see essential marks of an alive church.

Courageous/bold witness (Acts 4:13, 19-20)
The Jewish religious leaders were angered and astonished. They wanted to put the apostles on trial & punishment but the reverse was happening. Peter and John did not fear their circumstances. They were confident in Jesus’ and courageous to proclaim the gospel.

They shared good deeds in service to others (Acts 4:9)

They stood strong in face of opposition (Acts 4:9-11, 19-20). When court spoke against their conviction stood firm.

            – Which court is higher – man’s or God’s?

They spoke of exclusive salvation in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12)

Christianity needs unreasonable people who are uncomfortable with the status quo and unwilling to be content with the current mode of life and church. We all need a cause bigger than ourselves, which can drive us to action with a holy dissatisfaction.[1]

 

Why is the church not bold in witness today?

–          We are untrained how to share faith & testimony. We must learn and then trust God to give us the right words at the right time to the right person (Matthew 10:19-20; Acts 3:6).

–          We are uneasy about rejection. We must learn that persecution is not about us but Jesus (Matthew 5:11-12; John 15:20; 1Samuel 8:7).

–          We are unsaved or unruly to the Lordship of Jesus. If we are not bold it’s because we are not sold to Jesus. We must listen to Jesus and love people (1:Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).

ð     Which are you?

Acts 4:20 “for we cannot stop speaking of what we have seen and heard”

Common/ordinary people with extraordinary faith (Acts 4:13)
The religious leaders were astonished at Peter & John, not merely for their courage but because they were such uneducated (ajgra>mmatoi, literally “un-lettered”) and common (ijdiw~tai, literally “ignorant or unprofessional” and ordinary) people.

How could these men face the “law” with such courage? How could two Galilean fishermen speak with persuasive power from the Scriptures?

It was because they recognized they had been with Jesus. These apostles had the same character, the same convictions and the same competency of Jesus. They were doing what Jesus did – teaching about God, healing people in Jesus’ name and bringing people into His kingdom.

µ     God’s Body is not made up of superstars or celebrity saints. We are ordinary people serving an extraordinary God. We are broken sinners who have found healing in a broken Savior.

ð     If it were illegal to be a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you of being guilty? Would there be people to testify in trial about your faith? Would there be undeniable facts and proof to demonstrate you “had been with Jesus”?

Confronting social issues with love and truth (Acts 4:13-18)
The Jewish religious leaders saw the visible evidence of the apostolic healing a lame man standing, and they had nothing to say in opposition! The religious leaders worst nightmare was becoming reality. They had murdered the Messiah and apparently he had resurrected and now his followers were fearless to continue Jesus’ ministry of loving people and caring for their needs, as well as speaking spiritual truth. The Jews couldn’t figure out how to stop the gospel of Jesus from advancing and their last effort was bullied intimidation.

Interestingly, one of the ways they could have quieted the early Christians would have been to deny & provide evidence contrary to Jesus’ resurrection. Yet, they could not and throughout the book of Acts and the NT the central foundation is the resurrection of Christ which cannot be refuted with any evidence. Every person who genuinely researches the evidence knows this and either follows in faith or rejects the gospel on alternate reasoning (i.e. faith is blind, dislike for Christian hypocrisy, or other predisposition).

µ     Christians must view people as souls with skin.[2] The early church spoke of salvation in Jesus they also cared for the body; just like Jesus did. And so we must love people by meeting physical needs as a means to meeting their ultimate need of spiritual salvation of the forgiveness of sin.

ð     SPBC still collecting bowls & t-shirts for SENT: Nicaragua. Also can give $$ to send & support.

ð     SPBC making pillow-case dresses (see bulletin info) for girls in Nicaragua.

Celebration of God’s work and miracles (Acts 4:21-31).
The Jewish religious leaders had no way to punish them because of the people – all were praising God for His miraculous work. The man was 40 years old whom was lame since birth and everyone knew his disability. Likewise, everyone affirmed the miracle and there was no way to punish Peter or John.

µ     PRAISE is a powerful weapon; whether it is a testimony or a song, the truths have a way of stilling our storms and bringing peace into circumstances as well as silencing our enemies.

à        When adversary tries to bring you down then you look up and lift up Jesus.

à        Corporate worship should be filled with praise in song and testimony.

Following the release of Peter and John they reunited the fellowship of believers and began to pray.

“They lifted their voices together to God” (4:24)

µ     PRAYER is a powerful weapon;

  • Prayed in unity
  • Prayed under God’s sovereignty; whether released or imprisoned
  • Prayed with focus for boldness to honor God in hardship rather than removing self from it

 Kevin DeYoung says[3], Our prayer is often dull because there is so little earnestness in it. We pray as if no one is listening. We pray as if nothing will happen. We pray as if nothing were at stake. We pray without vim or vigor, without passion, without purpose. We pray to pass the time not to pull down blessings from heaven.

How often do we gather together with God’s people for the purpose of prayer?

If we are not often gathered for earnest prayer, we must consider why not. Is it because we do not have great needs in this body? Is it because we do not have fears and sins that beset us? Is it because there is no opposition in the world which threatens to snare us or no devil on the prowl who seeks to destroy? Is it because we are sure of ourselves and so self-reliant that we need no divine assistance? Or is it because we consider help from God to be so negligible that it is not worth our time to ask for it? Do we not think God listens when we pray? Do we not think he cares? Do we not think he is more than able to give us grace to help in our time of need?

What is the reason we have this apathy for prayer? Do we not see the critical importance of prayer? Have we forgotten what a privilege we have in prayer? Have we no confidence in the power of prayer? Do we take the example of the early church to be unreachable and impractical? Have we no sense for the blessings that await us in prayer and through prayer? Have we lost sight of the great glory God receives when his people pray? Who knows what new victories we would experience, what divine favor would be ours, what surprising providences we would enjoy if earnest prayer were made to God by the church?

Acts 4:31 “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”

APPLY/THINK

God’s church is alive

  • Courageous/bold witness
  • Common/ordinary people with extraordinary faith
  • Confronting social issues with love and truth
  • Celebration of God’s work and miracles

µ     Are you alive? Is your life shaken by the world or by worship of God?
To be shaken by the world is to be defeated in fear.

To be shaken by the presence of God is to be filled with confidence and courage.

µ     If you say you are alive, then trust & obedience to God is evidence or indicators of your faith.

ð     Are you trusting God in a world of tension and opposition to Christianity? Or do you rage watching the news and curse politics rather than pray for the nation?

ð     Are you trusting God in the midst of life challenges? Are praise, thankfulness and prayer incorporated into your daily circumstances?

ð     Are you obedient to speak of what you have seen & heard of the gospel? Who is God calling to mind right now for you to pray for their salvation? Would you pray now?

 

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s