The Spirit-Led Church

Authentic Church  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  48:33
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why are so many churches doing so little for the kingdom?
few if any conversions
if they are growing it is growth by circulation
extremely difficult to run programs because of a spectator mentality
polls show that the daily lives of professing Christians are little different from that of unbelievers
watch the same TV programs and movies, have the same attitude toward dishonesty, are as sexually immoral, same divorce rates, etc.
The fact is that most churches are not operating under the control of the Spirit
applies to all churches no matter how big or how small
anyone can get people through the doors with the right budget and marketing techniques
produces carnality - they are fleshly, not spiritual
the kind of church that is so common today
on the other hand Acts provides us with a picture of healthy, growing churches
churches which are blessed by the HS, making an impact on the world
we find in these churches foundational principles
my passion that Eastwood embrace these principles and precepts which are the foundation for the success of the church
any church that wants to experience the fullness and blessing of the HS must recognize, embrace and implement these principles
Effective churches are Spirit controlled churches
all of them start with becoming solid in the Word (note the order in the Great Commission!)
this is the key to effectiveness
HS works when people are filled with the Word
Christians grew strong in the Word then fasted and prayed and the HS stepped in
this happened in the Jerusalem church
testimony of the Apostles: devoted to teaching and prayer
we now see it in the Antioch church

Antioch: A Thriving Church Led by the Spirit

1 They Were Saved

Acts 11:21 ESV
21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
while this should be a given in every church it is not always so
many churches have turned away from the gospel
United Church minister who is an atheist and permitted to keep her job
even more Evangelical churches have embraced a view of salvation which keeps people from truly repenting of their sins
unless a person understands the gospel they cannot be saved
many make a decision without this
salvation has been reduced to a decision
A decision for Christ is worthless if it is not accompanied by a change of direction, change of desire, change of love, change of will, change of master
the degree to which a church is made up of genuine believers is the degree to which it will be fruitful
Q: how are people saved?
branches in Jn 15: some join themselves to Christ, others are joined by God
problem of unfruitful branches: have no vital connction
11:21 - believing vs actual turning to the Lord
Acts 11:24 ESV
24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.
people were continually being saved
church was boldly witnessing and they were growing through conversions
contrast to much church growth due to circulation of saints

2 They Were Marked by Grace

Acts 11:23 ESV
23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose,
grace = unmerited favour
encapsulated in Jesus words,
Matthew 10:8 ESV
8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.
Common grace: God’s undeserved kindness to all displayed in the provision of daily needs and all good things
another word for this is “providence”
all people people benefit from this
this is God’s love expressed to the world
instead of casting us immediately into hell as we deserve he blesses us with our needs and wants
Matthew 5:45 ESV
45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Acts 14:17 ESV
17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”
Special grace: God’s undeserved kindness displayed to some in his saving them from sin and death
Ephesians 2:8–9 ESV
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
only those chosen by God benefit from special grace
NT calls them elect
the spiritual blessings believers enjoy from their union with Christ
saw the grace of God”
True saving grace results in ongoing, visible changes
James - faith w/o works is dead (James 2:14-26)
the grace of God which Barnabas witnessed was sanctification
everything starts to change in a believer as the HS works to make them like Christ
Jerusalem church: devoted to apostles’ teaching, fellowship, prayer and breaking of bread
love for God, love of righteousness, love of worship, love of brethren, love of prayer
outworking of grace = great number added (v.24) = growth by evangelism
they were called “Christians” = proclaimed Christ and lived according to his commands
they provided relief to “the brothers” living in Judea (v.29)
implication they were doing this with one another

3 They Were Established in the Word

estimates are that the Jerusalem church took about 7 yrs from the time it was established at Pentecost to the establishment of the Antioch church
out of that ministry men of Cyprus and Cyrene went and preached in Antioch with the result that many believed (11:20)
Barnabas sent and exhorted them not to depart from the Lord (11:23)
Barnabas and Saul taught the Antioch church for a full year
Acts 11:26 ESV
26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.
this teaching was doctrinal and theological truth, not restating the way of salvation every Sunday
Many churches are ineffective because they have never been taught doctrine and theology
note the pattern of spiritual growth in 1 Jn 2:12-14
the middle stage of young adulthood is marked by “the word of God abides in you” (v.14)
through the abiding word they are able to overcome the evil one
we are either overcoming evil or it is overcoming us!
it is interesting to note that the result of their being saturated with the word was their being called Christians
the spirit inspired word had a powerful, life changing effect on those who heard
they were being transformed into the likeness of Christ
this is how the HS works: as believers are made strong in the word the HS begins to work
don’t need to invent programs, just stay in step with what the HS is doing
Churches that influence the world must first be filled with the truth of the Word and controlled by it

4 They Were Marked by Love For Christ’s Church

Acts 11:29 ESV
29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea.
when the Antioch church heard there would be a famine they sent funds to Jerusalem
they didn’t wait for the Jerusalem church to send out an “SOS”!
note how they looked on the Jewish believers in Judea - “brothers”!
a mark of a Spirit-led church is a loving commitment to aleviate the needs of other churches
cultural and ethnic barriers which once separated have been torn down
the dividing wall of hostility is removed (Eph 2:14)
Practical love and sound doctrine go hand in hand
doctrine does not divide it unites!

5 They Were Led by Spirit Filled Men

Acts 11:24 ESV
24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.
Acts 13:9 ESV
9 But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him
Remember the requirement of the Apostles: those who waited on tables had to be full of the Spirit (Acts 6:3)
a key characteristic that must mark all church leaders if the church is to be Spirit led
The problem: churches will not rise higher than their pastors (Hos 4:9)
Hosea 4:9 ESV
9 And it shall be like people, like priest; I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.
people will never rise higher than those who lead them
leaders of Antioch church were men filled with the Spirit
if elders are not full of spirit they are in trouble and will lead the church the lead into trouble
Spirit filled leaders led to Spirit blessed ministry
Antioch church sent funds to Jerusalem and then sent out their pastors, Barnabas and Saul
problem of church people leaving all the “heavy lifting” to the paid staff
we are all ministers
1 Peter 2:5 ESV
5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
we are all priests
what do priests do? they offer things to God
everything we do in life are sacrifices to Christ
do you see your life as a priesthood to God?
what are you offering to him? (warning of Mal 1:6-14)
Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church - live with them in an understanding way - do not be harsh
Wives submit to your husbands as unto the Lord - respect and honour them
children obey your parents
employees work as if God were your boss
Ushers, SS teachers, property team
have you offered God your best?
warning of Mal 1:13 - offering blind and lame animals as sacrifices
were giving God their left-overs
Malachi 1:14 ESV
14 Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.
do you look at your life like this? do you live like a priest?
Romans 12:1 ESV
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
note the variety of men in pastoral leadership
Barnabas - a Jew and a former Temple priest
Saul - a Pharisee of Pharisees
Simeon - a black man
Manaen - lifelong friend = foster brother
grew up with silver spoon in his mouth
Lucius - average nondescript Gentile
the reflected the make-up of their church, people from various cultures and walks of life

6 They Were Marked by Prayer and Fasting

this marked the Jerusalem church (Acts 2:42) and it marked the Antioch church
fasting always connected to prayer
True prayer is on one hand an acknowledgement of personal weakness, need, dependance and on the other hand a confession of God’s power and greatness
the closer we get to God the more we realize this
it should be obvious to every true believer that this is a product of the indwelling HS
Eph 6:18 - after putting on the full armour of God the believer is exhorted to pray
while prayer is the language of every true believer right from the moment of conversion we grow in prayer as we grow in our knowledge of the word
knowing the word enables us to pray aright
fasting: so caught up in prayer that eating becomes unimportant
appetite for worldly pleasures wane as the spiritual burden increases
Jesus with the woman at the well
John 4:32 ESV
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”

The Church Controlled by the Holy Spirit

doesn’t matter what else a church has, if the Spirit is not active, it is in serious trouble
Any church that is not focused on understanding and applying the word of God will not experience the control of the HS
it will be controlled by its own desires
as it is in our personal lives so it will be in our worship and ministries
church is simply the collection of individual Christians
If we are not controlled by the Spirit in our personal lives we are controlled by our sinful fleshly desires
if we are controlled by our desires so it will be in our church and the HS will be grieved, Satan will be given a foothold
it doesn’t matter what else a church has if it does not have the HS
that starts with each member at home!
how to be under the control of the HS:
if the HS is to control you there is only 1 way: obey his instructions & commands
If you are going to obey you must know what he instructs and commands
to know his instructions and commands you must read and study the scriptures
2 Timothy 3:16–17 ESV
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
The bible is the Spirit’s mind revealed
any church that wants to accomplish the purposes of God must maintain a dogged pursuit of the word of God
there will always be pressure to do other things and this inevitably happens when a church is not dominated by the Word
It’s not how many people there are in a church but how many people are growing in their love for the Word
HS was active in the Antioch church
saved, grace evident, established in Word, loved other churches, led by spirit filled men, marked by prayer and fasting
the Spirit the key to the ministry of the church (1 Cor 12:7-13)
a true church is a group of people through whom the HS is working
A church that does not have the Holy Spirit is a social club
the most basic need of every individual church is to be Spirit filled
to do that every believer must be Spirit filled
to be Spirit filled you must let the Word of God dwell richly in you
Questions for Personal Reflection:
When you were saved what changes took place and are taking place? What changes would you like to take place in the future?
How is the grace of God visible in your life?
What does your time in the Word look like from Monday to Saturday?
What sacrifices are you making because of your love for Christ’s church?
What does your “priesthood” look like? Have your “offerings” to God been worthy of him?
How has your awareness of your own personal weakness and God’s awesome power led you to prayer and fasting?
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