4.5a.32 7.6.2020 Kingdom Builders @ Lick Prairie Acts 4

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Entice: We have had a year of doing new and different things. We have had to reconcile ourselves to the fact that we are not nearly as smart, not nearly as invulnerable, not nearly as exceptional as we have thought. All humans bear the image of God and are answerable to Him. As disconcerting as all this difference is I do think that we should welcome some of it. It has slowed us down. It has given us the opportunity to reflect. To reimagine the pace, process, and purpose of living.
Engage: It has been challenging to the Church because we have had to make radical decisions about how to worship, who should worship, the context and circumstances of worship, and how a worshipping community lives responsibly in difficult times. As hard as it has been and continues to be, even here there is opportunity. It comes down to a simple equation.


In reading and applying the NT right now we are closer to the original spiritual and cultural contexts of Formative Judaism and Hellenistic Paganism than we have been for some 1700 years. Not only is the context essentially the same we also know from the NT record that the gospel was effective in these cultural contexts.
Expand: I am sure that Acts 4 is familiar to you. In preparing this message I looked back and found at least 3 or 4 separate messages with different emphases I preached in the last 8 years. Tonight I want to specifically address the issue of effective service while facing the unknown, leading upset sheep, and managing unprecedented times. Acts 4 is both radically different and essentially the same. We tend to focus on the drastic dissimilarities when I think the similarities should encourage us.
Excite: These times present us with the circumstances but our response largely defines them:

Are they obstacles or opportunities?

Are they setbacks or stepping stones?

Are they irritating or instructive?

Will we grumble or grow?

Do they bring out our best or our worst?


The Pre-Christian world was ready for the gospel; the Post-Christian world is ready for the gospel-how can the Church rise to the challenge set before us again?

Explain: The earliest church exemplifies what it means to be ready for these challenging times.

1. Uncompromising about Jesus, the gospel, our mission.

Acts 4:1–4 ESV
1 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.




5000 total converts.

2. Unthreatening to the state authority, social order, cultural structures.

Acts 4:5–12 ESV
5 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Spiritual transformation.

(did not threaten state authority)

Transcendent authority

Similarity & dissimilarity...(Judean social order informed by scripture, deformed by sin, reformed by faith)

Met a Universal Need

Pre-Christian Judea/Rome & Post-Christian USA/Global society are mirror images of one another and our response is basically the same.

3. Unintimidated by State-bullying, cultural pressure, social stigma.

Acts 4:13–18 ESV
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
Even though the church was not threatening...insecure leaders felt threatened...with all the typical results

Bullying Behavior.

Cultual pressure.

Old fashioned "social-distancing"


4. Unashamed of our mission, message, and master.

Acts 4:19–22 ESV
19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.
They wound up where they started..




Shut Down:
Cultural conflict feels good! I was trained for it! I'm pretty good at it. It is not generally the model which we find in the NT. Both Jesus and the Apostles saw what we think of as culture war as the last resort, not the first. Our goal should be-riffing off of the old commercial, is to get people to switch, not to fight.
The score we keep is not the number of fights we win but the number of disciples we develop, circumstances we transform, lives redeemed.
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