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Scripture: Acts 2:38-47
Denomination: Independent/Bible

Summary: God is going to reach a lost world through the empowering of the Holy Spirit and His church. We depend on One and devote to building His church through the teaching of His Word, fellowship, communion and prayer.

Reaching the lost world for Christ would necessarily mean the birth of the Church, the body of Christ, the gathering of believers in Christ.
• This is a divine institution, not a man-made organisation. Through the Body of Christ the world will come to see Christ.
• The Church is the “hope of the world”, Bill Hybels love to say.
• Jesus believes that His disciples will bring the Good News to the ends of the earth – because of the empowering of the Holy Spirit and through Him, the establishment of His Church.
The Church is God’s agency in bringing the lost world back to Himself.
Acts 2 tells us FOUR things the first believers were devoted to, as a Church.
• So I like to share on this – our need to “DEPEND on One and DEVOTE to Four”.
The Holy Spirit finally came upon the witnesses. It was the miraculous act of God.
• No one dictated it. No one planned for it. It was the promise of God. It was the power of God.
• The witnesses began to bear witness of the act of God in Jesus Christ. They declared the wonders of God in the native languages of the region (2:11).
It was a sign from God that the Gospel must be proclaimed beyond their own race and language, beyond their own homeland.
• It was meant for the ends of the earth. This is the purpose and plan of God.
• And He has just provided proof that this can be done, when He blessed the disciples with the miracles of tongues.
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• God empowers them to bear witness of what they have heard and seen.
Peter, representing the 12, stood up with the Eleven (2:14) and addresses the crowd.
• It was the first, impromptu Gospel rally. Acts 2:22-24 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”
• At the end, “about 3000 were added to their number that day.” (2:41)
• We see more came into the Kingdom in a day than what Jesus secured in 3 years of His ministry.
Remember what Jesus said:
John 14:12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
John 16:7-8 “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment…”
The Holy Spirit convicted the hearts of 3000 men that day, as He did to your heart and mine.
• This was just the beginning. 2:47 tells us “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
• With the proclaiming of the Gospel, convictions take place in the hearts of men.
When the rich, young ruler in Matt 19 rejected Jesus’ offer, the disciples were greatly surprised and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
• Jesus: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt 19:26)
• It wasn’t the programmes that brought the people to Christ. It wasn’t their eloquence that swayed people to Christ. It was the move of the Holy Spirit.
Wherever and whenever the Name of Jesus is proclaimed, we see the move of the Spirit of God. The disciples were empowered by the Spirit.
• We are called and empowered today, to be His witnesses, in word and deed.
• This is God’s promise and the gift of God. Believe it. Each time we bear witness to Jesus, someone is there with us - to prompt, to move, and to convict the hearts of men.
• We DEPEND on the One whom the Father sent to us. He is with us today. You LEAN on Him each time you PRAY.
And so the Church was born, with more than 3000 believers.
• When the people come together, they become the collective WITNESS for Jesus Christ, the Saviour who died for them and saved them from sin.
• What do they do? Luke tells us in Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
What Luke says here is important. It is more significant than it seems.
• This was the FIRST gathering of believers. They did not have any precedent to go by, nor did they have any traditions to follow.
• They started on a clean slate, and the Holy Spirit led them to identify FOUR areas that the believers should devote their time to, and Luke wanted us to know.
• These served as ANCHORS for the first Church, and it would be wise for us to take heed.
The apostles’ teaching - the teachings they heard from Jesus.
• It was not just the truth they KNEW but they EXPERIENCED. The truth of what they know set them free from their sin. The truth gave them a NEW life. This truth changed them. And the people knew that.
• Eventually this teaching took on a written shape and became the NT scriptures.
We see the centrality of Jesus’ Word in their lives. The Word of God is their ANCHOR.
• When we take root, we can grow tall. When we go deep, we can stand stronger. When we study the Word, we will KNOW Him. That makes us strong.
• Not the knowledge about Him but the knowledge of Him. And that comes through the study of His Word.
• We see Jesus constantly teaching. If He is constantly teaching, then the disciples are constantly learning, about God and His Kingdom.
Read and study the Word of God regularly. Cultivate an appetite for it.
• In a modern lifestyle like ours, it is easy to neglect the Word. We want instant noodles. Just summarize what it says and give me the pointers. Digest it and tell me what to do.
• But that cannot make you strong. You need to feed it yourself to gain strength, because that’s the only way you’ll KNOW Him.
• Others can provide us the resources and opportunities, but without a hunger for the Word, it will not be possible to cultivate a close relationship with God.
If we do not glean the Word, we will not encounter Him. The Lord reveals Himself through His Word.
• If we have a superficial understanding of the Word, chances are we will also have a superficial understanding of Him. Someone knows Him; we just know about Him.
• You can only develop deep convictions from a personal study of His Word.
Let me share with you my true experience. When I’m down and needed encouragement, when I faced a difficulty and needed help, it has always been the studying of His Word that brought me back up.
It is not some lines I read in a book, the words of some motivational speakers, or nice sayings from bookmarks. All of these help, they are not useless. They do make me feel good, comforted, encouraged, but usually momentary.
Lasting strength, the encouragement that endures, comes from convictions. And from my own experience, they come from the study of His Word. The Holy Spirit convicts. He brings to my mind the words of Christ and grants me the faith to believe what I hear.
I find lasting strength only from His Word.
I want to suggest to you one way that can help you enjoy the study of the Word.
• Approach it this way: “I am not seeking to know the Word (information). I am seeking to know the God of the Word (transformation).”
• Frankly, certain parts, and at certain times, it can be dry and boring, but hang in there. You’ll see the light. You will encounter Him.
We have many different images when it comes to fellowship – we have picture of people coming together to share and talk, and usually over a meal. This is not wrong.
• The word ‘fellowship’ comes from the root meaning, common. It refers to the coming together of people of the common faith, a common Lord, or a common goal.
• But Luke seems to focus on one aspect, which he tries to unpack for us in 2:44-45, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”
Luke was saying that the people were so bonded together that if one was in need, the rest would felt uneasy not giving up something to meet the need.
• They would sell possessions and use the money to meet the needs of the poor among them. It was this sacrificial love that Luke saw and admired.
This was one of Luke's passions — that Christians care for one another’s needs, and not just their own wants.
• We see this emphasis in his writings. Some parables can only be found in Luke.
• Luke alone tells the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30–37), the parable of the rich fool who built bigger and bigger barns (12:16–21), the story of God's great banquet that people wouldn't come to because they had fields and cattle to tend to (Luke 14:16–24), the story of the dishonest manager (Luke 16:1–8), and the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31).
• More than any other NT writer Luke stresses the danger of letting things possess our heart.
This is the 2nd ANCHOR for a strong church. We will LOOK OUT for one another. That’s true fellowship.
Heb 10:25 “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
• Earlier the author says, “But encourages one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.” (Heb 3:13)
• We will continue to SUPPORT one another, financially, emotionally and spiritually.
This ‘breaking of bread’ phrase can mean having a meal together but in the light of Luke’s emphasis, saying that this was what they were devoted to, it is likely that Luke was referring to the observance of the “Lord’s Supper”.
• 2:46 “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…”
• It was a clear instruction from Jesus, to take the Lord’s Supper together, regularly (and in their case, DAILY), remembering their salvation in Christ and the gift of a new life.
• It was their worship of Jesus. It was their communion with the Lord. It was this relationship with Jesus that matters.
• And it was a daily affair for them. We ought to do better today, when we meet together only on a Sunday!
If they had been meeting daily, then their prayers were offered daily.
• No wonder Luke says in 2:43, “Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.” They were tapping on the power of the Holy Spirit, constantly and consistently. How can we do less today?
• “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47)
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