CHURCH GROWTH

January 5, 2018

ACTS 2:37-47

CHURCH GROWTH

 

Peter preaches a sermon and we see the aftermath of how a Spirit filled community operates.

 

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

 

When the word of God is faithfully spoken, a response is needed. It says in Hebrews 4:12 that the word of God is living and has the ability to pierce the heart and soul. When Peter faithfully preached the word of God, the people were hit so hard that they asked what the proper response was. For the modern day Christian and church, do we believe in the power of God’s word to pierce the heart of people? Do we believe that there is power in the word to cause a reaction in people’s hearts to turn towards Christ or are we relying more on our persuasion skills? When we seek to save the lost, we must remind ourselves that we must be people of the word because it is by His word that people come to know Him and experience Him.

 

TAKE AWAY: Believe in the power of God’s words to touch the heart of people.

 

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

 

Peter responds with two solutions to the people being touched by the word of God, repentance and baptism. The word repentance means, “change of mind.” It is a complete shift in what you thought about a certain subject and most often times it is in relation to what you believe about God. When we repent to God, what we are saying is that we are turning away from our sin and believing that it is not more satisfying than God. In repentance we turn away from sin and turn to God. The word repent often times translates an old Hebrew word naham, that describes the act of comforting oneself. When you repent you are comforting yourself and not through your effort but comforting yourself by being in God’s presence.

 

The second response of baptism is just a physical representation of what is going on in the heart. Baptism is a declaration of a believer that they have chosen to die with Christ so that they can live with Christ forever. If you were to put it modern day terms, Baptism is the equivalent of going “FaceBook Official” with Jesus.

 

The ultimate gift that does come from this however is that people who repent and are baptized are forgiven of their sin but given the Holy Spirit as their reward. To be forgiven of your sins is not the primary goal of the Christian walk but to be in the presence of God through an intimate relationship. Being with Jesus is the good news of the Gospel, not just mere forgiveness but what forgiveness does is that it is the step that activates the true purpose of establishing a relationship.

 

According to verse thirty-nine, this offer of forgiveness that leads to the Holy Spirit is for everyone! For generations the people of God were the Israelites but now the definition of who the people of God will be anyone that receives Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior in their heart with the evidence of that acceptance shown through the way we live our lives for Him.

 

TAKE AWAY: The purpose of repentance is relationship with God. Remember, that all things is for the sake of being with God and nothing else!

 

40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

 

Peter continued to encourage and challenge the people to separate themselves from the world by not acting like everyone else that did not have the Holy Spirit. The believers faithfulness to God and His word led to God adding unto their group three thousand people! When the people of God are faithful to being who they are in Christ as sons and daughters that reflect God, then it will be God who adds new believers. We are called to be faithful followers and witnesses who proclaim through testimony and explaining of the word of God who He is and it is actually God’s responsibility to save people. We will be tempted to believe that we are the ones that save people but let it be known that it will ultimately not be because of our faithfulness that people are saved but God uses our faithfulness as a bridge to get people saved. We are bridges for God to use to connect with people so that they can meet the savior of the world

 

TAKE AWAY: Our faithfulness to God and love for people is the bridge for people to be saved. Let us maintain that bridge well by loving others and loving God.

 

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe[d] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

 

The early church lived their lives together. They didn’t separate their “normal” lives from church life but that they were one and the same. Christianity was not a part time job nor a hobby but was lifestyle they lived 24/7.

 

When the early church started being the church that lived out the teachings of God, four things happened which are the following:

  1. There was love for one another through practical sacrifice by giving what they owned to those who were in need

  2. Miracles, signs, and wonders

  3. Increase in numbers (3000 were saved in a day!)

  4. Glad hearts=people were happy.

 

When Jesus is the center of our community, we will see a growth in both quality and quantity. When God is enthroned rather than programs or agendas of men, we will actually see God move as the church on earth serve as a window into heaven for those who don’t know God so that they can see what is invisible through the visible church.

 

TAKE AWAY: When glorifying God is the focus of the church, people begin to see heaven.

 

Please reload

© 2019 Bethany United Methodist Church

  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • YouTube - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle