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GOD’S PATTERN FOR HIS CHURCH
Intro: The Day of Pentecost was an amazing day. On that day, the Holy Spirit was given, and the Lord’s church was born. The church that came into existence that day was a sight to behold.
• It was a church operating in the power of the Holy Spirit.
• It was a church on mission, taking the Gospel to a lost world.
• It was a church excited about its Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
• It was a church committed to holiness, obedience to the Word of God, and to worship.
• It was a church that was hated by the world around, but it was steadfast in the face of horrible persecution.
• It was a church that was growing, as God added to it daily.
• It was a church that enjoyed the manifest presence and power of God.
• The church described in the book of Acts was unlike anything the world had ever, or will ever see.
The modern church, the church with which we are all familiar, is far removed from what that church was.
• The church in Acts was united - Act 2:44-46; Acts 4:32-37
- The people loved one another.
- They were being persecuted for their faith, and many were losing their jobs.
- Others were forces from their homes.
- Many were poverty stricken.
- The people in the church rallied together, sold their possessions, and gave to meet the needs of other believers.
- Acts 2:46 says they were “in one accord.”
- Acts 4:32 says “they were of one heart and one soul.”
- They held their faith in common.
- They were stood with one another and not against one another.
- They presented a united front to the hostile world in which they lived.
• The church in Acts was committed - We are told that “they continued daily,” Acts 2:46.
- They were so committed to their worship of the Savior that they came together every day to worship and to honor the Lord.
- Get that in your mind! They didn’t just go to church on Sunday; they came to church every single day! That’s commitment.
- They were committed in the face of persecution and hatred.
‣ Stephen was stoned to death for his faith, Acts 7.
‣ John and Peter were arrested and beaten for their preaching, Acts 4-5.
‣ The whole church operated under the threat of persecution, jail, and death, Acts 8:1-3; Acts 9:1-2.
• The church in Acts was powerful - The early church enjoyed the power of God in their midst.
- They saw people saved on a daily basis, Acts 2:47.
- They witnessed miraculous conversions as first 3,000 and then 5,000 were saved by grace and brought into their number.
- They saw God deal with hypocrisy in their midst by judging guilty members in the presence of all, Acts 5:1-10.
- They witnessed many miracles and many manifestations of the power of God.
- They were hated by the world, but they had the power of God on their ministries.
- There was so much spiritual power on this church that they were said to have “turned the world upside down,” Acts 17:6.
• The church in Acts was militant - They carried the Gospel to everyone they met.
- Peter and John shared the Gospel with a crippled man in Acts 3. When he was healed and saved, a crowd gathered, Acts 4. Peter and John preached the Gospel to that crowd and 5,000 people were saved.
- They sent out missionaries to carry the Gospel to the world.
- They witnessed were they lived, and everywhere they went.
- They literally fulfilled Acts 1:8, which says, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
- They had the Gospel and they did not hesitate to use it!
• The church in Acts was feared - While they were hated by the word, they were also feared.
- When Ananias and Sapphira were killed for lying to God, fear fell on the people because of the power of God that rested on His church.
- Acts 5:13a says, “And of the rest durst no man join himself to them.”
- The world around them knew something was different about this church.
- Many feared the church because God’s presence was so real.
In our day, the church is a mere shadow of what it was designed to be. The modern church lacks many of the characteristics that made the early church such a wonder to behold.
• The modern church is divided
- The modern church is so fractured that there can be little cooperation on issues that matter.
- Denominations, doctrines, problems real and perceived, all combine to divide the church into small, isolated groups that refuse to accept those who are different.
• The modern church is uncommitted
- Most people in our generation treat the church like it is expendable.
- Their commitment to the church is conditioned on their schedules, their routines, their convenience, the whims of the moment.
- There is no real commitment to the mission of the church, the worship of the church, the outreach of the church, or the needs of the church.
- The modern church is afflicted with a “take it or leave it” attitude.
- Often those in positions of leadership are the worst offenders.
- Sunday School teachers, Deacons, preachers, and other leaders should set an example of faithfulness for the rest of the church. If they don’t they should resign from their positions.
• The modern church is powerless
- Lost people come into our churches and there is little to no conviction.
- In many cases, the people in the pews are not so different from the lost people in the world around them.
- Church members give little attention to prayer, daily worship and devotion, and personal holiness.
- As a result, when we gather for our meetings, they are often lifeless, powerless, and lacking in the manifest presence and power of God.
- Lost people come into our churches and see no difference between us and them.
- The church today is doing everything in its power to make itself more attractive to the lost world.
- We lower our standards, water down our sermons, adopt a more modern style of music, and do all we can to make the church attractive to the lost.
- It should not be that way!
- When the world steps into the church, they ought to feel as though they have entered an alien world.
- The way we talk, the way we dress, the way we worship, the way we preach, should all leave them with the impression that we are different.
Please don’t misunderstand me today.
- The way we dress when we go to church does not add to our diminish or power with God. However, the way we dress when we go to church does reveal how much we respect God and His house. Ladies, we appreciate you wearing dresses when you come to worship. We appreciate no one here wearing shorts to God’s house.
- The kind of music we choose will not add to or diminish the power of God in the church. The kind of music a church uses is up to the church. I could care less what style of music a church uses in their services. It’s none of my business! Our choice of any music style should be based in a desire to worship and magnify the Lord, and not from a desire to attract the world.
- The way we preach is determined by a lot of factors. No two preachers deliver the message the same way. We must never be guilty of dumbing down our doctrine, or changing the Gospel to make it more appealing to the world.
- If we are going to impact this world for the glory of God, we won’t do it through our music, or through the subtle changes we make to attract the world.
- If we are going to impact our generation, we will only do so through the power of God’s Spirit. His touch must be on our singing, our preaching, and our church.
- We need divine power, if we are going to make a difference. We can sing hymns, southern Gospel, or praise and worship choruses, and none of it matters unless it has the breath of God on it.
- So, let’s not pat ourselves on the back too vigorously just because we have stayed in “the old paths.”
- Let’s not congratulate ourselves too much on being “old-fashioned.”
- Without God’s power, we are dead and as worthless as the most liberal, contemporary church in America.
- Dead orthodoxy is just as pathetic as dead liberalism!
• The modern church is not militant
- We hold in our hands the precious, inspired Word of God.
- We have been entrusted with the Gospel message, the very message that every lost soul in the world needs to hear.
- Instead of taking that message to the world and engaging them with the Gospel, we tell no one.
- Then we wonder why no one is being saved.
- The homosexual movement in our world is loud and vocal. They comprise about 1.5% of our population. That’s about 5 million people out of the 330 million that make up our nation, yet they act as if they are the majority.
- They push their radical agenda, an agenda that will change the shape and dynamic of the family in coming generations.
- That vocal minority is winning the effort to force the rest of us acknowledge their lifestyle choice. They want every heterosexual in the world to affirm their choice of lifestyle as acceptable and right.
- I said “lifestyle choice” because that’s what it is!
- No one is born “gay,” but all are born sinners. Some are merely born with a bent in that direction!
- While the homosexual, lesbian, transgender community stages their parades, holds their rallies, and demands our approval, the redeemed church of the living God, sits on our collective backsides and says nothing!
- We have ceased to be the church of Matt. 16:18, which says, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” but we should be!
- The church is being increasingly marginalized in our society.
- No one cares what we think about social issues.
- No one wants God’s perspective on anything today.
- We deserve that kind of treatment because we have forgotten how to take a stand.
- We’ve drunk the Kool Aid of political correctness, the same Kool Aid that has poisoned the minds of the world, and we are afraid to take a stand for the truth and against sin because we might hurt someone’s feelings.
- We need to get over our squeamishness and take a stand for truth, regardless of the consequences, Ill. Rom. 3:4.
• The modern church is not feared
- The world mocks us.
- They mock our Bible, our worship, and our God.
- When hollywood or television portrays a Christian, they are usually pictured as some simpleminded lunatic, a child molester, or a psycho nut job.
- They laugh at our powerlessness.
- They find humor in our Gospel.
- They believe we are all hypocrites, and in far too many cases they are right.
- The world doesn’t fear us; they have no reason to.
- When I say “fear us,” I mean there should be something “other worldly” about the church.
- There should be such power on the people of God that while the world may hate us, but they cannot deny that we have been with the Lord, and that He stands with us, Acts 4:13.
I am very interested in our church being the right kind of church. I am interested in having the kind of church that is as close as possible to the type of church God founded in the world 2,000 years ago.
To understand the kind of church the church in the book of Acts was, we need only look at the verses we have read today. This passage reveals God’s Pattern For His Church. The verses speak about the characteristics that should be the distinguishing marks of God’s church. If we dare, let’s lay our church alongside this template and see how well we line up with God’s Pattern For His Church.
I. HIS CHURCH PREACHES THE RIGHT MESSAGE
A. v. 22-37 What It Says About The Savior – This message affirms that Jesus is God in the flesh, Ill. “Nazareth”, v. 22; John 1:1; 14. It affirms His crucifixion and His resurrections, v. 23-32. The church God founded preaches a message that exalts Jesus, proclaims His death and resurrection and points lost people to Him alone!
B. v. 23, 36 What It Says About Sin – This message is crystal clear regarding sin. It exposes the terrible nature of sin, Eze. 18:4; Rom. 6:23. It warns the sinner to turn his sins, v. 40. It is a plain message that confronts sinners where they live, v. 23, 26. It preaches Hell hot and Heaven sweet! (Ill. Isa. 58:1)
C. v. 38-40 What It Says About Salvation – This church points a lost world to Jesus Christ and to Him alone. It does not preach salvation through religion or ritual, Eph. 2:8-9. It holds Jesus up as the final and only solution to the problem of sin, John 14:6; Acts 16:31. It preaches a transcendent message that speaks to all social classes, all races, and all sinners, 5-12; Ill. Acts 1:8. It is a message that calls everyone to repent and believe the Gospel.
D. v. 39 What It Says About Sovereignty – This church understands and proclaims that God is sovereign in salvation. He saved whom He will, when He will and where He will. God is the Author and Finisher of salvation.
• He chooses His people, Eph. 1:4.
• He calls His people, John 6:44; Rom. 8:30.
• He redeems His people, John 6:37-40.
• The message of the church openly, unashamedly preaches that “Salvation is of the Lord”, Jonah 2:9.
I. His Church Preaches The Right Message
II. HIS CHURCH IS MADE UP OF THE RIGHT PEOPLE
A. v. 37, 40-41 Its Members Are Saved – This church is made up of people who have had a “new birth” experience with Jesus Christ, John 3:3, 7.
- The tendency in the modern church to fill it up with tares at whatever the cost.
- Their are countless problems that arise out of that philosophy.
- Ill. The early church and the fear that rested on the community – Acts 2:43; 5:1-14.
- Some will slip into our number from time to time. It can’t be helped!
- Satan will do all he can to plant tares among the wheat. He knows that few tares will devastate the rest of the church.
- We should do everything in our power to ensure that we a redeemed membership!
B. v. 42 Its Members Are Separated – This church walked in “the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship”. They broke off all their ties with the old life. They came to Jesus Christ by faith and they were transformed by the grace of God, 2 Cor. 5:17.
- No redeemed child of God will have a problem honoring biblical standards of separation and holiness, John 14:15.
- God wants His people to be holy, 1 Pet. 1:16.
- He wants His people to be different, 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1.
C. v. 42 Its Members Are Steadfast – They were faithful! They showed up when it was time for worship. They each did their individual part for the common good, and for the glory of God! God expects His people to be faithful to His worship, and His work, 1 Cor. 4:2; Heb. 10:25.
D. v. 44-45 Its Members Are Servants – This church was marked by selflessness. The members cared about the needs of others and they did everything in their power to meet the needs of their fellow believers. This church displayed its love, not merely in words, but in actions, and that is the true test of spiritual love.
- “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him,” 1 John 3:17–19.
- “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others,” Phil. 2:4.
I. His Church Preaches The Right Message
II. His Church Is Made Up Of The Right People
III. HIS CHURCH FOLLOWS THE RIGHT PROGRAM
A. v. 42, 46-47 They Worship Together As A Family – This church met together for prayer, for instruction in the Word of God and for worship. Their common goal was to grow in their faith, and to praise and worship the Lord Who redeemed them from their sins. Paul described this kind of desire in Phil 3:10, where he said, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”
- To want to know God is to want to understand Him to the greatest degree possible, and it is to act on that knowledge by bowing to Him in humble worship.
- There is nothing more lovely than when the saints of God come together in unity to worship and praise their Redeemer.
‣ “Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the name of the LORD; praise him, O ye servants of the LORD. Ye that stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God, Praise the LORD; for the LORD is good: sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant,” Psa. 135:1–3.
‣ “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel,” Psa. 22:3.
‣ “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name,” Heb. 13:15.
B. v. 44-45 They Work Together As A Team – This church had as their common goal the common good. They worked to benefit the group. God has not called us to sit by and do nothing, but He has called us to go to work, and to work together, for the glory of God, Eph. 2:10; James 2:18.
C. v. 42, 46 They Walk Together As Friends – This church enjoyed “fellowship”, “breaking of bread”, and “singleness of heart”. A church is not a social club, but few things create a bond like good, Christian fellowship. Few things contribute to the unity of a church like the members coming together to serve the Lord as a family. We are on the same team! We are serving the same Master! We are headed to the same Heaven! Surely we can walk together as we make the trip there! Ill. Phil. 1:27, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
D. v. 47 They Witness Together As Saints – This church was not ashamed of their message, but they all worked to spread it to a lost world. The Lord still desires that His people share His message with the lost, Acts 1:8; Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:19-20.
I. His Church Declares The Right Message
II. His Church Is Made Up Of The Right People
III. His Church Follows The Right Program
IV. HIS CHURCH OBEYS THE RIGHT LORD
A. v. 41, 43, 47 Their Lord Is Powerful – This church was made up of the right kind of people carrying out the right kind of ministry. Thus, they enjoyed the blessings of God on their efforts. He “added” to their number daily. He manifested His power through “wonders and signs”. He caused the community to take notice of the work of the church, v. 43, 47. This church was feared and respected by the community! That same kind of blessing is still available to the right kind of church!
B. v. 47 Their Lord Is Personal – This church didn’t worship an abstract unknowable God. They worshiped a Lord Who personally redeemed them from their sins. They were in a powerful, saving relationship with Him. They knew Him and they were consumed with love for Him, and that love permeated all they did. Everything else they did was a result of their love for their Master. It should be the same today, Ill. Rev. 2:1-7; Matt. 22:37-39; John 13:35.
Conc: How well does Calvary fit the pattern?
• Are we the kind of church God can use and bless for His glory?
• A better question, since the church is not this building, but the people, is how well do we as individuals fit the pattern?
• Are we the kind of individuals God can bless and use to make His church was He designed it to be?
I challenge you to look inside yourself right now.
• Are you saved? If not, come to Jesus right now!
• Are you surrendered to the Lord? If not, come and surrender all to Him now.
• Are you faithful to the church? If not, repent of that sin and get faithful to the Lord.
• Are you committed to the ministries of the church? If not, repent of that sin and get busy.
• Are you a servant of the Lord and His church? If not, repent of that sin and go to work.
• If you are in a position of leadership, are you doing what you need to be doing? If not, repent of that sin and set the right example for the rest of the church and for the watching world.
I challenge you to pray for Calvary and to work together as a family to ensure that this church lines up perfectly with the pattern God designed.
We have a good church. It’s filled with good people; people I love.
Yet, I see in all of our lives much room for improvement.
If the Lord is speaking to you, you need to come to Him.
If nothing else, you should come pray for your church today!