1598 churches closed between 1969 and 2001, The ChurchesConservation Trust estimate another 1000 will close this decade.
Jesus promised that “I will build mychurch and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” Matt 16-18
Yet in Rev 2-3…
Does that mean immediate closure? 1 Sam 15:26 And Samuelsaid to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word ofthe Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king overIsrael.” God rejected Saul years before David took over. So churches canhave their lampstand removed and go on meeting with God not in the midst.
Nicky Gumbel uses the Private Eye article about God leavingthe Anglican Church – a spokesman said”We’ll just have to get used to it!” and yet Nicky Gumbel’s Church HTB, likeour movement is planting loads of vibrant growing churches all across the UK.
Non-Christians often see the Church as Irrelevant – EddieIzzard brilliantly caricatured how the Anglican Church would do the SpanishInquisition “Cake or death?”
Chuck Colson quote
“Three of four years ago I came to the realisation that wehave a scandalously low view of the church., The church is not incidental tothe great cosmic struggle for the hearts and souls of modern men and women; itis the instrument God has chosen for the battle – a battle that we are calledto by virtue of our being members of His body.
That the church is held in such low esteem reflects not onlythe depths of our Biblical ignorance, but the alarming extent to which we havesuccumbed to the excessive individualism of modern culture… If we don’t graspthis intrinsically corporate nature of Christianity embodied in the Church, weare missing the very heart of Jesus’ plan.”
Problem is the McChurch mentality – we are used to consumingand choosing and we treat church just the same. When a leader challenges sin,we choose another church and son on.
I’ve been praying that we get a fresh Revelation of theGlorious Church today that will captivate you and motivate you to be fullyadded and involved!
Bill Hybels quote
“i believe that the local church is the hope of the world. Ibelieve that to the core of my heart that local church leaders have the mostinfluential force on planet earth. If they get it and get on with it, churchescan become redemptive centres that Jesus intended them to be. Dynamic teaching,creative worship, deep community, effective evangelism and joyful service willcombine to renew the hearts and minds of seekers and believers alike,strengthen families, transform communitues and change the world.”
Picture of the Church in the NT is amazing
Christ died for it Eph 5:25 Husbands,love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himselfup for it” Jesus didn’t die forprivate Christianity of pick and mix. He died for his body, the Church. Hedidn’t die for cake or death. He died for the Church a radical family, an army,a people on a mission together.
City on a hill Matt 5:14 You are thelight of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden
Passage we have got to in Acts 2 portrays the church in itsexciting first days
We are a restoration church – endeavouring to restore church life to the NT pattern…
This passage got me in 1993, gripped me – what if we couldbe like that? What if we could be that band of Christ follower who love eachother radically. Where the masks come off and we share our lives and hearts.Where we laugh and cry and share and pray and sing and serve together inauthentic Christian fellowship. Where those who have more share with those whohave less and racial and socioeconomic barriers melt away. Where we demonstratea vision of life that is so beautiful it takes your breath away. So bold, socreative, so exciting, that people can’t resist it. Where the Lord adds to usdaily.
Let’s look at what it was like and dream of and work for ithappening here.
V41 People received the word and were baptised– hunger for hearing the truth and immediately putting it into practice
3000 “added” – more than attended. They are added.
It’s not a pick and mix – which restaurant shall we go to.Which church shall we be part of? They were added.
Devoted themselves to four things
Clinging like a dog to its master
They then devoted themselves to the apostles’ doctrine(Acts 2:42), which shaped their lives and gave them principles on which theyshould live. Ephesians 2:20 tells us that the church was built upon thefoundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being thecornerstone.
Apostolic Teaching now embodied in our Bibles and faithfullytaught by Apostles, Prophets and Teachers today!
Here that includes Sunday preaching which is then applied in Life Groups
“Committed Community of Love”
Jesus said “By this they will know you are disciples”
Not just a meeting that starts a few minutes late and peopleshake the pastor’s hand as they leave
Warmth, love, friendship, family (power of the secondfamily)
More than a weekly small group meeting – met daily, hung outtogether and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.
Sharing possessions and goods as have need. Holding ontothings lightly – lending even though fearful it will get broken or lost. Goodfor us!
Outward looking – enjoyed the favour and the Lord added tothem daily
Breaking of Bread
Jesus gave us baptism for the entry point and breaking ofbread as part of continuing in our Christian life together
Matt 26: 26-29
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing itbroke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is mybody.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks hegave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 forthis is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for theforgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again ofthis fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in myFather’s kingdom.”
Paul repeats Christ’s words in 1 Cor 11:24-25
V26 For as often as you eat this breadand drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.proclaims the Lord’s death
V27-30 whoever, therefore, eats thebread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guiltyconcerning the body and blood of the Lord.28 Let a person examine himself,then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone whoeats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment onhimself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some havedied.
Don’t do it profanely or unworthily
Regular – context as part of a meal. Danger of going toreligious – admit we have gone the otherway and don’t do it enough.
Call to honour Jesus and live right before him!
We soon see prayer as a mark of the early church.
Prayer meetings often boring.
Comment by clergyman on my prayer during and Good FridayMarch of Witness
Heartfelt, passionate, reminding God of his promises,expecting Him to answer!
Thingslooked bleak for the children of George Muller’s orphanage at Ashley Downs inEngland. It was time for breakfast, and there was no food. A small girl whosefather was a close friend of Muller was visiting in the home. Muller took herhand and said, "Come and see what our Father will do." In the diningroom, long tables were set with empty plates and empty mugs. Not only was thereno food in the kitchen, but there was no money in the home’s account. Mullerprayed, "Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us toeat." Immediately, they heard a knock at the door. When they opened it,there stood the local baker. "Mr. Muller," he said, "I couldn’tsleep last night. Somehow I felt you had no bread for breakfast, so I got up at2 o’clock and baked fresh bread. Here it is." Muller thanked him and gavepraise to God. Soon, a second knock was heard. It was the milkman. His cart hadbroken down in front of the orphanage. He said he would like to give thechildren the milk so he could empty the cart and repair it.
Breathtakingvision of 3120 people passionately devoted to hearing and applying the word ofGod, to building community together, to celebrating Jesus’ death and eventualreturn and to calling on God. The
Signs and wonders
People cared for financially and spiritually
Favour of the Community
People getting saved and added daily
Moving to Sunday mornings will force some to decide whichlocal church they are part of – that’s good.
Amazing picture of a glorious church that will be abeautiful bride of Christ, a growing family and unstoppable army. Worth livingand dying for.
Live in a McCulture – lots of choice. Thousands of TVchannels, Internet, more choice of Squash than could have been imagined byprevious cultures.
Pick and choose churches on personal preference andwhether the pastor has upset you yet.
Called to be added. To taste and see what Scripture saysChurch is and begin to live it together.
Wimber story of man who found a homeless person – rangthe elders, small group leaders, social action team.. no one available sohelped the person. “Where was the Church?” Sounds like the Church got on withthe job”
Call to give your lives to the bride of Christ
Devoted to being taught and applying it
Devoted to fellowship and community
Devoted to breaking of bread – call to celebrate Jesusand live Holy
Devoted to prayer – individually and corporately
Call to enjoy the favour of the community as we do goodand see the Lord add to us daily!
A couple of weeks ago David preached about Jehu andJehonadab – total opposites. Jehu, the King who liked to drive his chariotfuriously, asked the staid Jehonadab is your heart with mine as mine is toyours?
Saul’s son Jonathan wanted to attack the Philistines andhis armour bearer on hearing what he wanted to do said “Iam with you heart and soul“
The question I want to ask you this afternoon as we lookto build a glorious church is: are you with us “heart and soul”?
By Acts 4 a year or two in it says “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart andsoul“.
That’s a big commitment and takes time – but thisafternoon are you willing to commit to the journey to be like the earlyChurch – one in heart and soul – devotedto the apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer, sharingyour stuff, enjoying the favour of the community and seeing the Lord add daily?