Pastor Dan – Transcription
Most of you have heard of the concept or the idea of either being labeled as an introvert or an extrovert. In fact why don’t we go and just see how many of you have taken a test of some kind that has labeled you as either an introvert or an extrovert?
All right. OK, if you don’t mind me just asking a little bit further…. how many of you have been declared as INTROVERTS here in the room? OK, All right.
There’s probably a few more of you who just haven’t been willing to raise your hand of course. (LAUGHTER).
How many of you are EXTROVERTS. All right. OK.
So maybe now, if you don’t mind, I’d just love to get a feel for how well you think you know “me“. How many of you think that I’m an introvert? Go ahead and raise your hand. OK. How many of you think that I’m an extrovert? OK. All right. The first service turned out that way as well, that’s right.
You know I didn’t know that label as a child, but I certainly think now that I am an extrovert. In fact as a kid I was always_talking. And you know when you’re adult and you’re always talking, it kind of annoys people. But when you’re a kid in you’re always talking, you end up getting in trouble. And as a kid in the school system, I was constantly in trouble for talking too much.
In fact, I remember one time I was in school, and my mom was one of the lunch ladies at the school at the time. And she walked by my classroom on the way to the cafeteria. And when I got down the cafeteria she said,
“I noticed that you were seated in the back of the class… you know, way away from all the other students why is that?
I lied to her and told her that was because it was closer to the bathroom, and that I had to go to the bathroom a lot; but she found out the truth, which was because I was constantly talking and interrupting the classes so the teacher removed me.
Speaking of talking too much… speaking of me talking too much, last week I went and listened to part of my message, because we went way over time. And I wanted to blame our guest speaker for her announcement part of things. But it turns out it was my fault I went for thirty seven minutes last week.
I just want you to know you have permission, if that happens again, you all could just get up and leave (LAUGHTER)… or give me some kind of a half hour signal, or something, and let me know.
But anyways, continuing to speak of talking too much. That’s essentially what the disciples in our passage just morning are getting in trouble for. Some of the early Christians are really sort of getting in trouble because they’re unwilling to stop talking about their Christian faith to other people.
In fact the point of the message this morning is to encourage us to see how God might use us by sharing our faith to draw all other people closer to him.
And you might be here this morning, you might be immediately thinking to yourself,
“But that’s not me. I’m not that kind of person; I’m an introvert; I’m not that bold with my faith; I’m not that ‘out there’ with my personality.”
I want to let you know that I believe, I’m convinced, that no matter who you are here this morning, if you are in a relationship with Jesus Christ, that God can work through you to draw people closer to himself.
So I want you to become convinced of that reality this morning regardless of whatever personality label that you have, that’s been given to you, or that you would give for yourself.
All right let’s open up the Scripture to the Book of Acts Chapter five. We’ve already dealt with Ananias and Sapphira in verses five through eleven. So we’re going to move on. We get into this next section starting in verse twelve; Acts chapter five verse twelve…
If you’re new to us, we’re going through the Book of Acts, one sort of chapter at a time.
Acts is the account of the early church. So it’s right after Jesus’s life, he’s ascended into heaven. And now what are the people of God supposed to do, after Jesus ascends into heaven.
And so here we are we’re seeing the church is growing numerically. It’s gone from one hundred twenty, to three thousand, to five thousand just keeps growing; and all these amazing things are happening.
And we’re going to deal with both of these sections. Some of your Bibles might be entitled “The Apostles Heal Many“. And then later on it says, “The Apostles are Persecuted“. We’re going to deal with both of those because they are intertwined with one another.
The reality that there are healing people, leads to the idea of them being persecuted.
Alright, verse twelve through sixteen; let’s read this little section of Scripture and see what it says.
12-16 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people.
Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.
Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.
There is so much we can say in this passage, but what I want to draw your attention to is versus thirteen and fourteen which seemingly contradict each other in this first section.
On one hand thirteen comes along and says, “No one dared to join them…”
And then turn over to verse fourteen the very next verse and it says, “But, men and women were regularly added to their number.”
So which one is it? Did no one dare to join them, or were they regularly increasing in number?
What do we mean by, “No one dared to join them”?
You know when I’m preparing for a sermon, before I go into like my Acts Commentaries–these big books on the book of Acts, my first line of defense is just to look at my Study Bible. How many of you go to Study Bible to answer some questions for you…?
But I’ve been trained that whenever I have a question about a passage, I go to my Study Bible and they have conveniently decided not to address that verse (Laughter).
How many of you experience that?
Like you’re talking about the obvious one, but you’ve ignored the one that really raises questions. And so, nonetheless, I was excited, I opened up my Study Bible, I don’t preach with this one because it’s too heavy to carry around, and it addresses this verse; and under
“No one else who dared to join them,” it says this,
That “there was no insincere or superficial followers who dared to identify with the church, for the fear of God was strongly in evidence”.
And I didn’t need to go on and study further, because I think it’s a good explanation. I think it helps us to understand why Luke includes this detail in the early church.
“No insincere or artificial, if you will, superficial followers, people tried to join their group”. In other words they didn’t have a problem with people filling the pews who weren’t the real deal.
And the reason is because there’s this presence, the power of God amongst the church, and as we’re about to read, ‘the church was persecuted’. So who would want to sign up falsely for something that’s being persecuted?
And I think this naturally flows from the Ananias and Saphira passage that we read at the outset of our worship service… about the idea of coming honestly before God, and being sincere before him.
And he’s saying that the early church, for the most part, didn’t have that problem. It wasn’t a constant struggle of theirs.
But I couldn’t help but stop and just think about, you know, that idea of the state of the Church today, particularly here in America… and to ask ourself.
“Why do we have a problem with so many people who associate themselves with the church, but who aren’t honest and sincere in their relationship with God?”
There’s a whole plethora of reasons right. I mean, some people, they’re at the Presbyterian church because their parents went to the Presbyterian church, their grandparents went to the Presbyterian Church, and it was just kind of what they thought was expected of them. They feel kind of comfortable there or whatever.
Some people go to church because it allows them to sort of scratch this God-given religious “itch” that they have, but they don’t have an honest and sincere relationship with him.
There’s all kinds of different reasons why people come to the church.
In the South, for example, if someone ask you where you go to church, there’s a cultural expectation that you have an answer.
That you better be ready to tell someone you’re a Methodist, or you go to the Baptist church, or you’re a Lutheran, you go down the road to the Presbyterian church; otherwise people look down on you like you’ve got some sort of problem.
It’s right along the lines of, “What country club do you belong to; what private school do your kids go to; Oh, by the way, what church do you go to?”
So that used to be a common state in America here. A lot of people sort of embraced the idea of participating and labeling themselves with some kind of church… but without a sincere relationship with God.
I remember dealing with this passage and others like it, even into the ministry and asking myself why am I doing all this? Is it possible that I got swept into this without an honest and real and sincere relationship with God?
And pastorally I think it’s fair to just pause and just invite you to just consider and to stop and to think this say, “Look do I have a honest and sincere relationship with Jesus Christ?”
I can say with confidence, “He wants to have one with you“. He wants far more than any of the superficial things that we might be tempted to do.
In the early church it says, “OK, well they’re not struggling with that.” In the passage it goes on to tell us that these disciple these apostles. Are doing such incredible things.
It gets to the point where people are letting people down, hoping that Peter’s shadow would cross over then… with the assumption that, it’s presumed in this, that they would be “healed by his shadow?”
Now it’s interesting the Scripture doesn’t actually say that they were healed by Peter shadow, but I have to be honest with you, it does read that way, and that does seem to be the way that it’s read.
And it appears as if that actually happened in history–that people did get healed by even Peter’s shadow.
There’s all this amazing thing happening, and as a result, as you can imagine, crowds of people are coming to this, and people are coming to faith in Jesus Christ, and the momentum of the church is enormous.
But then we discover that the church encounters a group of people whose relationship with God is not really sincere at all.
And in verse 17, under this section, the Scripture goes on and tells us,
17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.
They can’t delight in the fact that all these people are coming to faith in God? They’re jealous because it’s not coming through them.
18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”
21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.
When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles.
So they’re about to have a trial…
22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.
25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.
Alright, let’s pause there.
So let’s just take the a moment to to embrace the gravity of this moment–the reality that, here we are the Early Church, and the entire nucleus of the early church, the Apostles, have been arrested and put in jail.
Could you just begin to imagine how everyone else was thinking… “Oh great, are we next? Did we follow the wrong guy? Is this whole thing going to fall apart?
The discouragement and the despair that comes from this reality. The nucleus of the early Church is now put in prison, and it seems to threaten the entire future of the Church of Jesus Christ.
But God, embracing this understanding, this realizing the significance of this moment, shows up in a miraculous nature, an Angel of the Lord comes along and he sets_these_guys_free.
Now what we would expect to hear next is the angel saying, “Go. You’re free. Get out of here. Run is far and as fast as you possibly can because this stuff around here is bad news… these people are mean.”
But instead, THE ANGEL OF THE LORD says,
“Go to the temple courts, and keep telling people about Jesus Christ” v 20
“So let’s be clear angel… yesterday we were in the temple courts, preaching about Jesus Christ. We were arrested and put in prison for it. You have come to miraculously free us and tell us to go back into the temple courts and keep telling people about Jesus Christ.”
Yes… that’s right. That is the ♥ Heart of God ♥ .
And we discover that’s how committed God is to making sure people hear about his Son Jesus Christ. Not, “Go run and and hide yourselves from fear…” But, “Go back to the place where you were, and keep telling them about Jesus Christ.
That’s the heart that God has for you and I to have a relationship with him. So much he longs for you and I to know about Jesus Christ, about his death on the Cross for our sins; and about the beauty of walking with him.
We’re here today because of the ♥Heart of God♥ in this area… because he’s passionate about that; and because it’s been contagious–the Early Church embraced this about him.
You know it’s amazing that we don’t read something like Luke telling us that Peter or one of the other apostles said, “You know what, I’m out of here, you all can go back…”
…at this point in time the apostles were divided into two: and half of them went back to the temple courts, and the other half ran for the hill.
I mean if that was me… let’s say God called me to preach a message here this morning and, I mean I’ve never been thrown in prison for a sermon, last week’s was close… I’m kidding, just kidding… (LAUGHTER)
But anyways I’ve never been thrown in prison for a sermon, but could you imagine if I preached a message here and I was put in prison as a result, and then God said, “Go back and share the same message.” I mean I think I’d have some problems with that.
But the “Eleven”… they seem to embrace the ♥Heart of God♥ . They know that God is someone who loves people… who wants to have a relationship with them, and the key to that is letting people know about Jesus Christ.
Now you might be tempted to sort of dismiss this passage because you never been in thrown in prison for your faith. You can’t even really relate. No one’s ever asked you to go to a public square and preach and proclaim the Gospel or anything like that.
You might be tempted to sort of dismiss this because you can’t identify with it.
I want to invite you to see the parallel for your life.
To invite you to see that every night when you go to bed, and God wakes you up in the morning with new life. He sends you back into the world to proclaim the news of Jesus Christ.
Every day that God and invites you to go back to work another time, He invites you to go do so revealing the name of Jesus Christ in the glory of Jesus Christ.
Every time that he sends you back into your school, whatever grade you’re in, he does so, so that you might proclaim and reveal the glory of Christ.
Whether it’s your neighborhood, your school, your workplace, or just your daily errands… whatever it might be, each night when we go to bed we wake up, there it is, God has given us the miracle of life one more day that we might reveal His glory.
And that’s what the Apostles are called to do. Not to worry about two days from now, just to know that God has given them another day, another opportunity to go back to the temple courts, to keep telling people about Jesus Christ. That’s how important he is.
The Scripture goes on…
27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood (that was Jesus).”
29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men (human beings)!
Most of us have never had to make such a statement in our life… but by God’s grace and mercy may He grant us the faith to BE that bold–should we have to. Then,
30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel,…
I never know how to pronounce this guy’s name… Gam.ill.layo… you say ‘tomÃto’, I say ‘tomäto’… or something like that. I don’t know how to pronounce his name, but I know he’s really important. Not only because of this speech he’s about to give, but in Acts, chapter 22, Paul, when making an argument for his authority, Paul says, “Look, I was taught by this guy.”
And Christian tradition teaches us that he eventually becomes a follower of Christ. And now he stands up in this moment and here’s what he says,
Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while.
Meaning, “We want to talk about you without you in the rooms”…
35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered.
So he’s not talking directly about the apostles here… he’s referencing all the way back to who? … he’s talking about Jesus; he’s saying, “Jesus has come along, he’s been killed, now He has a following, but this isn’t the first time this has happened–here’s a couple other examples.
And in all those other examples, it just ended on it’s own, so let’s not stress out about this. If it’s not from God then it’s going to die; but if it is from God we’re not going to be able to stop it”, is what he says,
Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
Isn’t that a comforting verse to think about, in light of the idea of us sharing our faith in Jesus Christ with others.
That if we think of it merely in terms of our own effort, and our own abilities, then it does fail, and it will fail. But when we align ourselves with the will of God and start doing the work of God with His power and strength… then it’s a really neat thing.
So then the Scripture says,
40 His speech persuaded them.
Isn’t this comforting? At this time you think, “Alright, they were going to put them to death, but the speech has persuaded them… now surely what they’re going to do is LET THEM GO… right?
No… they’ve been SO persuaded the Scripture says that instead of putting them to death,
They called the apostles in and had them (only) flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
Friends, you have to hear the repeated efforts of satan to keep the Early Church from telling the world about Jesus Christ. Their movement was threatened over and over and over again. And that must tell us something about the importance of that in our lives and in the role of our church.
41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin,
They had to have been discouraged thinking, “We’ve been put in prison; we’ve been told repeatedly not to tell folks about this; we’ve been flogged; this is so discouraging. Is God not blessing our efforts right now? Where is He in this?
No the Scriptures do not say, “The apostles left discouraged; instead the Scripture says,
41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
Now I believe that this last verse ought to be the “heart’s desire” of every follower of Christ. That if someone was to write a description about your life, they would be able to write a parallel sentence to this about YOU.
Day after day, _(you fill in your own name)_ , they never stopped living to the glory of Jesus Christ.
That’s what I want someone to be able to say about me; and I believe it ought to be the desire for all of us.
Now we tend to dismiss ourselves from such a verse because again the Apostles are being sent to do this in such a public, such an extraverted, bold, way. And many of us think, “Well that’s not us… I can’t relate to that; that’s not what God has called me to do.”
And I want to just let you know again, that I believe God can work through you to draw people to himself regardless of your personality type–regardless of your gifting or your skill set; what people told you you can or cannot do.
So it may not be in a bold way… but for most of us it will be relational. And it will be authentic. And it will be organic.
And I want to pull up just to a few practical things to close with. We’ve got these things that I want to just invite you to imagine.
All right I can’t relate to Peter. I’m not going to go to the street corner, and just start screaming out things; I can’t relate to that level of boldness that’s not my personality style. I’m not even suggesting we do that in any way at all.
In fact I really love the idea of…
And just imagine yourself in a relationship with your neighbor; a relationship with your coworker; a relationship with your classmates if you’re in school. And I want you to picture that this is the way that I think God can work through you to draw people to Himself.
1. The first thing that needs to happen is: you have to stop some of the negative behaviors which are conflicting with your testimony in Christ.
Some of us here this morning when we show up to work. We act just like everyone else at work who doesn’t have a relationship with Christ.
Or if we’re embracing some of the gossip of our workplace or of our school–if we are embracing some of the cheating of our workplace or of our school… and then we try to tell people about Christ… I mean, many of us have been in situations where we didn’t even want to tell people about the fact that we are Christians, because we knew our life didn’t line up.
I’ve been there.
And if you are doing something that is totally hypocritical to your Christian faith around people and then you want to tell them that you go to church? … tell them you go to some other church besides Kirkmont (both he and congregation LAUGH).
I’m teasing of course… but you get the idea. Like I don’t want to be labeled with that… and associated with that. Some of us we need to start by stopping some of the things which are contradicting our Christian testimony.
2. The next thing is, let’s start doing some of the positive things that will help our Christian testimony.
Let’s stand out with our generosity; let’s stand out with our compassion; let’s stand out with our integrity. Let’s be the type of person that when we are in a relationship with someone who doesn’t know Jesus Christ, it stands out, they recognize some attributes about us that really draws them to you; that might cause them to ask questions that will reinforce your Christian testimony at some point.
3. Then the next step I would say to them, sort of progressing in a relationship with someone… we look for opportunities to what I call faith nuggets. A “faith nugget” might be something like a coworker, or classmate, or someone, a neighbor… has shared a problem that they’re going through. And you just saying something like, “Hey I just want to you know, if it’s alright with you, I’ll be praying for that.” So you’ve taken the relationship to a slightly new level.
And if you’re really bold maybe if you’re outside with your neighbor, you’re like, “Hey… could I pray for you right now?”
So it’s not a full defense of your faith, it’s not an apologetics debate or anything… it’s just,
– “May I pray for you?“… or,
– “Hey you know I gotta get going, we have a Bible study tonight.”… or,
– “Here’s the funny thing to happen at church this weekend, Do you believe…”
They are FAITH NUGGETS… they’re taking the relationship, inviting them to go to a new level. And then, hopefully, if God’s working in someone’s life, near you, in proximity to you, and you have those faith nuggets out there… they might initiate then a,
Talking to people about your Christian faith is so much easier, and less threatening, when they’ve asked you verses when you imposed it on them.
And I’ve tried to do both, and it’s just way more natural when the other person initiates it… and says, “Hey, you know, you’re a Christian right?” “Yeah” … “Well…” and then go in, and they they start the faith conversation.
And so from a faith conversation, I think most of you will probably be prepared and God is equipped you to just move to being bold enough to invite.
There are some people in this room who can actually share–and by share I mean, tell someone the entire Gospel, the entire Christian message, and maybe even some of you could finish that conversation by praying for them.
But how many of you are willing to say that’s intimidating. That’s intimidating… it is. And so I think as you enter into a faith conversation. Many of us might just need to be prepared to say,
“You know what it sounds like you’re really interested in things about God. I have a friendly church where you can continue to pursue those questions that you have, and hopefully we’ll be able to answer a few for you… would you want to come some time?”
You see, that’s a lot less threatening than, “You have to go all the way with the person.” It’s just, I think most people will go from a faith conversation, to just a personal invitation.
Maybe you’re not inviting them to church for the first time; maybe you’re inviting them to your small group, or some Sunday School… whatever it is that you think they might be welcome to, but you’re inviting them to continue.
And so I hope that we can see this, and see the parallel to the Early Apostles, and say, “You know what… they were doing it in a radical way, but let’s not get hung up on that. Let’s get hung up on the ♥ Heart of God ♥ and ask ourselves. “How can we align ourselves with God’s Heart.
We can come to the communion table, and in such a fitting way, one of the things that Jesus said is that “Whenever whenever you do this… appropriately… then you are proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes.” Paul’s writing that to us and Corinthians. And so I want to invite our elders who are helping to serve communion to come forward at this time.
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