- Sermon Notes
The Church God Desires
Continuing in Acts chapter 2, we are witnessing the birth of the church. Before Jesus ascended to the Father, He instructed them to remain in Jerusalem for what the Father had promised, referring to the Holy Spirit.
On the day of Pentecost, they were gathered together in a room in Jerusalem, about 120 of them, suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And then there appeared to them tongues of fire resting on each one of them; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
When the people of Jerusalem heard the sound of the violent, rushing wind, a great multitude gathered and as this group of 120 were being filled by the Holy Spirit, each one in the crowd heard them speaking in his own native dialect.
They were amazed and bewildered about these things and said to one another, “What does it mean?” That’s where we pick up our message today.
Peter stood up and raising his voice and declared to them, “Men of Judea, and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give heed to my words…”
Peter then explains that what is happening is none other than what was prophesied through the prophet Joel, which he quotes. He then explains that Jesus was sent by God and attested to by signs, miracles and wonders; this same Jesus was nailed to the cross by godless men, but God raised Him up again, since it was impossible for Him to be held by its power.
When the multitude heard this message, they were “cut to the quick,” in other words, they were pierced to the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit and they said, “Brethren, what shall we do?”
Peter then tells them to repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and that they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit because it is the promise of God for everyone.
About 3,000 people were added that day. And they continued on, devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. In other words, the church was born that day in Jerusalem.
There’s so much for us to learn as we see the church being born because it reveals God’s desire for our church.
I remember when we first started our church here, there were just 12 of us sitting together in our apartment praying about what God might do. When you start a church, in many ways it’s like a blank slate; there are many different forms and expressions that churches have become. There are many different approaches to ministry, and many different forms of government.
But we wanted the church God desires, and so we looked to His word and especially to the book of Acts to reveal God’s heart. If we can have the church God desires, we can confidently know that it will be the church God will bless.
The first thing we have to understand is that the church God desires is empowered by the Holy Spirit. The church is what God uses to transform the world. The church is also where God pours His heart; it is the bride of Christ. He loves His bride and he pours His favor and His blessing on His bride.
Let’s understand God’s heart and become the church God desires.
I. Be a Learning Church
- In Matthew 28, before Jesus ascended to the Father, He instructed them to go and make disciples of all the nations… Teaching them to observe all that He commanded them.
- The church is the place where Jesus wants His word to be taught. That’s what will make disciples. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples.”
- There’s something supernatural that takes place when God’s word is being taught. But only for those who have ears to hear. Jesus said that the one who hears His word and lives according to it, is like a man building his life on a strong foundation.
- Notice in verse 42 that they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching… What were they teaching? The words of Christ. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”
- You don’t want my opinion, without God’s word directing me, my opinion amounts to nothing.
- God speaks through His word by the Holy Spirit and applies it to your life.
Illus - Sometimes after a message someone will say, “It felt like you were speaking directly to me.” I love to respond, “Actually I was… Your wife called and asked me to.”
- Something supernatural takes place when the word of God is being taught. You see the example of it in this very chapter.
- When Peter gives this message, it’s loaded with the word of God. He explains the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of the prophet Joel. He explains that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the word of God to David.
- But the word of God is ignited by the Holy Spirit and the multitude is pierced to the heart. Something supernatural is taking place. We know that words have power, but God’s word has supernatural power.
Hebrews 4:12, The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow; able to judge the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Isaiah 55:11, So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
Colossians 3:16, Let the word of Christ dwell within you richly…
- Jesus gave a parable and said that the word of God is like a farmer sowing seed. Some fell on hard ground and the birds came and snatched it up. Some fell on rocky places where there was not much soil; and immediately they sprung up, but because there was no depth of soil, when the sun had risen, they were scorched and because they had no root, they withered away.
- Other seed fell among the thorns and the thorns came up and choked them out. This is the one who hears the word, but the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word and it becomes unfruitful.
- Other seed fell on good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth 30, 60, 100 fold.
Illus - Unfortunately, I have seen this many times where someone has a short-lived revival. They respond to God’s word at first with joy, but its root is not deep and they go back to their old ways.
- Notice that it says in verse 42 that they were continually devoting themselves to teaching and to fellowship, to breaking of bread and prayer? We really need that.
Jeremiah 17:8, “For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought, nor cease to yield fruit.”
C. Have ears to hear
- When Jesus taught, He taught the word of God, and then He would often say, “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear.” In fact, He also said…
Matthew 13:16, “Blessed are your eyes, because they see; and blessed are your ears, because they hear.”
- In other words, engage your heart and have a desire and a hunger after God’s word.
Illus - There was a vast difference between how I listened when I was a student at OSU and when I was a student at Bible college. The difference? It had everything to do with what God had done for me.
1 Peter 2:2-3, Long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
- And then keep growing and long for the meat of God’s word to you can gain discernment and maturity.
Hebrews 5:13-14, Everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
- When Peter gave this powerful message, it wasn’t something he had prepared, the Spirit took hold of the word already written on his heart,
Illus - There was a conference I was teaching with other pastors in Africa and we had a time for open questions and we were all amazed as the Spirit brought the word of God to our minds.
2 Timothy 2:15, Be zealous to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
Illus - That scripture is very helpful because it guides us as a church as to why we don’t do some of the antics sometimes seen on Christian television
II. Be in Fellowship Together
- They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer.
- In verse 46-47; they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people.
- God desires the church to eat together, I think we have that one down very well. But not just here, from house to house. But fellowship is more than just having a meal…
A. Fellowship is spiritual
- The word for fellowship in the Greek is very important, it’s koinonia. We named our coffee bar after this word. It means fellowship, but not just any fellowship, spiritual fellowship.
Illus - Anyone can have fellowship by getting together to watch the Super Bowl or to play basketball and it’s a lot of fun, but this is different, because the Holy Spirit is there in the midst of it when it’s koinonia.
- When you’re walking with God, you want to be with God’s people, when you’re not walking with God, you don’t want to be with God’s people.
- It’s a good measure of where you are spiritually.
- Our fellowship is based on the fact that we have so much in common (koine).
Illus - I love hanging out with my kids because we have so much in common. We have great memories and we share the same blood, you might say.
I love hanging out with my church family because we have so much in common. We share the same hope, the same forgiveness, the same grace, in fact, we share the same blood, you might say.
- When they were breaking bread together, they were taking communion, sharing Christ’s body and blood.
- The church is also a place to serve the Lord together. That’s also a mark of Christian maturity.
- This is important because we live in a culture that loves to be served and some people treat church like it’s a weekend spa treatment and will evaluate it as if they had just gone to a restaurant.
- Jesus said that He did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom.
Illus - I’ll never forget the day that dear 90-year-old Roy, with his walker, needed a seat…
Psalm 22:3, You are holy, the One that inhabits the praises of Israel.
Hebrews 13:15, Let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
- Worship is not an art form, it’s a heart form. What if you don’t feel like it? Then be faithful and your heart will surely follow. You are being a witness in it.
- Why do you worship? Because of what He’s done. You now have one foot in heaven, you could say.
Ephesians 2:4-6, God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…
Acts 2:14-47 NASB
14 But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: "Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. 15 For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:
29 "Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 And
so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seatoneof his descendants on his throne, 31 he looked ahead and spoke
of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. 32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which
we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit,
He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.