- Sermon Notes
The Church God Desires
Acts 2:37 – 47
September 18, 2022
As we are continuing in Acts chapter 2, we are witnessing the birth of the church. Jesus has ascended to heaven and told the disciples to go and wait for that which the Father has promised, which was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
On the day of Pentecost, there was the sound of a violent rushing wind as the Spirit of God exploded onto the scene on planet Earth. The disciples and those waiting in the upper room with them, were filled with the Holy Spirit, tongues of fire being evident upon them, and speaking in different languages glorifying God as the Holy Spirit gave to them.
Many in Jerusalem heard this and was bewildered asking, “What does it mean?” Some scoffed and said the disciples were just drunk.
Peter stood up and explained that this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, that God would pour out his Spirit on all flesh. He then explained that Jesus was sent by God, nailed to the cross, but God raised him to life and that He was the promised Savior of the world.
Multitudes heard the message, were pierced to their hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit and asked, “Brethren, what shall we do?”
Peter then told 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. This was the birthday of the church. From this passage we will learn what the church God desires looks like.
Nowadays, we get many different ‘models’ churches are based on. Many books have been written on the subject, and many leaders try to follow the growth principles of other successful churches, trying to duplicate their success.
But what does the church look like that God desires? The book of Acts reveals 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 out His heart; it is the bride of Christ. He loves His bride and He pours His favor and His blessing on His bride.
This is the promise for everyone: You, your children and all who are far off, as many as the Lord God will call to Himself.
There’s so much for us to learn as we see the church being born because it reveals God’s desire for our church.
Let’s understand God’s heart and keep being 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.
A. Let God’s word dwell in you spiritually
- 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…
B. Let God’s word take deep roots
- 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.
- This is especially a problem in our quick-fix microwave society. Something has to change immediately, or a difference in people’s situations must come quickly, or they move on to try something else. We need to understand that growth takes time.
- The seed of the word need to be planted deep in the soil of our hearts and meditated on so it can become the foundation of our lives.
- 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. – Early in my Christian walk, I learned that it was imperative to stay grounded in the word of God. I had to stand against the lies of the enemy. I quickly learned that the thoughts of the un-renewed mind wanted to lead me down a path of distraction, destruction and despair. This was a serious life or death situation. So, I started focusing on the word, on God’s promises, his will, and what he said about my identity. I also started listening to spirit filled Christian and worship music based on the truth of the word. This shaped my thought patterns and set the trajectory of my future with God.
1 Peter 2:2-3, Long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.
- 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. – I’ve experienced many times when confronted with questions concerning God’s will or Christianity, how the Holy Spirit uses the word that has been planted in my heart and brings up the right response for the moment. At times I stand amazed, because I hear things coming out of my mouth that I haven’t even thought about before. As I start speaking, God will in the moment give knowledge and wisdom that I can truly say just comes from Him. It does, however, flow from the word which has already been planted in my heart.
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.
- We need to become skilled with our handling of the word. This is not just for pastors or leaders, but for every follower of Christ. Just like a skilled swordsman, we need to hone our craft.
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 Our coffee bar is named 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. Many times, I’ve experienced that when children of God are together, soon their fellowship together start to gravitate towards God and discussing the Bible and the work of God. It just happens organically, and it is beautiful.
- 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 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.
- If a church caters to this, it quickly become a consumer-driven church. This is not God’s heart.
- Jesus said that He did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom.
Illus. – This is one of the great values of this church which convinced me that this is a healthy church. When my wife and I first visited here two and half years ago,…
- Another fundamental value that is important in a healthy church is praising and worshiping God. In their fellowship, with sincerity of heart, they were praising God together. God loves that.
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…
- Church has its faults. As the old saying goes, if you find a perfect church don’t join because you will ruin it. Church is a sanctuary for the broken, a hospital for the hurting, as family for the lonely, the place of hope for the hopeless. The church is the bride of Christ and he loves her dearly.
- The church is not an organization, but in organism made up of all those who have placed their faith in Jesus, choosing to live for Him and follow Him.
- He is calling us to stay grounded in His word, be devoted to Him and one another, be His hands and His feet, and lovingly worship Him until the day that He returns.
Acts 2: 37-47 NASB
37 Now when they heard this, they were [aj]pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “[ak]Brethren, [al]what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized 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 your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “[am]Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand [an]souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and [ao]to prayer.
43 [ap]Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and [aq]signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed [ar]were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread [as]from house to house, they were taking their [at]meals together with gladness and [au]sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding [av]to their number day by day those who were being saved.