“Off To A Good Start”
- This morning I believe that God wants us to see how the church started off and how we need to continue in the same manner.
- As you know, many things in life start out good and turn sour, turn bitter, turn destructive, and many times die.
- I believe that it is important for us to realize what we need to keep our church in good standing with God.
- Look at our text verse this morning in Acts 9:31…Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
- We need to be reminded of how much Satan wants to destroy the church. We need to be aware of his demonic attacks and his ultimate goal in destroying anything that is Godly.
- Satan will attack the each person, each family, every nation and every church. It is up to us to get off to a good start and maintain what it was that made us a great church that is pleasing to our Savior.
- This morning I want us to see 5 things that Luke tells us about the first church that made them great.
- On Wednesday nights we have been studying the book of Acts and I want to give you a glimpse of what we have studied.
- In this chapter 9 of Acts we know that Saul’s life was being threatened here. Saul was named after the first king of Israel (Saul). Saul was born a Jew and studied under Gamaliel becoming a Pharisee.
- In Acts 9, and verses 1-30, we see the story of how Saul was a Jerusalem Jew with a Roman citizenship who denounced Jesus Christ as being a child of God or the Son of God. We can see where the Savior (Jesus Christ) met him on the road to Damascus and called Saul to be an apostle of Jesus Christ.
- We can see his dramatic conversion and his passion to do the right thing.
- When a person makes a stand for God after being called of God to do something, that person will face opposition.
- Any time you are doing the right thing, Satan will use other people to discourage you from doing what God wants you to do.
- The world is full of people who want to have you as a friend but you must agree with them and their philosophies.
- Once again note the five right ingredients that the first church had that I believe SBBC should have today… 1) Rest (peace), 2) Edification (Spiritual growth), 3) walking in fear of the Lord (committed to holiness), 4) Comforted (by the Holy Ghost), 5) Being multiplied (growing numerically).
I. A Church at Rest
A) At peace
- Peace means… an absence of conflict. It means… no fighting.
- This means fighting from within or without.
- The prophecy of Zacharias (John the Baptist’s father) concerning Jesus Christ told us in the Luke 1:79…To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
- The church as the bride of Christ is supposed to be at peace with one another, at peace with others outside the church, and at peace in our hearts knowing that He (Jesus) is our Lord.
- A church without peace is a church without Christ in the center of it.
- True rest comes when a person is content or satisfied.
- When a goal is met or accomplished a person can rest.
B) Peace brings unity
- A family, a church, a nation, or a government that is not at peace with others will not see growth spiritually or numerically.
- WHY? Because God is not the center of their activity.
- Are you helping our church to create unity or division?
- Unity is Godly, division is of Satan.
C) With whom are you at peace?
- Note in our text verse of Acts 9:31, “Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria,”
- The new church was not just at peace among themselves, but they were at peace with all those around them.
- You will never have peace with others if you first do not have peace within your own home.
- Jesus brings peace to the heart. When the heart is at peace others will see it, and desire to have the same.
II. A Church that Edifies
A) Growing Spiritually
- In our text verse of Acts 9:31…Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified.
- Paul writes in Romans 14:19…Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
- When Paul says… “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace” He means let us desire to continue in thoughts, activities, and people (which are the “things”) that help us be at peace.
- When you are at peace then you will be able to “edify” others.
- The word “edify” actually means “to build a house.”
- Is Luke (in Acts) and Paul (In Romans) asking us to build a house? The answer is NO, and YES. How can that be?
- No, they are not asking us to build a literal house. Yes, they are asking us to build a house… build God’s House.
- We are supposed to be building the household of God meaning with spiritual growth.
- Growing is always a struggle, never without failure, never perfect in its direction, but vitally important that it is evidenced.
- If Christ cannot see our growth, we are as a dead tree to be hewn down.
- Paul writes to the church at Colossae in Colossians 2:6…As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: 7) Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding (growing) therein with thanksgiving.
III. A Church That Walks in Fear of the Lord
A) Committed to holiness
- In our text verse of Acts 9:31, note “…and walking in the fear of the Lord.”
- What this means is to do as God commands with the fear of His punishment if we disobey.
- Let me ask you something. If you never punish your children for disobeying your commands or requests of them, what would happen? 1) They will end up in trouble or hurt. 2) They will learn that no matter what they do there will be no punishment so they will do whatever they want. 3) They will never have good friends because everyone wants to be a friend of someone who is well liked.
- 1 Chronicles 16:29…Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
- Psalm 97:12…Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
- II Corinthians 7:1…Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
- I Thessalonians 4:7…For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
- We need to be committed to holiness.
IV. A Church Comforted
A) By the Holy Spirit
- Again, let us look to our text verse Acts 9:31…Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost,
- You surely by now have realized that all 5 things here in Acts 9:31 work hand in hand together.
- What do we mean by that statement? You cannot edify without being at peace with the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Being at peace and edifying others comes from a heart that is committed to holiness which is proof that the Holy Spirit is guiding you.
- When you are following the convictions of the Holy Spirit which lives within you, others will know you are who you say you are.
- Many people “claim to be a Christian.” But they are not.
- Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ said it best in Matthew 15:8…This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
- Jesus tells His disciples (followers) in John 14:15…If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16) And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;
- We surely understand this KJV bible verse where Christ promises us that if we obey His commands for us, then we will have a comforter FOREVER!
- You are not near God when you do not as He commands. Your heart is far from God when you disobey. His Spirit cannot live in a filthy house.
V. A Church Being Multiplied
A) Growing in numbers (more members)
- All 4 of these qualities that the church had (Qualities listed above in I – IV) will bring more people to His church.
- We need to remember that SBBC is His (God’s)
- God is anxious to give His church (the bride) to His Son (Jesus, the groom) one day.
- But the bride (the church) must make herself ready to be received.
- Let us go through the check list…
- Are we at peace with our self and those around us?
- Do we edify (build up) others?
- Are we committed to holiness?
- Are we comforted by the Holy Spirit?
- Look around…Are we growing? (If not growing, are you the problem?)