We’re going to see what happens when the Holy Spirit falls and is present among God’s people (Acts 2:38–47).
1. It’s Jesus’ church. The church belongs to Jesus. Not you, not me, not us. It belongs to him. So, we want to hear from him, follow him, obey him, and love and serve the church because Jesus loved the church and he serves the church.
2. The evidences of the Holy Spirit, the marks of the church, are not religious traditions of things we do for God: it’s the Holy Spirit putting the life of Jesus in us and calling us and compelling us with great enthusiasm and joy.
3. The Marks of Jesus’ Church
J – Jesus-Centred Bible Preaching and Teaching
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” So, there’s preaching and teaching from the Bible, centred on Jesus. And every mark of the church, every evidence of the Holy Spirit bringing the church into being, it all points back to Jesus. So, what we’re talking about here is Jesus’ word. We’re talking about the Scriptures which reveal Jesus.
People are not born with an innate understanding of Jesus and his person and work. That has to be preached and that has to be taught.
E – Emotional Worship
Secondly, the E—emotional worship. Acts 2:43, “And awe came upon every soul.” Wow, God answered prayer. We’re not alone. Look at this! God’s here, and he’s doing things in people’s lives!” And they’re amazed by that. They’re filled with gladness over that. “And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.”
We believe that God can still heal, so we pray for healing, and we’ve seen God’s people healed. We believe that those who are oppressed by unclean spirits can have deliverance. They experience that in Acts, and we experience that today. We see God answering prayers. We see God helping, serving, loving, healing, providing for people. And when he does, a sense of awe comes over us. “That’s amazing! God loves us, and he’s here with us!”
So we sing and we celebrate and we rejoice. This includes private worship, where you sing and celebrate. It includes public worship, where we come together to sing and to celebrate. And I know that worship is not just singing, but it certainly does include singing.
S – Saved Church Members
Acts 2:38–39, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus is going to come and live in us through the Holy Spirit. “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
There’s a line in the Bible between what is called the world—people who don’t belong to Jesus, yet some will still get saved: it’s not too late—and the church, those who belong to Jesus, those who are born-again Christians.
This is important. This is very important. On Sunday, everybody’s welcome. Small Group, everybody’s welcome. Training Day, everybody’s welcome. Communion, not everybody’s welcome, just those who are Christian. Baptism, not everybody’s welcome to get baptized, only the Christians. Church membership, not everybody’s welcome to become a church member—you need to be a Christian. Church leader, not everybody’s welcome—you need to be a Christian. We love, serve, welcome everyone, but there is a line for those who have passed from death to life, from unbelief to belief.
U – Under Godly Leadership
Do you submit to any leadership in your life? I know it’s not even popular to ask that.
S – Sin Repenting
Acts 2:40 goes on to say “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” The big idea here is people in the world are living their life sinfully, rebelliously, and foolishly. It’s crooked; it’s not straight. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be. So, what we do, by God’s grace, is we repent.
C – Communion
“And they devoted themselves to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Here, what we are acknowledging is Jesus’ cross. Communion has two elements, bread and wine. We also use juice so that, according to conscience, you’re not forced to violate conscience, even though you do have freedom in Christ.
H – Huge Generosity
Acts 2:44–45, “And all who believed were together, had all things in common”—that’s their possessions—“And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.”
In generosity, we’re remembering that Jesus is the most generous giver ever. Jesus is the most generous giver ever. God gave us the earth. God made us in his image and likeness. We sinned against God. God gave us his Son. God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. Here comes Jesus. Jesus lives without sin. Jesus gives us his life, and he dies. Jesus rises, and he gives us his righteousness. He ascends into heaven. He gives us the Holy Spirit. He gives us the Word of God. He gives us the people of God. He’s preparing a place for us. He’s got more gifts for us. He’s got an inheritance for us in his kingdom that’ll endure forever. Our Jesus is hugely generous.
Once you meet Jesus and you receive the Holy Spirit, unless you really fight the Holy Spirit, he awakens in you a desire to be generous.
Here, we see God’s people becoming hugely generous. They’re giving their possessions to other people. Some of them are selling their possessions, and they’re giving the proceeds to other people. You’re going to see, in a few chapters, there are people selling their land and giving the proceeds to the church as a large gift. This is huge generosity.
Can you imagine if the government passed the plate? Can you imagine if the government had on their website, “We’ve decided to do away with taxes. We want you to pray about an amount and just give as you feel led.” Do you think our revenue might decrease? The government doesn’t trust that regenerated hearts out of love and concern for others will give generously. So, they take. The church has no right to take, but we have every right to invite others to give.
So, how is your generosity going? How are you doing? Are you a generous person?
U – Underwater Baptism
In ancient Greek literature, this word is used for a ship that sank. It says the ship was baptized, OK? That’s really wet.
R – Regular Gatherings
Acts 2:46, “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes.” So it’s regularly gathering. God’s people generally meet on Sunday. Why? Why Sunday? It’s the day of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, so we gather to remember the resurrection of Jesus. Even just going to a church meeting on a Sunday indicates some sort of public affiliation with the resurrection of Jesus.
The early church had big meetings and small meetings. We have big meetings. They tend to be on Sunday. We have small meetings; we call them Small Groups.
C – Community
Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the fellowship.” Hospitality is where we welcome strangers. Fellowship is where we welcome believers. What we’re talking about here is this is a reflection of Jesus’ kingdom. In Jesus’ kingdom, all of Jesus’ people are going to be together forever. In Jesus’ kingdom, we’re going to eat together with gladness. It’s typified as a huge celebration meal around Jesus.
This is community, friendship, life, love, joy, and unity. What it is is it’s foreshadowing—it’s a foretaste of the coming of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, where we’ll eat with him together forever.
H – Harvesting
Acts 2:41, “There were added that day about three thousand souls.” How big was the church prior to that? A hundred twenty—to three thousand. They don’t have enough leaders. They don’t have enough buildings. They don’t have enough systems. There are people showing up to church like, “Oh my goodness, everything’s changed. I’m so frustrated!” “That’s my seat!” “How come I can’t hang out with the apostles?” They’re very frustrated. How do I know? They blogged about it. People were very frustrated.
It’s a good thing when a family grows. More kids, more work, more problems, more joy. A big family than things never changing..
Kings and kingdoms will come and go. Businesses and headquarters will come and go. Teams and stadiums will come and go. Bands and venues will come and go. But the church of Jesus Christ endures forever. It’s the biggest thing on the earth. It’s the biggest thing in the history of the earth. It’s the one thing that Jesus started. And it’s the one thing that will end when everything else ends. God’s people will march together into God’s kingdom to sing God’s praises because they are God’s people, amen?