In this introductory sermon, Pastor Babij begins his new series on the four-fold purpose of the Church. Pastor Babij first discusses the make-up of a genuine Christian and what happens when a person becomes a Christian. Pastor Babij next explains why Christians are not think and behave like the people of the world and why the church is primarily meant for believers. Pastor Babij closes by clarifying that Christians, though diverse, demonstrate unity in the church because of kinship with Christ.
There are different ways people view what it means to be a Christian, and what it means to live the Christian life after initial conversion. I want to direct your attention to Acts 2:36-47:
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38Peter 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.” 40And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Two reasons why the truly regenerate believer is different is because, from this passage of Scripture, his heart has been changed and the Holy Spirit now lives in his heart. Without these two things that has happened to a person from that time on, it all falls short of what real conversion is. With those two things in mind, there are some different ways people view what it means to be a Christian and what it means to live the Christian life after initial conversion.
For example, some think that the Christian life is almost exclusively an experimental thing so they’re always looking for an emotional experience in which they want to feel everything and seek a positive, feel-good experience about the kind of church they choose. They’re not so concerned about learning anything or being delivered from their formal sinful passions and desires. Their goal is the experience, and nothing really changes at all because they’re heart has not been changed and the Holy Spirit does not live in them.
Then, there is another kind of person, who becomes attracted to Christianity because it has a certain intellectual attraction to it. They find the Bible and theology very interesting, and they take it up like someone would take up a hobby. Just like someone who is interested in music or someone’s who’s interested in some kind of genre of art. This becomes their hobby and interest, and they think of the Christian life as an intellectual pursuit. Their goal becomes intellectual stimulation. Nothing really changes though because their heart has not been changed and the Holy Spirit does not live in them.
Still, there are others who see Christianity in the church as a place that hopefully they can be fixed. This is a big one today. It’s merely the pragmatic approach to Christianity, so they are attracted to teaching on the “10 Ways to Have a Better Marriage… The 12 Steps to Overcoming Addiction… The Five Things to Implement for Financial Success and Freedom,” and so on and so forth.
So, they think Christianity is a thing to try. You hear people say all the time, “I tried that… I tried Christianity. It didn’t work from me. It may work for you, but it doesn’t work for me.” That is definitely the pragmatic approach. They are looking for help and whatever ails them. That the church is a place that they can find a solution to most, if not all, their problems. When they find that some of their problems become worse, they conclude and explain, “Well, I tried the church and it did not work for me,” and they move on to something else.
Their goal was to have their problems fixed, and in the end, nothing really changed because their heart has not been changed and the Holy Spirit does not live in them. Further, there are those who grew up in the church, and some, not all, view Christianity as something they have to do because they were afraid to do anything else. The Christian life to them is really something that is a burden to them because it hinders them from what they really want to pursue in their heart.
In other words, they have a lot of passions and desires unfulfilled in their heart, and they feel they cannot leave them out because of their view of Christianity. So, Christianity is actually something that hinders them from enjoying life and having fun. Therefore, they look at it as just something that they ought to do, out of duty, and with no joy at all.
Some may view it that way because they know it pleases their parents, but they think, “As soon as I can cast off this burden, that’s what I’m going to do.” They do it and are done with it all, they live a double lifestyle, and go underground with her passions and desires. They play the part as long as they can keep up appearances. The reason being that they see Christianity as a burden because their heart remains unchanged and the Holy Spirit does not live in them.
I’m sure there are other ways to describe the church and Christianity from different vantage points, but I would have to conclude that even if we come up with other situations that we have observed, then they would all be wrong. None of these or others could match the Biblical blueprint of what a church is and what a Christian does more than in Acts 2.
These religious people, who heard Peters message, did not become Christians because they were mere Jews and deserve to be saved. In fact, up to this point, they didn’t want to be saved. They are the ones who actually crucified Christ. They didn’t want anything that had to do with Christ. Well, that didn’t bring it about.
They did not become Christians because they were merely good people living a good life. That’s not what brings it about. Nor did it come about because they were born of devout, God-fearing parents. That’s not why it comes about either. Something had to happen to them. Something had to take place in them, and that is true for everyone who becomes a Christian, who comes into the church.
No matter what happens, we cannot make ourselves Christians. You cannot make yourself a Christian. You don’t even get up and decide one day that you’re going to be a Christian on your own. Here in this text, they became Christians when the Holy Spirit of God came in power and brought the truth home to their hearts, convicting them of their sins, especially the truth about Jesus Christ.
Once the spotlight of Scripture was turned on by the preaching of the word of God, Scripture revealed to them the status, the dignity, and the significance of Jesus Christ, and then it showed them they were sinners. That all the signposts of the Old Testament were pointing to this one person, the Messiah, and it became very clear to them. They became guilty. They killed the Messiah.
And you know what… If we would have been there, we were part of killing the Messiah too. See, they realized they needed to be saved. How wrong they were about Jesus. Once they saw what Jesus meant, a complete change of heart came to them about the relevance of Jesus of Nazareth. The Holy Spirit showed them that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners and that the world is in a state of sin, and that included them.
All of sudden, they got pulled into the equation. Wait a minute, “We’re not just children of Abraham where we have all the promises given to us and we’re automatically in. No, we’re out! Even though we had all that revelation, we rejected it and didn’t respond to it the right way.” They saw that, and they of course then believed. The Holy Spirit showed them that. They turned to Him in complete submission, confessed their sin with a childlike faith, and received the good news about Jesus Christ.
Becoming a Christian means to undergo a complete change. A change in thinking, a change in action, and a change in direction. This means that there is nothing clearer and more definite in the New Testament than being a Christian. Not only the reality of their conversion do we see here, but also what follows their initial conversion.
What were they to do next once they become believers? Do they just go back into their old way of living and just live that way, or is there something new that happens to us even in what we do? So, how do we measure up to that description of what it is to be a real Christian?
In other words, how do we measure up to these first believers here in this historical account of the establishment of the church? That the Gospel brought salvation, and those who receive Jesus Christ and that salvation were brought into and were added to the church. Those whose hearts have been changed and the Holy Spirit now lives in them.
Now, I say all that for this reason: when you become a believer, everything changes. If you have not experienced that everything changes in your Christian life, then maybe nothing’s changed. Maybe you never believed. You thought you did, but there’s not been a change. There’s not been a radical move to what the Scripture tells us about what a real believer is.
In Acts 2, we see that the first characteristic of real Christians is that real Christians experience the change in position, a change from where they were to where they were put by God. You are called from a position of being unsaved no matter where you were born, when you were born, in what family you were born, in which country you were born, or what time you were born, you were born unsaved. Therefore, everyone needs to be taken from a position of being unsaved to a position of being saved and knowing it. What are they saved from? In Acts 2:40, it says:
And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!”
Now, why did he say that? He is saying to them listen your generation and the generations before you got it wrong. If you continue in the current thinking of your generation, in which you live, it will lead you to destruction. So, the call is to be saved from its clutches to something else. The word “perverse” is the Greek word scoliosis. We hear people say that they have scoliosis. By definition, it means an excessive sideways curvature of the spine.
Quite literally, it means crooked. If applied to that generation or our generation, it is used to mean the age or time period, in which you live, is a time of being crooked, unscrupulous, and dishonest, especially in regards to the truth and the truth about God’s only means of salvation in and through Jesus Christ.
Our generation, for the most part, denies that human nature is sinful. Our generation denies the sinfulness of sin, that is, it doesn’t stain people with filth, blacken them with guilt, or condemn them that our generation stresses the goodness of the human nature. That sin is a slight thing in the sight of God, or just maybe just a mere mistake. This generation which we live is crooked in regard to truth.
If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you already know that. You look at the world and you say, “Man, don’t they see this? Don’t they see what they’re doing, what they’re saying, or where they’re going?” They don’t because they’re blind, deaf, and dead.
So, why would I expect our generation, the people who lead that generation, or that people who influence that generation to lead me in any direction that has to do with what God says in the word of God. I shouldn’t even expect that. We shouldn’t expect that as a church. The Scriptures have already informed us that the generations cannot come to know God by their own wisdom. 1 Corinthians 1:21 says:
For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
This thing that we’re doing up here, that I’m doing up here, and that other preachers are doing, the world looks at us and they say it’s a bunch of foolishness and a bunch of malarkey. They right people off who are just telling you what the real truth is. Well, the Bible says that the world, by its own wisdom, will never come to know God.
They can study all the philosophy and they can study all the theology. Until God actually saves them, changes their heart, puts His spirit in them, they’re going to be led by a crooked and perverse generation It’s going to leave them maybe with the signs pointing to heaven, but it’s going to go to be to destruction.
It has been the goal of the non-Christian west to seek as a worthy goal the avoiding of any pain, or on the other side, the frantic pursuit of pleasure and happiness. This has surfaced in our society in so many disturbing ways from sexual morals that continue to deteriorate, people are in debt up to their eyeballs because they have to have with everybody else has, and of course there has been a rise of what they call relativism, emotionalism, resentism, victimism, and moralism.
For example, relativism is that a person will live by no absolute standard for life. Each person determines what is right for themselves without anybody deciding for them. Of course, they have the right to change their situation if they think they need to. That produces fruit where there’s no consistency in their life or conviction in their heart. There’s usually no internal restraint towards anything that their passions and desires want to do. They dislike rules or people telling them anything that has to do is right and wrong.
There is also a lot of emotionalism in our culture. Somebody who’s steeped in this type of philosophy, feelings are the most important indicator to what is right and best for them. Feelings as a personal guidance system for their life. Also, there is presentism. That’s a focus on the present. Living for the moment.
It’s a focus on personal happiness. No sense of delayed gratification or investment. It’s the “I got to have it now mentality.” There’s no focus on any kind of long-term investment. You’re not concerned so much about dying and going somewhere. Then, there’s no sense of consequences. Everything is really an impulsive decision.
Also, there’s a big philosophy of victimism in our country today. There’s no sense of personal responsibility for actions. It’s a belief of what my experience has made me to be. Thus, my defects are the result of others and situations outside of my control. The fruit of that would be a regular pattern of blame-shifting, excusing, rationalizing bad behavior, a lack of confession, and a lack of sense of the need for personal change.
Now, there has been a consistent rise of the indulgence of self-interest, which has led to other types of isms like materialism, individualism, and autonomy where there’s no sense of innate, natural responsibility to any higher authority other than self.
There’s no functional recognition of the existence of God, so a person who lives like that or thinks like that, there’s tendencies toward rebellion to authority. There’s really no God-ward focus in life, and authority and correction are seen as negative. Therefore, they live a lawless life.
I’m saying all this for this reason: this is the perverseness of our generation and there’s many more of them. Of course, moralism is a big one. Just teach people to be good people because they are already good, but you just have to help them be better.
Well, that’s not salvation. That’s not what the Bible talks about when it talks about being converted. I’m saying to you that there is a real change that happens when you become a believer and that change will be experienced by you. 1 John 2:4 says:
The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;
A lot of things are happening today, right before eyes, that are things that are not so, yet people are banking on they are so. See, that’s the crookedness of our generation and it’s heading right to hell. If you’re in the flow of that crookedness, that’s where you’re heading. No matter where you are on the spectrum.
In other words, we live in a generation that is still in their sins, stained by its filth, and blackened by its guilt. In turn, they remain unforgiven and uncleansed, yet they think they are doing just fine. The only remedy for your crooked and condemned condition is Jesus sacrificial death, and still people either ignore that, misunderstand that, laugh at that, or scorned this truth.
If the world system of belief does not know God, it cannot know God The reason why is because the idea of the world in Scripture has two things going on: mankind in rebellion against God or hostile to God and also mankind in his own way of life, especially as opposed to the purpose of God. The world system involves the world’s values, pleasures, and pastimes. People who are in rebellion to God do not know Him nor do they regard him or follow Him as 1 John 3:1:
See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
That is always where the generation and world is at. According to Scripture, the worlds system is said to be under the control of the evil one. It lies in darkness and it’s under divine judgement. In any case, the believer, the saved person, is not the set their affections on this system, values, pleasures, pastimes, entertainment, or its ambitions. A real Christian is saved from being swept along by the ungodly currents of their generation and instead we display before the world the effects of what God is doing in us, upon us, and producing is us a complete change.
When a believer is put up against, even your old self when you were in the world, you have to see a difference. You have to see a change because that is exactly what the word of God and the spirit of God is doing on you & I. In fact, Paul tells and teaches in the Philippians 2:15:
So that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.
God doesn’t take us to heaven right away when we first become a Christian. He leaves us here, right? When He leaves us here it is to be lights in the world. To live right in the middle of a crooked and perverse world in a way where we can, as it says in the same passage, among whom you appear as lights in the world. That you’re holding for them the truth on how they can be right with their Creator and how they can be right with God.
When we look at Acts 2:47, we see that there is a change in position from where they were before in this religious condition as Jews to now praising God:
praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
They were saved now. They were saved not only from the perverse generation, but they were also saved from their present, condemned condition, right? They were moved out of condemnation and the wrath of God into favor with God fake. They’re genuinely, for the first time, praising God, and they’re having favor with the people.
Now, they’re moved into this new position, they have this new change of mind and change of heart. Now, they see Jesus Christ as they ought to and now everything from that day forward begins to change in their life. So, they’re saved from their present condemned condition.
According to Scripture, we all are born into this world under condemnation. In this condition, we remain in danger of eternal destruction. We remain lost, we have all sinned against God, the law of God has pronounced all guilty whether Jew, gentile, and whoever you are. Everybody’s under that commendation.
John 3:18 says:
He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
We were all under condemnation. The law kept us there until we believed and until we came to trust Christ as our Lord and Savior. When we believe at that point of conversion, we are no longer under condemnation and we are no longer in the flow of the generation that is taking us nowhere like it says in Romans 8:1:
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
That’s who you are and now you’re in Christ A Christian can stand and declare, “I have been saved. My whole position has changed from one of not being saved to one of being saved. From one of being condemned to one of being free from God’s condemnation.” In other words, we are moved from one place to another place. One place of not being a Christian to another place of being a real, genuine Biblical Christian. That’s a good place to be.
I say all this for this reason: there are a lot of places where people think they’re Christians and they are not Christians. They are deceived. They’ve deceived themselves. The generation has deceived them and many times the church does not clearly present to them the warning where they really need to look at their being chosen by God if it’s real.
You don’t want to be in that place. You want to be in a place where you know you are. Now, here’s a passage of Scripture that all of you have heard before in 2 Corinthians 5:17:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
That has to mean something, and that has to mean something to everyone who’s calling themselves a Christian. See, the question is are you a real Christian, are you a new creature, and have all things become new? This is an important shift of stance, a change in sphere, because the apostle here is viewing all people either in Adam or in Christ.
In other words, all who are in Christ are a new creation, and all who are in Adam are still linked to the old things. The old things being the old Adamic nature with its old corruption, its old habits, it’s old, sinful being with all the slavery that goes with that. People can’t say that, “hey, I can live this sinful lifestyle and I’m just calling myself a Christian also.” You can’t do that. Not according to Scripture.
Our generation will feed that kind of thinking and a lot of times people are going along in their bad lifestyle and bad behavior, at the same time, getting up and going to church every Sunday because they have not looked at the word of God and realized that there is a difference when you become a real believer. All things have become new.
Those who are now associated with Christ, who are in Christ, find themselves in a new position and a new sphere The phrase “new creature” in this verse points us right back to Genesis in which we are reminded of what God did when He created the world. It is not simply patching up the old, but He is creating a new. The old things are discarded, and they pass away.
Meaning, they are cast aside as no longer being a part of us. Old things do not become new at conversion. They are discarded. Other things take their place as newly created. That’s what happens. The term here “behold” indicates it’s a surprising thing. It’s surprising when you become a new believer. It’s surprising that all of a sudden you pick up the Bible and you begin to understand it. It’s surprising that I now have a hunger for God’s word that I’ve never had before just like a new baby when they’re first born.
Nobody tells a baby that they have to drink milk from the bottle or your mothers’ breast. Nobody taught the baby that. If you don’t feed that baby, they are going to scream bloody murder until they get what they want. That’s how it should be for a new believer in the word of God. They have to have the truth. They cannot stay away from the truth. As Peter taught us, that desire for the milk of the word should always be there.
When it’s not there, look for sin because sin has robbed you of that desire. See, I’m saying all these things because we become new, and when we become new, that doesn’t mean everything’s going to be fine, well, and dandy. It may mean when you become a Christian things are not going to be fine, well, and dandy. It could have been that when you were an unbeliever, they were fine, well, and dandy.
When you become a Christian, there’s a cost. New things, new life, new work, new destination, a new heart, new desires, and a new standing is brought about by God’s doing. You didn’t do any of it, but God did all of that. When these changes take place, there will be at least three general manifestations that will take place for a real Christian.
The first general manifestation of the transfer and the change is that real Christians are removed from the place where they were without the life of God in their soul to now having the life of God in their soul. The spirit of God now indwells them.
If you have the life of God in your soul, and your friends and your family members do not have the life of God in their soul, then there’s a problem. There is a clear distinction between the two. There’s a noticeable disparity between them. That is why coming to Christ may severe some of your closest human relationships – your family, your friends, and even your children and spouses.
There is strong scriptural language given by Jesus himself to show that the Gospel Jesus Christ is not a nice, kind, and friendly message, but it is fundamentally a strong message. It is a radical message. It is ripping you out of the kingdom of darkness and putting you in the king of light. Don’t think that everything is just going to go smooth. It’s not and He warned us of this.
That’s always the cost. That the change that’s going to take place not all of it is positive at least from a human perspective. Some of it’s going to be quite negative. Of course, when the negative things take place, that’s what you say, “I didn’t sign up for that. I’m out of here, you know.”
You become like Josh Harris, who recently renounced the faith. He wrote all of these books, he was a pastor of a big church, and says I’m out of here like Vladimir. I don’t believe it.
Well, you know what he was never in the faith. A real Christian does not renounce the faith, but a real Christian does struggle in the faith. It is a struggle and you always will be a struggle. In fact, if you take your Bibles just look at Matthew 10:32-38:
“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33“But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
34“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35“For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; 36and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.
37“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39“He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.
Your love for Christ has to outshine all the love that you have for anything else. It must be paramount because you are a new creature in Christ Jesus, and He has given you a new heart. You have the holy spirit of God. Now, you have the word of God to teach you and everything from that day forward is becoming new.
In other words, you can’t go back. There’s nothing to go back to. You have to go forward. You have to keep going. No matter how much of the struggle it is to be a Christian and it may get worse today, but you just keep going because you know why this is not the end. You are heading somewhere. You’re going to go into the presence of God. If you look right there in Matthew 10:21-22, it says:
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22“You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.
Who will endure to the end? Those who are real believers. Those who the spirit of God indwells, and the spirit of God seals us until the day of redemption. He holds us where we’re held in the hand of God and in Christ in security for that day of redemption. It was John MacArthur who said in regard to the Christian life:
It is not easy, user-friendly, or seeker sensitive. It is not a rosy, perfect world where Jesus gives you whatever you want. It is hard. Becoming a Christian means being sick of your sin, longing for forgiveness, and rescue from present evil and future hell affirming your commitment to the Lordship of Christ, to the point where you are willing to forsake everything for Christ.
So, we can’t tamper with the Gospel. We can’t make it less offensive. We can’t organize church for the unsaved. Churches are for the saved to go out to the unsaved and tell them the message of the Gospel. The church is to keep the unity. That’s our job. We are to love one another and that love, against the black backdrop of the world, will be so profound it gets their attention. Of course, that love comes from the two great commandments: love the Lord with all your heart mind, soul, and strength, and then to love our neighbor as ourselves including those who are in the body.
Changing the message is useless since no one can believe unless God grants them understanding. Johnny Mac also said:
If they don’t hear the truth, cool music won’t help. If they don’t see the light, PowerPoint won’t help. If they don’t like the message, drama and video won’t help.
The problem is their heart, not the seed of the word of God. There’s nothing wrong with the message from Scripture. They’re blinded, they’re deaf, and they’re dead, so they need God’s spirit to make them alive. Why is it that those closest to you, you may lose closeness with? Well, they’re still trying to organize their life without God. They’re still in darkness. They do not have the life of God in their soul. They do not have a changed heart and the spirit of God living in them.
In other words, you’re going in the opposite direction even to those who are closest to you. If you’ve been a Christian, you have experienced that in your family. Boom, you’re the first-generation Christian, you become you trust in Christ, and it’s an earthquake in your family. They say that you have gone off the deep end, that you need mental help, or are in a cult. It goes on and on.
Then, all of sudden, years go by and you’re still walking with the Lord, still growing in the Lord, and still witnessing to them As years go by, they haven’t changed, but you have changed a lot and they see it. Then, they really don’t get in your face anymore and they kind of accept it. I guess that’s what they want and that’s good for them but keep witnessing. You keep telling them and you keep sharing the Gospel with them.
That happened in my own family. I came from a Polish, Catholic family. My father had ten brothers and sisters, and he was the tenth one born. When I became a Christian, the first one in my family from my mother’s side and my father’s side, it was an earthquake.
My uncle would be beat red talking to me because of his hatred of what I was doing. My father’s family was against my father because I was his son. For years, I kept witnessing and witnessing and witnessing. Some of you know that 25 years went by and he came to know Christ. He lived his last eight and a half years for the Lord.
But you know what? I didn’t do anything. I just kept my head above water. Spiritually, I kept sharing with him the word of God and putting things in his Bible. I bought him like five Bibles If that Bible didn’t work, then this Bible may work. He spoke in Polish, so I gave him a Polish Bible, but he didn’t like that one so much.
Finally, I just kept putting things like pointers and tracks in places, underlining things, and he would read them. Then, he would tell me that he could argue with me all day, but he couldn’t argue with this, and he saw it in his own Catholic Bible, and it blew him away, “It’s always been there! Why didn’t anybody tell me?”
That was his big thing. He would get very upset about it, but he came to know the truth, the truth set him free, and he was different. He was different. He wasn’t the same person. In fact, the last eight and a half years my relationship with my father was the best ever. We always seemed to never connect. When he saw what I saw in Scripture, we became close. That was really great, and it was only the Gospel that did it.
I thank the Lord that the Gospel is powerful, and it can do something you can’t do. You can’t save people. I know you want people to get saved but you can’t save them. I can’t save them, but I can pray that they get saved and that is what we’re supposed to do.
I can pray that the God who can do anything could save that person whether it is my mother, my father, my sister, my brother, or my neighbor. For that person who has moved at the end of my block, who’s completely different than anything I know about America. God can save them. God can save people coming to this country that we don’t have to go there. He’s brought them here. See, we have to be thinking like that. We have to be seeking God’s face in that way because that changing position is going to change our priorities too.
In Acts, I want you to look at where I’m heading with all this because when you become a believer, there’s a legal difference that takes place, there’s a relational difference that takes place, and there’s a lordship difference that takes place. Satan is no longer your Lord. You didn’t know he was, but he was. Christ is your Lord. There’s also a doctrinal difference. Common areas of belief are not the same anymore. Also, there is a religious difference.
There is another manifestation of this transfer and change and that is that a real Christian is removed from the world, in which they freely flowed with all its currents, and are put in the realm of the church, which becomes central in their lives.
This radical change brings us into this new realm. It brings us out of the realm that we belonged to before, the world and its system, and we cannot go back. If we cannot go back, there’s only two places we can go. Either we go to heaven to be with Christ, or we go and become connected to Christ’s church while we’re here on earth. Those are the two places we go when there’s this change.
This general manifestation of this transfer and changed is that Christians are joined to the church and they continue in the church. The centrality of Christianity becomes a controlling factor in their lives. Someone who becomes a real Christian cannot say the church is something I can take or leave. When they were saved, they were added to the church. When your saved, your attitude to Christ’s church is not something you take or leave. It is essential in the means of grace for you and me to be gathering together. In Acts 2:42-47, these three thousand people were saved by the Holy Spirit and had come together forming the church:
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
You can’t go back to Judaism. You must go into the church or go home. When they came into the church, what did they do? They became study buddies together with the Apostle’s doctrine. They had something new to learn. They shared spiritually and emotionally fellowship. They worshiped God together, the breaking of bread. They were prayer partners together, the corporate prayers where people meet together to pray. They were generous together. They sold their possessions, and when they saw a need, they met the needs. They shared meals and time together. They gladly gathered together.
Christians, of course, can’t keep away from each other. When you’re away from Christians, you kind of starve a little bit. It’s like cutting a branch off of the tree and they move you away a little bit, and they connect your back up when your get together with believers again. They were free to praise God and were unified in diversity together.
If you go back to the first chapter of Acts, these people are not people that hung out together. They were so incredibly different culturally, language-wise, and otherwise. There was no way they’re going to get together. God saves people and doesn’t remove the diversity, but in that diversity, He brings unity by His spirit and His word right.
We can go anywhere in the world, it doesn’t matter where a person was born, what culture they are in, if they know Christ, there is this connection that we have with them because they know the Savior. They love the Lord, so their priorities have changed.
Jew and gentile, bond and free, rich and poor, and pagan and barbarian. People with red skin, yellow skin, black skin, and white skin. People who are lost in darkness and bondage to sin, alienated from the life of God, and under His wrath. People who are in desperate need of the word of God, they were being saved and added to the church.
That’s what the church is about. The church is about unity amongst diversity that God does. This is no book that you pick up and read. Nobody can teach some seminar on it like diversity training in the workplace. Only God does it because He changes our heart. He gives us the spirit of God and we become one in Christ. We’re all heading in the same direction.
See, that’s what the world needs, but the church better have it, or we are doing something wrong. It’s far different these days. Today, we think of the church in terms of how many people attend or how many programs are offered or how much money is raised. Today’s size, money, facilities, influence, prominence is celebrated even when many so-called churches do not demonstrate a submission to the authority of the word of God or a confidence in the sufficiency of the word of God.
The real evidence of a growing church is the word of God increases in the people’s hearts and lives. The word of God increases and the desire for the word increases. People become Christians and they continue in that priority the rest of their life. They hold on to God’s means of grace, the apostle’s doctrine, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers. That’s what the church was given by God and that’s what we still have today. We are to keep those things and grow in those things.
In doing that, we get something done. A Christian is taken from a sphere to a new sphere of becoming a real believer and then their priorities change because God, through His spirit, changes your priorities. Your direction is different. You know where you’re going, right? We will look at that next week.
I wanted to challenge you, especially in the way of when you become a Christian you are completely different, and God has done. He’s giving you new desires and a new way of living life and thinking apart from a perverse, crooked generation that could never bring you their only God could.
I want to remind you that we have our Lord’s table. Remember, that’s part of what is concluded in Acts 2 They met together not only to eat meals together, but they have the Lord’s table. The centrality of the Lord’s table is what we cannot forget. Christ came into the world. He died in the place of sinners. He bodily came into the world, as was prophesied, and fulfilled that prophecy by actually doing it.
He died not only to live a perfect life and to obey the Father completely, but to die on the Cross. To submit Himself to death on the Cross He unrobed Himself of His glory so He can die as a man. For himself No, for us. Then, he finally shed His blood. That the blood of Christ could wash away anything that brought condemnation and guilt in our life and freed us to have a clean slate before God. That gas been given to us by Christ. The Lord takes our sin, nails it to the cross and He gives us Christ’s righteousness. That is really what is entailed in the Lord’s supper.
Remember, the Lord’s supper is a memorial feast where we eat the bread and we drink the cup as Christ told us in remembrance of Him. Why is that important? The Lord says to do it and we’re to obey the Lord This feast is designed in God’s infinite wisdom to have several, very beneficial effects on the believer.
The first one is examining yourself. To practice the Lord’s table is to also look at yourself and see how you have been growing. How is the light of the word of God shining in your heart? How is it producing fruit? If there is sin there, and believe me, Christian’s can see sin as you grow in Christ more than ever, repent and turn from that sin.
Regular periods of self-examination and confession are needed for spiritual health, but don’t stay there. Don’t just keep looking at your sin or being it so introspective that you kill yourself. Christ has already taken care of that. Confess it, He’s already known you done it, bring it to Him, let him cleanse you of all your sin and righteousness, and go on and your Christian walk.
Through this ordinance, you believe it or not, We come together to preach the gospel. In Scripture, it tells us that our way to preach the Gospel is that we are partaking of these elements. Also, the Lord brings to our minds vividly the sufferings of Christ on our behalf and the blood that was shed. These are the basics truths from which our minds and hearts may stray during the month.
This reels us back to reality, to a spiritual perspective on things, and brings us into walking with the Lord once again. As we eat and drink in remembrance of Him, we discern the body in the symbol in the bread and the cup, and our love for Christ that should be stimulated our love for one another, the Lord said that we’re to keep this until He comes. Don’t let this practice go by the wayside.
Our minds are brought into the reality that Christ is coming again. Live that way everyday wake up that way thinking of that. He’s coming every day. How are you living that day? What are you doing that day? What are you doing in your heart and life? What are you thinking? If he comes today, be ready for Him to come any day and any moment. There’s always that immanency in His return. It helps us and it purifies our walk.
Again, as we look back to Calvary, the Cross, we rejoice that on that Cross, our redemption was taken care of. We were set free by the sacrifices of Christ and forgiven completely As we look forward, we are looking for His coming and we were rejoicing, at least we should be rejoicing, in the prospect of seeing Christ face-to-face.
When you love a person you want to see them. Even Facetime doesn’t give you the full sense of having the person present with you. So, we’re looking to be in Christ presents to see Him as He is. That’s going to be the day of complete rejoicing.