What marks a genuine believer? Sometimes its hard to tell. I see you are at church but I don’t know your homes, your thoughts, your heart. Luke doesn’t record everything about the Jerusalem church for us, so what he does record is significant for us. Luke highlights the two things in the passage were looking at today, the generosity and the integrity of the Jerusalem church.
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Jerusalem: Church on Fire
Today we have an exciting day ahead of us as we get to celebrate the baptism of one of our sisters. Hers is a unique case, she was baptized as in infant in a gospel preaching church, but she stands here today to testify of her faith in Jesus Christ and to follow him in baptism as a believer. She will come up later and give her testimony about what God has done and is doing in her life, and we celebrate with her.
But I want to first take a minute and look into the scriptures and explain our position as a church, not only why we baptize, but also why we would re-baptize someone who received infant baptism in another church. This is not without controversy. So why do we rebaptize? Well to answer this, I think it will probably be sufficient to explain why we baptize. And so were going to look a little deeper at a text we quickly looked over in Acts 2
AGM Sunday. What kind of church are we to be? What is uniquely characterizes a thriving, expanding church? The Jerusalem church was a bold church. Remember that in Acts 2:42-47 we stated the Luke intends for us to see this Jerusalem church as foundational, as they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship and to prayers and to the breaking of the bread, those are the activities that the church in every generation would participate in. Nows in chapters 3-4 we have this story of Peter and John in the temple, healing a man and its aftermath, and we get another characteristic of the Jerusalem church - its a church of bold proclamation. If the church of Jesus Christ fails to be bold in its proclamation, then we might as well give up - we will not make disciples if we’re not bod enough to proclaim the gospel. In Acts 4:1-22 we saw last week the boldness of the apostles, in Act 4:23-32 we see a portrait of a bold church.
Martin Luther famously resisted his accusers, "I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen." And my question for you this morning is this - what will you do when that moment finds you in which you must stand or speak out? What sorts of things are at the centre of your conscience? What would cause you to stay seated, or cause you to take a stand? When the moment comes to you - you may not be heralded as a hero. You may just be getting up one day and going to work or to school, and God might thrust you into a scenario in which you’ve got to make a choice as to whether you will sit or whether you will stand. You’ve might have one chance to speak, and when you do I pray that you will not minimize Jesus, but that you will magnify him. Choose you this day what you will do, if that day should come to you.
Acts 2:42 speaks to the community we long for, but does this in a surprising way. Not by focusing on building better community. in order to get to the community we long for we need to understand the nature of conversion. Only the truly converted individual finds in the church the community he longs for. Genuine Conversion Forms Genuine Community.
What does Christianity offer that no other religion or worldview does? The Resurrection - if Christ has not been raised "then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain." We proclaim the resurrection of Christ - God’s answer to Man’s sin, God end to Man’s search, God’s attestation of Christ’s Lordship.
Acts 2 is the moment when the church together is baptized with the Holy Spirit. Now what does that mean? and what does that mean for us?
Some see this moment as repeatable, they speak about the baptism of the Spirit as an experience that is available to us today. I want to be careful and precise in our understanding, which means we have to note that 1) nowhere in the Bible is the phrase “baptized in the Spirit” used except when speaking of this moment in Acts, 2) in not other time in the Bible does the Holy Spirit come upon the church in the same way as it does in Acts 2. There are other fillings of the Spirit both in Acts and elsewhere in the NewTestament, but there is no other fire. So what is the baptism of the spirit and what does it signify? What does it mean for us?
What Do You Do When You’re Not Doing Anything? In our culture, we're not very good at pausing. Yet what we do in our downtime matters. As we continue the series we began last week in the Book of Acts, we see the Apostles in a moment of pause. Yet these apostles had been trained by Jesus, and they knew what to do when they were doing nothing; Christ’s People Fill Period’s of Pause With Prayer and Preparation.
"Is the gospel for people like me?" - I've often heard this question asked, especially in sharing the gospel with people from different backgrounds. Many people think that Christianity is a Western religion for Europeans, yet in the ancient world the perception was exactly the opposite. To the Roman "European", Christianity was an Eastern, Jewish religion. The Book of Acts was written to one such Roman believer to assure him that Christianity was indeed a faith for all people. In the Book of Acts, Jesus continues his ministry through His Spirit-empowered church to save people from every nation for the glory of God.