Church Growth God's Way:  Through A United Effort of its Membership

Introduction:

    Christianity began with the gathering of the 12 apostles in one place on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ.  In referring to the apostles, the scripture reveal that when “…the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:1-5).

Discussion:

I.                   CHURCH GROWTH BEGAN WITH THE 3,000 THAT OBEYED THE GOSPEL ON THE FIRST PENTECOST AFTER THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST.

A.    After the Apostle Peter preached the first gospel sermon as fact on the day of Pentecost, 3,000 were baptized.

Acts 2:36-41, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.  Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.  And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.  Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:  and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”

 B.    They were united in worshipping the one true God.

Matt. 4:10, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

Acts 2:42, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

1.        Like the church at Troas that met together on the first day of the week to break bread (Acts 20:7), the church at Jerusalem continued steadfastly in their worship together.

C.  The church at Jerusalem was also united together in continuing steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine.

1.      The Apostle Paul later urged the church at Philippi to “walk by the same rule” and to “mind the same thing.” 

Phil. 3:16, “…let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”

2.      He also stressed to the church at Corinth:

1 Cor. 1:10, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

II.                NOT ONLY WAS THE FIRST CONGREGATION UNITED IN BOTH WORSHIP AND A “THUS SAITH THE LORD”; BUT THEY ALSO FELT A CLOSENESS SOCIALLY.

A.    Because these first century Christians were devoted to one another and to God, they gained the respect of their fellow citizens and found receptive hearts to the inspired Word of God.

Acts 2:44-47, “And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.  And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”

1.           Because of these early Christians devotion to one another and to God, they gained the respect of their fellow citizens and found receptive hearts to the truths of God’s Word.  Thus, there were daily additions to the church.  Yes, these first century saints felt a closeness to those of “like faith” and enjoyed the company of one another on a daily bases. 

2.           The Apostle Paul urged brethren at Rome to:

Rom. 12:10, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another;”

B.    The brethren at Jerusalem were so united that they were said to be of “singleness of heart.”

Acts 4:32-37, “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul:  neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.  And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus:  and great grace was upon them all.  Neither was there any among them that lacked:  for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.  And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

C.    Brethren encouraged one another to remain faithful.

Heb. 10:24-25, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another:  and so much the more, as ye see the day approasching.”

1 Cor. 14:23, “…the whole church be come together into one place,…”

III.             BECAUSE OF THE PERSECUTION IN WHICH THE CHRISTIANS AT JERUSALEM EXPERIENCED IN COMMON, THEY FELT A SPECIAL CLOSENESS AND EVEN INTENSIFIED THEIR EFFORTS TO SPREAD THE GOSPEL (Acts 4:23-32).

A.    They prayed as one voice:  “…they lifted up their voice to god with one accord,…” (Acts 4:24).

Acts 12:12, “And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.”

B.    Those brethren were emboldened to proclaim the word of God.

Acts 4:29-31, “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings:  and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.  And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”

C.    Their sentiment and affection toward one another caused them to look out for one another and to do kind deeds for one another.

Acts 4:32, “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul:  neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

Phil. 2:4, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

1.           A practical application:

Gal. 6:1-2, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

D.    After the death of Stephen, there was a great persecution against the church at Jerusalem.

Acts 8:1-4, “And Saul was consenting unto his death.  And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.  And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.  And for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house and haling men and women committed them to prison.  Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”

2 Tim. 3:12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

IV.              AFTER JAMES THE BROTHER OF JOHN WAS KILLED, HEROD HAD PETER PUT IN PRISON.

Acts 12:5, “Peter therefore was kept in prison:  but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

A.    After the angel miraculously released Simon Peter from the prison “…he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying” (Acts 12:12).

James 5:16, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.  The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  

V.                 WE SHOULD STRIVE TO HAVE 100% PARTICIPATION OF THE MEMBERSHIP.

A.    By getting the brethren involved, they are less inclined to be critical of the church.

Acts 6:1-7 (read and emphasize the need to involve the entire congregation.)

1.           By becoming involved, brethren take a greater interest in the church.

2.           They will become more supportive of the decisions and activities in which our congregation is involved.                              

Conclusion:

   Our congregation can truly move forward in the Lord’s work in an effective manner, if we are truly united in the greatest cause upon earth.

Eph. 4:15-16, “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

 

--Dub Mowery


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