Neil Pattison | 27 September 2020 | Sunday Celebration
Over the next few months we will journey through the book of Acts. Following the last moments of Jesus on earth with His disciples, He appeared to leave behind a group of relatively clueless men and women who must have been thinking ‘What now?’
We like a plan. We like to know what is happening. We do not like to be out of control or in the dark. Father God does not always give the plan but He gives Foundation and principles on which to build our lives – then we can face whatever comes.
Acts chapter 1:1
The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach,
This ordered and accurate account is penned by an educated, gentile doctor. Written around or after 63 A.D. (the date of the last event recorded), the book is Luke’s sequel to the Gospel of Luke. Entitled “Acts” this book records the “Acts of the Apostles through the work of the Holy Spirit”. The book was addressed to Theophilus, Lover of God, possibly a Roman official or at least of high position and wealth acting as Luke’s patron, responsible for seeing that the writings were copied and distributed. Such a dedication to the publisher was common at that time.
This church grew into the first multi-ethnic, international Jesus community, from which missionaries were sent throughout the world to preach about Jesus, the Jewish Messiah and risen King of all nations. Paul even continued to preach despite imprisonment and wrote important letters to the churches.
Read Acts chapter 1:2-3
Point One. Primary Foundation that disciples were willing to die for – Jesus was their Lord, He had died but was now alive and King of a new Kingdom.
Picture of cornerstone laid on a solid foundation.
The cornerstone of something is the basic part of it on which its existence, success, or truth depends. The cornerstone (or foundation stone or setting stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation. All other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.
Over time a cornerstone became a ceremonial masonry stone, or replica, set in a prominent location on the outside of a building, with an inscription on the stone indicating the construction dates of the building and the names of architect, builder, and other significant individuals.
Read Acts chapter 1:4-5
Point Two. Second part of foundation is the Word and the Spirit. The Father promises the gift of the Spirit in His word.
Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;
Ezekiel 36:26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you
Joel 2:28,29 “It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. “Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
We are a church of the word and the Spirit.
Make our gatherings count. Encourage, bless, enjoy, pray for each other, break bread – be continually filled with Holy Spirit.
Read Acts chapter 1:6-8
Point Three. Third part of foundation is not a road map of the future. It is not an intergalactic strategy or blue print outlining how to model church. It is you waiting on Him, receiving His power and being a witness. God is a strategic God – we will see over the coming weeks how strategy was inspired by the Holy Spirit – disciples waiting on Him, hearing His voice and responding.
Question: what will you be a witness of? Who is your Jesus. We need to be able to say ‘I know Him’.
Read Acts chapter 1:9-11
Point Four. Jesus is not physically with us – He has left the earth. BUT He has not left us alone, we have the Holy Spirit. He has not abandoned the world – He has given the gift of His body, the church. We are a gift to the world.
Picture of dandelion clock. White, fluffy seeds waiting to be dispersed.
Acts chapter 1:12
Then they returned to Jerusalem
The disciples returned to Jerusalem and gathered in the Upper Room. Encouraging each other, praying for each other, waiting for the Holy Spirit, waiting to be fluffy white seeds blown out to the nations.
- Our love for Jesus places Him at the centre of our lives – cornerstone – All other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.
- Over the next few months we can enjoy the amazing book of Acts.
- Look at the gathered church – irrespective of external pressures the church gathers and prays and breaks bread. Authorities ban you – move underground; church buildings closed down – move into homes; virus restricts interaction – find ways to gather safely.
- Look at the persecuted church – being witnesses of Jesus comes with a price. What keeps us going under trial? Jesus at the centre.
- Look at the growing church – from a small group in a home to church on a rubbish dump to mega church in a city. Everything is possible.
- R rate above 1 leads to multiplication. We are between 1.2 and 1.4.
· According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, there were only an estimated 600 million Christians worldwide in 1910. This figure has increased enormously in more recent years, with an estimated 2.2 billion Christian followers recorded in 2010. The research center also predicts that Christianity will remain the world’s largest religion for the next four decades if these trends continue, with a projected 2.9 billion people practicing Christianity worldwide by 2050 and exceeding 3 billion thereafter.
· Globally, Christianity is growing at a 1.27% rate. Currently, there are 2.5 billion Christians in the world. The world’s population, 7.7 billion, is growing at a 1.20% rate. Among Christian groups, Pentecostals (2.26%) and evangelicals (2.19%) are growing faster than others.
Questions for discussion
- In what ways does Jesus act as the cornerstone in our life?
- How is our love for Jesus demonstrated? What is the evidence in our life?
- In what ways are our lives founded on the word and the Spirit?
- Read the book of Acts slowly and thoughtfully. Gather in prayer triplets.