St. Luke's Church Faribault
- Today’s Sermon text is taken from the the lectionary readings for today. One of the suggested texts is from the book of Acts chapter 4, verses 23-31.Ruth read for us the first part of chapter 4. To make sure we are all caught up, After the resurrection, Jesus was seen by hundreds of people over a 40 day period before he was taken up to heaven. That is in Acts chapter 1. In Acts chapter 2 10 days after that - the Holy Spirit came to the church at Pentecost. Peter preaches a sermon, and many come to faith in Christ. The Apostles, now gifted with the gifts of the Spirit, begin forming the early church. There is preaching, and healings in chapter 3, and the church experiences rapid growth. Then we reach chapter 4.At chapter 4 we read this.2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.The Apostles are proclaiming or preaching in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. This upsets people so they seize Peter and John and place them in jail.In spite of this opposition many people believe the message.4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.Yet they are in jail. the rulers then tell them this.18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.They are told-not to teach anymore in the name of Jesus-They can do whatever they want just leave Jesus out. No more in the name of Jesus.Now, this is a crisis. Think about this. for a second. Here they are trying to grow the church. They are trying to fulfill the command Jesus gave them.19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”So, things are not looking up. They must be worried and discouraged. Perhaps nervous about what the future holds. They have just started this church-there are believers and now it is said to them Do not speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus-What do they do?This is a crisis. A real crisis of the first century church-how will the apostles handle this-Can we learn from them how to handle a crisi in the church? Let’s see-23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “ ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.’ 27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.What to do in a Crisis?Define the CrisisLet’s first define the crisis.It is only a crisis if it disrupts the central mission of the church.The central focus of the church is EVANGELISM. Jesus gave them this mission and now it is disrupted.23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them.Peter and John went back -to their own people—this most likely is not the whole church but rather a specific group. Perhaps their closest perhaps the church leaders-other apostles-In any event they go back to those that are of common mind with them the ones that are part of the mission. ANd they tell them everything that happened.What to do in a Crisis?Define the Crisis-to the support groupNext,24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.When they heard this… they raise their voices -together- in prayer.Look what it says in the NASB24 And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them,With one Accord.When the apostles were faced with this crisis that disrupted the central mission of the church-which is to preach the gospel-to go and make disciples to baptize them in the name of the Father and the son and the Holy Spirit-When they were faced with that crisis-they went to their own people-there is this sense of a fellowship a tight group and they TOGETHER WITH ONE ACCORD-WITH ONE MIND WITH ONE VOICE-All on the same page-all rowing togetherPrayed- They prayed-As their first choice-As the solution- As the only solution presented-they prayedWhat to do in a Crisis?Define the Crisis-to the support groupPray TogetherHow do they pray?24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.Sovereign Lord-That title is deliberate-They are attributing the Kingship of the universe to God-Not to the authorities that have disrupted the central mission of Evangelism- they are not in control but God Almighty is- He is the sovereign Lord-They assign the attribute of power over all of creation to God as they addressing Him- YOU made the heavens and the earth and the seas and all that is in them. Very similar to Nehemiah’s prayer that we opened service with-What to do in a Crisis?Define the Crisis-to the support groupPray TogetherGod is SovereignYour attitude in prayer is all important-you cannot come to God with telling him what to do- we come to God in prayer humbly- recognizing He is sovereign He is in control.It could have seemed to the apostles that the rulers and authorities were in control, but really even in this-God was in control. God was even in control of this obstacle of the gospel-This is why it is important to pray scripturally- The apostles call to mind words form Psalm 226 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.’The Kings rise up but they cannot stand against Him, God is the real King-It is written in God’s word-Even Herod and Pilate cannot stand against the Lord. Even in what appeared to be a dark moment-total opposition to the kingdom of God-God was in control27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.This is a key point even in conspiring against Jesus-Even in putting Jesus to death- IT was God’s plan all along.28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.So the apostles and their group prayed together- ACKNOWLEDGING the sovereignty of God OVER all things. God’s sovereignty extends even over those things that seem to oppose his kingdom-Like the killing of Jesus Christ.And this acknowledgment of the sovereignty of God over all things even includes their present situation.29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.Lord- Consider the threats they say- Consider them Lord-That’s all-Just consider them-That’s all we ask- NOT protect us from them- Not make them go away-Not smite those Heathens- Not remove them protect us, let us go unseen-Just consider them, and ENABLE US TO SPEAK YOUR WORD BOLDLY.They allow God to have HIS WAY-They make way for God’s solution.Enable us to speak your word boldly. That is what they ask for-To preach God’s word Boldly.What to do in a Crisis?Define the Crisis-to the support groupPray TogetherGod is Sovereign (Allow God’s solution)Notice the tie to scripture…The prayer they prayed is Scriptural- and the answer they request is to preach scripture-Here look down at your bible for a minute. Do you see how starting at verse 23 it is indented? It is indented becasue it is a quote from another scripture passage-They pray scripture- They are so saturated with scripture-that the prayers they pray are quotes from scripture- Look at all great prayers in the Bible-Nehemiah chapter 9, starting at 6 Scripture quote. Job- Mary in Luke 2 the magnificat scripture quote-and did you know that throughout the book of Acts the Old Testament is referred to 200 times?This particular quote you remember from Psalm 2-That is why Ruth read Psalm 2 this morning- The apostles pray that back to God. Acknowledging God’s sovereignty and then the request involves God’s word as well-is to PREACH God’s word boldly.They pray scripture to preach scripture-God’s word saturated the early churches hearts and minds.So in a crisis...What to do in a Crisis?Define the Crisis-to the support groupPray TogetherGod is Sovereign (Allow God’s solution)Pray ScripturallyThey have one other request-Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”The apostles ask God to heal and perform signs and wonders in the name of Jesus. They are not necessarily asking for God to perform a miracle and get the problem removed. They are not asking for some specific funding for the event they are planning, or for favor or anything.they are asking that God perform signs and wonders to EVANGELIZE people-To bring people to salvation- so that even the non-believers can see that Jesus is king.Define the Crisis-to the support groupPray TogetherGod is Sovereign (Allow God’s solution)Pray ScripturallyPray for God to be known (either by preaching or by God’s means)Either way in the apostle’s prayer God is made known either by preaching or by miracle which is by God’s means either way.After this prayer-God answers.After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.God gave the apostles assurance that He heard their prayer-Sometimes God gives us assurance- sometimes personally--sometimes publically----sometimes not all EXCEPT in His word, where we always have that assurance.And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God Boldly-Notice the connection to the Holy Spirit and the word of God. The Holy Spirit works with- in- and through- the word of God,filled with the Holy Spirit--spoke the word of God boldly.The Holy Sprit works in and with and through the word of God. Whenever we see the Holy Spirit mentioned in scripture-He is connected to the word of God- for exampleThen Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people!And He preaches the gospel in verse 10 and quotes scripture in verse 11.Jesus in JohnBut the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.Will remind you of what I said to you-Jesus’s words are God’s words. andAll of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.Speaking-or preaching in Acts 2 and then a the gospel follows filled with scripture quotes.You will see, throughout Scripture whenever the Holy Spirit is mentioned- the word of God, is very nearby-After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.So our question for today is what should the church do when it faces a crisis?From what I read- the wider church is experiencing a crisis and it would be best for the church to learn from the crisis it is facing.So if we are to understand how to face a crisis let’s put that slide back up.Define the Crisis-to the support groupPray TogetherGod is Sovereign (Allow God’s solution)Pray ScripturallyPray for God to be known (either by preaching or by God’s means)The mission of church has to be and should always remain TO be evangelism- The preaching of the gospel. Is that the main mission or the focus of the church?Has the church been sidetracked by all the other things the church does? Those things are great-they are needed but is it the mission that Christ called the Church to? Scripture tells that is what we as believers are to do. Preach the gospelNow, not everyone is comfortable with that and the church tends to use charity as an excuse or a substitute for preaching the gospel Oh don’t get me wrong-it is good to feed the poor-showing the love the Christ that is the mission of the church- Well sort of, but it falls short. The world is full of charities-Our charity must also be tied to the gospel- A well fed well clothed person needs salvation. They need to have the opportunity to hear the good news and escape eternal damnation.The church must be together with ONE MIND with a focus on the central mission. Even within local churches people are heading every direction. Focusing on a myriad of different things besides the gospel.The Church would do well to make sure it recognizes the sovereignty of God in all things and to seek God to further His mission for His church.Today the Church is busy taking a stand on everything BUT the gospel. The church is asking to stand on this side or that side, Republican or democrat- Covid or non-Covid-Fight the fight for right the church says -While the mission of the church-the Gospel transcends all of that.Both sides of every issue today NEEDS the gospel. God has all the issues in control- The immorality of society-the injustice- the disease-the famine-Sometimes it is as if the church thinks He cannot see the problems, and we must remind Him of them-while we take them in control.The church would do well to pray and seek after the sovereign Lord for the Boldness to proclaim the gospel again. For the boldness to be mission focused, The church would do well to pray scripturally and boldly for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit to convert people to Jesus.The Church is in a Crisis.Focus on the GospelBe of one MindPray ScripturallySubmit to God’s Sovereignty In the world and in answer to prayerWe must.
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