What can the early experience of the Church teach us about what it means to be God’s Church today? That is a question we will explore together Sunday mornings this fall and in the first months of 2024 as we take a look at the birth and growth of the Church recorded in the Book of Acts.
We’ll examine the nature of the Church when it first started — how it was formed and how it grew. How did it come to have the influence it did in such a short period of time? And how did it manage to thrive under such great opposition?
In a little more than 30 years, the Church goes from the center of the Jewish world (Jerusalem) to the center of Gentile world in those days (Rome). In this time the early Church experienced growth through a series of spiritual dynamics — dynamics that form a pattern for the new life and growth of the Church in any era… including our own.
Here is the key: The source of this new life is the Holy Spirit of God.
For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.Acts 1:5
In the Book of Acts we discover two worlds — the broken one we all inherited and an alternate world created by the Spirit of God.
The regular challenge for the church is to stay spiritually alive to the Person and calling at the center of this new world. Like the people of God in the Scriptures, we find that the first world is regularly pulling us away from God and His purposes for our lives. And when our hearts are not full of God, they become full of the world– like a sponge thrown into a mud puddle.
At such times what we need — personally and corporately — is a revival. Not to be saved again but to be renewed in our faith and in our witness. This is a sovereign work of God but one we must work to sustain and grow. We do this through what is often called resurrection practices: dependent prayer, a deeper engagement with God’s Word, life-giving community, sacrificial giving, and an orientation toward mission.
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.Acts 2:46-47
The overall goal of this study is to stimulate a spiritual renewal in the life of our congregation. One that will naturally flow outward to a community and world in desperate need of the hope of the Gospel and an experience with the grace of God.
It will be comprised of three parts:
Part 1: A New Life
This series in Acts 1-5 will focus on the core elements of renewal proceeding forth from the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Part 2: A New Mission
This series starting in January will cover the spontaneous expansion of the Church to Gentile areas in Acts 6 -15, which represents the first challenges of bringing the message of the Gospel to a pluralistic society.
Part 3: A New World
This series in Acts 16-20 will cover the missionary journeys and expansion of the church in cities throughout the Roman Empire.
You can go further in this study in your small group or with a friend using the weekly sermon guide available on the Messages page of our website and our new season of “Between 2 Sermons” videos on YouTube.
I look forward to learning and growing with you over the months of this study. Praying with you for God to do a powerful work of renewal in our church.