Growing Pains

Acts is an amazing history of how God unleashed the gospel into the world through the church. Yale historian, Kenneth Scott Latourette notes, “Never in so short a time has any other religious faith, or for that matter, any other set of ideas, religious, political, or economic, ever achieved so commanding a position in such an important culture without the aid of physical force, or social or cultural prestige.”

This is all the more amazing considering the gospel faced one obstacle after another. Beginning in chapter 4, there is persecution from outside the church. In chapter 5, we see corruption within the church, and more persecution from outside the church. And now in chapter 6, something new.

In verses 1 and 7, Luke shows us how the church is thriving and more and more people are coming to faith in Christ, in spite of all these obstacles. But in between verses 1 and 7, he exposes a problem that threatens to divide the church and distract her from her mission in the world.

In the end, we learn that God means to unleash the gospel and win the world through a people who say “It’s not about me. I will do whatever it takes for the sake of the mission and His glory.”

Scripture: Acts 6:1-7; Luke 17:10; Mark 10:44-45; John 13:12-17; 1 Peter 4:10

Opposition and Blessing in God’s Providence

In Acts 4-7, the Christians face a lot of opposition. This passage shows us how they handled that opposition, the threat of death, and a beating with heroic courage.

At the same time, God proves that He is not going to let anything or anyone get in the way of the Gospel going out. He intervenes not once, but twice in this text.

In the midst of it all, we learn that it takes courage to live and share in a world that will oppose the gospel. So what is courage, where did they get it, and how do we get it?

Scripture: Acts 5:12-42; Hebrews 2:10, 12:2

Generosity and Hypocrisy in the Church

Have you ever heard someone say, “I wish the Church would just get back to the way it was in the book of Acts!” If you have, you may be speaking with someone who’s never read the text for this sermon.

There are two stories in this text. One is a picture of radical, gospel driven generosity. The other is a picture of ugly, satanically inspired hypocrisy that ends in swift and severe judgement.

The overall theme is the unity of the church: how it’s established, experienced, and endangered. In the end, we learn there are three things we all need to apply.

Scripture: Acts 4:32-5:11; Matthew 10:8; John 13:35; Luke 12:32-34

Boldness In Trouble

If you have shared the gospel or your story of faith with many people, then you’ve run into “trouble.” Some people are antagonistic, others can be apathetic, and a few might be accepting. It seems, however, that the negative response far outweighs the positive.

This is not new. Jesus faced trouble, He taught His followers to expect it, promised them His presence and help during it, and showed them how to respond in the middle of it.

As we study Acts 4, we see the first signs of trouble for the witnesses of the early church. And there are two questions we must answer as a result; in the face of trouble, what will we profess? And in the face of trouble, how will we respond?

An exclusive Gospel, opposed by the prevailing powers but professed by emboldened witnesses is plan A – there is no plan B.

A request for boldness, and faithfulness in the face of trouble is how we should respond.

Scripture: Acts 4; Luke 21:12

Who Is Jesus?

Acts 3 is an example of the “signs and wonders” being done at the hands of the Apostles Luke refers to in Acts 2:43. Peter and John, going to the temple see a lame man they likely have seen many times before, but this time it’s different. Peter speaks in Jesus name and the man is healed. A crowd gathers and Peter preaches his second sermon.

Chapter three is a miracle and a message. And this miracle is a message about the salvation Jesus can bring to our souls. It’s also about the restoration Jesus will bring to the world!

Scripture: Acts 3:1-26, 2:43; Isaiah 65:17, 35:5-6

The Marks of a Healthy Church

If we were to ask 100 active Christians about their motivations for joining a specific church, we would get a wide variety of answers. Some join for the youth program, others for the music, some join for the convenient location, and others because a friend invited them. The are many reasons why people make that decision.

While all of those factors are important, the Bible reveals the nature of a good church. What is a healthy church? What can we do to build healthy churches?

Acts 2:41-44 is a crucial passage for understanding what healthy church does.

Scripture: Acts 2:41-47

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

Everyone experiences defining moments, times that change the trajectory of your life. The most important is the moment of your salvation! However, other defining moments may include going to college, marriage, the birth of a child, retirement, and others.

One of the most crucial and life-changing moments in the life of the Church is recorded in Acts 2. Everything would change after that experience. What is so important about it? God’s presence and power came to indwell Christ’s followers. From this point on, God would be in us and empower us to serve Him in the person of the Holy Spirit.

This same Spirit comes to live in us when we are saved. What does that mean for our daily lives?

Scripture: Acts 2:1-41

How to Discern God’s Will

“How can I know God’s will?” That is a question that we ask many times in life.

What is God’s will concerning where to go to college or work? How can I know where to go to church or what house to buy? Should I do this or does God want me to do that? These are just a few of the issues that a sincere Christian will grapple with as we seek to live a life that is pleasing to and blessed by God.

The Apostles were in a time of great transition. Jesus had ascended to heaven and they were left here on earth to chart the way forward. These 11 men show us what it means to discover God’s will for our lives.

Scripture: Acts 1:12-26

Spirit-Empowered Witnesses

Acts is the story of the Gospel unleashed by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the people of God to the world. And Jesus teaches us that He means for that story to be continued through us. But many Christians find witnessing awkward at best, and unthinkable at worst. Perhaps that’s because we’re “giving it our best shot,” or feeling “forced” into it? But what we learn here is that Holy Spirit power is essential if the mission of Jesus is going to continue through us. In other words, this calling is bigger than anything we can do on our own, and the good news is that we don’t have to. His power is available to us now!

Scripture: Acts 1:1-11