Three Responses to the Gospel

The gospel message is a singular message, but it provokes different responses from different people. For some in Ephesus, they responded with repentance – and it cost them a fortune. What is your response to the gospel and are you willing to lose to gain?

Scripture: Acts 19:11-41

Divine Adoption

God looked down on the hopelessness of humanity, and He took action by sending forth His Son, for the intended purpose of redeeming His people, with the desired result of adoption and affection.

Christian’s are imitators of our Heavenly Father. So when we see the hopelessness of orphans, we take action by caring for them in their distress, with the desired result of their adoption and affection, for the purpose of their eternal redemption.

Scripture: Galatians 4:4-7

Missions – The Work of the Spirit, Part 2

Today, “missions” has become any work a local church does outside of its community to improve the lives of people living in other places. But in Acts 13-14, the clear work of missions is the proclamation of the gospel. In these two chapters we see Paul and Barnabas proclaim the gospel and persevere by the Spirit, in trouble and for the church.

But is missions necessary? Why go? Why disrupt the lives of people who otherwise seem happy or satisfied with their faith or lack of faith by sharing Christ with them? Because eternal life for everyone is at stake, and because doing the work of missions is an expression of our identity as followers of Jesus.

Scripture: Acts 13-14

Tale of Two Kings

Acts 12 is like a door that closes the first half of the book, focused on the Apostle Peter and the gospel going to the Jews, and opening to the second half of the book, focused on the Apostle Paul and the gospel going to the Gentiles.

Acts 12 shows us how once again, conflict threatens to hinder the gospel, but only serves, in God’s good and wise sovereignty, to cause the work of the gospel and the word of God to “increase and multiply.”

In between, of course, are the people of God, living the experience. In Acts 12, Luke longs for us to come away with a vision of our glorious God, working out His good purposes in the world and in our lives – a vision that will shape the way we live and pray every single day.

Scripture: Acts 12:1-24

Grace Enough for Everyone

This text is about how the gospel penetrates a new people – the Gentiles. It shows us the conversion of Cornelius, a Roman Centurion and his household. But it also shows us the conversion of Peter, the Apostle, and the Church.

First, God converts Peter through a vision that His grace is enough for everyone. And when the Spirit falls on the Gentiles and Peter gives an account of how it happened to the antagonistic Jewish believers in Jerusalem, God converts them as well. So that they all begin to understand and grasp that the gospel is for everyone!

There are many points of application for us, but primarily it’s an issue of our hearts. It’s sinful human nature to discriminate against others for all sorts of reasons. This text challenges us to identify and repent of our prejudices and calls us to not only be grateful recipients of God’s grace, but gracious sharers of His grace is enough for everyone!

Scripture: Acts 9:31-11:18; Galatians 3:28

Scattered with the Gospel for the Joy of the City

At this point in Acts, the church has experienced significant growth. Thousands of people have come to faith. At the same time, the Apostles have faced significant trouble: arrests, imprisonment, questioned before the authorities, threatened, and beaten.

Chapters 6-8 begin a transition of people and places. The ministry of the gospel begins to spread through the lives of everyday disciples of Jesus, not only the Apostles. And the gospel spills out of the city of Jerusalem and into the surrounding areas of Judea and Samaria, in fulfillment of what Jesus said in 1:8.

In this text we see four “people,” two who went out preaching the gospel and two who respond to the gospel. Philip is an everyday disciple; Simon is a would-be disciple. The Samaritans are joyful receivers of the gospel, and Peter and John extend the mission of the gospel.

The big idea? God uses everyday disciples sharing the word of Christ and showing the love of Christ in their community to bring great joy to all people, for God’s glory!

Scripture: Acts 8:4-25; John 4:1-42

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