Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Church in Action IV

Thus far we have seen the church in action in the book of Acts as being an example for us in that it was:
1. A Place of strong Gospel preaching.( vs. 22-28)
2. A place of Holy Spirit Conviction (vs. 37)
3. A Place with Biblical Leadership (vs. 38)
4. A Place to build and strengthen Families (vs. 39)
5. A place of Godly living (vs. 40)
6. A Place or growth (vs. 41)
7. A Place of Proper Doctrine (vs. 42)
8. A Place for Christian Fellowship (vs. 42)

We continue our look at the Acts church by seeing
9. It is a place of Prayer (v. 42) One cannot read the accounts of the early church without seeing a consistent practice of continual prayer. The early church spent more time praying together in one week than most churches today do in a year or more. It was this prayer time that unified the people (1:14) (maybe we would have less division if there was more prayer). It was this prayer time that brought power (2:2) (maybe we would see the power of God moving in more services if we spent more time praying.) It was this prayer time that brought miracles (12:5). It was this prayer time that gave boldness (4:29) and many were saved. One person said it this way, "Little prayer, little power; much prayer, much power." We at one time had a mid-week prayer service, but now it is a Bible study. Every great revival was birthed in prayer. I believe it would do all of us good not only to pray, but to bow the knee. I understand it is not necessary to be on one's knees in order to pray, but bowing the knee shows submission and reverence that is lacking in most churches today. We do not understand what it is to take the time to get on our knees and pray continually in faith. Truly it still 'availeth much.'
9. A Place of Discipline (vs. 43) The text reads that 'fear came upon every soul." There is a lack of reverence and recognizing of God as authority in most 'believers' lives. When the church lost this fear, it was discipline (5:11) that brought it back upon the church. I recently preached a sermon on proper church discipline (http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?keyword=cozaddalebaptist&keyworddesc=&currsection=sermonssource&SourceOnly=true&keywordwithin=church+discipline) Sadly, many of todays 'IFBaptist' churches no longer practice discipline. Discipline is greatly frowned upon by too many pastors and most members. Recently, a former IFB pastor called me after practicing church discipline upon a member of our church (that he was involved with) and threatened me to stay out of his business and to cease 'your unBiblical view and practice of discipline. God will discipline, not you!' Sadly, this view is shared by many IFB. The church has been instructed to practice discipline. This should be done as led by the Lord, consistently, and properly. I will not re-preach my sermon, but encourage the inquisitive to listen to it. I do not believe it is the duty of the pastor to discipline, but the entire church-a process everyone is involved in. A proper obedience to these instructions would again establish fear in the church, leading to a holiness and power too few churches enjoy today.
10. A Place of miracles (vs. 43) Many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. I do not believe in the Benny Hinn gifts of healing (if that were true, I wish he would visit Cincinnati Children's Hospital), tongues speaking, visions, etc...but I do believe in a God who can still work miracles. And, I believe our churches do not see such workings of God enough because of our lack of faith. Oh that we had faith that moved mountains.
11. A Place of Unity (vs. 44) The church in Acts was an example to us in that it was a place of great unity where they were together and had all things common. There was a true, sincere desire to love one another, provide for one another, and bear one another's burdens. The gossip, divisions, fightings, criticisms, etc were absent from the early church (probably due to the previous 10 attributes discussed.) A few months ago I was reading a Sports Illustrated magazine article where the author compared a dividing front office of a franchise like 'nothing he had seen since his days in the Baptist church.' How sad....how true? Our churches should be a place of unity!