Saturday, September 18, 2004

Sermon on Acts 5:12ff - The Pattern of a Prevailing Church

It is Saturday afternoon and I think I have at least some of my sermon by now.

A few asides:
1. I had a dream last night. In the dream, George W. Bush was to give a speech in our town. He came and the setting was much smaller than I thought it would be. There was maybe 100 people. Well, he started to speak and I was amazed at how unprepared he was. He made a few jokes about his propensity to mumble words and then he was done. I was amazed. Then, in the dream, i was driving to work the next day and I heard Laura Ingram say, "He was just awful".

As I woke from the dream, I thought, "Man, been in a campaign where you have to speak and be on every day must be really hard." Yo, duh. " man that is me. I constantly feel under prepared. Just anxiety BUT...that's me.

2. Totally off topic point two: Get The Wallflowers, "Breach". This is such the great record of the decade. Man.

Anyway, the sermon.
In our study of Acts, we are emphasizing the characteristics of the early church as characteristics of the church when it is prevailing. The early church was so beautiful and filled with life and love.

What I plan on preaching on is ‘The triumph of the truth”.
The theme is to help people understand “why the truth triumphs?”
Quick the points are:
1. The truth triumphs because God vindicates His truth with Power
Great verse is Acts 14:3 – “The Lord confirmed the message of Paul and Barnabas with miracles…”

2. The truth triumphs because the church is functioning in obedience to God and not fear of man.
John 15:18-16:4 The message and the messenger will be persecuted when the church is functioning in obedience.
"There is an odd twist in this principle—it is not the Church’s function to be persecuted, but if the Church performs its function it will be persecuted. This reasoning, like all good logic, is reversible, for when the world does not persecute or abuse the Church, then it is not performing its function. This applies with equal force to the Church as a body or to individual believers. The only circumstance in which the Church and individual saints should expect to be free of persecution is when they find themselves functioning in an entirely regenerate society—and that will only happen in the hereafter!" – This is a quote I found on another site (M. S. Mills)

Also a Wesley story: John Wesley was riding along a road one day when it dawned on him that three whole days had passed in which he had suffered no persecution. Not a brick or an egg had been thrown at him for three days. Alarmed, he stopped his horse, and exclaimed, “Can it be that I have sinned, and am backslidden?”Slipping from his horse, Wesley went down on his knees and began interceding with God to show him where, if any, there had been a fault. A rough fellow, on the other side of the hedge, hearing the prayer, looked across and recognized the preacher. “I’ll fix that Methodist preacher,” he said, picking up a brick and tossing it over at him. It missed its mark, and fell harmlessly beside John. Whereupon Wesley leaped to his feet joyfully exclaiming, “Thank God, it’s all right. I still have His presence.

This is the big point: The church is at war whether it likes it or not. If we are not being persecuted (which we are not) then that is because we are not functioning in obedience to God. When you are functioning in obedience you engage the world and the world begins to fight back and persecute.
i. The church has been prosecuting a strategy of appeasement in the West for about 50 years. The world has been building up its arsenal and preparing for attack, and, now, we find ourselves seriously wounded. The analogy to WWII or Al Queda is quite appropriate. The church has thought it’s slow growth methods and compromise would hold the attacks at bay but lo and behold we are in decline in America. Appeasement has not worked!!!

3. The truth is triumphant because God provides opens doors This is the story of Peter’s jail break by the angel

4. The truth triumphs because of preaching and proclamation. There appears to be a pattern in the book of Acts that is the Story of a church functioning in obedience. Such a church preaches, the preaching is accompanied with power; the church is persecuted; the Lord opens up new doors to preach….This pattern is to be the Life of a church functioning in mission. When this is the pattern the truth is triumphant.

5. The truth triumphs because it is truth from God. This is a reference to the passage. In the passage Gamiliel makes his speech saying if this teaching is not from God it will die but if it finds its source in God it will triumph.

6. Lastly, the truth triumphs because the truth is Jesus Christ.

Here is the reformed point. The truth triumphs because of God’s commitment to it because the truth is the message that Jesus is the Christ. This is the rock that the gates of Hell cannot prevail against. Therefore, we know that if we take the fight to the street, we will win. The truth will be triumphant.

I hope this message hits you hard. Look at the persistence and the confidence in the triumph of the truth of the early church. Look at how it did actually triumph and realize that we are not living in obedience to the truth if we are not likewise experiencing such a victory.

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