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Pastor Brant Seacrist

August 12, 2018

"THE PROTOTYPE CHURCH"

TEXT: ACTS 2: 37-47
READING:  PSALMS 135: 1-21

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SUBJ: The response to a work of regeneration as observed in the conversion and life of believers.

AIM: To define and emphasize the essential nature of a New Testament church.

INTR: It seems strange that after two millenniums and hundreds of years of collective Bible study (consider what is represented in this room today) that we should have to ask the question “what is a New Testament Church?” (A personal note: I am thrilled in reading the Book of Acts and the witness to the power of God – Yet, it fills me with a longing to see such a manifestation of the power of God in our day. We claim orthodoxy, but do we truly experience that power?)
1. It is evident that the concept of a New Testament Church has undergone perversion in this age that is beyond imagination. Such terms as Emergent, Seeker-friendly and contemporary come to mind, as well as those who claim to be fundamental but cling to a creed rather than to Christ.
2. Perhaps we ask ourselves this question to enable us to declare what is not a N. T. Church or perhaps we do so that we might “examine ourselves” as to whether we are in the faith.
3. To see something in its purest form is to see it as the Lord made it. In reference to a statement by Thomas Armitage we must not consider the Apostolic church as a mere beginning with change and modification to be made along the way. Rather, it is to be the standard by which all are measured as to their truth and authenticity.
4. The actions of this prototype church reflect the immediate results of a Spiritual work in and among the Lord’s people – consider the essence of the message they heard.
5. We conclude that the assembly (ecclesia, church, congregation – Tyndale) as defined here must be the God appointed means to propagate the gospel to and in the world.
6. The characteristics we see here are to be cultivated in order to function and obtain the results that God ordained. Note: here is the Sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man working hand in hand.

THESIS: The work of redemption culminates in unity among the redeemed so as to accomplish the divine design for fellowship with Him and with each other.

I. Sovereignty and experience in salvation (vv. 37-40)
1. Peter had preached the Gospel and the Lordship of Christ and they were “pricked” in their hearts meaning that they were pierced thoroughly. This was an obvious work of the Spirit of God poured out on that gathering (not on the Apostles only).
2. Consider the initial reaction as typical for all who are newly awakened to their estate. Their question is what shall we do? (The answer is nothing according to the flesh.)
3. The directive to repent and be baptized is not to obtain salvation but for (in reference to) salvation. This piercing of the heart provokes an immediate response and God graciously provides repentance, and faith and faith is demonstrated in obedience to the mandate to be baptized.
4. The gift of the Holy Ghost (the leadership and power to function as believers)
1) Is the promise of salvation to you who are asking and
2) To your children and others who shall come
3) As many as the Lord our God shall call (summon, invite, call for, to, unto)
5. It would seem that the exhortation continued on with an exhortation to “save yourselves from this untoward generation.” In this day of political correctness should we not express this same emphasis? The generation of which he spoke was not the rabble rousers but the religious crowd that had conspired to rid themselves of Christ.

II. The commitment that comes from such an experience (vv. 41-42)
1. The Word of salvation is gladly received (that is with pleasure and delight)
2. Obedience is immediately evident in their baptism.
3. They were added to the 120 or so that were already disciples. (the word “added” here means to place along side or annex). Again questions are raised. Who added them and to whom were they added and what is the force of such a work?
4. The answer to these questions tells us of identity and membership in a body and of commitment on the part of those added.

III. They continued steadfastly (attended to, persevered, gave themselves to, etc.)
1. Apostles’ doctrine – the message preached by the Apostles as given them by the Lord.
2. Fellowship – the defined purpose of God and the expected union and communion of the family of God. That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3
3. Breaking of Bread – that is the observance of the Lord’s Supper.
4. Prayers – Public and personal. With conviction and intensity.

IV. The continuance of these things as a way of life (vv. 44-47)
1. They were together as believers, they had all things common, and were so submitted to their love for each other that they sold material possessions to give to others. Wow!
2. They continued daily:
1) In a union of interests, they were in the Temple for services and prayers
2) Breaking of bread from house to house. They were so many that they probably shared their homes in smaller groups.
3) They were in the way of praising God and having favor with all:
i. This is not an “in your face” Christianity
ii. Nor, is it a hands-off form that does not express care and compassion.
iii. It is rather such a love of men that they were not offended by the actions of these. Note: those that oppose the grace of God are the ones that resent and fight against those who embrace it.
3. Such was the state of these that the Lord blessed with the salvation of others. It happened without the contrivances of men such as crusades, gimmicks and invitations aimed at emotions.
1) THE LORD added to the Church
2) Those that were being saved – note the difference here to the modern claims of “getting saved” or “getting people saved.”

Conclusion: Legend has it that Augustine (6th century theologian) was shown the treasure house of the Church of Rome. They said to him that it could no longer be said “silver and gold have I none.” To which he replied that neither can it say “arise, take up thy bed and walk.” Do we have the presence of the Lord that would enable to great works of faith?