It’s Time To Act Up!
This is the first blog [message] of several in the new series I am teaching at Bethel Church in beautiful Brunswick and the glorious Golden Isles of Georgia.
Too many believers live below their God-given purpose in life. They “act down” and it is time for ebb tide to turn to flood tide for these children of the God of glory!
In fact, Donna and I no longer call our descendants “descendants”. We are not heading down and neither are they.
We are passing our history with God up to our ascendants!
Our ceiling is their floor so they don’t have to start where we started.
BY THE WAY, we have not yet reached our ceiling so what an advantage our ascendants already have in life.
Today, in our “modern”, or “post-modern”, or “contemporary” and “relevant” Christianity we use words to describe the first Church that can be demoting and demeaning. One word I hate to hear to describe those first followers of Jesus the Christ is “primitive”.
Modern, post modern, contemporary and relevant are all terms used today by people who may be modern, post modern, contemporary and relevant by today’s standards but today’s standards are not the standard that God uses to assay our lives and lifestyles.
Jesus the Christ is God’s standard!
Those primitive passionate lovers of Christ Jesus advanced the Kingdom of God to all the known world and turned their world upside down. All of this without our “modern” modes of travel and communication.
In Acts Chapter 2 we read about the day of Pentecost. Peter in the very first Pentecostal sermon connected the events of his [that] day to the prophetic vision and vocabulary of the prophet Joel’s day. Joel had a vision and did his best to describe what he saw. What actually happened and what Peter said is what God was saying through Joel.
Whenever an Old Testament text is brought into the New Testament its intended meaning from the beginning is how it is used in the New Testament. The New explains the Old. The Old is the type and a shadow. The New is the reality!
- There was spiritual drunkenness
- Yes there was so we must deal with it
- “These men are not drunk AS YOU suppose”
- “These men are drunk but not in the way you think”
- The impact of that outpouring was staggering
- We should desire to be so intoxicated with God and His glory that it radically changes the way we walk
- When we walk in the Spirit it may look like we are staggering to a mind that has not been transformed
- There was a manifestation of the miraculous
- There was a mighty sound from heaven that created a heavenly language on earth
- One message [“the wonderful works of God”] was spoken and all the people heard different languages
- There was mass confusion, mass conviction and mass confessions of faith in the Christ
- People say, “This cannot be God because He is not the author of confusion”
- It is true that God is not confused or the author of confusion
- God was not, is not nor ever will be confused
- It was the people who were confused
True moves of God usually have all of the above and more!
At the end of that day we find the following description of normal and natural life in the primitive community of believers.
“41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
This day began with an explosion from heaven!
It ended with a description of what heaven on earth was to look like!
These “primitive” believers advanced the Kingdom of God into all the known world and turned their world upside down.
The Day of Pentecost is not a 24 hour period! It is heaven’s answer to all of earth’s problems!” The Day of Pentecost is a lifestyle ordered by God to empower His people to be overcomer’s in this life.
Let’s take a closer look at what life looked liked for these “primitive” believers!
- The Word of God was “gladly received”
- Received here is in the Greek middle voice which means the hearers experienced the Word, took a vested interest in the Word, and they participated in receiving the Word, and they took personal possession of the Word
- In other words, they were not passive, or disinterested toward the speaker or what was spoken
- Those who received the Word were baptized in water [the 3000]
- This was an enormous event because of the severe ramifications that accompanied the commitment to Christ
- Most if not all were now outcasts to their family and to the greater Jewish community
- These primitive saints knew what would befall them. Disowning, disinheriting and excommunication from family, friends, co-workers and the place and people where they worshiped
- This decision was life altering in more ways than one
- These primitive believers continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine [teaching, revelation]
- Continued steadfastly seems like a contradiction of terms
- These hearers began by gladly receiving God’s Word and those who spoke it, now they were purposefully pointing themselves at God’s Word and those who spoke it
- These hearers took advantage of their opportunity to hear God’s Word from those who spoke it
- These hearers were firmly fixed in their direction, place or position. They postured themselves for optimum success
- These hearers were firmly fixed in their purpose and faith
- These hearers were resolute and unwavering
- These primitive believers anchored themselves in the flow of revelation released by the apostles instead of what they had been raised to believe about God and His purpose for their lives
- These primitive believers continued steadfastly in fellowship [with the Holy Spirit and each other]
- They continued their connection to God
- They continued their connection to each other
- In others words they worked on their vertical and horizontal relationships
- These primitive believers continued in breaking of bread [holy communion which kept their memory fresh concerning the Cross]
- These primitive believers continued steadfastly in prayers [personal devotion of worship which kept them connected to God]
- These primitive believers commitment caused fear to come upon every soul
- These primitive believers witnessed and participated in many signs and wonders [miraculous manifestations of God’s intervention in the normal affairs of man]
- These primitive believers were together [Connected, unified]
- These primitive believers had all things in common [community = common unity]
- They were different but the same
- Unity is the celebration of diversity
- Unity is not uniformity. A lot of teaching on unity is really about uniformity
- Romans 12:3-8 – “3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
- 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 – “12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free–and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole werehearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now indeedthere are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that partwhich lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.”
- These primitive believers sold their possessions and goods
- They possessed their possessions – their possessions did not posses them
- They held God’s people in higher regard than their personal possessions
- Today God’s people build their lives around their lives
- They spend on themselves to the point where they cannot finance God’s work
- They take advantage of what the community has to offer without contributing financially to the community
- These primitive believers were radically generous making sure people’s needs were met
- These primitive believers continued daily with one accord
- Acts 1:14 – “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”
- Luke 24:52,53 – “52 And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising God.”
- Acts 2:1 – “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.”
- These primitive believers continued daily in the temple
- They understood the importance of public corporate worship
- They had a high value for public corporate worship
- They did not forsake their assembling with the saints
- They had busy lives just like you and I do
- These primitive believers continued daily breaking bread from house to house
- This was not what we call a “progressive meal” where the same people start a meal in one home then move to successive homes to partake of different food groups
- “House to house” was the means by which the people were pastored
- This enabled more intimate worship, conversation and instruction
- This enabled the people to build personal relationships with a smaller group
- This enabled them to not feel lost or get lost in the crowd of over 3000
- These primitive believers continued to eat with gladness of heart which means they were grateful for what they did have and were not worried about what they did not have [see #10-12 above]
- These primitive believers continued the lifestyle of personal worship
- These primitive believers experienced the favor of men
- These primitive believers continually experienced new believers coming to church [which kept them from growing stale, complacent and comfortable]
Please notice people were getting saved and then were added to the church. The church is not where these primitive people came to get saved.
How and where did these “primitive”people get saved? They got saved in the market place. How did God save them? I believe through witnessing and experiencing the signs and wonders being done through the apostles.
The market place is your mission field!
The Hebrew word for signs and wonders [the miraculous] is mo’-pheth. That is right! It is pronounced “more faith”. I totally believe signs and wonders produce more faith and more faith produces more signs and wonders.
Does this make you wonder?
In the primitive church the church was kept pure. Unbelievers, or seekers were not considered members of the community of believers!
The primitive church was accused of cannibalism because in their meetings they “ate the body and drank the blood” of Jesus.
Cannibalism as defined by Dictionary.com is,
“The ceremonial eating of human flesh or parts of the human body for magical or religious purposes, as to acquire the power or skill of a person recently killed.”
The primitive church was a closed community!
The only entrance to the church was THE CROSS!
The Cross of Christ qualified a person for membership in the “primitive” church! Today, in our modern, post modern, contemporary and relevant church – business contacts, social significance, the ability to play an instrument or sing, or a multitude of other reasons grant entry into the place that in the “primitive” church was reserved for the blood bought, sanctified, passionate, on fire lovers of the Lord of glory!
Why don’t we get back to the simplicity of the “primitive” church!
For those who are interested you can find this sermon on YouTube [Bethel By The Sea].
Keep THE faith! Keep THE passion!
Our hunger and thirst for God escorts us into deep satisfaction in God!
Dr. Kevin M. Drury, DMin