Acts 2:37-47 New King James Version (NKJV)
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
A Vital Church Grows
40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”
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.
Jesus said, "I will build My church..." (Mt. 16:18).
--He says the devil is "against it," let's be for it.
--Church is built on Christ, for the worship of God.
--Similar to the synagogue, it began at Pentecost.
--The church is its people. It may meet anywhere.
Today there are many churches, of all kinds or size.
--A lady asks, "With so many, which shall I choose?"
--There are many factors to consider.
--Acts 2 can give us some of the ideals to look for.
--The church began by preaching. Still its center.
--It was by Peter, "Repent, and be baptized .. in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
--"For the. promise is to you, to all afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:38f).
The New Testament teaches what's needed in worship.
--It includes reading and proclamation of Scriptures.
--Prayers are offered. Singing of hymns and songs.
--The sacraments of The Lord's Supper, and baptism.
--The teaching of God's Word. And evangelism.
--From the start, churches also emphasize missions.
--Churches are noted for its love of God and others.
As a result of this preaching and amazing Holy Spirit that came on them, "about three thousand souls were added to them." Lord, I pray, for another Pentecost!
So the church was born! What kind was it?
--"Those who gladly received his word were baptized."
--"They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread, and in prayers."
--"Continuing daily with one accord in the temple."
—"Praising God and having favor with all people."
--"And the Lord added to the church daily, those who were being saved" (Acts 2:41-47).
--This is the model, for us, and for an ideal church.
I've a love for those in, but also out, of church.
--To get them in.
Church is saved people - not a building to meet in.
--There is the invisible, universal church made up of all the saved, all the ages, in "The Book of Life."
--Then there is the visible, local churches we see.
--The invisible church is more than any denomination.
--These "born again" ones may be in any denomination.
Choosing a church, as that of a home, is important.
--It is our "family of faith," our spiritual home.
--Make it the one most like the New Testament church.
--So, what should we look for? What is essential?
I. DOES IT EXALT JESUS AS GOD, SAVIOR, AND LORD?
--All religions have a God, but not all the same.
--Some do not have Jesus, part of the Triune God.
--One God in three Persons. Each essential to us.
--I often mention Jesus, to identify our kind of God.
--Came to demonstrate He is God, and to save us.
--Not all religions, Gods, churches, are alike. No.
--Not all have the God that Jesus revealed fully.
--The One, True, Living God we pray, in Jesus' name.
Not all religions, or churches, honor Jesus as God.
--Some not at all. Some give Jesus a "back seat."
--Have a generic "God" that neither offends or saves.
--It fits all. Is it the God that Jesus revealed?
Jesus truly is God. Did what only God could do.
--"All things were made through Him" (John 1:3).
--Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies.
--"Born of a virgin." Sinless. Worked many miracles.
--Even walked on water! Stilled storms. Fed many.
--Laid down His life for all we sinners, on a cross.
--Arose that Easter dawn out of a tomb! Alive, alive.
--No other ever did what Jesus did! Nor any religion!
Jesus is God alright! "I, My Father, are One! (Jn 10).
--The Father said of Jesus, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him" (Mt. 17:5).
--Peter, James and John heard God, on the holy mount.
--Peter said, of Jesus, "no other name .. whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
--"No one comes to the Father, but by Him` (Jn. 14:6) .
--My dear friend, have you come .. to Him?
II. DOES• THE CHURCH TEACH THE BIBLE, AS GOD'S WORD.
--God's inspired Word is our guide in faith and life.
--From the beginning, God has spoken to men by it.
--"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable ..." (II Timothy 3:16).
--It teaches, reproves, corrects, trains us in righteousness, to prepare us, for every good work.
Leaving the Ephesian church Paul said, "I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance"(Acts 20). Saints of the ages have loved this Holy Bible.
--Peter said, "The word of God lives, abides, forever."
-—It will keep us from sin, or sin keeps us from it.
--Every church should explain and proclaim it.
III. THE IDEAL CHURCH LOVES GOD .. LOVES EACH OTHER.
--It is not a real church without this holy love.
--The church of Jesus Christ lives by God's love.
Of course it does. For "God is love. Love is of God.
--He who does not love, does not know God" (I Jn 4:8).
--Look at verse 11, "If God so loved us, we ought to love one another." True faith, loves everybody.
Where better to find loving people than in church?
--I don't know of any other place to compare, do you?
--If love is lacking, that church misses something.
--And that family, or those people miss something.
--I don't care how orthodox, or pious, or who you are.
--Without a God-like love for Him or others, we miss.
--Jesus said, "By this all will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn. 13:35.).
Love is so magnificient. Never not needed, to share.
--It is defined for us in I Corinthians chapter 13.
--All degrees, position or trappings, without love is nothing, if there is not Christ-like love!
--"Love suffers long and is kind; does not envy, nor parade itself .. not rude.. thinks no evil, and never fails." Seek, and make, a loving church!
What else should we look for, in choosing a church?
IV. DOES THE CHURCH BELIEVE IN WORLD EVANGELISM?
--Does it have a world vision? Of reaching others?
--To bring the gospel, to everyone, everywhere?
--Does it, and its members, seek to win "whosoever"?
Without such compassion, we are without new members.
--And without new converts, the church begins to die.
--Often needs revival, lest we become weak in faith.
--We need obey Jesus' words, "Make disciples, of all nations,. baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt.28:19).
All are precious unto the Lord - even the worst of us.
--That is why there is a big o, in gospel.
--That is why we give an invitation, every service.
--We believe in, what Jesus believes in, evangelism!
That's why Jesus came to earth, to get us in heaven!
We would not pressure - but present the gospel.
--Give the invitation, lovingly and prayerfully.
--Let the Holy Spirit do His essential office-work.
--Allow one freedom to believe, or not.
--We respect all faiths! And all people.
All we ask is that same tolerance be given to us.
--We will love, as God does, unbelievers. And pray.
--Praying they believe, be saved, while it is time.
--For life's greatest decision, a Savior and church.
It is so simple. Nothing complicated or oppressive.
--Simply "be born again" as the Lord Jesus says.
--"You must be born again" (John 3:3,5,7).
--Allow me to ask you, "Have you?" "Are you sure?"
We welcome questions and comments, and inquirers.
--We are not perfect. Nor anyone. Nor any church.
--We are just humble people who love the Lord.
--And our love goes to you. Jesus says, "Come to Me."
If you are like the lady choosing a church, welcome!
--Briefly that's who we are. Why not be one of us?
--Jesus and we, welcome. you!
Wilbert D. Gough, ThD., DD. 865