Contagious Christianity - Stories

Contagious Christianity

Stories - Sharing Your Faith journey to others 

It is no secret that Media (TV, Radio, News Paper, Internet)  play a critical role in how we the public formed our opinion on how we should live our life, what we should and not believe. There are fake news and real news. There is a true gospel and a false gospel. The church from birth has only one message, the gospel. The packaging differs from the passage of time but the core message is the same. What is the gospel?

1 Corinthians 15:3–4 ESV For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

The first century church experienced tremendous growth but not with great persecution. The church was born in a time that they were not welcome. It grew through the vision God gave them. The wave persecution that began in Jerusalem scattered the new believers to Judea, Samaria and beyond.

Constantine I was a Roman emperor who ruled early in the 4th century. He was the first Christian emperor and saw the empire begin to become a Christian state. Because of him, christians came out of hiding and rise in power. Christianity became a national religion.

Today, the modern church was displaced from power and is becoming irrelevant in the lives of the people. What are we going to do? How are we to live in this time? We need to go back to the book of ACTS and rediscover how the church lived out their faith in a time much like ours.

Big Idea: We were never meant to do life alone. Being a Christian is about more than becoming a church member; it’s becoming a member of God’s family.

Illustration: Deficient Bridges: The local church as a bridge to each other
According to a 2013 study by Transportation for America, 1 in 9 bridges remain structurally deficient. Church, like many bridges in our country, can operate under the guise of true connection or community. Sometimes though, they are structurally deficient. The local church should be a strong bridge of connection to each other.
Source: http://t4america.org/docs/bridgereport2013/2013BridgeReport.pdf

To make this happen, we need more than good intentions, positive thinking or will power. We need the power of God.

Let's identify the move of the Holy Spirit in the early time of the church. Had they missed these move, we don't have much to talk about this morning.

A. Resurrection - Matt 28 Resurrection account

Jesus rose from the dead after three days.

Matthew 28:6–9 ESV He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.

The resurrection of Christ is the central message of the church. Without resurrection we don't have a message.

1 Corinthians 15:12–14 ESV Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

B. The day of Pentecost - Acts 2 the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the believer

Before ascending to heaven, Jesus promised his disciples in

Acts 1:8 ESV But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

120 of them waited in the upper room praying. The Holy Spirit came just as Jesus promised.

Acts 2:1–4 ESV When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The Holy Spirit empowered Peter on his first public preaching and convicted the hearers of their need of salvation. From a church of 120, 3,000 were added to their number that day. This is only possible through the work of the Holy Spirit. The newly born church was born and ride the wave of God.

These two big waves are not only for them but also for us to ride on.

The title of the message this morning is CONTAGIOUS CHRISTIANITY. What made the first century church contagious, infectious? We are living in time much like the first century church - unwelcome and persecuted. Many look to the so called MEGA churches and want to know the secret of their growth. What we need is to learn from the first century church. Why was their testimony so powerful, attractive even to those oppose them?

We can learn 6 key foundations that keep them strong, effective and attractive from the eyes of the world they live.

1.   GOSPEL CENTRED

Acts 2:41 ESV So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Receiving the word - the gospel. Those who responded to the preaching of the gospel gained entrance to the Kingdom of God - to the family of God. There preached no other way to enter the kingdom of heaven. They preached the gospel - the power of God unto salvation to those who believe.

John 1:12–13 ESV But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Ephesians 2:8–9 ESVFor by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Titus 3:5 ESV he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

The gospel also has the power to give us victory in our everyday life until the Lord takes us home. Let the gospel empower your marriage, your parenting, your personal life, your challenges and difficulties in life. 

2.  AUTHENTIC FAITH

Acts 2:41 ESV

So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Coming out in the open and allowing one self to be baptize (submerged under water) is way of declaring in public your personal decision. Public testimony - baptized, out is public, not ashamed Baptism followed by receiving the gospel. Baptism is a public confession of faith. Coming out to declare publicly your faith endangers one life. It was not an option back then and should not be today. There was not waiting for a long time to think about. Entrance to the local body comes with certain responsibilities and expectations. No one would risk one's life just to be identified with the Christ. Christ, through his teaching laid the foundations and expectations for those who want to follow him

John 14:23 ESV Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

Matthew 10:37 ESVWhoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

3.   GOD'S WORD the FINAL AUTHORITY

Acts 2:42 ESVAnd they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Devoted to the apostles teaching. The word of God is their final authority. Majority of the teachings of Christ is through oral - apostles teaching. They need to devote themselves to the study of it because of the false teaching around them. Their devotion is evident in their daily encounter with the word. Today, we need to treat the Bible not a resource to help solve our problem but the final authority for all that pertains to this life. We must guard our church from wandering from the truth for the sake of political correctness, for the sake of being nice, for the sake of not offending others. The bible is God's word not man's word.

4.  COMMUNITY is LIFE TOGETHER

Acts 2:42 ESV And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Acts 2:46 ESV And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,

They come together regularly as one family. The way Dr. Luke described their gathering is that community gathering takes priority in their own family gathering. Yes their individual family is important but the church family is the community they bring their individual family. The church family is where the presence and the blessings of dwells. The family that will exist for all eternity is our church family, the family of God.

Matthew 10:37 ESV

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Your family we’re never meant to do life alone. Being a Christian is about more than becoming a church member; it’s becoming a member of God’s family.

Illustration: In an article on not prioritizing family over the church, Joseph Hellerman writes, “Seeing the family of God as our primary family will also lead to less privileging of marriage, parenting, and family dynamics, and a more robust theology of singleness and celibacy. According to the New Testament, the family of God—not marriage—is the primary community in which spiritual growth occurs. Among the early Christians, marriage and singleness were both subordinated to the overarching model of the church as a family and to an overarching passion to accept the Great Commission and win the world for Christ.”

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/august-we...

Application: What have we placed ahead of the commands found in Scripture? Have we placed family above our relationship with Jesus? What about a job? Or an opportunity?

5.  SELF-LESS GENEROSITY

Acts 2:44–45 ESVAnd all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

The had all things in common. A person might be generous but self-less in motive. Their generosity is a self-less act to obey God. Receiving the gospel in their heart released them from the hold of material possession.

6.   GOD CENTRED WORSHIP

They did not neglect meeting together - Day by day

Acts 2:46 ESV And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,

Their worship draws people to God - God is lifted high - He draws people to himself

Acts 2:47 ESV praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

GOD is the center of their worship not their leader, not their tradition, not their personal preferences and not people.

Conclusion:

Our responsibility: TO GROW IN THESE 6

THE SIX CHARACTERISTICS OF A CONTAGIOUS CHURCH

1.          GOSPEL CENTRED

2.         AUTHENTIC FAITH

3.         GOD'S WORD

4.         LIFE TOGETHER

5.         SELF-LESS GENEROSITY

6.         GOD CENTRED WORSHIP

GOD'S RESPONSIBILITY: TO GROW THE CHURCH

Acts 2:47 ESV praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

The Lord added to their number. THE Lord will grow this church not leaders, not programs, not money and not preaching.

 

 

Group discussion

1.           What is one thing that stood out to you from this week’s message?

2.          Why do you think God chose to identify as a family (as opposed to a business model, for example) when He constructed this system?

3.          What is one reason why many Christians become isolated?

4.          How has the body of Christ affected your life?

5.          Do you know anyone who is estranged from his or her spiritual family? How might God use you to bring them back into fellowship?

6.         Have you ever been hurt by the church? How can we keep ourselves from hurting other people?

7.          How can I pray for you?