Sunday, May 5, 2013

What the Church Did Right

Acts 2:46-47

Last week - noted growth and favor followed by Persecution!

BUT - persecution didn't stop the church!

"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." - Tertullian (160 - 225 AD)

So - the world saw:  1)  Church growth  -   Year      Ratio of non-Xns to Xns
                                                                    100                 360 to 1
                                                                  1000                 220 to 1
                                                                  1500                   69 to 1
                                                                  1900                   27 to 1
                                                                  1950                   21 to 1
                                                                  1980                   11 to 1
                                                                  1992                  6.8 to 1
                                                                  2012                     2 to 1

                                  2)  Church influence  (transformed society, changed world)

Question:  Why such growth and success?
#1.)  We believe God is in it!!!!  - Compare:  Acts 5:38-39

but also believe #2.)   God works among people through His people!!!
Examples:  the Exodus, the Conquest, building temple, writing Scripture.....

On one hand, Christians don't always get it right... (Crusades, Inquisition, forced conversions)
But, Christians have done  a lot right - and God has used it!!

So, look at "What the Church did Right"
But, first note the phrase:  "Faith and Practice"
Question:  Was Christianity growing because of what Christians believed?
                     or, because of what Christians practiced?
Answer:  They are inseparable!!  Faith and Practice, Attitude and Action, Belief and response, world view and lifestyle - (creed and conduct)
Point:  as we look at "what the church did right" - make no attempt to separate Belief and Practice.

What the church did right??  First and foremost:
Christians embraced the belief that in Christ we find TRUTH!!  ie:  truth about what matters most:  God/man, sin/salvation, origin/destiny, right/wrong, behavior/judgment, punishment/reward, heaven/hell, life/death..........

Christians believed this truth is:
1)  By Revelation
2)  Culminating in Jesus Christ - John 1:14, 17-18  Heb. 1:1

Summary:  Our Christian forefathers believed TRUTH is...
                       Divine - from God, completed in Christ
                  Unchanging - eternal
                  Practical -  useful, applicable
                  Universal - for all people, times, cultures, situations
                  Recorded - written down.... (scripture)

On this (belief) Christians established  thru Faith and Practice, built the church, influenced society, changed world

Now, some of the results of this belief and how they changed the world.

#1.  Confidence  (certainty, faith) - therefore willing to stand, suffer, sacrifice

#2.  Hope  (- Biblical term, modern = expectation)
ie:  Expectation of GOOD... justice, correction, Eternal Life, Heaven, Rewards (and punishment), Victory!!!
Coming of the Kingdom .... establishment of the Kingdom.

#3.  Instruction  - "How then shall we live?"
handle.... money, marriage, ministry?  Business, neighbor, leisure time
Answer found in the Revelation
Therefore, they had a common, accepted standard for practical living.
So, therefore had:

#4.  Unity - doesn't mean no divisions within Christianity.  But does mean we agree on fundamentals (orthodoxy)
The result - brothers/sisters --- where ever you go!!!  - worldwide fraternity!!!

#5.  Self-Sacrifice   Matt. 16:24-25
If have and army of soldiers, are all willing to sacrifice....?
Example:  estimated $100 billion given to churches in the US last year alone.

#6.  Evangelism - the international effort to proclaim the message.
Which says:  1.)  we have THE Good News
                    2.)   all men need it.
therefore:      3)  We're obligated to share it.

#7.  Humanitarian Efforts.
Based on "Sanctity of Life" - (ie:  sacred)
Good Samaritan.   Matt. 25:40
So... hospitals, health care, orphanages, public education, universities, democracies, human rights, prison reform...
All have roots in Christian Faith and Practice.        So......

#8.  Social Transformation - the deliberate, intentional effort to transform society into what it should be:  Matt. 6:9-10
This is "how you should pray"
This is how you should Act!!

These and others lead to church growth and Christian success.
ie:  The Work of God as He works through His people!!!

Note:  This is your heritage - what you've received.

Question:  What is your legacy? - what will you leave?

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