The Church in Jerusalem Grows
February 13, 2022
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Review (Acts 2)
A. We are in Acts 2 - It was the Day of Pentecost!
B. A small group of 120 believers are gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem, starting to stand on their own feet
1. They were the first church – an assembly of believers called out of this world, and gathered together to show that Jesus works! That HE is Lord!
2. They have prayed and waited for God to empower them to live differently than they ever lived before
3. And on this day, the Day of Pentecost, Jesus had just supernaturally filled His church with the Holy Spirit of God
4. And that was just the beginning
C. Peter stood before a massive crowd that had gathered and told them that this was not just a miracle, but a sign that the Day of the Lord was coming next, and that they were in serious trouble with God!
1. He quoted directly from the prophet Joel (Acts 2:16-21)
a. Act 2:16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
b. Act 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
c. Act 2:18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
d. Acts 2:19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
e. Acts 2:20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
f. Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
2. The Day of the Lord was a day of serious trouble, of wrath, of God’s judgment
3. And no amount of religion, or praying, or money, or power could save them
4. Only their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ could save them
5. They knew who Jesus was – they had just murdered Him on a cross, and buried Him in a tomb!
D. Then Peter said, But Jesus got up again! God raised Jesus up out of that grave, and is now seated at the right hand of God, and is ready to come back as the Judge of all the earth!
A. And thousands of voices all cried out at the same time in Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
E. And that is when Peter told them that THAT same Jesus is willing to save anyone who would just call upon His name in repentant faith!
1. Acts 2:39,40 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
F. 3,000 people responded
G. And that little baby church in Jerusalem took off! It grew! It was finally IN MOTION!
II. Why Study this Chapter? What Are We Looking For?
A. A Pattern to Follow – a spiritual check-up
1. This Church in Jerusalem, even though it was so young, is a pattern for OUR church
2. It was a vibrant, strong, growing Church – the kind Jesus designed it to be
3. The Jerusalem Church has so many good things going on in it that we can learn from
4. So, Let’s compare it to OUR church to and see if we are healthy or not
B. Because there are so many churches that are unhealthy
1. They are depressed, down, discouraged, defeated, weak, powerless
2. So quiet even a church mouse is bored!
3. Others may be exciting, but are so doctrinally different than what the Bible teaches, that the spirit in those churches is neither holy, nor right
C. I want our church to be a strong, healthy, vibrant, Bible-believing, Christ-honouring church
D. So, this morning, let’s learn what made the church in Jerusalem so strong and healthy, and see what WE need to be doing so that WE become the same!
E. We will only look at the first four things
A. #1 They Enjoyed Christianity (Acts 2:41)
1. Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his [PETER’S] word… were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
2. Church wasn’t something they just DID – it was something they enjoyed! Something they were glad about!
3. Many in that crowd GLADLY BELIEVED what Peter was saying
a. Just moments before, these same people were filled with terror and panic (Acts 2:47)
b. Yet Peter told them there was hope – a way of escape from the judgment of God
c. Peter did not tell them to just adjust some things in their life and stay Jews, but to trade it in for a whole new life following Jesus – just as HE had done
d. Some got angry, and some brushed it all off, but some gladly of the people were GLAD for what they heard
1) They were GLAD that Jesus had died NOT for good people, but for THEM – for the very people who had wanted Him dead!
2) They were excited to step away from their birth-religion, to follow the Messiah and be born again
e. These 3,000 men and women were TRANSFORMED in a moment…
1) From terrified men and women, to excited, and thrilled and glad believers!
2) Because for the first time in their life, they finally had peace with God (Romans 5:1) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ
a) Not through countless sacrifices of lambs and bulls and goats
b) But through the precious blood of Jesus Christ, once, and for all!
3) By the way, Joy and Gladness is the result of getting the Holy Spirit in your heart! It is a FRUIT of the Spirit’s presence in your life (Galatians 5:22,23) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
4. ‘Gladness’ is an excitement, an anticipation of what is coming next, satisfaction with current circumstances, a delight of the mind
5. As we read through the Book of Acts we will discover these early Christians enjoyed…
1) Acts 5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
2) Sometimes all through the night (Acts 20:7) And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
b. Each other’s company – fellowship – like a family you never knew you had (2:42)
e. And giving
f. They Enjoyed Christianity! All of it!
6. We also should gladly enjoy…
a. Strong, Biblical preaching! Not soft, sweet, non-offensive, middle of the road preaching! But, Real Christians love Bible PREACHING!
b. Do we enjoy Each other’s company? We are supposed to!
c. Do we enjoy Praying? Not very many
d. Do we enjoy Soul-winning? Some of us love it – ALL OF US SHOULD ENJOY IT!
e. Giving? Jesus is the one who said, It is MUCH more blessed and fun to give than receive!
7. A church needs to enjoy what it’s doing, because JOY is the foundation for a healthy church
8. Let’s keep reading and see what else we need to work on
B. #2 Baptisms (Acts 2:41)
1. Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: …
2. 3,000 adults stepped forward out of the crowd, and without hesitation, asked to be baptized in Jesus’ name! They were now followers of Jesus, and were willing to be publicly baptized to show it!
a. It took hours to baptize that many people!
b. But can you imagine the JOY of seeing all those people lining up and saying, “I was wrong! I hated Jesus. But now I love Him and want to follow Him!”
3. Baptism means Immerse – like a biscuit in a cup of tea
4. Baptism never washes away sins! Only Jesus does!
a. It is NOT part of conversion, but an evident proof
b. Water can never wash away anything in the heart
c. Only the blood of Jesus Christ washes away sin! (1John 1:7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
5. Baptism is
a. Only for people who have already repented and believed the Gospel – that’s why babies can’t get baptized
b. It is the outward show of your decision to follow Jesus
c. It is only a picture of the Gospel using water
1) A picture of what Jesus did on the cross – dying, being buried, and then rising again three days later
a) Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
b) Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
2) And every believer gladly honours Jesus death and resurrection by acting it out themselves publicly
6. Then why did they do it?
a. Because Peter told them to REPENT, and then get baptized (Acts 2:38) Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
b. Because Jesus said get baptized after you have decided to follow Him
c. Baptism is the test of a person’s commitment to following Jesus Christ. It is a proof that someone actually got converted in their heart and soul
d. It pictures a person’s death to their old life, and their new life in Christ alone
7. There are so many false baptisms
a. Baby baptisms don’t count – there are no babies baptized in the Bible at all! Only adults
b. Sprinkling, dipping, pouring IS NOT baptism It must be total immersion under water
c. If someone believes it is part of how a person gets sin washed away, then it is a wrong baptism
d. If you had a Do It Yourself baptism – where you baptised yourself – then it is not Scriptural
e. How about doing things the Bible way?
8. Are you Scripturally baptized?
a. By Immersion – that is what the word means: going under water and coming out again
1) Baptism pictures death and resurrection – the Gospel
2) Sprinkling shows nothing – it is a made up way by the catholics
b. As a believer in Christ – no longer a Jew, Protestant, Catholic, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon – but a Christian
c. Publicly - in the Bible, people got baptized out in the open as public testimonies – there are not supposed to be hidden or closet Christians
d. If you have not been Scripturally baptized AFTER you believed on Jesus, then it is time to get truly baptized
e. I will be baptizing in the River Lee in the next few weeks
f. Talk to me after church
9. Notice the progression…
a. Accepted the Gospel – believed it – trusted Christ
b. THEN were baptized
c. But there is more for us to see in that early church in Jerusalem…
C. #3 Commitment to the Local Church (Acts 2:41)
1. Acts 2:41 … and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
2. Church is NOT “a crowd” on Sunday mornings. Anybody can gather a crowd…
a. A sports match
b. A rock concert
c. A car boot sale
d. Just because a lot of people are sitting in a building on a Sunday does not mean they are a church
e. And it certainly doesn’t mean they are a healthy church!
3. A true Church is what we are 24/7
a. We are born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour – saved forever
b. We are full time Christ-followers, called out of the world to spend time with Him
c. We only assemble together as often as we can, but we are Christ’s Church every hour of every day
4. Those 3,000 men and women, dripping wet, after being baptized, walked over and joined together with the original 120 disciples as one local body of believers
a. They joined that little church in that upper room
b. They became committed to that assembly
c. Like a sports player is committed to their team – every time there is training, they are there. Every time there is a match, they are there!
1) Well, every time WE have training/discipleship, where are YOU, Christian?
2) Every time there is a spiritual battle going on, where are YOU?
3) It is time to join this church
5. Church Membership – what is it?
a. It is when you know you are where Jesus put you – even if only for a while (Acts 2:47) Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
b. Membership is a commitment to the other Christians in your area that THEY are important to you now, and will be loved by you like family
c. It is a public statement that you want to be all the Christ saved you to be, and live up to the expectations that God has for a church
d. It means you step out of the shadows, and off the chairs, and into action
6. Are YOU a member of this church?
a. If you have been born again, And then Scripturally baptized
b. Then it’s a good day to join with the rest of us and become members of the Bible Baptist Church of Ballincollig!
7. Notice the progression…
a. Each person Accepted the Gospel – believed it – trusted Christ
b. THEN were baptized
c. And then joined that church / started to assemble with those apostles and disciples…
d. But there is one more thing for us to see in that early church in Jerusalem…
D. #4 Steadfastness and Consistency (Acts 2:42)
1. Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
2. Four fundamental activities that keep the church going and growing
3. Unmoving from Apostle’s Doctrine
a. These new Christians loved doctrine – the absolute, unchanging truths of God
b. There was so much to learn from Jesus – so much that they had not listened to when He had walked this earth
c. And the only ones who could tell them what Jesus did and said, were the Apostles
d. And so, every day, the apostles taught those new Christians what Jesus said and did
e. They were teaching the New Testament before the New Testament was written down
f. What you hold in your hands is what those new believers yearned to hear, over and over and over again! Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, all the way to the end!
g. Modern church-ianity is constantly changing
1) Vatican I and II brought massive changes to the catholic church
2) Most churches dramatically change every couple of years
a) Change their music
b) Change their bibles
c) Change their beliefs
3) So many are abandoning the clear Scriptures and preaching LGBTQ acceptance
4) Some are promoting the right to an abortion
5) Most don’t care if you believe anything, as long as you just love Jesus
h. The first century church was steadfast – unmoving from what the apostle taught
1) Everything they believed had to come from the Bible, not traditions or culture
2) Everything they did was in obedience to the Bible
3) They started with the Bible, and they endeavoured to finish with the Bible
i. Let’s Stay steadfast and committed to whatever this Book says! Chapter and verse
j. We need to make sure THIS BOOK is listened to, and loved and learned from by every one of us
k. Stay reading – stay learning – stay questioning – stay in this Book!
l. Never move away from it!
m. And we will always be a healthy church
n. Not the most popular, but the healthiest!
4. Fellowship – closeness to each other
a. These Christians stayed close together, and loved each other in the same amount that Christ loved them!
b. They were NOT constantly offended, and always stand-off-ish
c. John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
d. They lived in the world, and worked in the world
e. But their companionship and closeness was no longer with the world around them – no longer spent all their time with their phones, their old friends, or even just their families
1) They called each other, brother, sister, brethren, family!
2) Their best friends were each other
3) Their family was now bigger than ever!
4) They fellowshipped together and stayed together
f. Let’s be steadfast in our commitment to each other like family!
g. More than our commitment to our sports team, or bank account
5. The Breaking of Bread - Lord’s Supper
a. Breaking of bread was the way they referred to The Lord's Supper
b. The Apostle Paul said in 1Corinthians 11:23-26, For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
c. It was a simple time together as a church, remembering, memorialising what Jesus had done to save them – He gave HIS life, for ours
1) Simple, unleavened bread – without yeast – plain flat bread that pictured His sinless body, broken for us
2) Simple, unleavened wine – without alcohol – plain grape juice that pictured His sinless blood, shed for us on that cross
3) There is nothing in the bread, and nothing in the wine
4) It was just a ceremony to remind us what it cost Jesus to save us
d. That’s why about every two months we celebrate the Lord’s Last Supper together as a church, and if you are a Christian, you should be here for that service!
1) Because it humbles us
2) It resets all our hearts
3) And it honours the only reason why we can claim heaven
a. Probably THE hardest thing to excite people about… is praying!
1) And for good reason – the devil knows the power of a praying people
2) And most Christians do not know how powerful passionate praying is
b. These new Christians made times of prayer just as important as times of preaching, and fellowship and family and food!
c. They loved to spend time worshipping, adoring, interceding to their Saviour during times of PRAYER
1) You do know that prayer is a good time to ask for what you need
2) But it is also a great time to just worship and praise God
d. To be a healthy church, we need everyone who can be here, to be here when we pray!
e. We have some special times for praying together every week
1) Wednesday at 7pm here
2) And Saturdays at 6.30pm after we briefly clean and set up for church
f. Make praying together as a church normal for you and your family
7. Notice the progression…
a. Each person Accepted the Gospel – believed it – trusted Christ
b. THEN were baptized
c. Then joined that church / started to assemble with those apostles and disciples
d. Then became steadfast in
1) Learning the Bible as doctrine – not just stories
2) Closeness together in a fellowship
3) Taking the Lord’s Supper seriously
4) And praying
e. But there is still more for us to see active in that early church in Jerusalem…
f. We will continue with the rest, next week!
A. The Book of Acts is our pattern to follow – a measuring line, an x-ray machine – to help us know if we are doing things right as a church, or not
B. There are some important ingredients to being a healthy Church…
1. Where EVERY person has Accepted the Gospel – believed it – trusted Christ
a. Not just some fanatics – but everyone
b. I cannot rest until everyone who hears the Gospel, receives it gladly!
c. HAVE YOU BELIEVED CHRIST DIED FOR YOU AND ROSE AGAIN FOR YOUR FORGIVENESS?
d. Jesus is the One who said, Ye must be born again!
2. THEN were baptized
a. A healthy church has new believers who WANT to follow the Lord by being baptized
b. HAVE YOU BEEN SCRIPTURALLY BAPTIZED?
3. Then joined that church
a. Are you in limbo, or a MEMBER OF THIS CHURCH?
4. Then they became steadfast and consistent in four big areas
a. Learning Bible doctrine – we have Discipleship Courses starting soon
b. Closeness together in a fellowship
c. Taking the Lord’s Supper regularly and seriously
d. And constantly praying together!
C. What is lacking in YOUR life?
1. You have religion, but no Saviour? Are you ready to get saved?
2. Baptized as a baby, but no difference?
3. Are you a member of a church by your own choice, or just a spectator?
4. Are you committed to following Christ? To the Bible? To prayer?