Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ten Reasons For Powerful Local Church Impact

"But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, 'These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.'"  ~ Acts 17:6–7

Would you mind if I asked a few questions to provoke your memory cells? 

Do you ever ask yourself what it was about the early church, that God used them to R-O-C-K their world back then? 

What was it about the individuals who were a part of it.. that made em such a compelling influence together? Are there eternal truths that are still transferable that we can glean from the first church, yeah, that we can perhaps apply today?

I say yes and one thing is for sure; when we read the text regarding the early Church, there was no room for halfheartedness, for any duplicity, for unbelief, idolatry, pride, rebellion or hypocrisy. And there really no room for that junk today either.

We believers simply don't have time for "fitting-in" to the point of transgression for acceptance sake, or for inverted selfishness, or for greed, or double standards, or cooling off, or favoritism, or moral compromise, or even for a wimpy detaunt-mentality towards the enemy. No, no! The stakes are too high now!

Please allow me to exhort and motivate you towards full-on devotion, so that God will pour through you. Living torrents of water are deeply longed for even today ..when many don't recognize this yet! Wanna see others under the spout where the glory comes out? I say that the Church of this century needs to go ahead and take another look in the book of Acts (about acts of the Spirit through disciples who act right..), and become constantly teachable about what the Church is supposed to be about or not be about.. according to God's Word.

"Organized Christianity which fails to make a disturbance is dead." ~ G. Campbell Morgan

"When they saw the boldness of Peter and John.. they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus." ~ Acts 4:13

"We are not going to move this world by criticism of it nor conformity to it, but by the combustion within it of lives ignited by the Spirit of God!" ~ Vance Havner

In this whacked topsy-turvy world gone astray, where right is said to be wrong, and wrong is said to be right, where bad is called good, and good is called bad.. it's high time that we do what the early church did in order to see what they early church saw. Yes, you know what I mean, even if God answers our prayers a little bit differently.  

Are you satisfied with your currently level of fruitfulness? How come? Together are we making a righteous disturbance anymore? Are we getting God's Good News out to the lost in a way that they can understand, or are we more concerned about relating to em on their terms, or coming off as "cool," or merely fitting in?

Do we as the Church know what it means anymore to die to self and take a stand for Christ and His essential Christian doctrines no matter the cost?

Are we collectively or individually God's tool of light in this darkness place—a bright city on the hill so to speak? Instead of the church turning the world upside down, is the world turning the church upside down today?

Many in the world around us now feel that the Church of Jesus Christ really needs to be tolerant, or primarily involved in fighting global warming, or saving the whales, or in picketing companies for the different products they put out etc. Have you ever asked yourself what you believe the Church should primarily be doing today?

It's kinda interesting to think about, but really.. what's important is not going to stem from my opinion or yours. So biblically, what are the main priorities the Church should have? In a world where luke-warm-living and the cooling off of Christians in local churches seems to be so prevalent, what hand-full of things should matter most?

I love to look at the Spirit-given priorities of the Church of the first century just to learn what God thinks really matters.

Why? Well, it's because by faith and obedience to the Word, they turned their upside-down-world.. upside down at that time of history (which would be right side up). 

And God wants that life-changing-kinda-impact to happen in our day as well!

But how did the early church disciples make such an impact?

They did it through personal and corporate prayer and worship times ..from the heart.

"In the secret of His presence how my soul delights to hide! Oh, how precious are the lessons which I learn at Jesus' side!" ~ Goreh


"Give yourselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word. If you do not pray, God will probably lay you aside from your ministry, as He did me, to teach you to pray." ~ Robert Murray McCheyne

They did it through personal and collective Bible study times ..with an emphasis upon the Lordship of Christ, on God's enormous love, and on the practical application of truth. They did it through sincere fellowship upwards and outwards.. and also through solid Bible preaching. Worship and bold evangelism were huge to them.   

And you recall how the early church was mocked and criticized for doing these things.. when it was said that they turned the world upside down. If that was said of me today, then I would be blessed to hear that, but at that time this was not meant to be a compliment at all (Acts 17:6).

What do you see in Acts? Let's challenge each other..OK!

Here are ten reasons that I can see of why the early church made such an impact:

1. It consisted of authentically born again, Spirit-controlled disciples of Christ (Acts 1:4). You know that all Christians are believers, but not all believers are disciples. It's a different relationship, but the Great Commission was first entrusted to disciples.  

2. The members of the early church were thirsty for righteous living and they also had a real hunger for the Word of God (Acts 2:42, 46, 5:42). We hear so much about "new revelation" today, but if it's new it ain't true, and if it's true it ain't new. We have old revelation to build with.

3. They made sure that unity was imperative and earnestly defended it—no prejudice was allowed (Acts 1:14, 2:1, 44, 46, 4:32). Why? Well, because the cross Jesus leveled the playing field if you will. They didn't fight in the flesh, but in prayer to make sure they maintained proper unity. They didn't want to block the Spirit's anointing for a minute, but wanted God's love to flow.

4. It was a church that was out "on the give" instead of "on the take." That's how they rolled. On multiple levels they wanted to meet needs.. via service, support, encouragement. You name it.. the believers had a big heart and just wanted to give people some real help just to show the love of Christ. The Bible says, "Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all" (see Acts 4:34-37). 

5. They were people of constant, fervent intercession, supplication, petition, and praise—with the right address attached—to the Father in Jesus Name! And they expected God to respond to their requests because they had others in mind before themselves. They prayed biblically!

"Only turning God's house into a house of fervent prayer will reverse the power of evil so evident in the world today." ~ Jim Cymbala

6. They experienced the power of God. The Scriptures say, "..Then he [Peter] gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive" (Read Acts 9:36-41, 2:42-43, 12:5-12 each in their own context).

7. They put feet to their faith and they chose to be bold in the proclamation of the Gospel over and over again (Acts 2:37-41). What did that take? It took…

8. Courage—they were fearlessly courageous in how they addressed and avoided sin. They lived as devoted witnesses for Jesus instead of for religion (Acts 4:1-2).

9. Refusing to be passive, indifferent, or apathetic, the early church grew by aggressively spreading the Message ..allowing the Spirit to lovingly lead them moment by moment (Acts 4:29-31). 

10. The Church was confident and relentless if you will—persevering with God's unction to function instead of being dependent upon themselves. They kept the main things the main things and refused to be self-confident. They received fresh illumination of old truth and continued to see lost people added to Christ and His church as they simply acted in faith (Acts 2:41, 47, 6:7, 4:4, 5:14). 

Are you willing to act they acted in Acts? Wanna be a fountain-kinda-person that God can pour through? He is way BIG, not small. Do you long to be BIG inside and worship with a new bigheartedness? Do you also want to please Him in a big Way as an effective witnessing tool in His hand? 

Please turn and know the same God that they knew ..yeah, how they knew Him (on His terms by faith. No one is saved by works or by money). Yes, I appeal to you, if we get back to the Bible principles, then we will have Bible results. Yes, we must get back to what the early church practiced and experienced first-hand in the Lord.
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