Tag Archives: Acts

The Church and its Priesthood (Part 5)

A message summary of September 10, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

If you are saved, you are a priest of Jesus Christ.  You function in exactly that way.  A priest is one who stands ready to serve God.

We left off last week in Ezekiel discussing where there may be shortcomings or failures of the priest.  For our purposes, sin does not prevent a person to serve Him.  God may ask one to do something, and the person responds.

It is important to note that, depending upon the sin, there are certain things that cannot be undone.  Some of us will fall, and there will be a scar or a mark, and it can’t be repaired.  A believer should always be cautious about the sin that is allowed into one’s life.  Satan can render a believer useless if sin takes over.

Ezekiel 44:10-14

Surely the Levites who wandered away from Me when Israel went astray, and who strayed from Me after their idols, will bear the consequences of their sin. Yet they will occupy My sanctuary, serving as guards at the temple gates and ministering at the temple. They will slaughter the burnt offerings and other sacrifices for the people and will stand before them to serve them. Because they ministered to the house of Israel before their idols and became a sinful stumbling block to them, therefore I swore an oath against them”–this is the declaration of the Lord God–“that they would bear the consequences of their sin. They must not approach Me to serve Me as priests or come near any of My holy things or the most holy things. They will bear their disgrace and the consequences of the detestable acts they committed. Yet I will make them responsible for the duties of the temple–for all its work and everything done in it.

The prayer of a believer should be the desire to be used as a vessel for the Lord in service, but there are rights and privileges that are forfeited as a consequence or consequences of the sin.  It doesn’t mean that the person is not forgiven of their sin, but it does mean that there should be a reckoning of any detestable practice before God.

Christians are to be the salt of the earth.  In order to be this salt, it requires action, and in some cases, correction of those who need it.  A priest of God has to be trained to be an effective priest–an ambassador for Jesus Christ.  We need to understand that we are consecrated and being made holy before Him and before others.  The priests, who are also teachers, are charged to give instruction of God’s Word and encourage others to follow His teaching.

Those who are prepared to serve God with the desire to remain faithful and obedient will be affirmed with God’s presence in their service.

Ezekiel 44:15-16

“But the Levitical priests descended from Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from Me, will approach Me to serve Me. They will stand before Me fat and blood.” This is the declaration of the Lord God. “They are the ones who may enter My sanctuary and draw near to My table to serve Me. They will keep My mandate.”

Remember that the pastor of a church is nothing more than a priest and a servant.  Pastors are human, as well, and also are to continue to render their service to Jesus Christ as they grow in Him.  The priest is to live in reverence of Jesus Christ.

Being a priest, a teacher, is not a small thing.  It’s a very important thing.

James 3:1-2

Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment, for we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is able to control his whole body.

Romans 2:21a

…you then, who teach another, don’t you teach yourself?

The bible doesn’t say, for example, that you can’t drink alcohol. (That is a choice for the individual.)  The bible does, however, discourage drunkenness.

If you are teaching others about the truth, are you implementing that same way of living for yourself?

People need good, sound teaching in order to seek God in the proper way and to keep them from going astray.

The priest will be receiving instruction from none other than the Holy Spirit.

2 Chronicles 15:3-7

For many years Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without instruction, but when they turned to the Lord God of Israel in their distress and sought Him, He was found by them. In those times there was no peace for those who went about their daily activities because the residents of the lands had many conflicts. Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every possible distress. But as for you, be strong; don’t be discouraged, for your work has a reward.

Malachi 2:1-2, 7-9

“Therefore, this decree is for you priests: If you don’t listen, and if you don’t take it to heart to honor My name,” says Yahweh of Hosts, “I will send a curse among you, and I will curse your blessings. In fact, I have already begun to curse them because you are not taking it to heart.

For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts. You, on the other hand, have turned from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have violated the covenant of Levi,” says the Lord of Hosts. So I in turn have made you despised and humiliated before all the people because you are not keeping My ways but are showing partiality in your instruction.”

The Word of God has a positive effect and changes the lives of those who believe.  A priest must be willing to hear God and follow His direction.  Those who do this will be able to demonstrate how to “fight the good fight.”

1 Timothy 6:12

Fight the good fight of faith, take hold of eternal life that you were called to and have made a good confession about in the presence of many witnesses.

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Be Filled (Part 5) – A Spirit-Filled Church

Today’s message of August 21, 2016 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

If you consider church planting, there are several things that can be considered.  Some leadership teams in this effort focus on only outreach to the unsaved.  Another church model is the teaching model, which focuses on doctrine.  Another model is that of discipleship.  All of these are good, but a better church model as derived from the text in Acts Chapter 2, which would be the model for a Spirit-filled church.

There are at least eight markers of a Spirit-filled church:

Preaching of the gospel
Devotion to God’s Word
Intentional fellowship
Prayer
Godly fear
Commonality
Corporate worship
Praising God

Acts 2:37-47 ESV

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them,“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 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 preaching of the gospel is the most important marker for any church plant or any church ministry.  A Spirit-filled church must go to the cross of Jesus Christ.  Everything rests upon the gospel.  A church that is not preaching the gospel is an apostate church.

Galatians 1:6-9 ESV

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
How do you identify the church that preaches the gospel?  By the preaching of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Martin Luther and John Calvin challenged the Catholic Church on the doctrine of faith and grace.  It is faith and grace that saves, and not works.  Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man, and not the pope.  The reformers fought the Catholic Church with their very lives, because they deemed it to be paramount over everything.

Acts 2:16-25

16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[b] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
    for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;

The reformers noted what Peter was preaching, and that his audiences were cut to the heart by the Holy Spirit and needed to reckon with the judgment of God.  Only the power of the gospel can do this.

Five Solas:
Sola Scriptura (scripture alone)
Sola Fide (faith alone)
Sola Gratia (grace alone)
Sola Christus (Christ alone)
Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone)

The gospel not only convicts but helps people take personal responsibility by placing trust in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  Living a lifestyle of repentance is the result.

The gospel message is simple, and all that is required is belief by faith in Jesus Christ.

Being devoted to God’s Word (Acts 2:42)

The explicit meaning is for the desire of all who hear the gospel to study His Word.  The implicit meaning of v. 42 was the result of 3,000 people coming to know Jesus Christ.

The gospel is preached–people hear it and accept Christ–then make disciples within the group.

Acts 17:10-12

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.

Psalm 119:1-7

1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
    who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
    who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
    but walk in his ways!
You have commanded your precepts
    to be kept diligently.
Oh that my ways may be steadfast
    in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
    having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
    when I learn your righteous rules.

“There is no such thing as a Spirit-filled Christian who neglects the study of the Word of God.  There is no such thing as a Spirit-filled church that does not give itself continually and steadfastly to the study of sacred Scripture. The first sign of a Spirit-filled church is one in which the Spirit-filled people do not flee from Scripture and seek a substitute for it but are driven to it to have their spiritual lives rooted and grounded in the Word of God.”  –R C Sproul

Intentional fellowship uplifts the group of believers.  Church fellowship is good, but intentional fellowship is encouraged throughout the week.  It is necessary to encourage and admonish one another.

Prayer, the fourth marker of a Spirt-filled church, is very important.  We are to pray for one another.

Colossians 4:2-6

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Prayer reveals the ways in which the gospel can go forth through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Godly fear (Acts 2:43)

Acts 5:1-11

1 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.
The word “awe” means “fear.”  The young church witnessed many miraculous things through the apostles, and they would revere God even more.  A church that is not fearing God is in a dangerous place.  There must be a reverence of God in order for people to remain obedient to Him.

Acts 5:12-13

12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem.
The people understood what they had seen, and they had great reverence for God and His Word.

Commonality (v. 44)

The Word of God tells the Spirit-filled church to be of one mind and one accord.  The Holy Spirit showed the people what they were to do and did so accordingly.

This is important because (1) the church should be its own financial institution (not the government), and (2) it is to provide for the poor and less fortunate–their own members and members of the community.

Many who were widows and were poor and destitute, and it created the opportunity for a number of leaders within the church to serve those needed meals (one of these leaders over the food ministry in the early church was Stephen).

The opposite of commonality is that where there is separation:

Galatians 2:11-14

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Corporate worship (Acts 2:46-47)

Public worship is collectively being together in one place.  Paul planted a church and allowed leaders to be the governing board, and the process is repeated for every plant.  A multi-site church fulfills this requirement.

Praising God is an act of a Spirit-filled church

Acts 2:42

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


God’s Presence in His Kingdom: Today’s Church

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
God intends for the Kingdom of God to be present through all believers. Each day there is a demonstration of how man, in failure to submit to authority, will destroy himself. Man has always rebelled against God. God gave man free will to do this. We can choose to be saved and love God or choose not to follow Him. When man fails to recognize His Kingdom, it does not change or have an effect on it. God has already numbered our days, and His Kingdom is still at work today. He rules over all that has happened on earth.

From the fall of man through the time when Jesus Christ rules on earth, God’s Kingdom has been present.

1 Corinthians 15:24-25
24 Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet.

What is the relationship between the church and the kingdom? There is a distinction:

kingdom — Greek word Basileia
church — Greek word Ekklesia

The word ‘kingdom’ is used many times in the gospel while ‘church’ is only used three times. There is a change that takes place in the book of Acts where the church becomes the primary focus. The kingdom is secondary until the book of Revelation, where the kingdom becomes primary once more. Most New Testament letters are addressed to the churches–not the kingdom.

The kingdom of God in Scripture is the all embracing program of God’s divine salvation in history. All ages, people, the saving activities are related to the program of the kingdom.

Matthew 6:9-10
9 “Therefore, you should pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
Your name be honored as holy.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.

The Christians carry out the will of God in the midst of Satan’s domain. God’s kingdom will come to earth and will be headed by Jesus Christ.

A kingdom is defined as the sovereign reign over a territory where a king exercises his rule.

Hebrews 1:2
…by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him.

There is, ultimately, one kingdom it signifies God’s universal eternal rule over all creation.

Psalm 103:19
The LORD has established His throne in heaven,
and His kingdom rules over all.

Psalm 24:1
The earth and everything in it,
the world and its inhabitants,
belong to the LORD.

God is in control over Satan. No one places limits on God. He places the limits…he rules.

Job 1:10-12
10 Haven’t You placed a hedge around him, his household, and everything he owns? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out Your hand and strike everything he owns, and he will surely curse You to Your face.”
12 “Very well,” the LORD told Satan, “everything he owns is in your power. However, you must not lay a hand on Job himself.” So Satan left the LORD’s presence.

Satan has hindered us from carrying out what God would have us to do for Him.

1 Thessalonians 2:18
So we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us.

God will accomplish His will in His appointed time. Since God is reigning, believers can appeal to God to restrain Satan in order to serve God for His kingdom. The Holy Spirit’s presence is what convicts the hearts and minds of men and women. Believers are not of this world…we are of His Kingdom.

1 Thessalonians 3:11
Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you.

2 Thessalonians 2:5-8
5 Don’t you remember that when I was still with you I told you about this? 6 And you know what currently restrains him, so that he will be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way, 8 and then the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of His mouth and will bring him to nothing with the brightness of His coming.

The kingdom of God is advancing.

Matthew 11:12
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been suffering violence, and the violent have been seizing it by force.

The gospel of the kingdom is being carried out by the church. The church is the vehicle that carries out the message of the kingdom.

Luke 16:16
“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is strongly urged to enter it.

Stages of the kingdom:
1. God’s covenant promises with Abraham
2. God’s rule over Israel (Exodus 40:33-34)
3. The appearance of Jesus

  • The kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21).
  • The kingdom of God has come to you (Luke 11:20).
  • Jesus is seen as the glory of God (John 1:14; Luke 9:29-32).

The church is not the kingdom, yet it carries out the work of the kingdom. The kingdom is presently working through the church to equip and educate for the purposes of advancing the gospel of the kingdom throughout the world according to the mysteries described by Jesus in His teaching.

Matthew 13:11
He answered them, “Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them.

Matthew 20:1
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.”

Matthew 22:2
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.”

The message of the church is the message of the kingdom.

Acts 8:12
But when they believed Philip, as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.

Acts 28:31
…proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with full boldness and without hindrance.

Matthew 24:14
This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world[a] as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come.

The relationship of the church and kingdom:

Philippians 3:20
…but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:13
He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.

2 Corinthians 5:20
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.”

Matthew 28:18-20
18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”