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I want to share with you this morning on the theme when God builds a church. And this is something the Lord has just really been laying on my heart to think about and consider because of the character of our experience today entering into this new worship center. And in days to come of beginning to realize what God has provided for us here. It's important I think for us to realize what it is that God is doing when he builds a church.

And it isn't the building that I want to talk about. It's you. This building never really has been a church. It's just been like a big cave here. The first time it was any way, shape or form like a church was when you arrived this morning. This is the first time the church has met here.

In fact, some folks stopped by during recent weeks and saw this and thought it was a big theatre. A big stage theatre and they saw the ticket booth out there and they wanted to know where you go to buy season tickets to the theatre and why somebody would build a theatre so close to a church.

It's kind of like the people who came by one day and wanted to know if any of the apartments in the other building over there were for rent. So, you see this could be an apartment building. It could be a theatre. It could be anything. It isn't a church until you're in it.

And when we came in this morning, then it became a church to the glory of God.

What is it that God is doing in building His church? I think that we've seen how God has blessed and how God has given Himself glory in the process of this building. At the very beginning when we started I said we were gonna trust God to raise all the money. And we were just gonna have gifts and your investment and just among our own family here we were gonna raise $1.5 million to build this building. And we would just believe God for that amount.

This week I was told that we had received as of last Lord's day, $1.49 plus of the $1.5 and from the first offering this morning went over $1.5 million. God has fulfilled every word of His good promise. Right on the very day we move in.

And it isn't really too shocking to us because we said we weren't gonna break ground until we had $750,000.00 and we set that for February 15. And I'll never forget it. On February 15 we had $752,000.00. And all the way long the line God has proven to be the builder of our facilities. And we're so grateful to Him.

And so we have believed God for something He only could do. And now that He's done it, we give Him all the praise. God has built this church. We believed Him for it. We gave. We sacrificed. We prayed. We worked. But the glory is all His.

And as we look at it, I want to call your attention to the fact this morning that it's a metaphor. It's a symbol. It's a picture of the true church. The foundation pictures Jesus Christ who is our foundation. The steel that ties all of this together that you can't see is the strength of the building. And that's a picture of the Holy Spirit who behind the scenes is the strengthening and the under girding of the church. And all the bricks that make up the walls are pictures of the living stones that Peter says make up the spiritual temple which is the house, the habitation of the Holy Spirit.

So the building then is nothing more than a metaphor or a symbol or a picture of the true church. It's foundation is Christ. It's behind the scenes strength is the spirit of God. And it's living stones are the believing community.

So, God has raised a monument to Himself and His grace and He has raised a picture of His church. And each time we come here to worship and each time we see it, let it remind us that it is His church. God has built this as He has been building us.

The exciting thing to me is not that the building is finished. But the exciting thing is that the church that God is growing here fills it. That's the exciting thing. That God has been building your lives and our lives together and that because He has been building the true church, He has had to build this building to hold it. That's what's exciting. God is growing a church. God is building the church. God is putting up the living stones.

When I think back eight years ago we had 500 people. And realize that this morning we'll have over 5,000 here. And say God is building more than buildings. He's building lives. And He has to build a building to house the lives He's building.

It so exciting to see God build His church, His way. A reporter said to me, "What's your goal in the ministry?" And I said, "My goal is to glorify God." He said, "Well, I mean your future goal." I said, "My future goal is to glorify God." He said, "I mean what's your goal for the church?" " To glorify God." He said, "Don't you have a great desire to build a great church?" I said, "No. I have no desire to build a church really. And the reason is because Jesus said, 'I will build My church,' and I'd rather not compete with him." And so I only desire to do that which glorifies God each day of my life one day at a time and let God build His church His way. And we've seen that here at Grace.

We've seen God build a church of living stones energized by the strength of the Spirit of God and under girded by Christ Himself. And then we've seen him build a metaphor like this to symbolize the true church that He has built.

It's important today I think for us to recognize what God wants to do with the church. The only time the church can ever really be what God wants it to be is when it makes that commitment and so we need to do that again this morning as our first service comes together. We need to reaffirm the very basic reality of the church. We need to restate what our commitment is as the believing community of God.

Ten years from now only God knows what this place will be. Twenty, 30, 50, 100. Should Jesus tarry. Only God knows. I've been in buildings that used to be churches and now they're bars and restaurants and hardware stores and whatever else. What will this be in 10, 20, 30 years?

Well, we don't know. God knows. But what it will be will be predicated on the commitment that we must make relative to the truths we're gonna hear about this morning.

This place can be to the glory of God until Jesus comes. Or it can depart from that and who knows what it will become. And it's all predicated on whether or not it is built God's way with God's plans.

To begin with, take your Bible and look with me at the 16th chapter of Matthew. Matthew, Chapter 16. And I'm just really sharing out of my heart this morning. Some things that I think we must look at. In Matthew, Chapter 16, I only want to take the second half of Verse 18 as a basis. For our opening thought.

Matthew 16:18. In the middle of the verse, it says, "I will build My church. And the gates of hell or Hades shall not prevail against it."

Now, here you have Jesus' great statement I will build My church. And the statement that follows and the gates of hell will not literally overpower it. The gates of hell is a metonym that speaks of satan and his angels. I will build My church and satan and his legions storming out of the gates of hell to attack it will not be successful. Will not overpower it. That's Jesus' great statement.

Now, listen to this. This is a guarantee. This is an absolute, 100 percent guarantee. I will build My church and satan will not destroy it. There's one condition hidden in that statement. Here it is. I will build My church. You see, the only way that the church will ever have the guarantee that satan will not overpower it is when Christ builds it His way. That's the point.

To begin with, before we built this building there were many plans. Blueprints. All through the building of this building. Everywhere you looked there were plans. People working with plans. And plans and more plans. It had to be built according to the plan. Or else the inspector would come out and say, "This is not the building that the plan says. And the plan and the plan alone was approved." And it had to be built according to the plan or it would never have been what it was supposed to be.

And God has laid down a plan for the church. And Jesus said, I will build My church according to this plan and when My church is built this way the gates of hell will never stop it. But should we depart from His plan we forfeit the guarantee. And there are churches all over America. There are churches all through the history of the world. There are churches way back in the New Testament. And those churches no longer exist because they did not allow Jesus to build His church His way and the guarantee was forfeited, satan moved in and they went out of existence.

Let me show you one. Turn to Revelation, Chapter 3. Revelation, Chapter 3 and Verse 1 introduces us to the church at the Town of Sardis. Sardis was a city in Asia minor.
And our Lord Jesus is writing to the minister
at the church at Sardis. The word angel can mean minister and it most likely refers to the pastor of the church. Unto the minister of the church in Sardis write these things sayeth He that hath the seven spirits of God and the seven stars and that is a reference to Christ as you will note in Chapter 1 if you check it.

Christ's words to the church at Sardis. Now listen. I know thy works that thou hast a name that thou livest and art dead. I know thy works. A very active church. Lots of programs. Lots of activity. But you are dead. The socially distinguished church at Sardis with all of its programs, with all of its activity, with all of its work, with all of its labor, was dead. Like the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Coleridge. Corpses man the ship. Dead men pull the oars. Dead men hoist the sails. Dead men steer the vessel.

Sardis was an ecclesiastical corpse. And the reason was that it had departed from the divine blueprint and when the church is not the church that Jesus builds his way, that church forfeits the guarantee that satan will never overpower it.

Another good parallel would be Samson. What a man. Charming. Incredibly strong. Lovable. The hero of Israel. The champion of freedom. So many exploits and so many feats. And so many acts of strength and courage. But something happened. God had given him a blueprint. And the blueprint was the Nazarite vow and when he violated the blueprint and his hair was cut, it was all over. And the Scripture says he whist not that the Lord had departed from him. As soon as he violated the divine pattern, God was gone.

The same thing happened in the history of Israel. They violated the divine pattern and God's glory departed and Ichibod was written. They violated God's blueprint for the church. Jesus wasn't building His church His way. The guarantee was forfeited and Sardis died and doesn't exist today.

And so I say if Grace Church is to be here in 10, 20, 30, 50, 100 years still holding out the glory of God, it will be because we allowed Jesus to build His church His way. And that would be my prayer for Grace. I'm not always gonna be around. It's a thin line between life and death. I may not always be here. But the blueprint will never change, will it? Never change. Never change.

You say well, John, what is the blueprint? What is the blueprint we have to follow so Jesus can build His church His way and the gates of hell won't prevail? It's in Acts 2:41-47. Let's look at it. Acts 2:41-47. Now here we meet the first church in history. This was the church that Jesus built on the day of Pentecost. This was the first one. Close to the flame. Born at Pentecost. Unspotted. Uncorrupted. In its infancy. The purest church. In the days of its splendid prime when the memory of Jesus was vivid and the gift of the Holy Spirit was new. Only hours after its birth. It's thriving on the ecstasy of new life. Thriving on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the ascended Christ, the power of God.

And you know something? They didn't know anything about a church. Nothing. There was no precedent. They didn't have a book on the church. They didn't have a denomination to go to. They didn't even have a New Testament. They had nothing. They didn't have any seminars or conferences or conventions or experts on the church or books to read. There was nothing.

But this was the church that Jesus built His way. Uncluttered. Uncompromising. And still today the model for the church right here. In Acts, Chapter 2 Peter stood up to preach. He preached a marvelous sermon. And as a result 3,000 people believed Verse 41 said. They that gladly received His word were baptized. The same day were added unto them 3,000 souls. There were already 120 in the church because there were 120 in the upper room when the Holy Spirit came. So 120 right there. Three thousand more. Three thousand, one hundred and twenty folks in the first church. Kind of interesting because that's just about how many we can squeeze in here. That's how many the first day of the first church.

You say boy they must have had lots of problems. A church that big's got lots of problems. You know something? They had amazingly few problems because they followed the blueprint. It was God's church. Jesus built it His way.

And people, this is the blueprint. Now watch it. That guarantees us that 20, 40, 60, or 100 years from now Grace Church can still be here to the glory of God. Only by then we'll probably be having 12 services on Sunday and you will have buried 18 pastors in the process. Let's look at this.

First of all, the blueprint calls for the proper content. Point No. 1. The blueprint calls for the proper content. Verse 42. "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread and in prayers."

Now, I want to notice several things here and draw them to your attention. There were several things that made up the life of the church. The actual content. The actual function. The actual thing they did. And these are the vital things. Everything else the history is added on and all the other stuff we do is just addendum. The vitality of the church is right here. No. 1. Their content was first of all they were a redeemed church. They were a redeemed community. It says in 42, "And they continued steadfastly."

Now, notice this. Three thousand people believed. Three thousand people were baptized. Three thousand people continued. Billy Graham says that if up to 40 percent of their converts are real and follow through that's considered high. Here 3,000 believed; 3,000 were baptized; 3,000 continued steadfastly. They were a truly redeemed community. They were the wheat. When Jesus builds a church, it is built of believing people.

In John 8:30 it says, "And many believed on His name but He said to them, 'If you continue in My word, then you are my real disciple.'" It isn't simply believing. It's showing that your faith is genuine by continuing in the faith. 1 John, "They went out from us that it might be made manifest they never were of us. For if they had been of us they would have continued with us." Three thousand continued. A redeemed church.

Beloved, this is where it all begins. If Grace Church is to be anything like the church that Jesus builds His way by His blueprint. If Grace Church is to ever be able to make claim on the guarantee of Matthew 16 that satan can't stop us, it will be because we begin with the right content. And the right content begins with being a redeemed community.

A pastor said to me one time - I think I mentioned this to you some months ago. He said, "I think the problem in my church is that half the board is saved and half are not." And my answer was how in the world could God and satan ever operate the church together? The church must be a redeemed community.

And we're not saying that unbelievers or people who have not come to Jesus Christ are not welcome. They are welcome. And we'll welcome you to come and to hear the message. We welcome you to come and to learn of Christ. We welcome you to come and receive the love that He gives. He who went about healing people at random never asking for qualification of their theology. He who loves the whole world and died for you. We invite you to come to Christ.

But as far as the teaching in the church and the ministering in the church and the leading in the church and those that are in responsibility in the church and those who minister in the name of Christ, they are to be believing people. Because then and only then will they have the energizing of the Spirit of God. And we do not need human effort in the church. And so the initial fact of that church was that it was a redeemed church. They were saved people.

Paul who commends many churches in the New Testament commends most highly the church at Thessalonica. And he does so in a simple way in the first chapter when he says, "You are the church that is in God and in the Lord Jesus Christ." In other words, you are truly a regenerated church. You are in God and in Christ.

This has always been a commitment of Grace Church. And it's not always easy to make sure it's a redeemed church. I can remember in days past when an unsaved person was found to be teaching a Sunday School class, when some unsaved people sang in the choir and so forth. And we felt that such who minister in the name of Christ should know the Christ in whose name they minister.

It's necessary that the church be a believing community of people. There may be some of you here this morning. You've been coming to Grace Church. I'm sure even members of Grace Church. And you really have never given your life to Jesus Christ. If that's true, you are the tare sown by the adversary among the wheat to confuse the issue. You break the unity. And I would simply say to you, "Come to Christ. Be a true part of His church." And I would say to those of you who know Christ, "If you know someone in that situation, you need to go to them and beg them in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God." And if they will not, you need to call it to their attention that they need to leave lest they cause impurity. Either come to Christ or stay away. Because God wants His church a redeemed community.

In Revelation, Chapter 2 I would draw your attention to another church. Verse 14, the church at Pergamos. And here the Lord Jesus says to this church, "I have some things against you because you have there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam." And we've learned in past studies that the doctrine of Balaam was this. Balaam was a prophet for hire. The Moabites in the Promised Land were scared of the Israelites. They were afraid that the Israelites were gonna come in and wipe them out.

And so Balaakwho was the king of Moab got Balaam the prophet and said look, I want you, I'll pay you to curse Israel. Curse them so you'll make them impotent. So three times Balaam tried to curse Israel. And all three times failed. And so they developed another plan. Look, we can't curse them and make them impotent, so let's just seduce the sons of Israel. We'll seduce them to marry the daughters of Moab and when the Israelites and the Moabites intermarry, then Israel won't be a threat any more. And it worked. And that's the doctrine of Balaam. Intermarriage. Spiritual intermarriage.

And that's exactly what happened at Revelation 2 at Pergamos. They thought they could marry the world. They thought they could have the regenerate and the unregenerate. They thought they could have the saved and the non-saved. And they could all get together and carry on the work of God. But they can't. Jesus doesn't build His church any other way than with His people.

And so to begin with, the church must be redeemed. What fellowship has light with darkness? What agreement has Christ with satan? Paul said. This church was a redeemed church. And the day that ceases to be the great bottom line, No. 1 commitment of a church, it begins to let the tares come in and take over. And the forfeiture of Matthew 16:18 is about to take place. No longer can it be said of that church the gates of hell shall not overpower it. Because it's not being built Jesus' way.

The second thing. The proper content of this church. Not only were they a redeemed church but secondly they were a spirit-filled church. Verse 38. And this is really a sub point to being redeemed. We know that when you become a Christian the Spirit comes to live within you. In 38 it says repent, be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And we know that in Acts 1:5 Jesus promised that the Spirit was going to come. In Acts 1:8 he promised that the Spirit would bring power. In Acts 2:4 the Spirit came. And here we see this church as a redeemed church, consequently a Spirit-in-dwelt church. And as you see in the next few chapters a Spirit-controlled and filled church.

If the church is to be what God wants, if the church is to be built Jesus' way, if the church is to claim the guarantee of Matthew 16:18 that satan can't stop it, it will be because it is a saved, redeemed church that is empowered by the Holy Spirit where self-will and personal motivation and sin and so forth is set aside in order that the Spirit of God may rule and reign and dominate.

Thirdly, the proper content of the church is that it was a teaching church. Notice this beautiful new church built on the day of Pentecost. It says they continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching. The apostles' doctrine or teaching. They were a church that taught the word of God. The word of God was not yet written. They didn't have a Bible in terms of a New Testament. But the apostles' doctrine was the word of God.

In 1 Corinthians 14:37 Paul says, "If any man claims to be spiritual let him acknowledge that the things that I say are the commandments of God." Jude says remember the things that were spoken by the apostles. Why? Because God gave his word through the apostles verbally then and now for us the apostles' word is written down in the books of the New Testament.

That church was built Jesus' way. A redeemed church empowered by the Holy Spirit committed to teaching the word of God and learning it. They were giving it and they were receiving it. The church will never be able to claim the guarantee of Matthew 16:18 if it doesn't teach the word of God. I don't know who you'll have in this pulpit in years to come. But I pray God for one thing. Don't ever, ever allow anybody to stand in this pulpit who is not committed to teaching the word of God. That's the key. They were a teaching church. They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine. There was teaching and there was learning.

There is a church right here in the valley, the founder of which has written a book called, Christ Versus Doctrineand in the book he makes the statement, "Doctrine is junk." There are pastors that believe that the pulpit is no place for teaching. Well, that isn't true of the church that Jesus built. He only built one from scratch and that was on Pentecost. And it was a teaching church.

When Paul writes to Timothy and Titus he says the same thing over and over. Teach sound doctrine. Teach the word. Preach the word. Don't get into vain genealogies and janglings and arguments. Just teach and preach and until I come give attendance to reading and exhortation and doctrine. Nourish them in sound doctrine he told Timothy.

And so the church is going to be built Jesus' way when it is a redeemed church controlled by the Spirit of God teaching the doctrine of the word of God.

Fourth, the first church that Jesus built was a fellowshipping church. Verse 42. "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread." They had fellowship. You say, "Well, when you have this many people can you have fellowship?" People say that a lot about a big church. I don't like a big church. You can't have fellowship. Listen, there were 3,120 people in the first church on the first day and the Bible says, "They continued steadfastly in ... fellowship."

Fellowship is simply sharing our lives with one another. Loving one another. Praying for one another. Edifying one another. Rebuking one another. Reproving one another. Exhorting one another. Giving to one another. Praying for one another. No matter who that is and no matter how big the larger group is, you can give your life to the people that God brings across your path. You can only have 200 acquaintances. You know that? Psychologists tell us. Twenty-five close friends at the most and 200 acquaintances. And the nice thing about a big church is you can choose the 200 you want. The other 3,000 you can ignore.

Fellowship can happen anywhere. It only takes two people to have fellowship. The outside number is irrelevant. It's whether you're committed to loving and sharing your life with others. These people had fellowship. Coinoneaand the word basically means partnership, togetherness. It's like Lord Nelson said after a great victory. He said, "I had the happy occasion to command a band of brothers." I'll tell you that's been one of the great joys that I've known at Grace Church is to have the happy occasion to minister to a band of brothers. Togetherness. Fellowship. Partnership.

Listen. We all have the same common eternal life. We all have the same Spirit of God. We all have the same power surging through us. We all are gonna spend eternity together. We all have the same Christ. The same God. The same church. The same family. And it's time we all experienced that with each other and shared it. If you just intend to come and sit in lonely isolation you will forfeit this fellowship. And then the church will not be being built Jesus' way.

If somebody stands up here and just bangs away on doctrine and everybody sits out there in indifference and isolation, with no mutual ministry, that will also forfeit the promise of Jesus that satan will never be able to overpower the church. All the parts have to be there.

God's design is for his people to fellowship. This young beautiful church. Fellowship. Notice that the central point of their fellowship was breaking bread. That's the Lord's table. As long as I'm here and I'm sure as long as the elders that are here are here, Grace Church is gonna meet at the Lord's table. Because that's the constant focal point of our fellowship. And it won't be long until there will be a table right up here and we'll be sharing in communion. This pulpit goes right down. I don't go down. The pulpit goes down. And we'll be having communion together right here. Month after month after month. I pray until Jesus comes. So that we might go right back to the place of common life in Christ. Right back to the point of unity. The cross. And you need to do the same. Breaking bread from house to house. Celebrating your unity. Celebrating your oneness. Sharing your fellowship.

This must be a fellowshipping church. As well as a teaching church. As well as a Spirit empowered church. As well as a redeemed church. And then the blueprint is right. And when the blueprint is right the guarantee is valid. Satan will never stop it.

And I would add one more because it's so valid. That first church was a praying church. They continued steadfastly in prayers. You see they had a promise. Jesus had said ask anything in My name and I'll give it that the Father may be glorified. And the praying here is not individual prayer. It's corporate. He's talking about the prayer of the family. We are to be praying together whether it's in corporate worship that has certain limitations or whether it's in your home with your family or in a prayer group where you meet once a week or twice a week or daily or whatever. We are to be committed to corporate prayer. We believe in prayer. We've seen God answer haven't we? We've seen God bring what we believed Him for to the very hour when we believed Him for it. We've seen God answer prayer so many times. We ought to recommit ourselves right here to prayer because prayer is the recognition of a total dependence upon God.

That church was a praying church. And we need to affirm the need for prayer. You can always get a crowd for a Christian rock concert but it's tough to get them together to pray. But that early church met for corporate prayer. What was the proper content? A redeemed church. A Spirit-filled church. A teaching church. A fellowshipping church. A praying church. That's the blueprint. And when any of those things are forfeited it doesn't meet the specs and Jesus says that's not My church. The guarantee is null and void. And there are plenty of churches that are empty today because they wavered off of the blueprint you see. And the Lord said I can't approve that church. And He's the inspector who makes that judgment.

Now that's the proper content. If the proper content is there the next thing takes place. Point two. The proper character. When a church has the proper content, what is it like? Notice the proper character in Verse 43. "And awe came upon every soul and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles and all that believed were together and had all things common and sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men as every man had need and they continuing daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house did eat their food with gladness and singleness of heart praising God." Stop there.

Now notice. When the content is right the character is right. You say well what was the character of this church? No. 1, it was an awesome church. Verse 43 literally says, "And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe." You know, the word is fabasin the Greek. It doesn't mean terror. It means reverence. It is a word that is used very specifically in the New Testament. It is reserved for times when people's minds are struck with an awe that is based on something powerful, something divine, something beyond their ability to explain or to handle.

It is used in Luke 7 and Luke 8. For example, where there is a resurrection from the dead and it says they were filled with awe. They had no explanation. They had seen something powerful, something divine.

And so when the world looked at that church they were filled with awe. They couldn't believe what they saw. It had the right character. It shocked the world. The world took notice of it.

I have often wondered how the community around us thinks about Grace Church. How shocking it must be when we first put these doors in. Somebody said, "Shouldn't those be made out of wood so the traffic doesn't distract the people?" And as I thought about that I figured, look, if I'm not more interesting than a car going by we will forget it anyway. But on the other hand, what must the people stopped at the light think about what's going on in here? Imagine at night when it's all lit up and they're all driving by. Saying what's going on in that place. A church ought to be able to put a little awe in the community.

That early church did. They were awesome. Notice in Verse 43. "Every soul was in awe." Everybody. The whole thing was inexplicable. An incredible thing had happened. One day there was no church. The next day 3,120 people. A shocking community of people experiencing God's power.

The second thing about this church it's character was not only awesome but powerful. Verse 43. "And many wonders and signs were done by the apostles." In that day God displayed his power in the apostolic way in the apostolic time with apostolic miracles. Today God doesn't do that. But God's power is nonetheless on display. God is healing people of illness today. God is putting homes together. God is bringing people out of drugs and alcohol and sin and bringing them to Christ. God is transforming families. God is transforming young people. God is changing businesses. God is doing marvelous and wondrous things. And the world has to look and say man, there's some kind of power going on in that community of people.

So the church was awesome and the church was powerful. And thirdly, the church was loving. It was loving. Verse 44. "And all that believed were together." I tell you I love that statement. I'd like to have that put right across the church. "And all that believed were together." Do you know what that means? Unity. Unity. All that believed. I don't know if that can be put across any church really. It could be all that believed are sort of together. There's a few dissenters. Or all that believed are definitely not together.

At that church everybody that believed was together. They knew the spirit of 1 Corinthians 1:10 that you think the same thing, feel the same thing, and speak the same thing. Beautiful unity. There was love there and it showed. They had all things common. In other words, I didn't own anything to the exclusion of you. If need what I own, here. That's all. I give it to you. If you have need and I have supply, here's my supply for your need.

Actually Verse 45 says they were selling their possessions and goods, parting them to all men as every man had need. And those are what we call in the Greek imperfect verbs. It doesn't mean they're less than perfect. Imperfect is a tense. It's continuous action in the past. And they were continuously selling things as people were continuing to have needs. It's not communism. It's not they all threw everything in a pot and they dove it out equally. No. That wouldn't give us the opportunity to express love, would it? The inequalities in the church give us the occasion for love.

And so they were simply giving things, selling in order to get money to give to somebody when somebody had a need. There was a sharing and a love that was obvious to the world. In Verse 46, "continuing daily with one accord in the temple." There they are in one accord again. "Breaking bread from house to house." They were going from home to home sharing communion. "They ate their food with gladness, singleness of heart, praising God."

Now notice in Verse 46, "singleness of heart." Verse 46, "one accord." Verse 44, "all things common." You see the unity there? There's just a beautiful oneness that comes from love. The church with the right content manifests the right character. They were awesome. They were powerful. God is at work. They were loving. Now you take that kind of a community of people. Look at the size of our church. Five, six thousand people. Drop them in the middle of Los Angeles and let them be awesome, powerful as God's power is displayed, and full of love and you know something? You're gonna have some results. The church with the proper content will have the proper character and lastly will manifest the proper consequences. The proper consequences.

Verse 46. "They did eat their food with gladness and singleness of heart praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." You know what the proper consequences are to the proper character? First of all, gladness. You can tell a church that has the proper content living out the proper character because the first consequence is it's gonna have happy people. Happy people. People say that about Grace a lot. They say, "Everybody around here is so happy." God has been good. Hasn't He? God has been good.

I've been in churches in other parts of the world where there's not so much to be happy about. And it isn't because they're not faithful to God. God has gone over and above here, hasn't He? Why should we have this place? And our brothers and sisters in Cairo, Egypt of whom there may be a total of 150 Christians be meeting in a hidden place? What have we done to deserve this? Why? Let not our happiness be predicated on our facility. Let it be on the Lord.

And that's what happened here. They were happy because of all the right things. They were happy because they were redeemed. They were happy because they were Spirit filled. They were happy because they were learning the truth of God. They were happy for all those reasons. They were happy because they were making an impact on their world. They were happy because they loved each other. They were happy because God was at work.

The church should be happy. The church should be filled with joy. That was the first consequence. Second one was not only did they have joy but they had praise. Praising God. Verse 47. Another consequence of the right church living the right way is that that church will be a praising church. More and more I'm committed to the fact that our music and our worship together should just be praise to God. Because there's so little of that. God's world is so much in rebellion it just seems like here and there one little spot or other on the globe on Sunday mornings we could offer some praise. To a God who deserves the praise of every lip in the world.

And so this church was a church full of joy, a church full of praise and then a final consequence an attractive church. Where people were being saved. You could call this growth. The end of Verse 47. "The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." Why? Because their lifestyle had favor with all the people. A growing church. How often did the Lord add to the church? Daily.

Listen. My prayer for Grace Church is that it will grow daily. I'd like to come to the place in my life where we have to meet here every day of the week because we gotta get the people in. They had 5,000 in Acts 4 and 20,000 two chapters later. And that's the way the church ought to grow. That's what God wants.

And you know something? It will grow that way and the gates of hell can't stop Grace Church from growing. If we have the proper content, manifest the proper character, God will bring the proper consequence and this church will grow to the glory of God. That's my prayer people. That's my prayer. I trust that's your prayer, too.

It's been a wonderful morning, hasn't it? We just praise God for you and what I've said this morning really doesn't come out of any notes. Just kind of out of my heart. Because these are the things I pray for concerning Grace Church. That we would be the church that God built His way and the gates of hell would never prevail against it. Until Jesus comes.

Father, dismiss us now to come back together again tonight with excitement waiting for what you have yet to teach us about what you're willing to do for us as well as asking us to be what you've planned for us to be. Seal to our hearts your divine truth. And we'll give you the glory. In Jesus' name. And all God's people said Amen. God bless you.

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Unleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time
Since 1969


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Since 1969