A continuation of teaching on the beginnings of Christ's church
Retold: Jesus Calms the Storm
Retold: The Prodigal Son
Retold: The Beginning of the Church Part 2
Retold: The Beginning of the Church
Retold: Jonah and the Whale
Retold: Daniel and the Lions' Den
Retold: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Retold: David and Goliath
Retold: The Ten Commandments
Retold: Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet
Retold: Ruth and Naomi
Retold: The Good Samaritan
Have you heard the story of Pentecost? As we continue our series, Retold, Todd Wagner teaches through Acts 2:1-47, showing us that God empowers his church with life change, community, a sense of awe, and a desire to declare the works of God.
Well, good morning! It is great to be with those of you who are here in the room and those of you who are still watching online. We love being able to serve you in this way. For those who are curious if you could come and social distance, we have plenty of room here right now for folks to come and social distance.
As we said, we appreciate you wearing masks when you sing. We have been told a lot of crazy things these last months, but we've been told that one of the most dangerous things you can do is to sing close to one another, so we encourage folks to wear a mask when they're singing. Once that's done, there's plenty of room to spread out.
Feel free to take those off and just listen and just be welcome here. We have plenty of room here all around our campus. We're thrilled to slowly be coming back. We're doing the best we can to watch all that's going on and move more and more back to normal. We hope the old normal is the new normal, despite what some people maybe are predicting. We'll see. We'll just keep paying attention. I predict if we pray, we'll make more of this time. So let's do that together now. All right?
Father, would you just still our hearts? So many things are distracting us. It's just so easy to be consumed with criticisms and critical theories and critical people and just our own heart's criticism of how we or others are handling things. You have told us not to focus on anything but you, to set our minds on the things above and not on the things that are on the earth.
So right now, we pray that you would crash into our world and that you would teach our hearts what they need to know so that we can live in this world in a way that is so different and so marked by that which is of you that people would say it's supernatural. That we would be a people of your possession, holy, just separate and different from others.
We just confess that a lot of times we don't look as different as we want to look. We know that makes people wonder if you're as powerful as you say you are. Those of us who know you are coming to once again be transformed by the renewing of our minds and then to gather throughout the week in a way that encourages each other more and more in that way.
There are friends I know who are tuning in, and who are even here right now, who are wondering if you're a God who can bring grace and healing to a heart that isn't just critical but is convicted that something is not as it should be. Thank you that you're nothing like we can imagine, but you're good and gracious and kind. I pray we get a glimpse of you right now as we study your Word. We love you and we thank you that we can meet with you and learn from you. Help us to do that now in Christ's name, amen.
Well, we are going to spend a few more weeks, really through Labor Day weekend, with this series that we are having a lot of fun with called Retold. As you saw there in what we call the bumper that syncs us all up together, this series is retelling true stories from history. Now we're not a bunch of people following cleverly devised tales, to use the words of Peter.
We are people who are listening to God, who has revealed who he is in the context of human history. Human history is his story showing his good name and his good work in the midst of all that's going on. So we want to learn from that. What God has done is he has chosen to keep some of that historical record.
Then in the midst of that, he raised up certain individuals in history who, in his infinite kindness and wisdom, he has chosen to give us his perfect Word, which is profitable to teach us, reprove us, correct us, and to train us in righteousness that the men and women of God could be adequate and equipped for every good work. So that's what we're going to do right here. We're looking at a true story from history. It's the true story of a group of people who are just like you and me.
They were not folks who stumbled down off some said Mount Olympus. They were not great men of old. They were men and women like you and me who were broken and despairing, who were hateful and hating one another, filled with malice and envy, but the kindness of God appeared to them. He began to work in them and through them to produce change and bring grace into the world as they've imitated him in the fullest and most perfect revelation of his nature, which is through Jesus Christ.
That's what the Scripture says. "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son…" Who is the exact representation of his nature. We believe that Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. Jesus believed if we trusted in him that we would be reconciled to God and the power which worked in him would work in us.
Jesus, being the means through which men can be reconciled to God, would take those men reconciled to God and allow others to know Jesus, where they too could be restored into relationship with him. Then when we're restored into relationship with God, we get more Eden, less chaos. The church should be a picture of more of what God intended in human relationships.
It's why, as you've heard us say, we are trying to help people who are, by nature, tribal and bent on ethnicity and prone to invent things that don't exist according to Scripture. That there are two or three or four or hundreds of different classes of men based on small external differences. That some are more valuable than others. We know better.
We know there is one Lord, one God, on Father over all and in all. When we learn to walk with him and know him and love him, it changes our world and we become a source of hope to the world. This is true stuff. So this week, I was reading in a book called Acts, which is where we're going to be again today, and I was going back for various reasons and was reading in the middle of the book.
I was reading in Acts, chapters 11 and 12. I was reading about a man who was procurator or one of the regional leaders of Rome over what we would know today as the Palestinian area or Israel and other pieces attached to that little land mass, like the country of Israel today. I was struck by something. I've been to Caesarea by the Sea, which is real near a town called Haifa, which you might hear in the news. It's just a little bit north of Jerusalem.
I've been there and I've stood in the place, in the actual theater where Acts 12 happened. I've talked a lot about this historical event with people. I decided to go back and to read the antiquities of Josephus. Josephus was a scholar. He was a historian who lived about the time of Christ or during the time of Christ.
I read his perspective on what happened with Herod, Herod Agrippa, who was one of the sons of Herod the Great, who built most of what you see and still stands today in the nation of Israel. I was just reminded again that what I'm studying is true. These are true stories from history. Now what we're looking at is a group of people who are called the church.
The word church, the Greek word is ekklesia, which means to be called out from. It's a group of people, specifically, who have been called out of darkness into the marvelous light of the truth of who God is. We're no longer left to ourselves to try and figure out who we are, how we got here, or what we're supposed to do. God is telling us who we are, who our Father is, and how we're to live.
We looked at that last week in Acts, chapter 1, which we saw was one of the five historical books in what we commonly call our New Testament. We see that Jesus gave orders to his people. There was a purpose. He told them to go proclaim things concerning the kingdom of God, that they were going to be a people who encourage each other and reminded each other and gathered together and remembered these things.
That's why we're still doing it today. That they would be given a provision from the Father that would be a power in them. Through that power that he gave them, they would be able to be those people. That's what we looked at last week. Now let me just say this. The power is not like spinach that Popeye eats.
The power is us associated with the living person who is God, who is the Holy Spirit, who is the Son. When we live in relationship with him, you have to imagine almost as if… This is a bad analogy. Every metaphor fails at some point. But imagine if every second you had, you could just not have to think for yourself, but you could turn to a wiser benevolent perfect creature and go, "Hey, I don't want to do what I think I should do right here. What do you think I should do?"
Then he would tell you and remind you why it's going to work out. He would comfort you while there's temporary criticism for what you're doing. He would give you a vision and a picture for the long return of that benefit of you doing that. Then you would then listen to him and you would live that way. You would never have to lean on your own understanding, but in all your ways you could acknowledge him.
That's the power. God doesn't tell us to change ourselves because we love him. He tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind because we're going to pay attention to who he is and what he says, and not live according to our own understanding. This is where man got messed up from the very beginning.
We said, "I don't believe God's Word is true. I don't think disobeying him is that big of a deal. I don't really think he is good." When you come to understand the kindness and goodness of God and begin to walk with him, it is transformative in your life. So let's look at this true story. We're going to look at Acts 2. I'm going to start by letting you hear the very first thing that the church did once it received power. It will be instructive to us.
I have a buddy who used to hang out here a little bit who is now leading another church just south of here. There have been a few more members of our staff who have gone down there to join my friend JP at Harris Creek in Waco, which if you have a kid heading down to Baylor University, you have a great community of believers there waiting for you to jump into.
He was meeting with his staff recently, and they were talking about some things they were going to do and the fact that new members were joining their team and they were coming from our staff to that staff. Somebody goes, "Hey, are we just going to be a little Watermark?" I love what JP said. He just said, "Would that be a problem? Would that be a problem?"
I told him, "What you really should've said…" and he said, "I did go on to say that," is, "Hey, is there something out of step with those people in Dallas that's inconsistent with Acts 2? Because if there is, let's help them correct it, but if they're just like what Jesus wants a church to be…" And we know we're not. We know we're not a perfect church, but we do believe we're trying to aspire to God's perfect mission and follow our perfect Savior, right?
Are we going to be just like this church that I'm going to read to you in history today? Because our goal when we started was to be as much like God intended his first church to be as we can be today. By the way, the church in Acts 2 wasn't perfect. The church in Acts 2 needed a Savior. The church in Acts 2 gave glory to Jesus and didn't just say that they were the hope of the world.
Jesus is the hope of the world, but Christ in and through his church brings hope to the world. So I think its fair to say the church, rightly living in relationship with God, is the hope of the world because it's the means of grace. So Acts 2. This is when what God promised in Acts 1:8. "…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses…" That event is about to happen.
Let's watch it, and then you watch what the church goes right to work to do. So here we go. "When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind…" That was the best they could describe it. Because God wanted them to know, "Hey something is coming to you now. This is a one-time historical event. It doesn't need to be repeated."
What's going to be repeated throughout history is men, who are now part of this church, live in a way that when the power of God lives among them it's like a tornado of mercy and grace and goodness and love and redemption that happens. I think it should be just as physical and evident to the senses as this one expression of the Spirit coming was.
I'm going to give you some examples of how that actually is happening still today, but watch this. "And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them." There was a visible picture that they could see. It's almost like, "Oh my gosh! Something is happening right here." There's a refining. There's a gift. God is doing what he said he was going to do.
"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues…" The word tongues right there is a word that is means languages. It's the Greek word that we get glossary from. They began to speak with a glossary of other, you're going to find out in a minute, dialects. Literally the word glossary comes from the Greek word glossa, which means language or tongue.
You speak with this glossary. They spoke in that glossary in different dialects. Not something that wasn't on earth but languages that were on earth used by a broad group of people. You're going to see who those people were right here in just a second. It says, "Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven."
Because it was one of the feasts that godly men would go to Jerusalem with three times a year. Godly Jewish men and leaders would go to Jerusalem to be together to remember something about the nature and character of God that they would then strengthen one another and go back to their different places where they walked with God and lived with God and fellowshipped with others who knew God in their different places around the earth.
They would get together three different times a year. This was one of them. So there were godly Jews from all around the world that were there together. It says, "And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them…" You're going to find out who these them were in just a second.
"…was hearing [the disciples, the apostles] speak in his own [dialect] . They were amazed and astonished, saying, 'Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?'" "Aren't they Galileans? They might know Greek. They certainly know Aramaic. A few of them might've picked up some other things, but there's no way these are educated men."
"'And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes [those who have come to believe that the God of the Jews is the one true God] , Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in [a glossary that we understand] of the mighty deeds of God.'"
That's what it says. The Holy Spirit was giving them utterance. When the Holy Spirit is informing your life, this is what you're going to do. You're going to speak forth the mysteries of God. Do you remember back what I said last week that God said, "Hey listen, you have a purpose. These are your orders. That is to make a proclamation about the kingdom of God. You're a people who are beginning to give that provision and a power to tell and proclaim who God is, how he is the one true King, and what he is going to be about."
That's what spiritual people do. It's what people filled with the Holy Spirit do. If you look at the job of the Holy Spirit in Scripture, he exalts Christ. So if you are being controlled by the Spirit, you will speak in a way that exalts Christ. So Paul heard them. In verse 12 it says, "And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, 'What does this mean?'"
Now let me just say this. When you come into relationship with God, it ought to be a tornadic transformation in your life. If there is not radical change when the wind of redemption comes into your life, it should concern you. Now none of us change all the way all the time completely at once, but it is a fact that God's intention is that his presence in our lives brings about radical change that's visible to people.
Folks ought to look at you and go, "What's going on? Wasn't that guy a pagan just like us? Now he lives with a different power. He speaks with a different tongue. He loves with a different way. He used to be hateful, hating others, filled with malice and envy, enslaved by various lusts and pleasures just like us, but something has changed."
We hear this again and again from people who are observing the church. They just go, "You know what? I don't see any difference between those who say they know God and the rest of us." It should confuse them, and it should make them go, "I don't think the Bible is true because these people say they're meeting the God of the Bible, and when the God of the Bible shows up…"
What verse 12 in Acts 2 does where it says when people look at the lives of folks who come into relationship with God, they should go, "What does this mean? Why is your family different? Why do you love differently? Why do you use money differently? Why are you not filled with divisions based on ethnicity, what the world calls races? What's this mean? What are we to make of this?" Then we are to explain to them what it means. This is what Peter does in verse 14.
"But others were mocking and saying, 'They are full of sweet wine.' But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: 'Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only [nine in the morning] …'" This isn't Old Miss. Most people aren't drunk by nine in the morning.
So he goes on to say, "What's happening right here is what God said would happen when he accomplished what he said he was going to accomplish." He quotes from the prophet Joel all the way down through verse 21. Then he goes on and he says, "The reason that what the prophet Joel spoke about is because what Isaiah spoke about and what the psalmist spoke about was going to happen."
He talks about Jesus and what Jesus has done. Then he gets to verse 29. He tells some more about God's promised fulfillment of redemption of people through his Deliverer, who would be the Messiah. Then he basically says this. "Here's the deal. You participated in murdering God's blessing to the world."
Now that's not usually a way to win friends and influence people, but that was his first message. "You've made a horrible mistake. You've tread upon the grace of God, spit in his face, turned him over to the Romans, and together you killed the hope of the world." Now let me just ask you a question.
Let's just say you believe that that was true, that you were a part of spitting in the face of a loving, kind God, who is not just slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness but is said that he will by no means let the guilty go unpunished. Let's just say I could convince you that this was the story, that you participated in the crucifixion, the mockery of, and the corporate world hatred toward God's provision to rescue you.
You don't have to believe that story is true. I just want you to ask yourself, "If that was true, what would I do?" Here's the answer. You would do exactly what they did in Acts, chapter 2, verse 37. "Now when they heard this…" Like they did. "…they were pierced to the heart…" Like, "Are you kidding me? The one thing that could save me, I cursed? The one thing that was good, I called evil? The one God who was merciful, I said was a devil?"
It should greatly trouble you. It should pierce you to the heart. Then you should say this. "'Brethren, what shall we do?'" "We are in great trouble. What should we do?" "Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you [should be identified with] in the name of Jesus Christ…'" That's what the word baptized means. "'… for the forgiveness of your sins…'"
Then when you do that, when you acknowledge that Christ is the way God pays the penalty so that he can make him who knew no sin to become sin on your behalf that you might become the righteousness of God in him and you can be restored back into relationship with him. When you are restored back into relationship with him, the Spirit of God is going to become operative and powerful and work in your life.
When that happens, you can join us in being these people called out of darkness into his marvelous light. We're no better than you, but the kindness of God has done for us exactly what he just did for you, which is you came to your senses and you go, "I'm going to change the way I think. God isn't somebody to be managed. God isn't somebody to be appeased. God is good and God is glorious and God is kind and God has rescued me, and God is going to resolve all the conflict that's in my heart. I want to be identified with grace and with what Jesus has done."
I want to say this to you this morning. Verse 39: "'For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.' And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation!'" Look, you may not believe that God is good, but can we agree about this? This is a perverse generation. Can we agree with that? Can we agree that left to ourselves, we are adding to that perversity?
Anytime Todd Wagner lives the way Todd Wagner wants to, I still add to the perversity. The only things that I do that are not perverse are things that I do when I lean not on my own understanding but in all my ways I acknowledge him. I mean, apart from him I have nothing except that which deserves judgment. "So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls."
You know, let me just take a moment as we get started to go a little bit deeper now in 42 through 47. This one little section right here where they say, "What shall we do that we might do the thing that God wants us to do?" This exact same question was asked, not of Peter, but of Jesus, in John, chapter 6.
In John chapter 6, there was a moment when Jesus had been talking to them about the fact that they loved what he was providing for them, but they didn't love him, the provision. So John 6:26 says, "'Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs…'" and you understood those signs pointed to who I was, but because you liked what I gave you.
You just wanted more trinkets, toys, and fleeting experiences and momentary satisfactions instead of finding the source of satisfaction for your soul. So he says to them in verse 27, "'Do not work for the food [don't strive for fleeting things] "'…which perishes…'" But what you should do is long "…for the food which endures to eternal life…" Which brings about unrelenting, continual change.
This was Jesus' favorite metaphor. It's what he said to the woman at the well. Like when she says, "Do you want me to get you a glass of water?" He said, "If you knew who I was, you would ask me for some water that if you drank of it, you would never thirst again." She looked at him and said, "What water do you speak of?" It wasn't a literal glass.
So here he is saying it's not a literal meal. So in verse 28, they say to him, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?" This is the answer. If you forget everything else I say after today, this is what you need to know. In verse 29, Jesus says, this is what you should do. "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."
The historical Jesus, crucified, dead and buried, raised on the third day as a remission for your sins. You see in him the goodness and the kindness and the graciousness of God. You run toward him with all of your heart. You won't be saved because of the way you run toward him, but the fact that you run toward him is evidence that you're saved.
Let me say this to you again. Okay? You're not going to be saved because of what you do, but what you do is evidence that what you've done is come to understand that God is good and his Word is true. So watch what the church does. Are you ready? This is not difficult to see the glory of God and his design in the midst of this, but here we go.
Verse 42. These people then who came together along with those who had already come to their senses. "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching…" That's the first thing. They became devoted to the Word of God. They were individuals who wanted to learn more of God's ways. Remember what I told you?
What if I had mentioned to you that there was a God who was kind, who was good, who would always walk with you and strengthen your heart, and who would keep you from being a fool, who would teach you and reprove you and correct you and train you for righteousness? You would go, "I want to keep looking to him and say, 'What do you think I should do? Not my will, but your will be done.'"
"You mean I'll never miss another answer on the test?" The answer is, "As long as you look to God and listen to God and yield to God, you'll never miss another answer on the test." Our problem is that we're continually quenching the Spirit, grieving the Spirit. We go our own way, and that's why we have to continually live in a life of repentance.
Repentance is both a one-time act, and it is a continual act. Martin Luther is the guy who said, "The entire life of believers should be repentance." I am constantly repenting of my desire to live my own way. We quoted the verse, I think, even if you were in the room or with us earlier in our worship time, that we are to present our lives as living and holy sacrifices.
The problem with living sacrifices is they keep crawling off the altar, right? I know I do. I have to continually repent and go back, where I go, "Not my will, but your will be done. I must decrease. You must increase." So they were devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching. Now let me just say this to you.
You don't read your Bible as an intellectual exercise. This is not a vitamin. This is not a spiritual act of sacrifice that we do so that God knows, "I read your law today." No, you don't read your Bible so you can learn facts about God. You read your Bible so that you could know one thing: How can I live more in relationship with and to the glory of the God who is good, this one whose Word is true?
I don't want to miss it. I'm so desperate for it, I want you to instruct me and teach me in the way I should go. I mean, what if I told you that you could have an ongoing conversation with God and learn his ways? Even though the world would criticize you, the only one whose opinion matters would one day say, "Well done," to you.
See, that's the way you have to come to your Bible. Like, "Okay, Lord. You're a loving Father, the dad I never had. Even the good dad I had wasn't a perfect father. But you're a perfect Father. Show me your ways. Teach me how to live, and teach me how to love." That's what your Bible is. This is why, at the very end of his life, Paul says this in 2 Timothy, chapter 4. He says,
"I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus…" So you remember how the early church got orders? So did the ongoing church. "I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…"
Let me just tell you what else. The time will also come when men won't teach sound doctrine. There are teachers and ministers who never speak of repentance and self-denial. It's no surprise that those teachers are very popular, but they are also false prophets. We preach a ministry of repentance.
We don't tell you that God is here to give you tips and techniques to make this your best life now. We call you to repent of your sin, which there's only one. It's not your homosexuality. It's not your crony capitalism. It's not your racism. That's not the problem. They are fruits of your problem. It's not your pornography addiction. It's not for your heterosexual insanity.
It's not for your moodiness and self-will. Those are symptoms of the problem. Your problem is that you don't believe God is good. That's sin. You don't believe that he is true, right, pure, and lovely. You don't think that disobeying him is that big of a deal. You need to repent. I needed to repent. I need to continually repent anytime I drift back toward those things.
Gang, can I just tell you that one of the things that we have to do is be a people who are devoted to the apostles' teaching, because the apostles are those sent forth from Jesus that the Spirit of God worked in and through to capture the record of his life specifically and to illumine it so that the church would know how they are to live until Christ himself returns.
So we're like, "Tell me more, Father." That's why we're devoted to it. That's why when you get together for fellowship, which is the next thing they did, it says they were there, "…to fellowship…" This is the true story of what people in history did who were so faithful at it that eventually we get to 2000 and a body of people in Texas get together and become Watermark.
We want to be a people who are authentic and who live to the excellencies of our Father and who leave a lasting impression. The way we're going to do it is the same way these people in history did it. Are you giving attention, are you devoting daily to the apostles' teaching? Is there fellowship? Are you doing the business of life together?
We're called Watermark Community Church. Can I just tell you something? You don't get community by pursuing community. You get fellowship, Christian fellowship, when you pursue Christ. We don't want you just to get together. We want you to pursue Christ. As you both pursue Christ, you will come together. You can have community without Christ. You cannot have Christ without community.
If you say you know God and love God and choose not to be part of his body, not to be a part of his flock, then you are deluding yourself and you need to repent. If all you're doing is getting together and talking about the news or debating whether or not people should wear masks or what's going to happen in November, you're not doing community.
I mean, you're getting together. You're just not doing what Acts is talking about. You should be in the business of saying, "How can we be people who know God, love God, and pay attention to him? We pursue each other relationally. We eat meals together and we have conversations about eternal things and we pray. We are devoted to one another. So we counsel biblically. We plead with God corporately. "Show us more of your will and way."
Is that what you're doing? If not, your Community Group, your small expression of the church of Jesus Christ, is not going to be an Acts 2 community. So you can have conversations. It's okay to laugh and talk about other things, but if your group business is not defined by pursuing each other for the purpose of spurring each other on to love and good deeds and more of what Christ says his people should be, you're not being the church.
Watch this. But when you do this the way that Jesus says you should do this, here's really the second major characteristic. The first thing is you're devoted to these things together. There's going to be, "Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe…" A sense of awe. Now that sense of awe, we know right here it goes on to say, "…and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles."
Guys, there should be a tornadic transformation wherever God's people get together and pursue him. It should be different, radically different! Like the old has passed away and something new has come. There's a new foundation that has to be built up. It's going to be glorious to the Architect's design. The world is going to see there's something different about that community. There should be a sense of awe.
The reason that we have the Watermark News here is we're letting you know that this is true and that Jesus is still doing exactly what he said he would do. We tell you stories that are ripped right out of the Gospels. You can go, "Oh my gosh! That Jesus is alive! His Spirit is still working and he is still doing the exact same things he did in Gadarene, in Magdala, in Capernaum. He is doing it in Dallas and Frisco and Plano and Fort Worth. He is doing it in Waco. He is doing it in Singapore. He is doing it everywhere the people of God exist."
It's interesting. When I taught through the book of Acts, verse by verse, I crammed it into a year and a half. When we did that, the day that I taught this, the Watermark News story was this one. I went and grabbed it. It was Shelly Lindahl. Shelly is one of our leaders here at Watermark. This was Shelly's story. See if this doesn't sound like… She was born to a mother who wanted to murder her. Her mom was abortion-determined, abortion-minded, but she didn't go through with it, but she also didn't grow up with her biological father.
She was uncared for as a child. She was abused by an adult male neighbor because she was vulnerable. Later, she was abused by a female babysitter. Later, she was abused by a track coach. Then she left her biological mother, lived with her biological father, and there was an abusive stepmother who murdered her biological father.
She had an eating disorder. She herself got pregnant in illicit relationships and chose to not bring those children into the world underneath her as a mother, so she was responsible for the murder of two of her children. She was like the woman at the well: she had multiple marriages. She lived after those multiple marriages in immoral relationships continually, constantly committing adultery, affecting other marriages and destroying them. She was bound by legalism in her performance, and she was addicted to pornography.
She got to the end of herself and met Jesus. Now she is a part of this group that the world is going, "What's going on here? This woman is a source of grace and kindness. She is not hateful, hating one another, enslaved by various lusts and pleasures. But there is order and morality and grace and kindness and sanity."
Listen to the last paragraph of her story. She goes, "I'm far from being perfect, but I now can laugh. There's a lot of laughter and love at my house. I'm now engaged with the children that I did bring into this world, 14-17 years old. I can now ask their forgiveness when I mess up as their mother. When they're struggling, I'm a source of grace to them and teach them how to forgive. I'm a leader now in our sexual abuse recovery ministry."
I mean, if that doesn't make you go, "Holy smokes…" If I read that out of Mark 4, you'd go, "That's what I like about the Bible. If I saw something like that, I'd believe in that God." Well, they're everywhere here. Raise your hand if you're here and you have a story that if people knew the truth about you and the way God has put it back on course, they would just go, "Oh my gosh, that's a tornadic change."
Raise your hand if that's your story. Okay. A bunch of hands just went up, and the hands that didn't that are believers are just saying, "The miracle is that I've begun to walk with God at an early age because my parents have testified to me what they used to be like in Egypt. I learned to walk with God from an early age." Sense of awe. Are you kidding me? It's all over the place.
Signs and wonders? Don't you go to some church that works through psychosomatic illnesses and has people speak in nonsense languages that don't exist so you can think you experienced the power of God. The gospel is the power of God. That's Romans 1:16. The mark of the Spirit of God in your life is not that you speak in a tongue no one can understand.
It's that you can control the tongue you have and it becomes filled with the utterances of the glory and the kindness of God. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…" Watch this. There wasn't just a sense of awe, just like there is here by the grace of God. "…taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common…"
Okay, this is relevant, because there's an election coming up and there were even people who were competing for certain positions of power to be nominated within parties that would've said, "Hey, we want to move more towards a socialistic idea of how we should relate to one another." If you read your Bible, you're even going to see right here that, "Oh, that's what the early church did."
"And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need." Can I just say this? This is not socialism. It's not communism. This is not collectivism. This is not government control of belongings. This is not a world where government controls personal property. This is a world where people are controlled by the servant example of their leader.
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…" Who now skipping from Philippians over to 2 Corinthians, you would hear, "…that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich."
Listen, socialism and communism are antithetical to the Scriptures, and so are greed, materialism, and crony capitalism. So is accumulating for yourself more and more and more while you remain indifferent to the needs of others.
Church, we have people from every class who are members of our church. If you have more than you need, and most of you do, you should make it your job to not just give to people who are not working in the way that they should, but you should live in a way where you are attuned to the need of individuals who are seeking to respond to God and care for them.
If you're stuck and don't know who those people are who are faithful and not looking to exploit the system? Let us help you find them. Don't vote for people in office who are going to govern you by taking what is yours and forcibly giving it to others. I'm going to tell you if you vote for those people, you're going to create in a world such bitterness and animosity and a sense of injustice among people that they're going to elect rulers who will come after you if you don't find a ruler who will change you.
So this hungering for a different way is because the church isn't living according to the Way. So wake up, O sleeper, and live as he encourages you to live. Day by day. We don't just meet on Sunday. We gather continually. It's day by day. It's not, "See you next week." It's, "Who are the people you're going to run with throughout the week as you worship him?"
Continue in one mind, people who aren't just hanging together but who are running toward Christ together. People who get together in house to house and take their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart. Not enforced potlucks, not required mandatory meetings because you can't be a member if you don't, but because you see it's the way of life.
Then verse 47. What happens when you do this is people are "…praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved." You're going to find this idea all through the rest of the book of Acts. It should be the case here. Are you, church? Is your mouth filled with the utterances of God? Are you declaring his excellencies?
Do you believe it's the power of God to bring about transformation when you tell others about the goodness of God? Not your goodness, not that you go to a good church, that you have a good God, and he works in the church to make it good. Part of the kindness of God is you're here to tell other people what he has done in your life, what he is doing in your life, and you're going to be a means of grace to them.
Church, have you this week done the work of an evangelist? If not, you have not been yielded to his Spirit. You have not followed Jesus. The world is going to be forced to look for other alternatives in the form of social justice and critical race theory and socialism and other insanities. They're going to be forced to try and be a millionaire by the time they're 30 or be one of the 1 percent, because that's where hope is.
Church, have you done the work of an evangelist this week? If not, we're not the church that other churches should want to learn from. We should repent. We're just going to close by singing a song. The song is the "Goodness of God." It's a song that I've been singing to myself a lot lately. In that song, it says, "Your goodness is running after, it's running after me."
The goodness of God is running after you again today as God calls you to repent and calls you to know more of who he and what he wants for you. Do you know what I should be able to say with integrity? The Watermark News today is my little friend Krista McCoy. What Krista has said in here is, "The goodness of God ran after me in the church."
What Krista just says is the goodness of God was running after her, was running after her. Guess what you're going to see if you read the story. It was the church that Krista could run to and that ran after her, and in a broken home where she was abandoned, and it led to all kinds of hurt and pain and immoralities, the goodness of God ran after her in the midst of his people. Let's run, church.
Father, I pray that we would continually repent. That we'd be reminded of your goodness so that we can yield to it and that your goodness would then live in us and through us. That we would devote ourselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship and to the breaking of bread and to prayer. That there'd be a sense of awe among us.
That you would create in us such a transformation that instead of being enslaved to various lusts and pleasures we would be servants of Christ and sources of grace and mercy to the world. That others could see us taking what you have given us and sharing it with others to the glory of our Savior. That day by day, we would gather together and break bread, and have one mind that Jesus is Lord. We would tell others of your goodness and you would add others to this community of aliens and strangers that are filled with hope in this world. In Jesus' name, amen.