Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 31, October 19, 2008
Pulpit Series Volume 18, Issue 31, October 19, 2008
ACTS 2:12 What does this mean?
ACTS 2:37 This is that!
ACTS 2:12 What will we do?
Over 5,000 kilometers wide, Canada’s 10 provinces and three
territories are home to 31 million residents. This is a typical Sunday morning in Anytown, Canada. Our local churches are having a morning service as per usual of most of the 20,000 Christian church services across this great land. The people respectfully listen to earnest preachers. They may not be particularly stirred, but they don’t fall asleep. Soon every one will leave the church building with a sense, a comfortable sense of having done their duty.
I can’t help wonder, if we really believe the glorious things men and women of God preach about, those wonderful truths we’ve gathered here to talk about. If we really believed would we go out so lifelessly?
Erhard said something Tuesday morning that hit me…. “People need to stop acting like Christians and just be Christians”.
After all, if 2000 years ago there lived on this earth a Man who was also God, if He was all He claimed to be and if He did all the record says He did, shouldn’t we be excited about it?
So how do we get back the lost radiance of Christian faith? Strange thing about Christians, we’re afraid not to give something to the cause of Christ, yet we’re equally afraid to give it everything. Yet, if it is worth anything, isn’t worth everything.
If we’re not going to live out our faith, let’s take down our sign.
The Early Church met the same kinds of problems we face today, the same combination of opportunity and opposition.
One big difference - then the church was in conflict with outside forces; now she is in a compromise with them.
Sadduceeism: The Sadducees denied the resurrection. We call them modernists, but modernism is not modern; it is older than dirt. We’ve had it ever since men first doubted God's Word.
But the Church today is not meeting Sadduceeism as the Early Church met it. Then it was outside the Church; now it is inside, even in pulpits, where we are told that the Bible merely contains God's Word.
Pharisaism: The Early Church met pharisaism. That was ritualism, form without force. Once again, what was outside the Church then is inside now. “Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.”
The Drop Dead Couple: The Early Church encountered Ananias and Sapphira. Their sin didn’t lie in giving part or in keeping part but in pretending that they gave the whole. The Church was at such a height of rightness, that liars couldn’t stand it. If we had spiritual purity like that in our fellowships there’d be corpses everywhere.
Sadly today, men with fingers crossed, one hand behind their backs, sing, “I surrender all.”
Although we’ve had many courses in stewardship and have been told countless times that we are not our own but are bought with a price, we still withhold from God our time, talents and money.
Above all we hold back ourselves.
Persecution: The Early Church met persecution. Peter and John forbidden to preach in the Name of Jesus, had the church pray for more boldness, the thing that got them into trouble in the first place.
From then on, the path of the church was a path of blood and fire, but “the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church”. The church always has prospered in persecution but suffered in prosperity.
Vance Havnar speaking of the church said, “She is secure in danger but endangered by security. She has always been rich when poor, and poor when rich. She has had least treasure in heaven when she has had most money in the bank.”
Idolatry: The Early Church met idolatry. In Athens Paul saw only a city given to idolatry. They listened until he came to the resurrection and repentance and then, like many in the 20th century, they smiled him away. Paul left Athens, never to return.
He went back to places where he was persecuted, but he had no time to waste on the mild, intellectual curiosity which we court so fervently today.
Demonism: The Early Church met demonism in Philippi and Ephesus. Paul, as usual, had a head-on collision. If you think our cities are any better today you don't know our cities.
But the church today is not meeting it as Paul met it; we try to handle it with psychiatry instead of preaching. Have we forgotten that “Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.”
There are congregations a plenty of whom it can be said, as far as experience goes, “We’ve not so much as heard of the Holy Spirit.”
No matter what the Early Church met, she met it triumphantly.
What is wrong with us that we don’t follow her example?
How do we recapture the lost radiance?
We too often dismiss these things by saying, “there's nothing we can do about it."
Is that true? Is there nothing we can do about it?
Are we supposed to accept conditions as they are, fold our hands, and say, “Let well enough alone; it could be worse?”
There was a reason for the radiance of the Early Church, that reason was Pentecost.
Two questions were asked by the people who looked on that day: “What does this mean?” and “What shall we do?”
Today we try to reverse the order. We are trying to make men ask, “What must I do to be saved?” before they have seen enough in our churches to make them inquire: “What does this mean?”
We are pushing for evangelism without revival. When people are once again amazed by a church filled with the Spirit, then we may expect them to ask further as to the way of salvation.
“What does this mean?” they asked. Peter said, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” Joel was a revivalist. He called first for A SWEEPING REVIVAL.
It was a call to all ages. Preachers were included in Joel's call: “Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep . . .”
What is needed today is a stirring of God's Spirit among all ages, all groups, in pulpit and pew. We need to weep not just for the lost, but that God’s reputation has been slammed!
God wants a broken and contrite heart. Nehemiah wept. Paul warned men night and day with tears. Jesus wept.
People are by-passing the Church today and saying, “Where is this Holy Spirit you talk about?”
May we seek revival, for the right reason, not for growth of our programs or more dollars in the offering. but for God's sake. For the honor of His Name, that the world may no longer pass by and jeer.
After the Church has her lost joy restored and is upheld afresh by the Spirit, transgressors will be taught God's ways and sinners be converted. Psalm 51
The Church will not get on its feet, until it first gets on its knees.
Ezekiel said, “The Spirit entered into me and set me upon my feet.”
After we have repented and are Spirit-filled, we shall stand on our feet in testimony and men shall first ask, “What does this mean?” and then, “What shall we do?”