The Kind of Christian & Church That God Wants
A Spirit Filled, Powerful, and Fruitful Person & Church
What kind of Christian & Church does God want ? What does God want His church to be like ? Many of us would answer these questions by using a combination of today’s modern standards and our own personal opinions or wants (what we think the church ought to be or should be, or what we want the church to be).
To find out what God is looking for His children & followers and His church to be, we need to look into God’s Word. The Bible is our authority and guide to find the kind of Christian & church that God wants and desires. God has given us clear guidelines in His Word for the type of Christian and Church that God wants. He has also given us examples to follow… His Son Jesus, and the early church in the Book of Acts. We will dig into God’s Word the Bible and discover the 2 keys to being all that God wants us to be… The kind of Christian / disciple and church that God wants us to be, and that pleases Him. The kind of person and church that God can use greatly in His Kingdom work and mission.
We will start in John 15:8 – “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
- God wants you and His church to be Spirit-filled, powerful, and fruitful
- God is greatly glorified by a fruitful Christian and church
- This verse is talking about the eternal, spiritual fruit that is produced when we are the kind of Christian and church that God wants us to be
Jesus’ life here on earth, and the early church in the Book of Acts are our examples to follow in order to be what God wants us to be. In this part we will dig into Acts chapter 2 and discover the first of 2 keys that we need in order to be what God wants us to be.
ACTS 2:42 – the First Key of Being a Spirit-filled and Fruitful Person & Church:
Acts 2:42 – “They devoted themselves to 1) the apostles’ teaching 2) and to fellowship, 3) to the breaking of bread and 4) to prayer.”
- Question – if a church does all of these things: church services, worship, teach & preach the Bible (at least some parts of it), Bible studies, small groups, fellowships, prayer time… will it be a spirit filled & successful church ? (It appears so, but not necessarily)
- It appears at first glance that these things are the First Key thing we have to do in order to be the Christian and church that God wants – Bible study, eat together, fellowship, and prayer.
- All of these things are important parts of being a Christian and a church, but they are not the First Key – the vital thing you have to have in order to be what God wants you to be.
- We can do all of these things in a religious way, and our hearts can still be far from God.
- We can go to church services, hear God’s word and study it, go to fellowships and small groups, and pray and be involved in the prayer ministry at church, and do them as religious things we are obligated to do. Or we can do them as part of a religious checklist that will show that we are being “good Christians”.
- Almost all churches do these things in one form or another, but most churches today are not Spirit-filled, powerful, and fruitful churches. In fact many are dead or dying, especially in America these days.
What matters most is where our heart is. We can do all of these things and still our heart can be far from God.
- We can be good religious and moral people, but our hearts can be far from God.
To find the First Key thing we have to have in order to be what God wants us to be – a Spirit-filled, powerful, and fruitful Christian and church, we need to look again and dig further into Acts 2:42:
Acts 2:42 – “They devoted themselves to… here is the First Key:
- The Greek word for devoted “proskartereo” is the strongest word in the Greek language for COMMITMENT. It literally means “to latch on and refuse to let go”. The people in the early church in Acts were not devoted or committed to being good religious people, or to merely doing some religious things.
- They were not devoted or committed to a church or to a denomination, or to an organization, or to a ministry. “To latch on to and refuse to let go” means that they “latched on to Jesus and refused to let go of Him.
- It means they were fully devoted and committed to follow and obey Jesus – no matter where He leads, no matter what he tells you to do, no matter the cost.
- The early church in Acts lived in a very dangerous time for Christians. The same people that tortured and killed Jesus were still alive. This was shortly after Jesus died on the cross.
- They suffered a lot of persecution, and they could be arrested or even killed at any time for serving and following Jesus.
- Despite the difficult circumstances and the high cost of following Jesus, they were totally devoted and committed to Jesus. Not just to doing some religious things… to Jesus.
- All of the apostles (the leaders & pastors of the early church), except John, died for following and serving Jesus.
Stephen also died (see Acts 7), Paul and many others also suffered and died for Jesus.
Because of their total devotion and commitment to Jesus, they were the kind of people and church that God wants – and the result was a Spirit-filled, powerful, and fruitful church.
The Results and The Signs of Being a Spirit-filled & Fruitful Church (Acts 2:43-47a):
- Acts 2:43 – Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.
- a sign of God’s presence & glory filling the church : awe, wonders & signs, miracles
- Acts 2:44 “All the believers were together and had everything in common.”
- another sign of God’s presence & glory : supernatural “agape” sacrificial love and “koinania” fellowship and unity.
- Acts 2:45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
- another sign of God’s presence & glory : great generosity, unselfishness, love & concern for others (God’s sacrificial “agape” love… the sacrificial love that Jesus displayed when He died on the cross for our sins).
- Acts 2:46 “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
- another sign of God’s presence & glory : joy, gladness, contentment, sincerity (despite difficult circumstances, suffering, and the threat of dying for following Jesus)
- Acts 2:47a “praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people (good reputation).”
- another sign of God’s presence & glory : sincere heart-felt true worship and awe of God.
- Acts 2:47b – “and the Lord added to their number daily those who were (joining the church ?) being saved.
- Question – how should we define success for a church ? Number of members ? Attendance ? How many programs we have ? How big the campus is ?
- We ought to define success as a Christian and as a church: 1) as doing whatever Jesus tells us to do, and 2) Is there eternal spiritual fruit being produced in our lives and in our service and in our church ?
- The eternal spiritual fruit shown in this verse is salvations. Many people were being reached for Jesus and saved… being forgiven of their sins and having peace with God, a new restored relationship with God, and eternal life in heaven.
- Notice in Acts 2:47b that it is the Lord God that is adding to their number those who were being saved. It is God that produces eternal fruit, and it is God who receives the glory (see John 15:8).
- One of the Main Signs of a Spirit-filled and fruitful Christian and church is that there will be Eternal Spiritual Fruit (true success). Eternal Spiritual Fruit comes in 2 forms: 1) Salvations and 2) Spiritual growth of the believers (Lives are being transformed).
- Notice also that Acts 2:47b says that “the Lord was adding to their number – daily” – this is significant, and it shows that His people, the church, was doing their part regularly in their daily lives. Following and obeying Jesus and doing their part that He commanded them to do was a lifestyle.
- They didn’t just do their part as a special event once in awhile, they regularly did their part in their daily life. Because they were fully devoted and committed to Jesus. And Jesus commanded them (and us) to “Follow me and I will make you fishes of men.” Fishers of men are people who actively in their daily life tell as many people as possible about Jesus and how to be saved and have a restored relationship with God & eternal life in heaven.
The 2ND KEY to being the Christian & Church God Wants : faithfully joining Him in HIS mission.
- We MUST be on mission with God in order to experience God’s presence/glory/power in our church, and to see Him doing what only He can do. Our part is to join God in the work He is already doing and be on mission with Him… in our “Jerusalem” (local area), our “Judea & Samaria” (regional area), and “the ends of the earth” (as He leads). (see Acts 1:8 )
If participating in God’s Kingdom work & mission, or being on mission with God is the 2nd Key in order to be the kind of Christian & church God wants, then it is vitally important that we understand what God’s mission is. Many churches are dead or dying today because they are not filled with God’s presence and glory and power. And they are not filled with God’s presence & glory & power because their hearts are far from God, and they have abandoned God’s mission for their own mission.
- Question ? What is God’s mission ? There are 2 Parts to God’s Mission. We need to look into God’s Word the Bible to find out what God’s mission is. God clearly reveals in His Word what His mission and passion is, and that He wants His followers and the church to obey and faithfully participate in His mission:
- I Timothy 2:4 – God wants (desires) all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
- Missions is not about a mission trip, or a special missions or outreach event the church has a few times a year, or a special ministry for a small group of people with a special gift.
- Missions is all about God’s heart, and His desire & passion for all to be saved… for all people to have a restored relationship with Him and eternal life with Him in heaven.
God has such a strong desire and passion for all to be saved, that He sent His only Son Jesus to suffer and die on a cross… to make it possible for all of us to be saved. His love and desire & passion for this is very strong.
- When Jesus was here on earth he stated the first part of God’s mission very clearly:
- Luke 19:10 – “I came to seek and save the lost”.
- He said he came to seek the lost because He knows people’s hearts and He knows lost people very well. He knows that most lost people will not step foot into a church, so because He loves them so much Jesus went out to where they were, to share the Good News of salvation with them. His attitude was that He loved them so much, that if they were not going to come to Him then He was going to go out to them and try to help them to have a restored relationship with God.
- We need to follow Jesus’ example, and love all people like He does and go out to them and try to help them to be forgiven for their sins and have a restored relationship with God… no matter what It costs.
- Jesus knew that He was going to die on the cross and then go back up to heaven. Who was going to continue to go and do God’s mission ? God had a plan:
- Matthew 4:19 – Jesus said “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men”.
- Literally Jesus was talking to His disciples or His followers in this verse. These were the people who would become the apostles – the leaders and pastors of the new church in the book of Acts
- In most churches today, if anyone at all is doing God’s mission of seeking and saving the lost, it is usually only a very small group of people. Maybe the pastor(s) and the leaders and a few others.
- Is this the way God wants it, only a few people participating with Him in His mission ?
- Before we look at that It is important to note that Jesus said “I will make you fishers of men”. He doesn’t say “go out and do your best at being fishers of men.”
- He is saying that IF we obey Him and do our part and go out and seek and save the lost – share the Gospel with them – then HE will empower us to do the mission work. And He through the Holy Spirit will take care of the results too and produce the eternal fruit and success.
- Jesus says this in a different way in Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. These are His last words to His followers before rising up to heaven, so they are very important words.
- So, in Matthew 4:19 when Jesus says “Follow me and I will make you “fishers of men”, is He talking only to pastors, full time missionaries, and church leaders ? Or is He talking to all of His people, every person in the church ? We need to look into God’s Word to find the answer:
- Acts 8:1,4 – On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria… verse 4 – “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.”
- The apostles (pastors & leaders of the church) all stayed in Jerusalem, and all of the rest of the church, the regular people of the church were scattered to other places. Acts 8:4 tells us that all of the people who were scattered, the regular people of the church, preached the Word (the Gospel) wherever they went.
- ALL of the people in the early church understood that Jesus was talking to everyone in the church when He said “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” And they ALL obeyed Him and did it, even though there was a lot of persecution and they could even die for obeying Jesus. That is total devotion and commitment to Jesus.
- Here is the result of such total devotion & commitment to Jesus and obedience to His command in Matthew 4:19:
- Acts 11:19-21 – “Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the LORD Jesus. The LORD’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the LORD.”
- The Lord’s hand represents His presence, His glory, His resources, and His power… working through the regular people of the church and producing many salvations and eternal spiritual fruit.
- Because everyone in the church did their part, God was able to bless and empower them and He produced the results and the eternal spiritual fruit.
- They all saw God do great things because of their obedience and devotion to Jesus, and they were all in awe of God and the great things He did.
- The 1st Part of God’s Mission is for all of us to be “fishers of men” – to actively in our daily lives go and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as we can.
- There is a 2nd Part of God’s Mission:
- Matthew 28:18-20 “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
- Once we reach people for Jesus and they are saved, they are new believers and babies in the faith. God wants us to help them to grow spiritually.
- God does not just want converts, He wants faithful and fruitful and Spirit-filled disciples (followers)
- All of us in the church are to participate in this part of God’s mission also, to make disciples.
- We are all to invest our time, efforts, resources,… into the lives of other believers, especially new believers, to help them to grow spiritually… to help them to grow closer to Jesus and more like Him.
- This is not just the job of the pastor(s) or Sunday School teachers, or small group leaders. It is the job of all of us in the church. We can all invest our time to help others to grow spiritually, to love them, encourage them, help them learn to read the Bible, help them to learn to pray and hear God’s voice…
When we are faithful and do our part, then God will do His part and produce fruit – salvations and spiritual growth. And then we will be the kind of Christian & church God wants. A Spirit-filled, powerful, victorious, and fruitful Christian and church.
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