A Message from Pastor Bubba
Dear Church Family,
Lately, I’ve been meditating on a simple yet profound truth about Jesus. Jesus is a sent and sending God. Jesus was sent by God the Father to earth to seek and save the lost (Lk 19:10). For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (John 3:17). And as Jesus was sent, Jesus, himself, sends. In John 13:20 Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” Again in John 20:21 Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
As Jesus was sent to earth to establish his kingdom, we are sent by Jesus to build his kingdom. We do this by making disciples and planting churches (Matt. 28:18-20). However, it seems to me that most Christians don’t see themselves as sent. And even fewer Christians embrace the sent lifestyle. For this reason, instead of the church living sent, the church often lives stuck.
What happens if the church doesn’t live as a sent people?
Nothing. That’s the problem. When God’s people fail to live a sent lifestyle his mission is stalled and the good news is not proclaimed. When God’s people fail to live a sent lifestyle, discipleship stops and lives are NOT changed.
What causes us to fail to live as a sent people?
I can’t speak for you, but for me it’s apathy. This is not something I’m proud of. But if I’m really honest I have to confess that sometimes I’m apathetic. Sometimes I don’t care about God’s mission or my part in his mission. I have a suspicion that I’m not alone in this.
I believe apathy is one of the greatest threats to American Christianity in general, and the mission of God in particular. The reason this threat is so terrible is because it’s not a threat from the outside but rather a threat from within. When our hearts grow apathetic towards God’s mission we reject our calling as a sent people and sadly settle for comfort and convenience. May this not be. I’m praying that this would not happen in my life or among Resurrection Church.
To help us fight against apathy and fan into flame a passion for God’s mission, starting in January of 2019, we will begin a 30 week journey through the book of Acts. The goal of this series is for our church to join God in his mission and for us to embrace our calling as a sent people.
During our journey through Acts we will get a historical account of the early church and witness God’s faithfulness to his people, as well as God’s faithfulness through his people. The book begins with Jesus telling his disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Once God’s people are filled with the Holy Spirit the church is born and God’s people are sent as witnesses to share the good news of Jesus.
Throughout the book of Acts we see: passionate gospel preaching, people being saved and baptized, various miracles, and the church growing into a beautiful loving family. When it seems things couldn't get any better that’s when the early church starts experiencing opposition and persecution. This leads to the church being sent out from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and ultimately to the ends of the earth.
As the church lives as a sent people, the church learns to embrace cross-cultural discipleship. During multiple missionary journeys we see firsthand how the early church made disciples and planted churches. All in all, the book of Acts is a story a blueprint for how to live as a sent people on mission with God.
My hope is that as we journey together through Acts, God will use this study to grow us in our faith, mature us in our character, inspire us to love boldly, and empower us to live as sent.
Major Themes of Acts
We find the theme of the book of Acts in Acts 1:8 when Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” This is a call for the church to live as a “sent” people. In this, Jesus calls his disciples to change the world by making disciples throughout the world.
As we follow the storyline throughout the book of Acts we also follow the movement of Christianity. It begins with the birth of the first church “in Jerusalem” (chapters 1-5). Then as opposition and persecution plague the church, the movement of Christianity spreads into “all Judea and Samaria” (chapters 6-12). After the conversation of Paul (the greatest missionary of Christianity), the Christian movement spreads “to the end of the earth” (chapters 13-28). The book of Acts ends with Paul in Rome but the story is not over. Now, Jesus expects all disciples to go, as a sent people, to make disciples of all nations.
Acts is a Radical Challenge for the Church Today
In Ajith Fernando’s commentary on Acts. He writes that “contemporary Christians who read Acts with an open mind will find themselves challenged with pointed applications by what happened in the early church.”
He lists eight:
To a society where selfishness is sometimes admired and each one is left to fend for himself or herself, Acts presents a group of Christians who were so committed to Christ and the cause of the gospel that they were willing to sacrifice their desires for the good of others.
To a society where pluralism defines truth as something subjective and personal, Acts presents a church that based its life on certain objective facts about God and Christ—facts that were not only personally true but also universally valid and therefore had to be presented to the entire world.
To a society that denies absolute truth and therefore shuns apologetics and persuasion in evangelism in favor of dialogue, Acts presents a church that persuaded people until they were convinced of the truth of the gospel. Instead of aiming at mutual enrichment as the main aim of inter-religious encounter, as many do today, the early church proclaimed Christ as supreme Lord with conversion in view.
In an age where specialization has hit evangelism so much that we rarely find churches that emphasize healing also emphasizing apologetics, Acts presents a church where the same individuals performed healings and preached highly reasoned, apologetic messages.
In an age when many churches spend so much time, money, and energy on self-preservation and improvement, Acts presents churches that released their most capable people for reaching the lost.
In an age where many churches look to excellence in techniques to bring success, Acts presents a church that depended on the Holy Spirit and gave top priority to prayer and moral purity.
In an age when many avenues are available to avoid suffering and therefore many Christians have left out suffering from their understanding of the Christian life, Acts presents a church that took on suffering for the cause of Christ and considered it a basic ingredient of discipleship.
Helpful Quotes about Acts
In the New American Commentary John B. Polhill says:
“The Book of Acts is in a real sense a book for renewal. It calls the church back to its roots—to the early church in the upper room in its undivided devotion to prayer, to its missionary fervor, its fellowship and sharing, its mutual trust and unity. It sets a pattern for faithful discipleship, for a witness that walks in the footsteps of the Master, a wholehearted commitment with a willingness to sacrifice and even to suffer. It speaks to us when discouraged, reminding us that all time is in God’s hands, reassuring us of the reality of his Spirit in our lives and witness. It challenges us to open our hearts to the power of the Spirit that we might be faithful witnesses to the word and come to experience anew its triumph in our own time.”
Martyn Lloyd-Jones referred to the book of Acts as ‘that most lyrical of books’, and added:
“Live in that book I exhort you: it is a tonic, the greatest tonic I know of in the realm of the Spirit.’ It has, in fact, been a salutary exercise for the Christian church of every century to compare itself with the church of the first, and to seek to recapture something of its confidence, enthusiasm, vision and power. At the same time, we must be realistic. There is a danger lest we romanticize the early church, speaking of it with bated breath as if it had no blemishes. For then we shall miss the rivalries, hypocrisies, immoralities and heresies which troubled the church then as now. Nevertheless, one thing is certain. Christ’s church had been overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit, who thrust it out to witness.”
Michael Green’s book Thirty Years That Changed the World examines the relevance of Acts for today and says:
“Three crucial decades in world history. That is all it took. In the years between AD 33 and 64 a new movement was born. In those thirty years it got sufficient growth and credibility to become the largest religion the world has ever seen and to change the lives of hundreds of millions of people. It has spread to every corner of the globe and has more than two billion putative adherents. It has had an indelible impact on civilization, on culture, on education, on medicine, on freedom and of course on the lives of countless people worldwide. And the seedbed for all this, the time when it took decisive root, was in these three decades. It all began with a dozen men and a handful of women: and then the Spirit came.”
This breakdown of the book was put together by Docent Research Group
Ajith Fernando, Acts, NIVAC (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 40-41.
Polhill, Acts, 72.
Stott, Acts, 5-6.
Michael Green, Thirty Years That Changed the World: The Book of Acts for Today (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 7.
What to Pray for During this Series
Pray for God to build us up as a “Sent” people.
Pray that a passion for reaching the lost and sharing the gospel will be ignited in the hearts of everyone who calls Resurrection Church home.
Pray that non-Christians will be saved.
Pray for baptisms.
Pray that people will start sharing their faith in the context of everyday life.
Pray for our ONE LIFE’S.
Pray that people living in worldly comfort will experience opposition and trails.
Pray that people living in opposition will experience the comfort of Christ.
Pray that people will learn to live sacrificially.
Pray for people to grow in generosity.
Pray for people to grow in serving non-Christians.
Pray that everyone will join together in unity to make disciples and plant churches.