The church is God's work.
It's what he is about. Jesus made a promise in Matthew 16. Do you remember what he said to Peter? Upon this rock, I will build my church. So we discover in that statement, the church belongs to Jesus. It's his church.
Many people only go to church for events, weddings, funerals, Christmas, Easter, but church is intended to be a place where change happens. Today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip shares how you can be a part of cultivating life change through the church. But first, did you know that Skip shares important updates and biblical encouragement on social media? Just follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get the latest from him and this ministry.
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That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Thank you. Now we're in Acts chapter 2 as we dive into our study with Skip Heitzig. There's no such thing as a perfect church.
We have often told you that idea comes from this little poem by Mavis Williams. If you should find the perfect church without one fault or smear, for goodness sake, don't join that church. You'll spoil the atmosphere. If you should find the perfect church where all anxiety cease, then pass it by, lest joining it you mar the masterpiece. If you should find the perfect church, then don't you ever dare to tread upon such holy ground.
You'd be a misfit there. But since no perfect church exists made of imperfect men, then let's cease looking for that church and love the church we're in. Of course it's not a perfect church.
That's simple to discern, but you and I and all of us could cause the tide to turn. So let's keep working in our church and tell the resurrection, and then we each will join that church without an imperfection. I'm aware that some of us read the Bible and we project perfection into the early church. We think, oh, the church in the Bible in the New Testament, that was so perfect.
Y'all need to read the New Testament a little more closely. Theologian Walter Elwell said, in the New Testament alone, the church had to be corrected some 150 times. So never at any stage in church history has it ever been totally awesome.
It's been pretty awesome, but not totally awesome. There are imperfections. Now, in our country, in America, there are imperfections. In our country, in America, some 230 to 250 million Americans claim a faith connection in a Christian church. They claim to be Christians. Of those many, many people, 22 million Americans say they are Christians. They have a faith commitment to Christ, but because they have struggled with their faith or they have some relational issue, they have since stopped going to church.
That's a huge percentage. Some are unaware where they would fit into a church. Some are overwhelmed by the church experience. Some feel rejected by a church, hurt by going to a certain church. And I understand there are many horror stories that people have about the failure of churches. It could be the hypocrisy of the people who go there. It could be abuse by a clergyman or an arrogant leader or a cliquish and unfriendly group of people. They feel taken. They feel scammed.
They feel hurt. But there are many heartwarming stories of exactly the opposite. There are so many good stories of how church has been a place of solace, a place of transformation, a place of instruction, encouragement, edification. I can say that for me growing up as a kid, church was not a great thing.
I had to go there. I was drugged to church. It was irrelevant to me. It was largely boring to me. I went through all the rituals.
I didn't really care about it. But then at 18, I had a real encounter with the Lord. I heard the gospel message. It totally changed my life. And then I went to a church that was contemporary and was in all respects my family in the truest sense of the word. And everything changed.
I mean everything changed for me. It was there I learned the Scripture. It was there I learned how to worship. It was there I felt accepted. It was there I discovered my life's purpose. It was there I grew in my faith. In fact, I would say all that I am today is largely the result of what God did in that church experience.
It was a very, very good experience. And I want to also add a footnote to that. Not all bad experiences that people have in church are the fault of the churches. It could be an individual who is very reluctant and unrepentant and doesn't want to change or morph under God's values and God's standards.
And so they walk away with a certain opinion. You can have an unrepentant individual who then uses the church as a scapegoat for their resistance to the Spirit of God. So it's very easy to attack the big institution called the church. The very organization that because they confronted them with their sin, now they're bad. Now we are looking here in the book of Acts, Acts chapter 2, where it's pretty awesome. It's a pretty exciting church to go to. At least right now it is.
Keep reading. It doesn't stay perfect. It has its issues and problems as well. But at this stage, the first church, the very beginnings of the Church of Jesus Christ on earth, is pretty amazing. It's exciting. It's a place where sinners become saints. It's a place where saints grow in their faith. And it's a place where they all impact the community to a large extent. Today we're going to focus really on the amazing event of the change that occurred when 3,000 people were added to the church.
Now just try to picture this. In one day, the church in Jerusalem went from 120 people to 3,120 people. In one day. Now 120 people is a pretty good group. The average size church in America is less than 120. In one day, this vibrant 120-member church in Jerusalem saw an increase of 2,500 percent in its attendance.
3,120 at least were going. We're going to begin in Acts chapter 2, verse 40, and read down to verse 47 for our text this morning. And with many other words, he testified and exhorted them, saying, Be saved from this perverse generation. Then those who gladly received his word were baptized.
And that day, about 3,000 souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine, the fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together and had all things in common and sold their possessions and goods and divided them among all as anyone had need. So, continuing daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
I want to go through that paragraph with you a little bit, and I want you to see a fivefold description of this change that occurred in this of this change that occurred in this situation. A fivefold description of this spiritual work, this life change. First, we need to note that it was a divine work. It was a divine work, for it says at the end of verse 47, and the Lord added to the church. The church is God's work.
It's what He is about. Jesus made a promise in Matthew 16, do you remember what He said to Peter? Upon this rock, I will build My church. So, we discover in that statement the church belongs to Jesus. It's His church.
I will build My church. You can't say it's My church, though if you go to it, we want you to feel like you're part of it. It's not Skip's church. Really, all true churches belong to Jesus. It's His church.
It's His idea. And He's the one, He says, who is actively building His church. So, if you were to look at verse 41, look at that verse that says, those who gladly received His word were baptized.
So, these are people listening going, yep, I agree with that, yep, I agree with that. They were baptized, and that day, about 3,000 souls were added to them. If you were just to stop there, you might think that that was something they decided to do, and you would be correct, but that's not all that's happening. Because it's written in the passive voice when it says they were added to them.
So, when it's in the passive voice, it means that somebody other than them from the outside is causing that to happen. 3,000 souls were added to them, passive voice. It's when we get to verse 47 that we see the agent doing the adding.
That's the Lord. 3,000 souls were added, verse 41. The Lord added to the church, verse 47.
So, evangelism then, salvation, life change, church building, is ultimately God's work. Now, I want you to look at one other scripture before we kind of close this thought out. Go to chapter 5, just keep a marker here, go to chapter 5, verse 14.
Just that one verse, I want you to see something. In chapter 5, verse 14, it says, and believers were increasingly added to what? The Lord. Believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women. So, believers were added to the Lord, and the Lord added the believers to the church.
They came to Christ, they came to a relationship with the Lord, the Lord added them to the church. There would be no change unless God was the change agent, doing the work. It's His work. The Bible makes this clear in so many different passages.
Let me give you just a couple. One is Romans, chapter 8, verse 30. It says, Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called, whom He called, these He also justified, and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Who's doing it? He is. He's doing it from before you were born to after you were born, when He called you to faith, to after you die and He glorifies you, from beginning to end, prenatally to eternally, it is the work of God.
It is a divine work. Here's another passage, Ephesians chapter 2, it says, And you He has made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins. What was your condition before you came to Christ? Deader than a doornail. You were dead. Now, last time I checked, dead people can't improve their own condition, am I right? Would anybody go up to a casket and say, Get up! No, it'd be dumb. It's impossible.
They lack any capacity to change their condition. So in our spiritual death, the God of resurrection is the one who enlivened us. You were dead. He made you alive. That's the reason Jesus said, Unless a man is born again, he can never enter the kingdom of God.
That's called, in theological terms, regeneration. He does the work. It's a divine work.
The Lord added to the church. Second, it is a double work. It's a double work. Yes, it's a divine work. Yes, God is doing it, but God happens to use human instruments to do His work.
There is also a human agent doing the work, and we'll see who that is. Go back to verse 38. I know we began in verse 40. Just go back a couple verses.
I don't think you'll mind too much. Then Peter said to them, that's the human agent, Peter, the apostle Peter. Then Peter said to them, Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And now, verse 40, with many other words, he testified and exhorted them, saying, Be saved from this perverse generation. So now we discover that evangelism, church building, is a cooperation between God and people, between heaven and earth.
So let me give it to you this way. Evangelism is the intersection of divine transformation and human proclamation. Evangelism is the intersection between divine transformation and human proclamation. So when a human proclaims the gospel truth, God takes that truth and uses it to transform hearts of people who are listening.
It's that intersection. How is it done? Well, in the Bible, there's three basic ways evangelism is done. There is personal evangelism.
Personal evangelism is one-on-one. It's conversational. It's you're standing in line at the grocery store and you have a conversation with somebody. It's you at lunch with a friend or family member. It's you with a co-worker or somebody at the gym. You run into them and you have a conversation, and you talk to them, you share with them.
They ask you questions. Personal evangelism. That's also found in Scripture. Jesus personally spoke to a woman at the Samaritan well. The Samaritan woman at the well, John 4, has a conversation.
The conversation ends in a total life change for that woman. It wasn't a big crowd. It was just one person. We find Philip doing personal evangelism to an Ethiopian eunuch who's sitting in a chariot in Acts chapter 8. There's Peter and Cornelius. Cornelius invites Peter to talk to him and his family in Acts chapter 10.
Life change happens. That's personal evangelism. Second is mass evangelism. Mass evangelism is a large crowd. It's a speaker, a preacher, a spokesperson, an evangelist speaking to a crowd. Peter here in Acts 2 is doing that.
He's speaking to a crowd. I am very happy and glad and thankful to God for mass evangelism. That's how moi came to Christ.
That's how it happened for me. I was watching on television, so I'm glad for technology, too. I was watching on television, I've told you a million times, that Billy Graham crusade at a stadium. And that is what began the change in my life. So we find that in the Scripture. Jesus spoke to crowds in Galilee. And to a crowd of people, he said, come unto me, you who labor and are heavy laden. That happens to be an invitation. He's inviting them.
Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Paul spoke to crowds in the city of Lystra as they gathered into the streets in Acts chapter 14. And again, in Athens, he spoke in the marketplace. And then he spoke at the Areopagus, Mars Hill, to the philosophers. Paul also spoke in Ephesus to a large crowd.
I've been in that theater in Ephesus, it seats 25,000 people. I don't know how many were there the day Paul was there, but he spoke to a crowd. John Wesley, George Whitefield, in 18th century England were revivalists who gave appeals to crowds of people.
Later on in the United States, men like Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, D.L. Moody followed that pattern of mass evangelism. So personal evangelism, mass evangelism. A third I would call local church evangelism. Local church evangelism is when you have church service and the church service is there for God's people to be edified and to be mature and to grow them up in their faith. But as an aside, added to that is an opportunity for people to give their lives to Christ, something we do a lot of. Now that is the real thought behind this text.
It really is. What is happening here started out as a church service in an upper room with 120 people. They're meeting for church, they're gathered together, it's God's people, the Holy Spirit comes upon them, a sound is made like a mighty rushing wind, people in Jerusalem hear the noise, all of that spills out into the streets, into the temple area and this happened. Evangelism happened. So I'm going to take that to say I think every congregation should be both a worshiping community and a witnessing community.
That our worship should lead to witness and our witness should lead to worship and that worship should lead to witness and that witness should lead to worship. I think that's the cycle. It's a double work. You say, how do I fit into that double work? Very easy. I'm glad you asked. You know, I say that a lot to you, right? By invitation. Just don't underestimate the power and the value of a simple invitation. Hey, come with me to church this weekend. No, I don't do church, man.
I'm not into organized stuff. Okay. Ask them again. Ask them again. You're going to pester them so much, they're going to say yes one day. You remember the parable of the great supper Jesus gave?
Because I know some of you are thinking, you should never pester people. Listen to this. Jesus told this story. He said, there's this guy and he gave this big feast, big dinner, and then when it was dinnertime, he said, to his servants, go tell everybody that I've invited. Come to supper. And so they went to one and the guy said, well, I can't come. I just bought a bunch of land and I haven't really checked it out, so I got to, I'm not coming. Goes to somebody else and the guy says, yeah, but I bought five yoke of oxen.
I've never tested them, so I'm not coming to dinner. Goes to somebody else. The guy says, yeah, I just got married and, you know, I can't do anything really, so I'm not coming.
I'm not coming. So the master said to his servants, go out into the city streets and lanes and ask the poor, the blind, the maimed, the lame, and bring them in. And so they did that. And then he said, now go out into the highways and the hedges and compel them to come in, compel them to come in that my house may be full. How many of you all know that God wants His house full?
And I mean heaven. Well, there's enough people in heaven. Not enough.
Never enough. Compel them to come in. Invitation. Those who are changed by the gospel should become instruments of change for the gospel. You are the greatest signpost, a changed life.
I think we make evangelism far more difficult than it needs to be. It can be just simply, hey, come. Come. Come to this event. Come to Easter. Come to church.
I want you to hear this. The Institute of American Church Growth asked 10,000 churchgoers this question. What was responsible for your coming to Christ and to this church? And to this church.
What was responsible for your coming to Christ and to this church? Two percent said, because I had a special need, three percent said I just happened to walk in, six percent said I like the minister. I just want you to know how low that that figure is here. Six percent said I like the minister. One percent said I just happened to visit and I stayed. Five percent said I like the Sunday school. One half of one percent said I attended a special gospel meeting. Three percent said I like the programs at the church. Get this, 79 percent said because a friend or a relative invited me.
79, almost 80 percent said because a friend or relative invited me. So many people are just waiting for a friendly invitation. That concludes Skip Heitzig's message from the series Church a Place. Find the full message, as well as books, booklets, and a full teaching series at connectwithskip.com. Right now we want to share about a great resource that strengthens your faith with abundant Bible knowledge and helps you draw even closer to the Lord. Skip often has the privilege of hosting guest speakers. Guests like Franklin Graham and Lee Strobel who've become great friends to pastor Skip Heitzig in this Bible teaching ministry.
Here's another, our friend Levi Lusko. What's life with Jesus like? It's life not without storms but going through storms with an anchor both sure and steadfast and which enters the presence behind the veil. An anchor for the soul.
What a wonderful thing. Skip and Friends is a CD or digital package of messages from five friends plus five special teachings by Skip. It is yours as our thank you gift for your gift of $50 or more to help connect others to the hope and truth found only in God's word.
With your gift of $50 or more we'll send you the Skip and Friends collection of 10 messages on CD or give you digital access. For example, here's our friend Eric Metaxas. The evidence for God is astonishing. The evidence from science has piled up so dramatically that I'm here to tell you it's absolutely no contest. Science points to the existence of God utterly dramatically in a way that it is as open and shut as any open and shut question ever could be and we're talking about science.
Get your copy of Skip and Friends when you give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer or call 800-922-1888. Tune in tomorrow as Skip Heitzig shares practical insight to help you grow even more in your faith. Growth is continual.
It's a process called sanctification. We grow, we develop and unlike in the physical realm where you reach your peak development in your 20s not so in the spiritual life you can keep maturing and keep growing and keep influencing as the years go by. Make a connection. Make a connection at the foot of the crossing. Cast all burdens on his word. Make a connection. Connection. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
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