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The Good News IS Really Good - Acts 2:47

Taught on | Topic: evangelism | Keywords: believers, church, community, evangelism, faith, growing, salvation, share, work

If the gospel is such good news (which is what gospel means), why don’t we hear more of it? Especially in a world filled with such bad news, it seems hearing a good proclamation would be a nice change. Well, there are some preliminaries to know about that will help us enjoy telling others the gospel. It’s time for some of us to get over the embarrassment of sharing our faith. It really is one of the most fulfilling activities we can ever engage in.

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2/3/2019
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The Good News IS Really Good
Acts 2:47
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
If the gospel is such good news (which is what gospel means), why don’t we hear more of it? Especially in a world filled with such bad news, it seems hearing a good proclamation would be a nice change. Well, there are some preliminaries to know about that will help us enjoy telling others the gospel. It’s time for some of us to get over the embarrassment of sharing our faith. It really is one of the most fulfilling activities we can ever engage in.
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Spirit Hacks: Tips and Tools for Mastering Your Spiritual Life

Spirit Hacks: Tips and Tools for Mastering Your Spiritual Life

We're all on the lookout for helpful tips for everyday tasks. Whether it's a kitchen hack for tear-free onions or a cleaning hack for a mess-free microwave, people are eager to save time and effort. Your walk with Christ can be more consistent, simple, and satisfying with Spirit Hacks: Tips and Tools for Mastering Your Spiritual Life. Let's do this.

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Outline

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  1. It’s a Divine Work (“the Lord added”)

  2. It’s a Delegated Work (v. 40 “he testified”)

  3. It’s a Double Work (“to the church...those...being saved”)

  4. It’s a Daily Work (“added...daily”)

Study Guide

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Connect Recap Notes: February 3, 2019
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "The Good News IS Really Good"
Text: Acts 2:47

Path

If the gospel is such good news (which is what gospel means), why don't we hear more of it? Especially in a world filled with such bad news, it seems hearing a good proclamation would be a nice change. Well, there are some preliminaries to know about that will help us enjoy telling others the gospel. It's time for some of us to get over the embarrassment of sharing our faith. It really is one of the most fulfilling activities we can ever engage in.

  1. It's a Divine Work ("the Lord added")
  2. It's a Delegated Work (v. 40 "he testified")
  3. It's a Double Work ("to the church...those...being saved")
  4. It's a Daily Work ("added...daily")
Points

It's a Divine Work ("the Lord added")

  • The Christian mission—should we choose to accept it—is the Great Commission. Jesus appointed us to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). Although sharing our faith can be hard, it is one of the most satisfying experiences in life.
  • As seen in Acts 2, much of the early church's activity concerned the interior life but sharing the gospel is our exterior life.
  • Evangelism is God's work, but Christians are a conduit for Him to work through. God created the world and the plan of salvation. He alone has the power to save, but He uses His people to accomplish His purposes (Romans 8:30).
  • God chose you before He made you, and He arranges circumstances to accomplish His purposes. Jesus said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44).

It's a Delegated Work (v. 40 "he testified")

  • There is human cooperation with God's control. God brings the news of salvation through His people—through testimony and the preaching of the gospel. This pattern can be seen throughout Acts (4:33; 5:42; 8:6, 12, 25, 30-35, 40). God is the mover; humans are His mouthpiece. God is always looking for volunteers to be His spokespeople (see Isaiah 6).
  • Biblically, there are three types of evangelism:
    • Mass evangelism: Jesus drew crowds, as Peter did at Pentecost (Acts 2), and Paul at Lystra (Acts 14).
    • Personal evangelism: Jesus spoke to the woman at the well (John 4). Philip evangelized the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8).
    • Local church evangelism: This flows naturally from a church's life; every church should be both a worshipping and witnessing community.
  • Should we invite people to Christ? As J.I. Packer said, "It is a matter not merely of informing, but also inviting."

It's a Double Work ("to the church...those...being saved")

  • The Lord didn't add them to the church without saving them, and He didn't save them without adding them to the church. Fellowship and worship are imperative.
  • Salvation and church fellowship coincide (see Acts 5:14). When someone is saved, they are added to God as His child, and God adds His children to a church.
  • Many approaches to evangelism are off-kilter because worship services are tailored to the unsaved. Church should be more about feeding the sheep than entertaining goats.
  • Every church should be a family of saved souls who want to see more souls saved.

It's a Daily Work ("added...daily")

  • Evangelism is a daily work; it is not sporadic or scheduled—it should be part of the church's life.
  • There was a progression of growth in the early church—it was a daily part of life. The twelve whom Jesus chose as apostles grew to 120 in the upper room, then to 3,000, then another 5,000 were added, and eventually, multitudes. Every saved life was important.
  • There are never enough saved people—evangelism is essential to the mission of the church. Jesus commanded His disciples to "go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23). J.C. Ryle said, "The highest form of selfishness is that of the man who is content to go to heaven alone."
  • To partner with God in sharing the good news, we need to connect to each other, to the apostles' doctrine, to God through communion and prayer, and to the outside world through evangelism. This is connecting with one another through worship, by the Word, to the world.

Skip's Tips on Evangelism

  • Here are some tips to help overcome fear and reluctance:
    • Pray for opportunities and open doors.
    • Allow others to start the conversation for you.
    • Listen. Sharing your faith is a dialogue, not a monologue. Be compassionate and loving; if you're ever going to win some, you need to be winsome.
    • Share your personal testimony of coming to Christ.
    • Be creative. Buy a book for a friend, take them to coffee, send them YouTube videos that help answer their questions.
  • This is our God-given and God-empowered mission, should we choose to accept it. Will you be like Isaiah the prophet, and say, "Here I am, send me"?

Practice

Connect Up: Throughout the Bible, God has used men and women to communicate His truth.  Although ultimately God knows the reason, why do we think God partners with humanity to evangelize? How does this cooperation illuminate both God's sovereignty and human free will?

Connect In:  Discuss the last time you shared your faith with another person. How did the person respond? What were some of the difficulties you faced? Use this time as an opportunity for others to provide answers and insight into some of the bumps that you faced. How can apologetics (the defense of the Christian faith) help equip you to be a better witness? To help sharpen your witness, discuss good apologetic books that should be on the shelf of every Christian. Here are some examples:

  • Unshakable Foundations and Big Book of Apologetics, Norman Geisler
  • Harvest House Handbook of Apologetics, edited by Joseph Holden
  • On Guard, William Lane Craig

Connect Out: Take time to pray for specific people with whom you want to share the gospel. Allow your group to partner with you in prayer, giving insight into the hurdles you may face.

Detailed Notes

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"The Good News IS Really Good"
Acts 2:47
  1. Introduction
    1. The Christian's mission is the Great Commission (see Mark 16:15)
      1. There are two ways in which we can share the gospel: verbally, and through our daily lives
      2. It's not easy to share our faith, but the more often we share, the easier it becomes
      3. Although it's difficult to share, it is one of the most satisfying experiences in life
    2. Acts 2 provides a comprehensive view of the early church: it was a learning church, a caring church, a Christ-centered church, a praying church, a generous church, and, as seen in verse 47, a growing church
      1. Without verse 47, we would not have an accurate impression of the early church
      2. They had a relationship with God and with one another, but they also had a relationship with the outside world—they led not just an interior life, but an exterior life, which they shared with unbelievers
  2. It’s a Divine Work ("the Lord added")
    1. Ultimately, evangelism is God's doing
      1. Psalm 74:12
      2. Evangelism is the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus said when He promised the coming of the Holy Spirit to His disciples (see John 16:8)
    2. God, who created the idea and the plan for salvation, is the God who alone has the power to save people (see Romans 8:30); He does the work, from beginning to end
      1. The theological term for this is election—God chose you before He made you, then He arranged the circumstances by which you are saved
      2. John 6:44
      3. Paul spoke to Lydia, but "the Lord opened her heart" (Acts 16:14)
  3. It's a Delegated Work (v. 40 "he testified")
    1. We have a part in the process of salvation
      1. The new believers were added by the Lord, but through the Lord's people (see v. 41)
      2. Peter "raised his voice" (see Acts 2:14)
      3. This is the pattern throughout the rest of the book of Acts: God does the work through His people (see 4:33; 5:42; 8:4)
    2. Evangelism is a human cooperation with the divine call—God is the mover and we are the mouthpiece
      1. God is always looking for volunteers
      2. Isaiah 6:8
    3. There are three forms of evangelism in the New Testament:
      1. Mass evangelism
        1. Jesus spoke to crowds of people, as did Peter at Pentecost and Paul in Lystra (see Acts 14) and in Athens (see Acts 17)
        2. Examples of mass evangelism in the modern era include John Wesley, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, D.L. Moody, Billy Graham
      2. Personal evangelism
        1. Jesus and the woman at the well (see John 4)
        2. Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch (see Acts 8)
        3. "It has been estimated that 95 percent of American church members have never led anyone to Christ" —Evangelism Explosion
      3. Local church evangelism
        1. This is the normal, natural outgrowth of the church—evangelism should flow from the church
        2. Every congregation should be a witnessing, as well as a worshiping, community
        3. "I know some churches which haven't had a convert for ten years or more. And if they got one, they wouldn't know what to do with him, her or it, so extraordinary would this phenomenon appear to them!" —John Stott
        4. Altar calls can be controversial; certain schools of thought within Christianity (a hyper form of Calvinism, for example) say that we should never interfere with God's work in drawing people to Himself
          1. God does the work, but He also ordains how the work is done
          2. John 1:12
          3. "It is a matter, not of merely informing people, but of also inviting people" —J.I. Packer
          4. 2 Corinthians 5:11
  4. It's a Double Work ("to the church…those…being saved")
    1. God didn't add them to the church without saving them, and He didn't save them without adding them to the church
      1. In our society, it's fashionable to say, "I'm spiritual, but I don't believe in the church"
      2. But Jesus came to "build [His] church" (Matthew 16:18), so if you don't believe in church, you don't believe in what Jesus came to build
      3. Salvation and church involvement go together
      4. Believers were "added to the Lord" (Acts 5:14), and the Lord added them to the church
    2. The true church is made up of saved people—a fact that should be celebrated, not hidden
      1. The seeker-friendly movement is an attempt to make the church a familiar, comfortable space for unbelievers—but they won't understand their need to convert if there's no difference
      2. We should be more concerned with feeding the sheep than entertaining the goats
      3. Evangelism helps goats become sheep, and as you continue to feed the sheep, those fed sheep, in turn, evangelize goats
      4. The early church was full of saved souls wanting to see more souls saved
  5. It's a Daily Work ("added…daily")
    1. Evangelism wasn't a sporadic event—it was a part of their daily life
      1. In some churches today, the tendency is to seek growth only up to a certain amount, then stop reaching out
      2. The church is never big enough—we want every unbeliever to be saved
    2. The growth in the early church was progressive: twelve disciples grew to 120, then to 3,000 at Pentecost, then to 5,000 (see Acts 4), then eventually to multitudes (see Acts 5:14)
      1. Every saved life was important to the early church; because of the numbers found in Acts, we know someone counted those who were converted
      2. In the parable of the wedding feast, Jesus told His disciples to "go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23)
      3. There are never too many coming into the church—there are never too many people going to heaven—and it is our daily opportunity to tell people how to get into that house
      4. "The highest form of selfishness is a man content to go to heaven alone" —J.C. Ryle
  6. Conclusion
    1. Hacks:
      1. Pray—in advance, for opportunity and open doors
      2. Allow others to start the conversation for you—use conversation fillers to give a spiritually focused answer, which could lead to something further
      3. Listen
        1. It isn't a monologue; it's a dialogue
        2. Be kind; if you want to win some, be winsome
      4. Tell your story—share your personal testimony (as Paul did); it's indisputable
      5. Be creative
        1. Buy someone a book that can help answer their questions
        2. Send them a link to a YouTube video that covers the topic
    2. Don't let the best news become your best-kept secret
    3. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is the Great Commission

 

Figures referenced: Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, Billy Graham, D.L. Moody, J.C. Ryle, John Stott, John Wesley, George Whitefield

Cross references: Psalm 74:12; Isaiah 6:8; Matthew 16:18; Mark 16:15; Luke 14:23; John 1:12; 4; 6:44; 16:8; Acts 2:14, 40-41; 4; 5:14, 42; 8; 14; 16:14; 17; Romans 8:30; 2 Corinthians 5:11

Topic: evangelism

Keywords: believers, church, community, evangelism, faith, growing, salvation, share, work

Transcript

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The Good News IS Really Good - Acts 2:47 - Skip Heitzig

Spirit hacks, tips and tools for mastering your spiritual life.

Would you please turn in your Bibles of the book of Acts chapter 2, Acts chapter 2. You knew I was going to say that. You probably had that ready, but it's good for you to turn there and look with me.

It Acts chapter 2. So how many-- show of hands. How many of you have heard of the show Mission Impossible? Raise your hands. So seriously, just come on, really.

Yeah, raise your hands. OK, so some of you think that that kind of started with a Tom Cruise movie, but what some of you need to know, I don't know why you need to know this, but it started in the 1960s. '66 to '73, there was a television program called Mission Impossible, a series on TV. And the main character was a guy named Jim Phelps.

He was in charge of the impossible missions force. They would send their little co-op team or their special ops team around the world for uncovering crime and getting warlords put away, et cetera. But the message for the operation, for the mission came on a reel to reel tape, a little reel to reel tape recorder.

Some of you millennials are looking at me like, what is that? So it was a method of communication in the old days, where you put sound on a tape and a tape recorder would play it. Well, let's just show a clip. You got to see this. This is culture.

Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is to make stuff on Lee Thompson's information. As always, should you or any of your IM force be caught or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Jim.

That's the best part right there. So did you hear the instructions? Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is such and such, and then this tape will self-destruct in five seconds.

You and I have a mission. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is called the great commission. It's when Jesus said to his followers go into all the world and preach the gospel and whoever believes will be saved. Now what an incredible statement that we can actually give a message with our words that has the potential to see people saved.

Go into all the world, and preach the gospel. That is our mandate. The mandate to the church is to bring forth the gospel message, to verbally communicate it and by our lives communicate it.

But I think you'll agree it's a scary mandate. It's not easy to just walk up to people and discuss the intimacy of our relationship with God and the need for a person to receive Christ. We get intimidated. We get fearful. What if they ask me questions I can't answer, et cetera, right?

I remember the first time I tried to share my faith. It was not pretty. I remember it because my heart was pumping. Adrenaline was flowing. My voice was quivering. And this was just at a gas station, me telling somebody about Jesus.

I was so scared. I got through it. Then I remember the second time I ever did it, because it was the second time I ever did it. And they piled a bunch of us in a Volkswagen bus.

I think they were trying to win the contest how many Christians can you fit in a Volkswagen bus. I discovered a lot. And they emptied us out in a parking lot and said, go share your faith. And I thought, I don't even know what that is exactly, except I did it once at a gas station.

So it was my first exposure to walking up to somebody and spending a few moments with them verbally communicating the gospel. It was hard then, like it was the first time, but I discovered the more and more I did it, throughout my life, the easier and more natural it became. So that was a long time ago. And I've had the privilege of sharing the gospel in a number of occasions.

One of the great privileges was just a few months ago going to Saudi Arabia and actually sitting in the palace with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and telling him what the gospel is that God sent his son out of heaven to earth to die for our sins on a cross and would give you eternal life to those who trust in his name. That was like a surreal moment for me. Now, let me just say as a follow-up, though it's hard for us to do this, one of the most satisfying experiences you will ever have is doing this. Guaranteed you will walk away from it so exhilarated.

And I want to talk to you about evangelism today, personal evangelism from the book of Acts. That's the lens we'll use. But hopefully, through some of the tips I'm going to give you as we draw this to a close, it's going to be less daunting, less intimidating, and more fun for you. I hope that happens.

We'll in Acts chapter 2, we have seen so far a kind of a comprehensive portrait of what life was like among the earliest Christian believers. We discovered that it was a learning church, because they devoted themselves to the apostles' doctrine. We discovered it was a caring church, because they were devoted to fellowship, to being with each other in community.

We discovered it was a Christ center church. They got together and broke bread, not just having a meal, but also communion, sharing the remembrance of the Lord's death on the cross. It was a praying church for they devoted themselves to prayers. It was a generous church.

We saw last week they gave of their time, their talent, and their treasure to the work of the Lord. But even all of that is not a complete picture. It is not a balanced picture. All we have done so far is talk about the church's internal life, not external life.

This is what they did as they gathered together to themselves. What we need is verse 47 to bring balance to it, not just verse 47. All we need is the last part of verse 47, which says, "And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." Now, we're going to see how he did that, but that's what it says.

"The Lord added to the church daily those who are being saved." Without that sentence, we would get the wrong impression of the first church. Without that verse, we would get the idea that all they did is get together and have bible study and all they did is get together and pray and hang out and have meals, but that's not all they did.

They had a relationship with God and with each other, but they also had some kind of relationship to the outside world. They had not just an interior life, but an exterior life, one that they showed to unbelievers and thus, they were committed in some form or fashion to evangelism. What I'd like to do with you this morning is give you quickly a fourfold description of what evangelism was like in the early church and really what it is like period.

First of all, it's a divine work. Evangelism is a divine work. I want you to notice verse 47, how Luke words this sentence. "And the Lord added to the church."

I think sometimes we overlook this. I think sometimes we get our great programs and our strategies, and we should. We should think this through and do it right.

We have every year our freedom celebration at the stadium, which is designed to be a celebration to get the gospel out to the unbelievers of this city. We have a great VBS every year, Vacation Bible School very large, very successful to bring children in the community, to have fun and to hear the gospel. All of that is good and necessary.

However, ultimately evangelism is God's doing. It is not the work of bands. It is not the work of banquets. It is not the work of bumper stickers. It is a work of God.

Psalm 74 verse 12 the Psalmist writes, "God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth." You will remember the Lord Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit to his disciples. And he said, "when the Holy Spirit comes, he will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment."

He didn't say you will convict the world. You can't convict anybody. It is a work of God. It is a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit.

So the Holy Spirit, I like to look at him, as one commentator put it, the hound of heaven. Don't you love that? Let the Holy Spirit chase that person down, wrestle him to the ground, and get his heart to open up.

That's what he does. It's not our work as much as head work-- his work. So the God who created the world is the same God who came up with the idea, the plan, and the power to save a person.

Romans chapter 8 verse 30 contains it all in one verse. It says, "Whom he predestined, these he also called. Whom he called these, he also justified. And whom he justified, these he also glorified."

Who does the work? He does the work. It's him from beginning to end.

We call this election. You've heard that term before if you've been a believer very long, a theological term, election. It means God chose you before he made you and then he arranged the circumstances by which to save you. That's God's election.

Jesus said, "no one can come to me, unless the Father who sent me draws him." So we get the picture. He chases a person. He draws a person to himself by convicting that person of their need.

So on one hand, this takes the pressure off, right. You hear this, you go, I love that. You mean, I don't have to save a person, right?

Newsflash, you can't save anyone. I had a person come and he goes, you saved me 10 years ago. I usually step back and go, well, I'm glad God did. Because if I did, you're in trouble.

But I understand what you're saying. God does that work. When Paul went to Philippi and he spoke to a group of women at a riverside, a riverbank, there was one woman by the name of Lydia. And it is described as saying, and the Lord opened her heart to listen to the things spoken by Paul. That's God's word.

When I came to Christ, I was alone. I was in a room watching TV. I told you the story a million times. There was nobody in the going listen to that.

Skip, listen, what do you think about that? It was just me and the Lord. And the Lord opened my heart to listen to the words of Billy Graham during that episode. So it is a divine work, but hold that thought.

It's not just a divine work. It's also a delegated work. Now I just said, the pressure was off, right. It's a divine work.

It takes the pressure off, but now the pressure is back on. Because it's not only a divine work, it is also a delegated work. Who is it delegated to?

As Jesus said to his disciples, go into all the world and use your mouth. Speak, preach the gospel to everyone. And whoever believes will be saved. So you and I have a part in this.

I want you to notice something in verse 41. Go up a couple versus. Verse 41, "those who gladly received his word, Peter's word were baptized. And that day about 3,000 souls were added to them." Question, how were they added?

Answer, by the Lord through the Lord's people. By the Lord, but through the Lord's people. Did they just stand in Jerusalem and just suddenly go, you know, I feel like being saved right now. I think I am saved right now sovereignly by a work of God.

No. Somebody was speaking to them. Who was it? Peter. Peter was giving a message to them.

Go back to verse 14, if you don't mind, you're right there. So why not? Verse 14. "But Peter, standing up with the 11, raised his voice, that's what God used and said to them, men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and heed my words."

Go down a verse 38. "Then Peter said to them, repent, and let every one of you will be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." Verse 40, "And with many other words, he-- that is Peter-- testified and exhorted them saying, be saved from this perverse generation."

Now, this becomes the pattern throughout the rest of the book of Acts. God is doing the work. He's doing it through his people, who are doing the preaching. They're verbally witnessing the people.

In Acts chapter 4, I'll turn a page forward. Acts chapter 4 verse 33, "And with great power, the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and great grace was upon them all."

Two things are happening, God's grace is there to call them, convict them, woo them, save them, but he's using the testimony in witness of those who are preaching, in this case, the apostles. Turn another page. Act chapter 5 verse 42, "And daily in the temple and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ."

One more, a couple more pages. Acts chapter 8 verse 4. I'll stop here. Acts 8. Persecution hits the church. Everybody scatters. Verse 4, Acts 8.

"Those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word." So now we know that evangelism is both a divine work as well as a human work, that is a divine cooperation, a human cooperation with a divine call, God's word. Think of it this way.

God is the mover. You are the mouthpiece. God is the mover. He convicts. He draws.

You are the mouthpiece. You bring the message as Jesus told us to do. So what this means is God is looking for volunteers. God is always looking for volunteers.

The eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the entire earth. He's always looking for somebody who would say this. You can use me if you'd like the Lord. Here's my mouth. It's available.

My feet can go places. My hands can embrace people who need it. My eyes can give contact to those who feel alienated. Use me. That's what Isaiah said.

Isaiah chapter 6, "Then I heard the word of the Lord saying, whom shall I send and who will go for us?" And Isaiah said, "here I am Lord. Send me."

A lot of us go, here I am Lord. Send her. Don't use me. I'm not that kind of person.

I'm not that. I don't do that. Here I am Lord. Send me. It's a delegated work.

Now, what forms of evangelism does the New Testament speak about? Let me give you a few. We'll move through this rapidly.

Form number one seen in the New Testament, mass evangelism. Mass evangelism isn't one on one. It's talking to a crowd.

I am thankful for mass evangelism. I watched an event take place in a stadium. Mass evangelism by Billy Graham, that was my first connection of faith with Christ. So I'm grateful for it.

Jesus spoke to crowds of people. And in one event in Galilee, he's got the crowd of people around him. And he gives a public invitation. His words, "come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Jesus publicly invited them to follow him. That's mass evangelism. Peter does the same thing.

Here in the book of Acts in front of a crowd, he says, "repent and be saved." That's pretty clear. A few chapters later, Acts chapter 14, Paul is in a town called Lystra. He's in front of the city gate.

He speaks to the crowd and says, "God's plan is for you to turn from false gods and to turn to him, the living and true God." That's mass evangelism. Act chapter 17 Paul is in Athens, not Georgia, Greece.

And he's in Athens. He's on Mars Hill, the Areopagus. And he talks about their worship system. I notice you guys worship a lot of gods. You even have a little statue over here to the unknown god. That unknown god I want to make known to you.

And he says, "In times past, God overlooked such ignorance, but now commands all men everywhere to repent." He said that publicly. That is mass evangelism.

And we have great examples through history of people like John Wesley, George Whitfield, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, Billy Sunday, Dwight Lyman Moody, Billy Graham, and others. 1 Corinthians God says, Paul writes, "By the foolishness of preaching, God has ordained for people to be saved."

That's mass evangelism. That's one way. Another way, most common way really, personal evangelism, one on one. Jesus at the well as Samaria he just speaks to a woman, just one person.

And in that conversation, she ends up receiving Jesus as messiah. Then he goes into Samaria afterwards and engages with a few other people, also, John chapter 4. And they also believe.

Philip personally evangelized one person, Ethiopian eunuch, in Acts chapter 8. So that's probably where most of us fit. Some of you may be called to mass evangelism, crusade evangelism. I'm not sure. But probably, more so, you're likely to engage in personal evangelism.

And let me just say that's a privilege. I don't want to say responsibility, because sometimes you got to church going, are you're going to tell me another responsibility? No. I'm going to tell you about a privilege you have.

I mean, think about it. If the message Jesus said, we preach about him has the power to get people saved through his sovereign work, right, preach the gospel to every creature, whoever believes will be saved, if that is that kind of a life giving message, what a privilege we have to open our mouths at some point and deliver those goods. It is a privilege that we carry.

Yet, according to Evangelism Explosion, they write, "It has been estimated that 95% of American church members have never led anyone to Christ." It's quite a statement, isn't it? "95% of American church members have never led any one to Christ."

Now, I don't want you to get the guilties over hearing that, because hopefully by the end of this little study, you're going to go, I want to do this. This sounds fun, and it is. So we have mass evangelism, personal evangelism. I'll give you a third, because that's really the context here of Acts 2, local church evangelism, meaning it is the normal natural outgrowth of a church in a community where evangelism just flows from the life of a church.

Every congregation should be a worshipping community, as well as a witnessing community. If you just have one or the other, I think you're out of balance. If it's all witness and no worship, if it's all worship and no witness, you'll be off kilter, both a worshipping and a witnessing community. And I'll press this even further.

I believe that if every single church that has ever been planted or started, every denomination, every local church, would have been committed to local church evangelism, the world would have heard the gospel by now. John Stott writes-- and I love John Stott. He said, "I know some churches which haven't seen a convert for 10 years or more. And if they got one, they wouldn't know what to do with him or her. So extraordinary would this phenomenon appear to them."

Somebody got saved. What do we do? I don't know. Now, this brings up an issue. At least it does for me.

And I just want to get this out there, because it's sort of a controversial thing. If you ever come here for very long, you have seen me sometimes. You go a couple of weeks or three weeks, you're going to run into it, whether it's a midweek or a weekend services, where I will sometimes invite a person to walk forward and receive Christ.

We call that an altar call. And some people are very opposed to altar calls. What's interesting the people most opposed to altar calls are not atheists, but those who give themselves a brand of Christianity.

And I would say there is hyperform of Calvinism-- I won't get into all the distinctions-- that says you should never mess with God's sovereignty by giving an invitation. You don't draw them. God draws them. And I agree.

I would only say to that God does the work, but he also ordains the means by which he does the work, which could be my mouth or yours. So I think both are true, but they'll say never give an invitation. Invitations wrong, because it's God's sovereign calling.

I was speaking to one of at our campus at Nob Hill a while ago. At the end of the little talk, I asked people to come forward if they wanted to. Many did. Afterwards, I'm talking to people.

There's a guy in line that wanted to talk to me. He wasn't too happy. I could see that. So I wanted to see what he was all ruffled up about.

And he was ruffled up that I gave an altar call and invited people forward to Christ. He goes, you should never invite a person. It's God's sovereign work. And I listened to it. I did. I was very nice, and I listened.

But then, but then I said, I get it. I get it. He goes, you do. I said, yeah, I see your problem.

He goes, you see my problem. I said, yeah, you don't really have a problem with me. You have a problem with John. John, who? I said, the Apostle John.

He goes, what do you mean? I said John writes about the word that came from heaven became flesh. And John writes this.

He came to his own. His own did not receive him. But as many as received him, to them he gave the power to become children of God. So you have God's calling, sovereign calling, and human cooperation, human will working in the same verse.

I think your problem isn't with Skip Heitzig. I think your problem is with John the apostle. Listen to what J.I. Packer writes. By the way, J.I. Packer, also a Calvinist, one of my favorite authors ever.

He wrote one of the best books on this subject that I think we all need to read if we're worried about this topic. It's called Evangelism and The Sovereignty of God, short little book. He writes this. One sentence, I'll pull out.

"It is a matter not of merely informing people, but of also inviting people." I agree with that. And Paul the Apostle agrees with that. For Paul the Apostle wrote 2 Corinthians 5, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men."

Did you hear that verse? "Knowing the terror of the Lord." What does that mean? Paul knows what will happen to that unsaved person when they die. There will be an eternity of hell in the future. That's terror.

"Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men." That's evangelism. So you want to talk people off that ledge, because you know what's coming is what that verse basically says. One time DL Moody-- you've heard me talk about him-- over 100 years ago, evangelists in Chicago, Moody was preaching.

And by the way, the altar call a lot of people thing goes back to Moody's days of preaching. He would often called people forward in an invitation. Very controversial at the time. Still is.

Moody gave his presentation, call people forward. There was a woman, very angry. Stood in line, was not an atheist, was a Christian, who was mad that he did that. And she says, I don't like the way you evangelize.

And he very politely-- he was classy sometimes-- he said, ma'am, frankly, I don't like the way I do it either. So I'm open to learn. Tell me what way do you do it.

She says I don't do it. So he said, well, ma'am, then I think I like the way I do it better than the way you don't do it. So I think we have an opportunity to do it to the glory of God in some form or fashion, mass evangelism, personal evangelism, local church evangelism.

So it's a divine work. It's a delegated work. Third component, it is a double work. Please notice our verse, verse 47. I need your help on this.

And the Lord added to the what? Let's try that again. Deep breath. We can do this. "And the Lord added to the--

Chruch

--chruch daily those who are being--

Saved

--saved." Now I had you do that on purpose. There's two words that I want you to play off of-- church, saved. Here's the point.

He didn't add them to the church without saving them. And he didn't save them without adding them to the church. It's a double work.

You know, today, it's fashionable to say, well, I'm spiritual. What does that mean? Well, I believe in Jesus man, and I'm spiritual, but I don't believe in the church. I'm not into organized religion. I've heard that a million times.

I would say, what you're into disorganized religion? No, I'm just a spiritual person and I follow Jesus my way, but I don't believe in the church. Well, that's interesting, because Jesus said, he came to build his church. And if you don't believe in church, you don't believe in what Jesus came to build, which was a new community called his church.

So it's a double work. He added them to the church those who were being saved. So salvation and church involvement go together. I have to have you look at one more verse.

Acts 5, you're not far away. It won't take you long. Acts chapter 5 verse 14, because I want you to see how this is worded here, very differently. Acts 5:14. It says, "And believers were increasingly added to-- what?

The Lord.

the Lord." The Lord. "Believers were increasingly added to the Lord and multitudes of both men and women." Who were added? Believers were added. Believers were added to the Lord.

The Lord added them to what? The church. You put Acts 5 and acts 2 together, that's how it works.

So when a person is saved, he belongs to God. God has them belong to a group, a new community that he calls the church. So the true Church is made up of saved people. What I mean by what I just said is that you can have a big group of people, but not everyone in that group of people is the saved person.

That's not every person. They may be going to a church, but they may not be part of the true church. The true church is made up of saved people.

And that's a fact we should celebrate and not hide or try to get around the fact that we love Jesus and sing about him and make much of the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us. There's been a movement over decades called a seeker friendly movement in church. Let's make it about seekers, not about church people.

Let's do something that wouldn't embarrass unbelievers. Let's make it so that unbelievers almost feel like this is what they're used to. Well, then why would they ever convert or change?

I mean, if it's the same as what they're used to, what's the difference? So we shouldn't hide the fact that we are madly in love with Jesus and his church. People, we celebrate him. And make no bones about it, I think we should be more concerned with feeding the sheep than entertaining the goats.

So evangelism helps goats become sheep. But then you feed the sheep. And then those fed sheep in turn evangelize goats. So you get more sheep.

Now that is what you see, I think, in the book of Acts. The early church were saved souls wanting to see more souls saved. So it's a double work.

And fourth and finally, it's a daily work. For it says in verse 47, the Lord added to the church monthly those who were being saved. I'm sorry.

Daily.

Thank you. I like that. I like your involvement. The Lord added daily those who are being saved.

Here's the point. Evangelism wasn't a sporadic event. Like one week a year, this is evangelism Sunday.

You can have evangelism Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, daily. It's a part of their life. It wasn't mission week. Every day was mission week for them.

Some churches think that you grow up to a certain point and then we have enough. We've done enough. So you get to be 500 people, you can stop evangelizing, 1,000 people, 2,000 people. You can you sort of cap it off at that point. Stop reaching out.

Never stop reaching out. It's never big enough. Well, how many people do you want? All of them. All of them, every last unbeliever, every last one.

Think of it this way. How many disciples did Jesus have, close followers, how many? 12. So next question. Follow me along.

In Acts chapter 1, it grew a little bit bigger. How many people were in the first meeting, the upper room in Jerusalem? Anybody know that number? 120 people.

So they went from 12 to 120. That's like what, 10 times growth. That's pretty good. They didn't go, we got enough. Because they had been really sad on Pentecost when 3,000 came forward.

So now you have 3,120, but don't stop there. Acts chapter 4, it says 5,000 men, not including women and children, put their faith in Christ. So now you've got a big group. So pretty soon they stop counting. They just go multitudes of men and women came and next said multitudes more.

It kept on growing. What this tells me, number one, somebody was counting. If you think it's unspiritual to count, don't read Acts.

Number two, there are never ever enough people saved. And the church is never ever full. You go, well, what do you mean never full? I come here. It's pretty full.

We have four services a week. What are you going to do if you get more? Add another service, or two, or three. We have four services. We'll have six.

There's never a time that you stop that. God willing that would happen. Jesus in the parable of the wedding feast in Luke 14, his words, "Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled."

There are never too many people in heaven. There are never too many people going to the kingdom. And it's our daily opportunity to tell people how to get into that house.

J.C. Ryle once said, "The highest form of selfishness is a man content to go to heaven alone." No, I'm good. I'm saved. I got fire insurance. I'm going to heaven.

He's not. She's not. So what. That's God's business. What a selfish, self-centered life.

Somebody said that if you were to take all the unbelievers in the world and line them up, it would form a line that would go around the Earth 30 times. And the line grows 20 miles a day, every day. Evangelism is you walking up to that line and saying, let me tell you how to get out of this line and come into a line and to go to a place that can't have enough people. That is God's kingdom.

Now let me close with a few tips. I want to throw up on the screen some tips that hopefully will help you overcome fear or reluctance, because I'm guessing that not a lot of you just like to walk up to people that you've never met and go, hey, you with a cappuccino at Starbucks, do you know about heaven? You're going, no, that's not me.

So what do you do? Let me give you a few tips. Number one, pray.

You're thinking, oh, you just said that, because you're a pastor and pastors are supposed to kind of say pray first, right? Wrong. Pray. And I'll show you how in just a second.

When I say pray, I don't mean like pray as you're having a conversation with the unbeliever. Wait a minute, you're a heathen. I need to-- let's pray right now. No, no, no, don't do that. Pray in advance for an opportunity.

I mean, it's this simple. You're doing whatever you do during the day and you say, Lord, I just pray for an opportunity. Here's a mouth for you to use and feet and hands. Here's a human body. If you want to use me today, set up the opportunity.

That's how you pray. So I did this this week. I went to Washington DC. I was on a flight, my second leg from Atlanta to DC. I'm going through the airport.

And I just-- I'm talking to God, not out loud so they didn't think I was nuts. But I said, Lord, I just want you to use this opportunity if that's what you want. You want to place me next to somebody or have me talk to somebody. Your call, but I'm available.

Get on the plane. The plane is absolutely packed full of people. Every seat taken, and I'm on an aisle. And a guy sits in the middle row, who was an academic, a vascular surgeon from Saudi. He was a Muslim from Saudi Arabia.

So I thought this is perfect. It's like the perfect person. And we had a great conversation throughout that flight. The Lord used that as an opportunity to speak into his life.

So number one, pray. Number two, allow others to start the conversation for you. Allow others to start the conversation for you. This does not have to be stilted.

You don't have to come in like, I've got all the answers. I'm going to get your attention man. You know, I'm going to wear-- I'm going to paste a bumper sticker that says Jesus loves you on my forehead.

This is real-- no, it's not going to be good. If they had any sense, they will run away from you at that point. So let others start the conversation. How many times have you been asked this question during the day, how are you? All the time.

You meet somebody, how you doing, or what you do this weekend? Why not answer those questions they ask you, and they just use that as conversation fillers. Why not use that to give a spiritually focused answer. How are you doing? Man, God's been good to me.

Wow, God. They didn't expect that. And it probably won't turn them off. They'll probably just brush it off, but you inserted something that may lead to something further, or what do you do this weekend? I went to church. You want to know what I learned?

I'd love to take you some time. I'd buy you Lunch. It can lead to other things.

So for me, I was on this plane. And this guy sat next to me. And first of all, he was tall like I am. And he was in a center seat. And I hope you feel a little bit for big tall people that fly in airplanes.

It is like-- I don't even know how to describe it. Anyway, so he set next to me. And I said, boy, I feel sorry for you, because you're in the middle seat. You're about as tall as I am.

I feel like I should-- we should switch off during the flight so you have a little more leg room on the aisle. And so he laughed. And I ask him what he did.

And he said he was a doctor, a vascular surgeon. He was looking at different residencies. And that he was from Saudi Arabia.

So I said, oh, really. I was in Saudi Arabia a few months ago. Now what was his first question out of his mouth at that point? What are you doing there? Why were you there?

I'm glad you asked. And I told him why I was there. Well, who'd you met with? I told him that.

So now he looks at me. He has a big smile on his face. Man, I have a whole bunch of questions. I've been waiting to find somebody that I could ask these things to.

That was the rest of our flight. But his questions and his conversation led that along. And it was very normal and natural.

Number three, this is a big one. Listen. I know you have all the answers for life, you do. You have the gospel. The simple gospel. You have all the answers for life, but they don't know you have that, which means you need to really give eye contact and really listen to what they have to say.

Don't do all the talking. It's not a monologue. It is a dialogue. The most successful encounters begin with conversation, not a presentation.

It's a normal natural conversation. And when you're having the conversation, be nice. You can do this. Be nice.

Don't interrupt. What's wrong actually? Let me tell you. No, be nice.

If you want to win some, be win some. You want to win people, you want to win some, then be win some. It Goes a long way.

So listen, number four, tell your story. Tell your story. You have a personal testimony of how you came to Christ. Tell that to them.

Learn how to tell your story in a short fashion, not when I was in third grade. No, just keep it short. Get to the facts. Learn how to present what happened to you and how Jesus changed your life. Just tell your story.

Paul did this. He pulled out his conversion story of what happened on the Damascus road when in Acts he stood before a whole crowd in the temple who were out to get him. He shared what happened to him.

Here's the thing about a personal testimony. It's really indisputable. I know it's subjective, not objective, but it's still your story.

People can argue with it. They can argue about evidence for God or does science deny it, or why does a good God allow evil to happen. You can argue about that. But when you tell them your story, people can say, well, that didn't happen. I was there. You weren't. So

You tell your story. That is a powerful hook that can also lead to good things. And then number five, and I'll close with this. Be creative.

There are so many ways to share Jesus. You don't have to do it one certain way. You can do this.

In fact, you go, I don't even know the answers to the questions he's asking. How about this? If you don't mind, give me your address. I'll send you a book.

Would you read it if I sent it to you? Yes. I've done that on so many occasions. Now I know some of you are thinking, well, this could be expensive.

It's a lot of books to buy. Well, if you witness a lot, it probably could be, but you want to avoid that. How about sending them a link from YouTube? There are so many YouTube videos out there by guys and gals talking about the validity for the Christian faith, why a good God can allow evil. All the big questions and answers are already there.

Text them the link to that and have them watch that video. That's a creative way to do it. Here's one. I know of an ophthalmologist who would do cataract surgeries. And after the patients would come in for a follow-up exam and they would have to read a sentence to see how successful the surgery was, the sentence on the wall was, now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.

Ophthalmologist comes to Christ, decides I'll take a different approach. Puts up a new sign that reads, imagine being the patient, God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Sparked up all sorts of new conversations in the ophthalmologist office.

A while ago I did a wedding and a man approached me at a wedding afterwards with his wife. He walks right up to me and he goes, Skip, tell my wife how to get saved. I thought, well, that's creative. I've never seen that before. I felt a little bad for her, but I said to her, listen, if you're up for it, I'm up for it.

Here's the bottom line. Don't let the best news become your best kept secret. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is the great commission. Go and bring this message, because it can change a person's life.

We today will be like Isaiah, will we not, and say, here I am Lord, send me. Let's pray that. Father, as we close, that's our prayer. We are saying to you that we are looking for opportunities, because we want to grow in this. Some of us need to grow in this area of feeling natural and normal and not being ashamed of the gospel, because it's a part of who we are, but just to in a winsome, nice, sweet manner tell people about Jesus, to sow that seed.

And so we just say to you, Lord, here we are, send us for your glory, that your house may be filled Lord, that heaven will see more and like Paul who said, we persuade men and like Jesus who said compel them to come, we feel also a compunction is for every true believer who believes both in your sovereignty and in our privilege and responsibility. May those two things be married together and be in balance in our lives. Finally Lord, we just pray for anyone who might be here, feels alienated from you, feels hopeless, because of what has happened to them recently in their life and feels crushed by life circumstances, feel burdened by a habit or a sin.

They would love to be able to just be unshackled and burden, forgiven, get a new start. Some have, perhaps, never personally received Christ. Others have had some past experience that is a past experience, but they're not following you today. They need to come to you or come back home to you.

I pray, Lord, that you would save them. You would draw them. Our heads our bowed. Our eyes are closed. This will take just a moment.

If you're here, I'm going to keep my eyes open. So I can see who it is. I'm acknowledging, but if you've never given your life to Christ or you need to come back home to him, you want to be forgiven by him, you want to do over, a fresh start, you want to step in to just a place of peace with God, peace in your heart, forgiveness of the past, if you want that, I want you to raise your hand right now. Raise it up in the air and sing, Skip, here's my hand. Pray for me.

God bless you. Right up here to my left. I can barely see, but a couple more hands there and toward the back. I see your hands. Thank you for that light. Right here to my right in the middle. Right there toward the back, yes, thank you.

In the balcony, I see-- thanks for putting that hand up way up there. I appreciate that. Thank you for that. Right up here in the front, yes, ma'am, right up here in the front. Anybody I miss in the family room?

Right over here to my left along this side. Father, thank you. And I pray for these who have those raised hands. Thank you, Lord, for doing your work once again in our midst.

We're seeing it. We're experiencing it, but I pray for those with raised hands or those who did that everything would be different after today.

You fill them with hope, with peace. You fill them with a sense of your joy. You'd help them to really understand the gospel in their place in it. And I pray they would walk out of here with just tons of joy, because their hearts are burden free as they come to Christ.

Give them the faith that brings follow through to the raised hand in Jesus' name. Amen. Let's all stand up. We're going to do this very quickly. But as we sing this final song, would those of you who raised your hands just find an aisle near you. Come right up in the front, where as you come, in a moment, I'm going to lead you in a word of prayer to receive Christ.

And we do this for you. You're going to find encouragement as you come. So if you raised your hand, even in the balcony, come down. Find an aisle. Just come right up here right now. Come on up.

If you raised your hand, come on up. You'll hear God's people encourage you. This is good. It's a good thing to do. And I'll lead you in a prayer. You come

Here in the front, on the sides, in then back, in the balcony, in the family, you come. We're going to stand up here and take just a moment.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

(SINGING) --and are gone. I've been set free. My god, my savior is ransom free. And like a block, his mercy awaits unending love amazing grace.

Anybody else? The reason I say anybody else is I was the guy who just put things off, put things off, put things off, didn't listen to things like this, and finally one day I did. And I thought, why didn't I do it earlier?

That's right. That's right, good.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

(SINGING) I've been set free. My God, my savior is ransom free.

Come on.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

(SINGING) And like a block, his mercy awaits unending love.

You know it's great, you know what's great, you who are coming forward. Welcome Here's what's great.

You're coming right now to Christ. I don't know your background. God does. He knows all the filth, all the stuff. I don't know it. I don't care to know it.

But also, you don't know mine and all the stuff that I've done and how God forgave me. And I want you to know that no matter who you are or what you've done, God will forgive you. And God will use you for His glory and power. He will you.

Let's get down to business. Those of you who have come forward, I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I'm going to say this prayer out loud. I'd like you to pray it out loud after me, like wedding vows, right. You're doing in front of God and these witnesses.

So I'm going to pray out loud. Pray after me. Say these words from your heart. Mean them as you say these to the Lord. Let's pray.

Say Lord, I give you my life.

Lord, I give you my life.

I know that I'm a sinner.

I know that I'm a sinner.

Please forgive me.

Please forgive me.

I believe that Jesus came to this earth.

I believe that Jesus came to this earth.

That he died on a cross for me.

That he died on a cross for me.

And that he rose from the dead.

And that he rose from the dead.

I turn from my sin.

I turn from my sin.

I turned to Jesus as my savior.

I turn to Jesus as my savior.

And I want to follow him as my lord.

And I want to follow as my lord.

Help me.

Help me

In Jesus name.

In Jesus name

Amen.

Amen.

We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. How will you put the truths that you learned into action in your life? Let us know.

Email us at mystory@calvarynm.church. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.

Additional Messages in this Series

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Date Title   Watch Listen Notes Share Save Buy
1/6/2019
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Community Is...
Acts 2:44-46
Nate Heitzig
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Message Summary
Every day brings with it a list of tasks we must accomplish in order to live life and get through the day—tasks that range from mundane to difficult. Sometimes we find tips or shortcuts—often called life hacks—that save us time and effort. Like everyday life, our walk with Christ can be tough to get through, but we have built-in assistance to help us along the way: an authentic community of people who share our faith. This week's Spirit Hacks from the book of Acts help us give and get the most out of fellowship.
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1/13/2019
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How to Grow Up and Not Give Up
Acts 2:42
Skip Heitzig
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The term growth rate is usually reserved for the financial world to describe market change over a period of time. It tells you how fast a country’s economy is growing. But let’s think of it as a spiritual and personal term—and use it to describe our own spiritual growth. How’s that going? Let’s look at one aspect of spiritual growth and consider some tips from one verse to accentuate and accelerate it.
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1/20/2019
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Tapping into the Power Source
Acts 2; Acts 4
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
The earliest Christian believers huddled together in Jerusalem, listened to the apostles, and talked to God in prayer. There were a lot of things missing from that first church. They lacked charters, committees, strategies, and church buildings (things some would consider vital for church health). But one thing they had was power. Why? Because they learned to tap into the source of power through prayer. Let’s examine their prayer life generally and then specifically.
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1/27/2019
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The Generous Lives of True Believers
Acts 2; 2 Corinthians 9
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
The book of Acts tells us about the very first Christian believers. Their daily lives were simple; their spiritual lives were vibrant. Far from being independent isolationists who only met once a week, they lived their lives together. They were generous people who sought to meet one another’s needs and make an impact in the world by giving their time, talent, and treasure to make sure the message about Jesus went far and wide.
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There are 4 additional messages in this series.