have a confession to make. I’m cheating today. I wanted to
present a lesson that would get us ready for our upcoming series
with Harold Comer on growing this congregation. However, I’ve
already preached the best idea I could come up with. However, that
was more than five years ago. So, for the first time, I’m giving
you a repeat sermon. I hope you’ll forgive me. When we look at
the worldliness around us, we can easily get discouraged and think
we’ll never accomplish much. It is easy to just give up. But we
must never quit trying. Margaret Mead, an American anthropologist,
said, “Never doubt that a
small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the
world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” As a
small group of committed Christians, we can change our community
and even our world for Christ. I know we can, because I have seen
it happen before—in the book of Acts.
There were three kinds of
people taught in Acts, just like today.
Like today, some people were seeking the proper way to serve God.
We may have to work hard to find these people today, but they do
Like today, some people were already devoted to a religion. We may
have to teach hard to bring these people out of error, but there
are many who will obey.
Like today, some were pagans, idol worshippers and atheists. We
may have to work hard to show these what they are missing, but
some will obey.
demonstrates three responses to the Gospel, just like today.
Some rejected the Gospel.
Today we will find this, but we must not focus on this.
Some were skeptical.
Most people we meet are at this stage. They have seen so much
confusion and division in religion that they do not know who to
trust. They have heard so many contradictory things about God and
the Bible, they do not know if what we say is true. But those who
are skeptical, can be taught with patience.
Some accepted the Gospel.
Despite what many Christians think, there are still people out
there and even in this community who will accept the Gospel if
they are taught.
Notice the growth this small group of committed Christians
caused with the help of God.
– The group began with 120 disciples.
– About 3000 were saved on the day of Pentecost.
– The church numbered about 5000 men – perhaps up to 10,000
– Multitudes were being added to Christ’s church.
– The cities surrounding Jerusalem were also hearing the Gospel.
– The church kept increasing. Even some of the priests were
– A great persecution arose, causing the Christians to be
dispersed from Jerusalem. However, this parallels Paul’s point
in Romans 8:28, God would use this dispersion for good for those who
loved Him. The Gospel needed to travel to other cities and
nations. Notice the response of the Christians to the dispersion
in Acts 8:4. They did not give up; they went everywhere preaching the
Acts 8:5, 12-13
– A church was established in Samaria.
8:26-28 – An Ethiopian is taught, who presumably took
the Gospel into Africa.
– The Gospel was preached in Azotus and Caesarea.
– A church was present in Damascus.
– A church had been established in Lydda.
– A church was established in Sharon.
Acts 9:36, 42
– A church was found in Joppa.
– The church continued to grow because the racial barrier was
broken and the doors of the church were opened by Christ to the
– A church was established and grows in Syrian Antioch.
Acts 13:4-6, 12
– A church was established in Paphos on the isle of Cyprus.
– A church was established in Pisidian Antioch.
– A church was established in Iconium.
Acts 14:8, 19-20
– A church existed in Lystra.
– A church was established in Derbe.
– Amazingly, Paul and Barnabas established elders in the
congregations with which they had worked on this journey. While
several factors contributed to men being qualified so quickly, we
do see the need and urgency of having qualified men to lead the
church. We must never rashly throw men into the eldership whether
qualified or not. However, we must spend time training and
qualifying men for the office.
– A church was established in Philippi.
Acts 17:1, 4
– A church was established in Thessalonica.
– Many Bereans were converted, establishing a church there also.
Acts 17:16, 34
– Some in Athens became Christians.
Acts 18:1, 8
– A church was established in Corinth.
Acts 18:18-21, 27
– A church existed in Ephesus.
– A church was meeting in Troas.
-- Paul found a church in Tyre.
– A church also existed in Ptolemais.
– A church was found in Sidon.
– A church had been established in Puteoli.
Acts 28:15-16, 24
– A church had already been established in Rome.
we go through Acts in
this quick overview fashion, we understand clearly why the enemies
of the church said the Christians had turned the world upside down
(Acts 17:6). They were going everywhere. They were changing the
world. So can we.
How did they accomplish all of this?
First, notice what they did not do. They did not establish
world-wide organizations of churches. They did not storm Rome for
a change in legislation. They did not develop armies to take the
world by force. They did not take on social agendas to conquer
social issues. They did not develop parachurch organizations. In
fact, they did not really set out to change the world.
Notice what they did do.
set out to change individuals.
While there were groups of people converted, conversion was always
an individual issue. As more individuals put on the new man (Ephesians
4:22-24) the world was changed.
changed individuals by teaching.
In Acts 2, the multitude was changed based on the preaching of the
apostles (Acts 2:40).
In Acts 8, the
Samaritans were changed because of the teaching of Philip (Acts
8:5). The eunuch was changed by teaching (Acts 8:35). Saul was changed by teaching (Acts 9:6). Cornelius was
changed by teaching (Acts
11:14). There is only one way to change people. We must teach
them the gospel. As Romans
10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the
word of Christ” (ESV).
They realized they weren’t the ones doing the changing.
In I Corinthians 3:5-7, Paul claimed his job was simply to teach. God
would bring the increase. The early Christians had success because
they leaned on God, not on themselves. They understood they could
do all things through God who strengthened them (Philippians
4:13). They understood God would work through them and
accomplish great things (Ephesians
3:20-21). Because of this, the scripture records the hand of
the Lord was with them (Acts 11:21).
can change Franklin. We can change Middle Tennessee. We can change
the world. We can do this just like those early Christians did,
not because we are special. We can do this because the same God
who worked through them, will work through us. The question is
will we work for Him?
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ