Plymouth Congregational Church

God for All

Pastor Bill’s sermon Feb. 21, 2011

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KEEPING THE MAIN THING THE MAIN THING

Acts 1:1-8

·      This text records our Lord’s last meeting with His disciples while He was here on earth. He is preparing to ascend back into Heaven to sit down at the right hand of God. Before He leaves, He commands and commissions His men to reach the world with His message. He reminds them of what should be the central focus of their ministry. He reminds them that they are to keep the main thing the main thing!

·      He had to overcome a distraction, v. 6-7. The disciples want to talk about future things. Jesus is trying conduct the world’s first mission’s conference and they want to turn it into a prophecy conference. They want to know if the time has come for Jesus to establish His kingdom here on earth. He tells them that the “times and seasons” are not their concern. Their responsibility was to be faithful to Him and work while they waited.

·      Nothing has changed. Our duty is not to get caught up in future events, or any other theological dispute that distracts us from the main thing. We need to be careful that we do not allow Satan to distract us from our very purpose in being left in this world. Our duty is to be busy working for the Lord while we wait for Him to return. Verse 8 tells us what our duty is.

·      Jesus, here, commands His disciples, living in all time periods, to be His witnesses to the world of His Gospel and of His saving grace. (Ill. The Gospel – 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Rom. 4:25 – Many believers disagree about how salvation takes place, but that does not change the Gospel! People should be able to disagree about the methods while embracing the same message!)

·      Verse 8 is clear! Every believer is commissioned, commanded and constructed to share the Gospel with a lost world. We are His “ambassadors” in this world, 2 Cor. 5:20.

·      Let me share some of the qualities shared by all Gospel witnesses. This text reminds us of exactly what we are to be doing as we move through this world. This passage teaches us about the main thing that the church is to be doing. I want to examine this passage and preach for a few minutes on Keeping The Main Thing The Main Thing.

·      Why do I say this is the main thing? I say it because, here is Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected from the dead, and about to ascend into Heaven. He could have talked about anything in the world. But, His last words were a command and a commission to share the Gospel. If it was that important to Him, it should be equally important to us! We need to learn this lesson about Keeping The Main Thing The Main Thing.

I.               WE MUST HAVE THE RIGHT MESSAGE

·      Jesus tells His men that they are to be witness “unto Me”. Jesus is to be the sole focus of their message.

·      That has not changed! We are to tell the world about Him. We are not to talk about us, our lives, our beliefs, our denomination, our church, or our favorite preacher. None of those things have saving power! His message does, Rom. 1:16! We are to tell the world about Jesus!

·      We are to tell the message of His love, His death and His resurrection. We are to share the message of the Gospel – 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Rom. 10:9-10; 13; John 3:16; Acts 16:31. We are to tell the world that Jesus will save anyone who comes to Him by faith!

·      We are not sent to try and impress the world with our grasp of theology. Many people know the theories of theology, but they do not know Jesus. Many know all about the glories of Heaven, but they are headed to Hell. Like that blind man in John 9, all I know is, “once I was blind, but now I see,” and Jesus is the reason! That is the message we are to share with the world.

·      Our only mission is to point people to Jesus. He is the only hope the world has for salvation, John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Acts 16:31.

·      As someone said, all we are is “one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread”. Jesus is the “Bread of Life”, John 6:35. He is the solution to the spiritual hunger of the world. (Ill. I need to share with others what others shared with me, 2 Tim. 2:2!) Pass on what you heard from me—the whole congregation saying Amen! — to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others.

I.  We Must Have The Right Message

II.               WE MUST HAVE THE RIGHT METHODS

·      The word “witness” translates the Greek word “martus”. It refers to “those who bear witness to the truth.” It came to be used of those who bore the ultimate witness to the truth; of those who laid down their lives for the truth. Thus, we get the word “martyr” from this word. The issue is not myths and legends, but facts and truth. Jesus is calling His people to tell others the truth about Him.

·      The word “witness” was used in Bible times like it is used today. It speaks of those who testify in a court of law. A witness in a trial is called upon to tell what they have seen and what they know to be true.

·      God is calling His people to tell what they know and what they have seen to be true. Do you know anything about Jesus Christ? Has God done anything for you through Jesus Christ? If you can answer yes to those questions that is what you are to tell the world.

Ø  Do you know that God loves you? Tell the world!

Ø  Do you know that you are saved? Tell the world!

Ø  Do you know how God saves sinners? Tell the world!

Ø  Do you know who to tell? Tell the world!

·      We have some great examples in the Bible:

Ø  Peter at Pentecost – Acts 2:14-41

Ø  Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch, Acts 8:26-39

Ø  Paul before King Agrippa, Acts 26:1-31

Ø  The Blind Man before the Sanhedrin, John 9:10-12; 15-17; 24-27; 30-33

Ø  These great witnesses just told what they knew!

·      That is all the Lord wants you to do – 1 Pet. 3:15! Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.

I.  We Must Have The Right Message

II.  We Must Have The Right Methods

III.             WE MUST HAVE THE RIGHT MINDSET

·      The witness in a court of law is to testify to the judge and the jury. The witness to Jesus Christ is to testify to the whole world! That is a big task, so Jesus breaks it down for us. We are to begin close and move out!

·      We need to adopt the mindset of John Wesley who said, “The world is my parish!” Wesley knew that anywhere sinners could be found, there was a need for the Gospel and the Gospel witness. Our mission field is anywhere lost people can be found!

·      Most of us will never go to “the uttermost part of the earth”, but we can serve in our Jerusalem. We can witness to our families, our friends, our co-workers, total strangers, to anyone we meet, anywhere we go.

·      We are to always be “on mission” for Jesus, telling a lost and dying world that Jesus saves. If we get the opportunity to go to our Judea, our Samaria and the uttermost part of the earth, we should make good use of those open doors.

·      Everyone we meet is either a believer, or they are in need of the Gospel! Let’s tell them about our Savior! Let’s share the glorious news that Jesus saves and will save all who will come to Him by faith, Rev. 22:17.

·      What is really sad is that most believers will not talk to anyone who is outside their comfort zone. They will visit friends, family and acquaintances, but they won’t go to someone who is lost. They are afraid to share the Gospel outside their own realm of safety. As a result, most church members are not involved in any kind of evangelism. They have the mindset, “My four and no more”, when there is a whole world that must be reached with the Gospel of grace, and it is our job to take it to them!

·      If we really believe that people are going to Hell without Jesus, and if we really believe that the Gospel is for all men, then why aren’t we doing more to get the Gospel to them? Why aren’t we out there telling a lost world that Jesus saves? Could it be that we really don’t believe everything we claim to believe? Could it be that we are saved and satisfied? Could it be that we have forgotten to keep the main thing the main thing?

I.  We Must Have The Right Message

II.  We Must Have The Right Methods

III.  We Must Have The Right Mindset

IV.             WE MUST HAVE THE RIGHT MUSCLE

·      If our message is to have any power; if our methods are to be successful; and if our mindset is ever to be what it ought to be; we are going to need help from outside ourselves. Jesus tells us in this verse that our help comes from the “Holy Ghost”.

The people in the upper room were promised that the Spirit of God was coming, and that when He came, He would fill them with God’s power, Luke 24:49. When that power came on the day of Pentecost, those terrified disciples, who had been hiding from the Jews in fear, became bold preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Acts 2:1-21. When they preached the Gospel, 3,000 souls were saved, Acts 2:41.

·      What made the difference? It wasn’t their eloquence. It wasn’t their oratory. It wasn’t their delivery. What made the difference was the power of God on their lives!

·      Where did that power come from?

Ø  It came from the fact that they were saved and indwelled by the Holy Spirit, John 14:16-18; 1 Cor. 12:13.

Ø  It came from the fact that they were prayed up and clean before God, Acts 1:14.

Ø  It came from the fact that they were united in love, heart and purpose, Acts 2:1.

·      That same power is available to us today! If we are going have the power of God on our witness, our words and our works, we are going to have get our lives in the kind of shape the Lord can bless and use. We are going to have to get like the early church, Acts 2:42-47. When we do, we will see the Lord pour out His power on our witness to the world. Until we do, we will spin our wheels and accomplish nothing for His glory.

·      We desperately need God’s power on our lives and on our church. We will never enjoy His unction and power until our hearts are right with one another and with Him.

If you have a problem with a brother or sister in Christ, and you have not dealt with that issue biblically, that is a hindrance to the power of God being manifested in your life. If you have some secret sin buried in your life, it is a hindrance to the power of God being manifested in you. We need to stop looking at others and deal with our own hearts. When we do, and when we get where He would have us to be, we can and will enjoy His power on our witness.

Conclusion: How important is being a witness to you? What are you willing to change in your life so that you can be more effective as a witness? What are you willing to deal with so that the power of God may rest upon you? What price are you willing to pay for the touch of God on your life? How long has it been since you told someone else about Jesus?

Let me just remind you that everyone of us will give an account of our witness to Jesus come day, Rom. 14:12. The hour is late and the time to tell the world is now, John 9:4.

Church, we have been distracted from our mission. I think we all share some responsibility in that. This is the hour to recapture our mission. This is the moment when the main thing needs to become the main thing once again. It’s time to deal with our personal issues and it’s time to deal with our sins so that the power of God might rest on us and that God might be pleased to save souls in this place. It’s time to obey His voice.

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