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Holy Passion As Believers
Holy Passion As Believers
One word more than any other defines the lifestyle of 1st Century Christians: homothumadon. In the NKJV of the Bible that Greek word is translated One Accord. A unique Greek word, used in 10 of its 11 New Testament occurrences in the Book of Acts, helps us understand the uniqueness of the Christian community. homothumadon is a compound of two words meaning “rush along” and “in unison.” The image is almost musical; a number of notes are sounded which, while different, harmonize in pitch and tone. As the instruments of a great orchestra blend under the direction of a concertmaster, so the Holy Spirit blends together the lives of members of Christ’s church.
The first use of homothumadon is found in Acts 1:14. There, in the Upper Room, the 11 disciples and a few women were united in prayer. Earlier strife and jealousies that marred their relationships were gone; the disciples were one, waiting for the Spirit’s promised coming. Then in Acts 2:1 we see 120 believers gathered, focusing together on the Lord as they sensed the Spirit’s first dynamic touch. The next occurrence is in verse 46, as the community (then some 3,000), “continuing daily with one accord [homo–thumadon] in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart” (KJV). Again in 4:24, we see the whole company, moved by Peter and John’s report, as they “lifted up their voice to God with one accord” (KJV). As those who are Jesus’ own make Him the common focus of their lives and seek to help each other find the Holy Spirit’s freedom in their lives, homothumadon becomes the mark of the Christian community.
ONE ACCORDS IN ACTS They had ‘one holy passion’ for:
It marked their Prayers: They were TALKING WITH GOD-Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. (NKJV)
It marked their Worship: They were UNITING THEIR FOCUS Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (NKJV)
It marked their Celebration of the Lord’s Supper: They were PROCLAIMING WHAT CHRIST DID FOR THEM Acts 2:46 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, (NKJV)
It marked their Shared Needs: They were LOOKING TO THE LORD FOR HELP Acts 4:24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You [are] God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, (NKJV)
It marked their Common Identity: They were LOYALLY SUPPORTING EACH OTHER Acts 5:12 And through the hands of the apostles, many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. (NKJV)
It marked their Eagerness to Obey: They were RESPONDING TO THE WORD Acts 8:6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. (NKJV)
It marked their Gladly Following of their Leaders: They were WILLINGLY SUBMITTING Acts 15:25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, (NKJV)
Sometimes we look back on these early chapters of Acts as though they picture a church that has been lost—as though unity and love and the experience of Jesus’ presence are things that cannot really be ours today. Let’s not make this mistake. God’s Spirit is still a present reality. homothumadon is still possible in today’s shattered and impersonal world. If we look for a reason for emptiness in our own experience, let’s look first to our hesitancy to share ourselves with our brothers and sisters. Or look to our failure to let others pick up the burdens of our lives, and bring them in confident prayer to God.
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We begin this evening, looking at the beginning of our study on the Church. That’s who we are. As we meet here tonight as a 160 year plus old organization, we represent a living, vibrant, divinely ordained organism, a living body, and we’re going to study just what that means. Tonight we’ll begin looking at an overview of the Church and then in the weeks to come very excitedly, we’re going to consider some things that are going to impact us together. We’re going to talk about what is true worship for the Church. We’re going to talk about exactly what Church discipline is and how it is carried out and for who and when and what and where. We’re going to talk about how we can minister to one another and how that first-century Church did it, and that’s where we’re going to begin tonight. We’re going to talk about the sovereign calling of God and how He, before the foundation of the world, chose just exactly who He was going to call to Himself. We’re going to look at that marvelous mystery and the wonders of all that.

We’ll begin looking at the Church in the New Testament for that’s where we’re introduced to it. Of all the Gospels only one of them happens to mention the Church and that’s the book of Matthew. If you’d begin turning there, that’s where we’ll begin. I will give you an outline form, an overview of where we’re going to go for the next few weeks, and then we’ll get started tonight, just briefly in one area. The word Church, which shows up first of all in Matthew chapter 16 in verse 18, that concept of the Church comes from two Greek words: ekklēsia or ekkaleo, to be called out from. The Church is truly a group of called-out ones and that’s to distinguish it from other organizations in the world. We are called out from the world into a unique assembly, supernaturally chosen by God, a living and growing body.

The first thing we see in Matthew 16, and I will speak just in outline form tonight because we will come back in a few Sundays from now and come back and cover this. First of all, we see from Matthew 16, and I’ll begin reading in verse 13, you all know this story. It began in verse 13 of chapter 16 that Jesus went into the far northern parts of Israel to the area called Caesarea Philippi as opposed to Caesarea Maritima, which was on the water. This was up in the north where the Jordan river started. “He asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?'” There are different explanations in verse 14, John the Baptist, Jeremiah, one of the prophets. “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?'” This is an interesting case in verse 16 of Peter doing what he often did. Peter is affectionately known among commentators as the apostle with the foot-shaped mouth because he was always opening his mouth wide and putting his foot in. However, this time he surprised himself and it’s almost as if it wasn’t Peter. He says, “Thou art, the Christ.” That’s an amazing proclamation, the Son of the living God. Amazingly enough, Jesus notes that, and He said, “Blessed art thou Simon Bar-Jonah!” You didn’t think of this one, “flesh and blood did has not revealed this to you.” Peter was always thinking on his own. He said God revealed that to you.

Then Christ makes a memorable statement. Look at verse 18, that’s where we’ll begin tonight. “And I also say to you that you are”, and it’s an interesting play on words. Some of you have heard this before. How many of you are former Roman Catholics? Do we have any former Roman Catholics? You’ve heard this all your life, haven’t you? This is one of the key verses that’s inscribed in St. Peter’s. Someone came through the line this morning and asked if I was Catholic and I said, yes, I am. I’m not Roman Catholic though. In the seven times, I’ve been to St. Peter’s you can see this verse I’m going to read. In the biggest cathedral in the world, it’s inscribed all the way around the top and you know that if you’ve ever been there. It says, “Thou art, Peter,” Petra which was the word for a small individual stone. “And upon this rock,” Petra, the feminine, spoke of a large mountainous outcropping, and this is what’s important, “I will build my Church.”

The most important thing to know, and I’m not going to get into Roman Catholic history. We’ll do that sometime Wednesday night and I’ll talk about how we got to where we are today, but tonight the important phrase here in this 18th verse is Christ saying, “I will build my Church.” That should make all of us breathe a little easier tonight. Did you know that the deacons are not called to build the Church? The future board of overseers is not called to build the Church. I’m not called to build the Church. Larry, the assistants, we’re not called to build the Church. I don’t want to compete because who said they were going to build the Church? The Lord Jesus Christ is in that business. As we look at the Church, we see that the Church is divinely formed and kept. That’s the first thing we’re going to look at in a few weeks, the Church is divinely formed. The Lord Jesus Christ promised, “I will build my Church.” The Lord Jesus Christ is at work today. He is calling out those we would have for Himself and He’s divinely forming that Church.

What’s interesting is it says, “and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.” To translate that more understandably, gates usually don’t march out to battle, do they? A lot of people don’t understand this verse because it says, “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” Gates don’t go out to battle; gates withstand the battle. What it’s saying is that death, Hades, and all of the minions of darkness, will not be able to stand the onslaught of the Church who are clothed in the power of the Lord Jesus Christ as they march forward proclaiming the glorious light of the Gospel. First of all, we see that the Church is divinely formed and kept. Turn over to chapter 8 because what’s very interesting about this is that the Church is divinely formed by Christ, that God Himself has called it into being. We will study this, and I’ve written down here that we’re going to look at Ephesians 1 especially in the days to come. We will see exactly the eight aspects of God’s calling the Church into existence and I wish we had time tonight because it is such a blessed prayer of Paul. It’s a wonderful prayer. Paul prays and says the Church that Christ is building was called into being by God.

Secondly, not only did God call it into being but look at chapter 18 beginning at verse 15. The Church is called by God into being, but it’s disciplined by Christ to purity. Again, it’s not the elders that discipline the Church. It’s not the deacons that discipline the Church. It’s not the pastor. It’s the Lord Jesus Christ and He’s given us specific guidelines to follow to enable Him to do His work of purifying His Church. Look at Matthew 18:15. “Moreover if your brother sins go and reprove him in private.” We’re going to have a good night studying that because Church discipline begins when born again believers and fellow members in the body who know one another, look at someone and see something that is direct disobedience and sin in their life. They go to their fellow Christian privately. They don’t call everybody on the phone and say, you know what I saw them doing, and talk about it. They leave the phone down and they go directly to that person, and they confront them. It says, “go to your brother and reprove him.” That’s one-on-one, face-to-face confrontation about sin. What you’ll find out is either you or I were wrong in what we thought they were doing, or else they will acknowledge it. It doesn’t mean they turn from it, but they will acknowledge it. Either they’ll acknowledge it by getting upset and running away, or they’ll acknowledge it by throwing you out, or they’ll acknowledge it by breaking down into sin.

Very interesting, recently my former pastor John MacArthur was phoned and said, we don’t know what to do, but we just saw a certain fellow of our church go into the home of a certain married lady. They had also been seen on various occasions in very friendly conversation. John got on the phone that moment and called and it just happened that this fellow picked up the phone. John said, what are you doing in a married woman’s home? It just so happened they were planning on beginning something together, what in America is politely called an affair. This guy was so smitten by the direct confrontation that he said I am leaving, and he hung the phone up and walked out the door. That’s direct reproof. I’m sure if you or I got a phone call from someone that we respected, it would scare us. That’s the ministry that all of us have to one another. If we see someone in sin, it says go privately to them and reprove them and we will learn that’s step one of Church discipline.

The second step says, “If he listens to you, you have won your brother.” If they say you’re right, I’m sorry. I turn from it. Thank you. You’ve won a brother. It ends right there. It doesn’t go public. It doesn’t go over the grapevine, over the network. It’s just dealt with, and it’s finalized. Verse 16 says “if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you that by the mouth of two or three witnesses, every fact may be confirmed.” That’s when we call in the leaders of the church, a deacon or an elder, an overseer. One or two are taken with you and they’re confronted again, that’s the second step of discipline. We’ll talk about that in the days to come. Verse 17 says “if he refuses to listen to them,” step three. Then, at a public meeting of the church, that person is announced to the church, and it is said that sister or brother so-and-so is continuing in the sin of pursuing an unbiblical divorce, or in the sin of immorality, or maybe they’re involved in drunkenness or whatever. You go and tell it to the church. What for, so everyone can talk about it? No. The church can pursue them and chase after them and say, we long for you to turn from your sin. You are going to face the judgment of God and the exclusion from the church.

If they don’t listen, verse 17 says “if they refuse to listen, even to the Church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” If we study the corollary passages in 1 Corinthians 5, Revelation 2 and 3, Romans 16, 2 Thessalonians 3, we learn just what is to be done. They are actually put out of the church, put out from underneath the umbrella of God’s blessing and fellowship of His saints, out from the communion of the saints, out to be put into a place of judgment. Then the blessing is when they repent, if they repent, if God brings them to repentance, to receive them back in the church.

Church discipline is very much like something that I’ve experienced many times. All of you who are parents may or may not have done this. The purpose of Church discipline is not cutting off, but it’s restoring and cleansing. I can remember many times over the years when we’ve had little children in the house, and you smell something, and you look in that diaper. I remember how many times I’ve put my finger a little too far in that diaper when I’ve looked, and I pull out a soiled finger. My first response is not to do what? Cut it off. It’s soiled, but I don’t cut off a part of my body. I try to seek cleansing. Church discipline is the finding of the soiled members that are going to defile the body and the seeking for their cleansing. The ultimate final step, the fourth step is the actual putting them out of the church.

We see, first of all, the Church is divinely formed and kept. It’s called by God, and we’ll study that in Ephesians. It’s disciplined by Christ, and we find that in Matthew 8. Thirdly, it’s equipped by the Spirit. Turn to 1 Corinthians 12, and this is going to be a wonderful study. We just came out of a good strategy session. We met first of all, with the totality of the leadership we could get together and in one room. Then we split off into two groups and just talked. When we were all together talking one of the points was how do we identify spiritual gifts? I’ll tell you; we don’t have to worry about it because the One that gives them makes them known to the one that has them. The only thing we have to work on is the willingness on the part of the gifted ones. I’ll tell you a little secret. Every one of us that knows Jesus Christ tonight in this room is gifted. I know some people say I have a gifted child. All of you are gifted saints. Everybody that has come to Christ has a unique blend of everything it takes for you and me to accomplish what He wants us to do.

We will study in the days to come exactly what gifts are and how they manifest and how they’re shown. However, I’ll tell you what, before you go through 1 Corinthians 12 and say, now, wait a minute, I think I am a one of these or the other it’d be interesting for you to know by the time we get to the end of the New Testament the gifts have narrowed down to two. Did you know that? What Paul is delineating is all of the different blending’s together, like custom paint. People don’t want white or black, they want chartreuse, pink powder puff, blue, or whatever, they have to really get these combos. That combination is much like what God is doing in the Church. He blends in some help and some administration and maybe a little of something else. That’s why each one of us is unique, much like snowflakes coming down only we’re spiritual snowflakes. We are uniquely put together by God to reflect in every facet that He has chosen His glory.

Let’s see how He did that. Look at verse 7 of chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians, “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” All of us have the privilege of manifesting the Spirit for the common good of the body. If you and I are not doing that, we are not in full obedience to what God wants us to do. Around every one of us there’s an orb of the manifestation of God’s Spirit He wishes for us to do. However, He’s blended you together and blended me together, right now I happen to be using part of my gifts. I have the gift of the proclamation and teaching of the word of God. Some of you may have the gift of exhortation or comfort of help and mercy all blended together in your own special way. Just as much as the body would be deficient if I didn’t exercise my gift, if I thought my gift was sitting in that chair, you would all lose out a little bit. If you do the same thing, all of us lose out. Do you understand? Around each one of us, 1 Corinthians 12:7 says is given the manifestation of the Spirit.

Look at verse 12 of the same chapter “For even as the body is one yet has many members,” right? You have one body here, but you have a couple of ears and a nose and a couple of eyes if you have everything that you were born with. Some people are born without everything, yet there is within the chromosome structure, the desire of God to have everything complete unless He sovereignly chooses for those to be a glorification to Him without it. Even as in the body, there’s one yet it has many individual parts all are members of the body. Each of us has a very direct commission. Each of us is to be involved in the fulfillment of that commission.

I began two months ago, three months ago, studying with the leadership about a whole purpose for our church. As I preach through this, we’re going to look at the whole concept of how we can distill down our purpose for being here in a succinct little statement. It comes right out of the Matthew 28 Great Commission. Christ says we are to make disciples and He also says that we are to offer acceptable worship to Him. We are to go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all that He’s commanded us. What does He command us? He’s commanded us to evangelize and to worship Him. That’s the purpose of the Church; to evangelize and to worship, to evangelize and worship. Those that come to Christ are immediately equipped by the Spirit for the fullness of their ministry to be stimulated by the body. Then to gather together corporately and privately to offer worship to God.

That’s going to be very interesting when we go through that and talk about our responsibility. All of us are going to have to face whether or not we’re being obedient to what our commission is. It’s a very clear commission. It’s not vague. It’s not for somebody else. It’s not for young people. It’s not for the leaders. It’s for all of us, we all stand on a level plane before Christ as His servants. We all have a very distinct and direct and plain commission to fulfill. Also, when we fulfill that commission, we’re going to have a good time talking about the aspect of worship. I think there’s a lot of confusion these days. When we get into worship, we’re going to speak specifically on what is worship. I’ll tell you a little secret, as far as it relates to the Church; worship is not getting, worship is giving. That’s why in a few weeks when you’re all worn out and tired of me, it doesn’t matter if you don’t get anything anymore in church. Did you know we don’t come to get? We come to give. We come to give worship to God. It doesn’t matter if it’s a boring message or an exciting message. It doesn’t matter if the service ran long or short, it doesn’t matter if it was slow or fast, because we didn’t come to get.

You can tell the temperature of a church when you listen to the people coming out of the service. By the way, I want you to know, I can hear a lot, I really can. I can be talking and listening to people down the line, and I hear all those comments. They’re really nice right now, but I’m looking forward to it when they say I didn’t get anything this morning because you know what? We aren’t supposed to get anything we’re supposed to give. As we give God ministers His word to our heart. We’re going to talk about true worship and why is it that the worship of the Mormons is not acceptable? Why is it that the worship of Jehovah’s witnesses is not acceptable? What is the true line of worship? We might even get into some controversial stuff. It’s going to be good for us to focus our hearts on what true worship is.

We see that the Church is divinely formed and directly commissioned. Then tonight I’m going to close with the last point, which is that the Church is distinctly described in the scriptures and that’s where we’re going to begin next Sunday night, Lord willing. We’re going to look at the distinct description of the Church. Let me just whet your appetites right at the beginning of the book of Acts. I’m going to bring you in high speed across the entire ministry of Christ and zoom right into the book of Acts.

The Lord Jesus came at the appropriate time, God sent Christ. He lived in obscurity for 30 years while His cousin bloomed six months before He did, John the Baptist who heralded Him. Then all of a sudden, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared one day. He was baptized. He began His three and a half years of ministry. He ministered, He died. He rose from the dead. He stayed for 40 days, and He ascended. What’s interesting is that the Lord was so concerned that the Church started properly that from the day of His resurrection to the inauguration of the Church was 50 days. That’s a little biblical chronology here. From Christ’s Ascension at Passover to Pentecost. Penta, Pentagon, Pentecost, 5-0, 50 days and Christ stayed 40 of them on Earth to make sure they got it together before He left. 10 days before the Church was born Christ ascended, began His work on high of intercession while those men and women prayed and waited. On the exact moment of God’s choosing, the 50th day, the day of Pentecost, He sent His Spirit. Remember I said that the Church was chosen by God sovereignly. The Church is disciplined by Christ, but it’s equipped by the Spirit. At that moment, God sent His Spirit down and breathed life and fullness of all the giftedness needed into that Church.

The book of Acts, beginning in verse 14 of chapter 1, “They all were of one mind continually devoting themselves to prayer along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” We find this group and by the time you turn over to chapter 2, you can do that, to verse 37 and things are moving along fast in the Church. This little prayer meeting of the apostles and some friends and 120 people had the Spirit poured out upon them. Peter comes out and Mr. Foot-in-mouth becomes Mr. Tremendous Evangelists, and he starts preaching. Verse 37 of chapter 2 says “When they heard this, they were pierced in their heart.” Peter said to them, why don’t you just add Jesus to your life? Don’t change anything. Is that what he says in verse 38? Oh, excuse me. I was reading from Newsweek. It says, “And Peter said to them, repent.” You notice that the start of the Church starts right on the note of repentance. That’s crucial, especially now that the debate is on about, easy believism and not easy believism.

Right from the start repentance and submission to Christ as Lord is always in the message. He says, “And let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sin that you shall receive the Holy Ghost.” Then if you wonder whether or not the baptism washed away their sins, look at verse 41, “So then those who had received his word were baptized.” The baptism didn’t wash away the sin, the receiving of the word, and that repentance is how Christ took away their sin, it wasn’t the water. “And they were added that day” verse 41, “3000 souls.” What a bang! It starts off in verse 42 says “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and to prayer.” There that’s the whole of the Gospels and Acts in one paragraph. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Wouldn’t you like to have been there? To have Christ, just 10 days ago, leave the Earth and then have Peter preaching a whammo sermon, and 3000 people come in one day. Now we have 3,120 in the Church in one day. Wouldn’t you have loved to have been there and had this shared mind, the continual devoting of ourselves to the apostles’ teaching? There wouldn’t have been any questions because they were there to teach it. Also, to fellowship into the breaking of bread and to wonderful prayer. Look at verse 43, everyone kept feeling a sense of awe. Wouldn’t it be nice that every time you come to church you feel a sense of awe that the Lord is in this place, and He is working? Well, things changed over the years, haven’t they? The more removed we get from that, the more we wonder how we can rekindle that? How did it happen?

Let me briefly say this, at the beginning of next week we’re going to look, first of all, at the concept of a shared life, as it’s shown in the book of Acts. Seven times in this book we find that they were of one accord. We’re going to see what they were one accord in and what they really focused on. Once we see that we’re going to dive into all of the epistles and find a unique group of words, it’s going to be a wonderful study. Paul, the apostle wanted us to understand how the Church functioned and how to keep this blessed shared life together, so he made up some very unique words. What he did is he took a preposition, the preposition sun, a sigma upsilon nu, which means with, or together or fellow. He took that preposition and he slapped it on no less than nine keywords to describe Christians. He painted word pictures for us. First of all, Paul painted a picture of how we are to live in the world. How are we who are sharing a life in Christ, supposed to live out there? I’m glad he started there because that’s the most difficult place for us. That’s the place we’re most aware of, we don’t have any trouble functioning in the Church. It’s out there that we wonder what we’re supposed to do sometimes. How we’re supposed to live in the world. How we’re supposed to be. That’s our outward ministry, how we’re supposed to be serving in the body. That’s what our task is here at Quidnessett. Finally, how we’re supposed to pursue Christ’s likeness. That’s going to be thrilling for those three aspects.

The Church is sovereignly formed by God, directly commissioned with a purpose, and distinctly described in how we operate. That’s what we’re going to look at in the coming weeks. As we do so, I pray that the Lord will lay on each of our hearts, what we are to do to fulfill our part. How we are to respond to one another, how we are to rejoice in the fact that God has supernaturally, sovereignly called us. What a wonderful relationship that is, He’s adopted us into His family. How we are to fulfill that commission and beginning next week, how we’re supposed to act to one another. It’s going to be a wonderful study. I believe in all the scriptures, there are no more vivid descriptions through word pictures that I’ve ever seen than how Paul describes the working together of the body of Christ.

Let’s bow for a word of prayer. Thank You Father for this evening. Thank You for the privilege it is for us to come together. I pray that You would bless us in the days to come should You tarry, that we might learn about this supernatural origin we have and how You wish to keep us pure, dear Lord Jesus. How You have already equipped us, blessed Spirit, and how You have wonderfully called us before all time, dear Father. Then teach us how to minister to one another. Teach us to allow Your Spirit to energize that wonderful giftedness You blended into each one of us so we might see how we are to live in the world, in the Church, and in our blessed pursuit of Thee. We’ll thank You for Jesus’ sake. Amen.


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