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August 25, 2022 4:00 am
God ordained ordinary patterns of slow faithful study and absorption of the word of God and said he growth in grace and the knowledge of Christ in the midst of a faithful congregation is far too ordinary for the salesman of adolescent extreme radical experiment that churches need to create extraordinary experience letter church should have a reputation for being extreme or radical, revolutionary, will today. John MacArthur will show you why. The best thing for you and more important, the best thing for your church is actually to be ordinary. You'll see what that means today as John continues his current series on the New Testament beginning to end. But before you begin today's lesson on the ordinary church. John let me ask a foundational question. What makes a church well a church and what's the difference between a local church and a ministry like grace to you when we talk about church or a church. We do need to define our terms. First of all there is the church building church on the corner. There is then the people that go to that place and sometimes they're called the church but the building on the corner doesn't itself have spiritual life so it certainly isn't what the Lord had in mind when he said I will build my church and sometimes the people inside the church don't have spiritual life either. They go because there's some tradition or they go because they want to earn favor with God.
There are churches that are far away from the truth of the gospel so they're not redeemed people so when you talk about a true church, you have to start by identifying believing people I saw statistic that I was asked about it by news guy. He said the number of people in America who are religious was at 78% of years ago not stop 70% where you feel about the decline of religion.
I so that's good I'm I'm glad religion is declining because I'll tell you one thing Jesus said I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. We always triumph in Christ.
So what that means is if the numbers of people who are religious are dropping their realizing that their religion which is false is empty and maybe they'll be open for the truth, grace to you is not a church we just come alongside to help nurture the church.
Thanks for that helpful clarification John NL friend for more on what God has designed the church to be and to see how you fit into that design.
Here again is John MacArthur continuing his series on the New Testament beginning to end. I want you to open your Bible to acts chapter 2 verses 42 to 47 five entitled this message, the ordinary church, the ordinary church. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe, and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles and all those who had believed were together and had all things in common and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity or simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people in the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. The original fountain for this is not the culture that this is a culture of extremes. But that's not the original fountain for this and all these things are part of the culture in an effort to be extreme and edgy and impactful and relevant etc. etc. etc. the most bizarre elements of the culture are imported into the church but the origin really goes back to American revivalism and goes back to Charles Finney 1792 to 1875 was Finney who decided that religion to be valid. Had to have some kind of high impact, high energy emotional element was about methods, feelings, experiences, sentimentalism, and it all trumped sound doctrine and theology. Gradual growth but in normal ordinary means of grace, prayer, study of the word fellowship was exchanged for a radical experience. The anxious bench and there was introduced into the evangelical world of restlessness of those looking for something extreme.
Churches simply living out a form of that today. The church has become mired in restless impatience and selfishness and by the way, that is characteristic of childishness. The church is an adolescent wanting to be indulged and entertained. The church is largely superficial and immature experiences are designed for inpatient selfish shallow adolescents.
The God ordained ordinary patterns of slow faithful thoughtful study and absorption of the word of God and slow steady growth in grace and the knowledge of Christ in the midst of a faithful congregation is far too ordinary for the salesman of adolescent extreme radical experience.
There seems to be an endless supply of adolescents to entertain ready to be fooled.
I'm not saying God is ordinary. God is not ordinary but God works through ordinary means. Ordinary people in ordinary churches doing very ordinary things. God uses real language in ordinary folks as his instruments to move his ordinary church to high impact in the world. Simply stated, Jesus, God incarnate. State, nine months in his mother's womb, and was born in an ordinary way in an ordinary place and grew in wisdom and stature with favor and favor with God and man in an ordinary way the Puritans used to talk about the means of grace and they were ordinary me. People today alike. Adolescents chasing a wild experience and as I said, there's no end of places willing to offer. I don't think it satisfies God's true people I I don't think that they can endure it for very long. I hope as we come to this section that I just read to you. I think were introduced in a fresh way to an ordinary church and ordinary church. This is the church that was born at Pentecost.
Yes, the apostles were there and because the apostles were there. According to verse 23, there were many wonders and signs taking place through the apostle that I was the one element that's different then the ordinary life of the church today. We don't expect that because that was associated with the apostles and there are no more apostles that first church was an ordinary church. Jesus had ascended sent the Holy Spirit by the Holy Spirit placed all believers into the body, the church filled them with spirit power gospel was preached by Peter Jesus declared as Lord and Messiah 3000 people believed were baptized. The church was born hundred 20+3000 makes 3121st church was gathered at the feast of firstfruits, Pentecost was at first church like just a few reminders that struck me as I've thought about this and wanted to share with you they were involved in what we would consider to be ordinary actions. Ordinary realities verse 42 they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer to friends.
Those are the means of grace.
Those are the ordinary things that every church should be engaged in. This is the life of the church. Something in there about entertainment nothing in their spectacular that there's nothing in there revivalist stick but nothing in there that catapult someone to some other spiritual level. First of all we want to acknowledge that verse 42 begins.
They were kind continually devoting themselves whose day the 3000 souls were saved.
So the first thing to say about this church, the ordinary church is saved the ordinary churches regenerate the ordinary church is made up of true believers unless the church is the redeemed church is seriously compromised. Nonbelievers are welcome to come but the initial reality, the initial action you might say in the church is the action that God takes through the faith of an individual to give life to that individual so that the ordinary church is saved church all the professors were possessors. There are many churches today who would like to make unbelievers feel like they're a part of the church blur the line but but an ordinary church is a church like the Thessalonian church to remember them to the church of the Thessalonians in God the father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers constantly bearing in mind your work of faith, labor of love, steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of God, our God and father knowing brother and beloved by God. His choice of you ordinary by biblical definition that is to say we are the body of people who are in Christ. We don't hesitate to say that that's who we are. That's who we must be to be the true church.
Revelation chapter 2 church in Pergamum says in verse 14. The letter to them. I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Baylon who kept teaching bailout to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel eat things sacrificed to idols and commit acts of immorality. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicollet Athens. Therefore repent or else I'm coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth at the compromising church. That's a compromising church.
The church and blurred the lines between the saved and the lost regenerate the unregenerate. That's an obvious beginning and I know you know that the second thing that we might say about an ordinary church is that an ordinary church is a church committed to the word of God. Verse 42 says they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching the apostles doctrine that that is simply a reference to the fact that the apostles were the bearers of divine revelation which was authenticated by the miracles which they did, which then validated them as the spokesman for God. And it was there teaching. The teaching of the 11 that was the substance of the study of the early church. This is important in ordinary church is a is a church that is completely involved in the study of biblical truth.
That was the apostles and their associates who eventually wrote down their doctrine and compose the new testament the New Testament doctrine is everything.
Sometimes you hear people a little skeptical about the word doctrine which is the word teaching some translations of verse 42 say apostles doctrine.
Some say apostles teaching did a case is stored for teaching. It's just truth taught truth dispersed truth disseminated teaching dominates church where people are redeemed and ordinary church is a safe church and ordinary church is a church that is completely committed to the renewing of their minds through the word of God, the great commission. They came to the apostles.
One of the Lord. Tell them to go and make disciples of all nations and teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded doctrine is the heart of the life of the church the whole Bible is the source of that truth.
This is an ordinary church, not an extraordinary church but an ordinary one.
By God's definition and then if you come back to verse 42.
They not only were devoting themselves to the apostles teaching but also to fellowship going to need a spiritual togetherness, spiritual togetherness, the church is a is a partnership, though the work on any means partner, teammate, they were together and they were not spectators. They were not part-time attenders. They lived out their life in a wonderful kind of fellowship and ordinary church is not an event for people to come and watch the ordinary churches of fellowship. It's a shared life's a practical practicing fellowship.
Hebrews tells us to remember that in chapter 10 not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together because we stimulate one another to love and good work swear we use our spiritual gifts to build each other up. It's where we do the one another's loving one another instructing one of the praying for one another, rebuking one another.
Whatever, and ordinary churches marked then by sound doctrine and ordinary church is marked by by life vital life and then to the breaking of bread to the breaking of bread, that certainly encompasses the Lord's table certainly encompasses the memory of the cross.
But before the Lord's table was taken there was generally in the in the early church of a meal love feast. It's called by the apostle Paul suffered but culminated in a remembrance of the cross. Certainly the Lord's table is critical to the life of the church. As you well know, only baptism and the Lord's table are ordinances left to the church, the early church sets the pace called to the Lord's table called to gather around to take the bread and the cup and remember his death. It's a cross centered church is a church that maintains that symbol and there's one other element in verse 42, and that the again these are things that are you're very familiar with, and that's prayer. These are the activities of the church truly converted people continually devoting themselves to the teaching that has come from the apostles and is now in Scripture rated the shared life and fellowship to the table of the Lord which focuses them on the glories of the cross and to prayer. They had promises from their Lord way back in the upper room. The apostles did that whatever they asked in his name, the Lord would do that the father would be glorified in the son. Prayer can't be too much of it can't be enough of it no matter how much you pray you feel guilty most of your life or how little you pray is not true when they met, they prayed, corporate prayer coming together to pray church was not an event.
The church was not a place where there was a platform for some striking figure or over-the-top personality that was just an ordinary place where the people of God, who were genuinely converted devoted themselves continually to the word of God to fellowship the Lord's table in prayer, ordinary not only ordinary activities but secondly ordinary attitudes, ordinary attitudes verse 43 everyone kept feeling a sense of awe or fear. Five off. It's actually the word from which you get phobia. There was a sense that something supernatural was present well in their case, many wonders and signs were taken place through the apostles. But I still believe even though the apostles have gone away in an ordinary church where the activities are the word of God, fellowship, focus on the cross of the Lord's table and and there is where we deal with the sin in our lives and prayer in an ordinary church like that. There is a sense of the divine presence is in all something wonderful, something transcendent, something more than other place, not terror but reverence. The all comes from the evident work of God through the ordinary means of grace try to manufacture that with lights. Try to manufacture that with loud, almost unbearable. Music people try to create almost bizarre experiences.
That's not all that's not the fear of the Lord. That is the beginning of wisdom.
The word five us the word fear or awe is reserved for times when people's minds are stunned because of some powerful divine reality that mystical, it's the evidence of the working of God, not in some miraculous way as the apostles did.
But in the no less miraculous way in which God saves and sanctifies and works his providence to bring himself glory, so the first attitude we see here is all and it's not an artificial one. It's not artificially induced. It's the real fear of the Lord.
It's an awesome thing to be in a place where the Spirit of God is moving in power. Another attitude shows up in verse 44 is pretty important. One love and all those who had believed were together and had all things in common. They began selling their property and possessions and were sharing with sharing them with all is anyone might have need all that believed were together. It was as if no one felt he had a right to anything of his own. They were altogether. This communal living. No, not at all. No when it says they had all things common. It simply means that they held whatever it was they possessed lightly in their hands and if anybody else needed it.
They released it easily. They began if necessary selling their property and possessions and sharing them with all is anyone might have need. By the way, this never happens again in the New Testament in any other church.
Verse 46. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity or simplicity of heart, the first attitude that I see here is the attitude of awe and wonder over what God is doing.
The second is the attitude of love. The third is the attitude of unity there one mind, and the next is the attitude of joy at the end of verse 46 and simplicity of heart, uncluttered. This this again simplicity kind of is a word like ordinary. Your lives are knit together in one mind and you break bread from house to house by the way, the fact that they continue to break bread from house to house me.
Not every means not everybody sold our house.
There were still people around her house, but they were taking their meals together with gladness, so another another attitude in an ordinary church is joy, gladness, joyous unity, singleness of heart, caring for each other simple definition and then in verse 47. A final note praising God, and ordinary churches church that worships, worships, we recite the wonderful works of God, which is worship we recite the glorious attributes of God which is worship and we praise and thank him for both which is worship. This is an ordinary church. There's nothing flashy, nothing radical, nothing extreme. Nothing over the top.
Nothing borrowed from the culture.
This is an ordinary church. But this ordinary church in favor with all the people and this begins to look at the effect we we saw the activities we saw the attitudes, the effect favor with all the people, but in the end, this ordinary church experienced extraordinary blessing verse 47 ends with this in the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
I don't know how to get this message across.
The Lord builds the church does any he adds.
He doesn't ask us to be radical extreme, over-the-top, transformative, emergent, or any other adjective. He asks us to follow the ordinary means of grace and faithfulness to the word of God in the spirit of God that he will take care of the extraordinary part.
Don't be chasing wild things. It is the slow, steady, consistent, faithful loyalty to Christ in obedience to his word that honors God and if spiritual growth is slow and steady so is church real church and ordinary church can, by the power of God have an extraordinary impact that's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University in seminary with a look at how your church can follow the biblical model for effective ministry found in the book of acts.
It's part of John's current series on grace to you titled the New Testament beginning to end and friend to see how you can help your church become what God intends it to be. Whether a pastor or a layperson, let me suggest John's book the Masters plan for the church. It'll show you how to do the Lord's work in the Lord's way. Order a copy today. You can call our customer service line at 855 race or you can shop firstname.lastname@example.org.
The book title again.
The Masters plan for the church, pick up a copy when you call 855 race when you visit our website TTY.org and email@example.com you'll find thousands of free Bible study resources.
If there's a passage in the New Testament that has always confused you or one that you simply want to know more about John has a sermon on it or you can check out our blog. There are series covering topics like the superiority of Christ or how to thrive spiritually in the face of persecution, and much more. You'll find those resources and thousands of firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you have benefited from John's current radio study let a friend know and encourage him or her to tune into grace to you on this station now for John MacArthur. I'm Phil Johnson inviting you back for our next broadcast. When John looked at why people who hear the same gospel message can have such different responses. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on grace to you