Date: June 30, 2019
Bible Text: | Pastor Stephan Bauer
Acts 1:3-8 - 3After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
I. The Church is Empowered to Bear Witness to the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3-8).
A. The Church is the people of God who are “called out” from the world and to God.
B. The Church is essentially missional: we are the continuation of Jesus’ mission and ministry. 1 John 3:8b - …The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
C. The mission is to witness/proclaim/show forth the Kingdom of God.
Mark 16:15-20 - 15He [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 19After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
“The church is the bearer to all nations of a gospel that announces the kingdom, the reign, and the sovereignty of God. It calls men and women to repent of their false loyalties to other powers, to become believers in the one true sovereignty, and so to become corporately a sign, instrument, and foretaste of that sovereignty of the one true and living God over all nature, all nations, and all human lives” (Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks, p. 124).
II. The Church is the Foretaste, Sign, and Instrument of the Kingdom of God (Mk. 16:15-20).
A. The church is a foretaste of the KOG, people that are in the world but not of the world (vs. 15).
B. The church is a sign of the KOG manifesting transformed lives to those around (vs. 17-18).
C. The church is God’s instrument to advance His Kingdom in the lives of others (vs. 20). “They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.” ~ From a letter to Diognetus
III. The Church is what the World Scrutinizes to See what the Gospel Declares.
“The church is the hermeneutic of the Gospel” (Newbigin).
“I think our most urgent task is to discover those changes in the life of the church which will transform it from a self-regarding, self-seeking [i.e. introverted] clique into an open fellowship of those who are committed to Christ’s saving work for all [people]” (Newbigin). Questions for further study and review: 1. What words come to mind when you consider what our society thinks about the church? Why might this be so? In your own understanding, who or what is the church, and what is her purpose on earth? 2. Read Acts 3:1-8. What is the importance of the Holy Spirit to the witness of the church in the first century? What did the Holy Spirit empower them to be and do? Is there need for something similar in the church today in the west? Why or why not? Explain. 3. Read Mark. 16:15-20. What is the importance of going? preaching? the signs that accompany the preaching of the believers? What is the role of obedience to the commandments of God and character transformation? 4. Read the Newbigin quote. What does it mean for the church to be the foretaste, sign and instrument of the kingdom? See subpoints under II. 5. Do you agree with point III above? Why or why not? Explain. 6. Take time to reflect upon the transformation of character that the Lord has brought about in your life. Perhaps write down a couple of praise items in this regard. What one person can you speak to this week to tell them what difference Jesus Christ has made in your life? Call them up for a coffee and chat today!
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