Week 6 The Church
THE MAIN POINT
Those who follow Jesus preach the gospel of redemption found in him and live a life that reflects Jesus.
This is what it means to be The Church.
Acts 1:4–5; 2:1–40
Church is simply a word that means ‘assembly.’ It’s the gathering of Christians, those who profess to follow the person and the ways of Jesus. The book of Acts provides biographical insight into some of the early years of Jesus’ followers; the Church. The Church began in Jerusalem with the disciples and other followers of Jesus and quickly spread to the Mediterranean and the rest of the world. The book of Acts tells us about the person most influential in the Church movement, Paul. Paul’s typical missionary strategy was to go to a familiar place in each city he visited, usually a synagogue, and proclaim the gospel first to local Jews. The speed with which he shifted his focus to Gentiles outside the synagogue depended on how Jews received him within the synagogue. Before leaving a town Paul would unite Jews and Gentile converts and form a local church.
The book of Acts emphasizes the work of God through the Holy Spirit in the lives of people who devoted themselves to Jesus. The Christian church was built, city-by-city, through the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit working through humans. The purpose of the church is to preach the gospel of redemption found in Jesus and to live a life that obeys and reflects Jesus. Kingdom bringers to the world.
As you prepare the core of the message using personal story and questions keep in mind these points:
- We can see all sorts of trends come and go. Whether it’s disco, Rubik’s cubes, or the “Baby Shark” song, we have all experienced the power of a craze and trend that eventually dies out. Some trends have shaped everything about daily life (Internet, cell phones, and social media). The gospel of Jesus might have come on the scene in the first century as a trend, but Jesus has changed everything.
- The gospel didn’t just stop with Jesus. He commissioned his followers to preach this gospel to all of creation. It was the beginning of something new going on in the world. Jesus told his disciples to stay in Jerusalem and be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4–5). The disciples did this and experienced the power and filling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1–4) and began to preach the gospel of Jesus to the thousands of people outside where they were staying (Acts 2:40). The church and the gospel of Jesus that it preached began to spread all over the Roman Empire, and we see that throughout the book of Acts.
- Christians in the early church were different from the rest of the larger Roman society. They reject all other gods and only worshiped the one God revealed in Jesus. They challenged the social order by “welcoming the lower class and by valuing every human life” (Timothy P. Jones). The gospel didn’t just change the eternal address of a believer at death but affected how they lived life. The gospel changed every aspect of how early Christians lived in this world.
- “The point is this. When God saves people in this life, by working through his Spirit to bring them to faith and by leading them to follow Jesus in discipleship, prayer, holiness, hope, and love, such people are designed—it isn’t too strong a word—to be a sign and foretaste of what God wants to do for the entire cosmos.” (N. T. Wright)
As you prepare the application, challenge and/or encouragement, keep in mind these points:
- We must preach the story of Jesus, the good news of redemption.
- We must live lives that obey and reflect Jesus.
- The Church has always been the people, not a building.