Both Weird And Wonderful: Church Planting

Church Planting Is A Crucial Way To Advance The Gospel

Ross Sawyers
Nov 14, 2021    55m
How do you bring the Gospel of Jesus to unreached people? Church planting today takes its inspiration from the origin of the Christian Church as described in Acts chapter 2. Advancing the Gospel requires that your message starts with Gospel clarity in mind so that the original message of salvation is never lost. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Jordan Hill: [00:00:12] Hey, everyone, we're here at our men's retreat 2021, the church united, three different churches coming together under God's word. Last night we were at Freedom Church in Bedford. this morning we're here at Fielder Church in Arlington. And Jason Paredes is doing a great job of leading our men in God's word, what does it mean to really follow the Spirit for us, to be united as men?

Unknown: [00:00:31] All right, great morning here at the men's retreat. As you see, we're loading some bags for our CPS workers that are going out, it's been a great way for us to just love on them and let them know that they're being prayed for, the Lord is with them, and that their brothers are praying for them.

Robert White: [00:00:31] This was amazing to see three churches come together across ethnicities, cultures, backgrounds, and watch them worship the Lord together. I was excited because in Freedom Church to have it packed out with men at one time, we've never done a men's retreat, and to have our church packed out is something that we've seen before, but to have it packed out with men who are worshipping God, who are saying that they want to spend time in the presence of God, so when they go back to the presence of their families, they'll be renewed, refreshed.

Jason Paredes: [00:01:12] I'm so excited about this men's retreat. We are talking about the Holy Spirit, and what it means for us to be men of faith who walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. And I'm so excited for what God is doing in the men of our churches as we gather together, and I know that God's going to use it big.

Andrew Arthur: [00:01:54] It's been amazing here, just hanging out with a lot of really good men that have a heart for the Lord.

Ross Sawyers: [00:01:58] Hey, it's been phenomenal, it's just it's more than we could have imagined, really, the way God's unfolded it. The different kinds of ways we have been led in worship. Jason's led us in just a really detailed scriptural look, and really practical, of thinking about the power of the Holy Spirit and how to walk and live in that power. Just seeing all the different connections that men made in relationship with each other, just a few of the highlights of the weekend.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:49] That was a cheap shot with the Baylor in there, I'm going to get Matt for that one. But we had the Aggie upfront there in the shirts, so we got it back. There's nothing for us to brag about today, we'll move on from that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:03] Phenomenal weekend with our men, and our retreat this weekend. We gathered with different churches, and different worship styles, and there was just a richness in the unity of our worship and teaching. Jason Paredes, who led us, he's at Fielder Church in Arlington, and he taught on the Holy Spirit with just incredible clarity all weekend long, anchored to the Scripture. Then just really practically, how do we live out, and really walk, and follow, and be led by the Spirit and not quench, resist, or just be against him, or grieve him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:45] And then the thing he said last night, I just wanted to share this, I thought this was just phenomenally practical to think about. We have four voices that are speaking to us at any given time, if you're a Christian, if you're not a Christian, you have three voices that you're listening to. One voice is ourself, we talk to ourself a lot, that usually leads down, not such great paths. The second voice is the world itself, and the world is pummeling us with its voice. There's a third voice is Satan's voice, and he is scheming and lying and deceiving. There's a fourth voice, if you know God, and it's the Spirit of God within us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:29] And then from there, he said, to know and discern the Spirit's voice, because we wonder, how do we know if it's the Spirit telling us something or it's one of those other voices? And the three things he said to consider were this. One does it agree with God's word? The Spirit will never tell us something that is against God's word because he's the one that enlightens us and illumines the ones who gave us God's word, so he'll not go against that. And that requires, he said, for us to actually know God's word. And no matter where you are in your faith, you just keep moving and being in God's word, and more and more that'll be enriched inside of you, and you'll know that agreement. The second question, he said, comes around being selfless or selfish. If you believe the Spirit is saying something to you in your mind and it's selfish, that's not of him, it'll always be selfless because that's who he is. And the third thing is, does it bring glory to Jesus? So if you process those three questions is if you agree with God's word, is it selfless or selfish? Does it bring glory to Jesus? When you do those three things, then you can be assured that it's the Spirit of God's voice that you're hearing, and then you want to act on that immediately and not later. Incredible teaching all week long, that's just a glimpse of what he gave us. Hopefully, you'll even be encouraged by that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:54] As we've been thinking about the Holy Spirit of God and his acts in the Book of Acts, so if you'll turn in your Bibles to Acts 2:14-21. One of the things we did this weekend and was to invite some of the church planters that we partner with at 121 in various ways, and it's been a gift to be able to mutually partner with each of them. And so our hope was they would be refreshed and encouraged this weekend, and then we wanted you to be able to hear from them. So when we talk about the churches that we are partnering with in church planting, that this gives you an even better idea of who they are and what they're doing. And this morning, we're trying something different, and there's a good chance we'll roll into the eleven o'clock service. We've never put four preachers in front of you at once, and so if you have to go somewhere, it's just, you're going to be late, I can just assure you of that, but we'll do our best to be respectful of the time. It was phenomenal at eight a.m., so I look forward to you being able to hear from these guys.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:07] So we've broken the Scripture up into different parts. Each of them will take a part of that Scripture to teach, so you get to hear them teach. And then I've asked them if they would, to just share a little bit about who they are, their families, and their church plant, just to give you a little bit of an idea there. And then our prayer in a minute when they're speaking, their name and website and the name of their church will be on the screen, and my hope is, and prayer today has been, that God might stir you in different ways with these guys, and it might be that you're stirred more to pray for them, you might want to listen to podcasts or watch a webcast every once in a while of what they're doing and ways you can pray for them, that you might look for ways to be generous towards them. Church plants are tough, and we are a part of that, when you give, you're already giving towards them, but God may stir for you to do more, and so maybe that happens today. It could be that when you hear us talk about trips in the future, that when we do that, you say, you know what, I want to be a part of that, I want to go and serve with those guys and what's going on in their particular city. It might be that God stirs you to go where they are and to be a part of what they're doing in their church plant. So who knows, we just want to see what God wants to do with it this morning. And with that, I want to introduce Andrew Arthur, and he's going to get us going in sharing his story.

Andrew Arthur: [00:08:40] Well, good morning, everyone. As Ross said, my name is Andrew Arthur, and I came here from Seattle, Washington, which is the land of, you know, beards, and flannel, and coffee. A lot of you would fit right in, if you want to join us right now, you'll sink in real well and. My wife and I moved to Seattle, my wife's name is Kim, we've been married for 16 years. We moved there in 2011 to begin the process of planting our church. My oldest daughter was four months old at the time when we packed up the car and headed out to Seattle. I'm originally from Louisiana, and I landed there to do the stuff that we're doing now. God has been very gracious along the way, we planted in a neighborhood called Fremont, which is in the urban sprawl of the city of Seattle. People outside of the neighborhood of Fremont liked to fondly refer to it as Freakmont because it is a quirky part of the city that has been grossly underserved by the Gospel over its history. In large part, because it is a challenging context where we're finding various, well, we just meet challenges of various strife’s. But nevertheless, God has been gracious to us along the way, over the course of that time, we've had the opportunity to multiply in ways that we're not drawn up, according to the blueprint, or what we had intended or planned when we arrived so that now we exist as one church in three what we call expressions or areas of the city. We still have our Fremont original plant rolling, and then we have an expression in the West Seattle part of the city, and then one in the Edmonds North Seattle portion of the city. And our desire and our hope along the way is to simply help people discover the difference Jesus makes in all of life, we believe that Jesus intends to touch and to transform every area of life in the here and now, and so we want to help men and women lean into that and experience the beauty and the glory of that in their lives as best we possibly can. So it is me and my wife, my daughter Delaney, who is ten years old, she's turning eleven today. So as soon as these gatherings are over, I'll be jumping on a plane and trying to get back to her as quickly as I can. Then I also have two other kids just so you know, I have a seven-year-old son named Asher and a five-year-old little girl named Adalyn, and they are tremendous blessings in this church planning journey. Thanks.

Cory Johnson: [00:11:01] Good morning, my name is Cory Johnson. (Cheering) Thank you. I've been married to Stephanie for 15 years, we have four kids, Makayla is fourteen, which is wild because we started coming to this church in 2006 and Ross baptized Stephanie when she was pregnant with Makayla, and so the idea that she is fourteen now is beyond me, so she's fourteen. Molly is the next one, she is almost twelve, gosh. Maycee is nine. And Myles is seven. And so we, like I said, we came here in 2006. 121 was our church home, it's probably still the place that we call home most. We had all of our kids here, and just we know many of you.

Cory Johnson: [00:11:48] And then in 2017, we moved to Austin to start Austin Life Church. We started in our home with a community group and built some community groups and then launched services in September of 2018. Austin is unlike any city I've ever lived in or really known, the best way I know how to describe Austin, the chief value is individualistic tolerance. Everybody is their own individual, and tolerant of everybody else as their individual. Unless you want to follow Jesus, and then there's not so much tolerance. And so it is the chief value of Austin, it is a challenging place. Our hope is to be a people who love God, love others, and lead people to the fullness of life found in Jesus. The reality that we believe is that every single human being is looking to make the most out of life, and that's ultimately found in knowing and following Jesus. Psalm 16:11 says the fullness of life is in His presence, everything we want is found in his presence. And so our hope is to not just lead people to a church or religious experience, but to truly know and encounter the living God and to find the fullness of life that is found only in knowing and following him. And so thank you so much for welcoming us back, it's been good to be here.

Jeremy Stuart: [00:13:17] Well, my name is Jeremy Stuart, I came here from Cape Cod, specifically Hyannis, if any of you know where that is. A lot of people, at least a couple of people I just met at the eight o'clock service, said that when they think of Hyannis, they think of Catholics and Kennedys, so maybe that's you. That wasn't really big in my upbringing, but I think from the outside, maybe that's what people see. Anyway, well, I've got three children and my wife's name is Liana. Our daughter, Noelle is our firstborn, she was born in Dallas, so she's technically a Texan, even though I'm from Cape Cod originally. Our other two, well, our second one was born in the Philippines, he's our oldest, but he actually came to us second because we adopted him three years ago. And then our youngest is turning one this month. And so we have two six-year-olds, essentially, and almost a one-year-old. And so we have our hands full at home, but it's a beautiful thing and planting this church as a family has been wonderful.

Jeremy Stuart: [00:14:25] And really to talk about our church plant, I have to talk about my story a little bit and growing up on Cape Cod and what that looks like for somebody who's growing up in a family that's not Christian. I didn't have a meaningful interaction with a Christian until I was about 21 years old. If you had asked me, then I probably would have told you I never met a Christian, but looking back, I probably did, I just didn't meet many Christians that were sharing their faith with me. And so it took me about three years after this kind of initial interaction that piqued my interest in Jesus to actually find a church that was a safe place to go for an outsider where I would hear the Gospel. And I did hear the Gospel when I was 24, it was 2009, and at that time I had been studying pre-med, hoping to go to medical school and be a doctor. I was worried that God would take that dream away from me, but then I heard about how Jesus had given his life for me, and so I asked myself, how could I not trust my life to him? And immediately went from hopeless to hope-filled overnight, it was just a quick thing. I was sharing with Andrew that I had, for those three years, I had suffered from insomnia because I just didn't know how to get to God, even though I wanted to, and that night I slept.

Jeremy Stuart: [00:15:45] But long story short, I met my wife a year later, we got married two years after that. And really, from the beginning, I just had a burden for my own community. Because when that shift happened in me, it made it all the more evident that the people around me, that my neighbors, my family, my coworkers, all those people, that they didn't have that hope that I had, that they were still left in the space where I was. And so that already started stirring, and when I married my wife, we started asking, what would it look like if Cape Cod had more churches that mobilized believers to get out and shared their faith with people, to have meaningful interactions with people in everyday life?

Jeremy Stuart: [00:16:28] And so the first step for us was to actually move to Dallas, where I went to seminary. And as God would have it, we met somebody who was planting a church in Boston, and three years after moving here, we moved back to Massachusetts to help plant that church and train and be sent to plant the church that we're planting now. And so we got on the ground in June 2019, we started building a team in our house through just having meals with neighbors and people were coming. Our group grew, we were about to have this big preview service around Easter, and of course, that was Easter 2020, so, you know, the rest of that story. We spent the next 18 to 20 months or however long it's been, just holding everything together and trying to be able to stay connected with the people that we had already connected with, and that was a struggle. But God has provided us with an indoor space to meet that also doubles as a Brazilian Health Ministry that reaches out to our immigrant population to connect them to better health outcomes, and that's just part of the vision that we started from the beginning of being a multicultural church. So I get to teach ESL classes there, and my students are coming to church. We just launched public gatherings in September, and we've got, you know, Google Translate mirrored to the screen, and they're learning English as they come to church and getting to hear their teacher share the Gospel. And so there are just beautiful things that are happening at Seven Mile Road. We're probably the youngest church plant that 121 supports, right? Would you say? Yeah, so we're still just right in the beginning of everything, but God is doing wonderful things, and so I'm just grateful for all of you. Thanks for having me, thanks for supporting this church.

Jeremy Stuart: [00:18:17] And in that same vein, we're going to talk about church planting from today's passage. We're going to look at Acts 2:14-16, and before we do that, I'm going to pray that God would just help us to just be aligned with his word today. Father, thank you for your word. Please just align us with what it says, recalibrate our understanding, refresh our faith, help us to walk in obedience to what you have to say to us today. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Jeremy Stuart: [00:18:49] And so we're looking at Acts 2:14-21 today, and this passage, it paints a weird and wonderful picture of the church's beginnings. And church planting, in general, is like that, right, where we have both weird and wonderful stories to tell when you're planting a church, that's what we're going to talk about today. And we're going to cover four big ideas that each of these guys is going to talk about. And I'm tasked with talking about gospel clarity, that church planting requires gospel clarity, and then we're going to talk about how it relies on the Holy Spirit, and we're going to talk about how it's required until Christ returns and how it offers salvation to everyone.

Jeremy Stuart: [00:19:33] And so again, I've been tasked with talking about the first point, church planting requires gospel clarity. Now, in Acts 2, Luke, he gives us this window into not just the early church, but the first church, right? And before we get to the end of Acts to where we have this beautiful picture of everybody sharing everything, everybody having everything in common, the church in unity, he tells us how it started at the end of chapter 1. It starts with one hundred and twenty people praying. And then they're all together one day on the day of Pentecost, and the Spirit of God rushes through, right, like a violent wind and tongues of fire are over their heads and they start speaking about the wonderful works of God in all sorts of languages, right, the languages of the nations that are surrounding them.

Jeremy Stuart: [00:20:21] There are lots of different nations there because they were on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for this particular holiday. And so these visitors, they start hearing the wonderful works of God in their own languages, and they can understand, But what they don't understand is why exactly this is happening, right, who are these folks who are speaking to them and what's the significance of the moment that's right in front of them? And so that's a big question that they have after they see the spectacle, they actually ask, are these people drunk right at 9:00 in the morning? Something weird is happening. You can put yourself in the scene, and just imagine it, we know it's wonderful, right from our perspective, but it's also weird, right? It's weird to the onlooker, it's understandably unusual, it feels random, it even feels chaotic. Knowing God's doing something new, that's often how people see it. Right? The very nature of the newness of what God is doing confuses people.

Jeremy Stuart: [00:21:29] And where I'm from on Cape Cod, if I tell people that I'm planting a church that confuses people, right, people don't understand, that's new to them, right? It's not a new idea, but it's new to them, they don't know what to make of it outside of the church and even in the church, they don't know what to make of it. If I tell people in my town that I'm planting a church, usually they think that I'm building a church building, right? Outside of even church lingo, planting a church is not something that the everyday person in my area understands. And so, yeah, when I tell them they're like, oh, where's the building? Where is it? And then when I tell them that it's starting in my house, they get really weirded out, right? And one guy actually said, oh, so how does that work, I assume you just you build a building and then you go out and you advertise to people who agree with everything that you agree with, who believe what you believe, and you try to get them to come. It's actually the opposite, right, church planting is the opposite of that, we're actually reaching out to people who don't believe what we believe and trying to get them incorporated into the family of God.

Jeremy Stuart: [00:22:36] And for believers, for Christians, the number one thing I get is why do we need another church? And I shared this in the last service, but nobody complains when another Dunkin Donuts pops up, right? And I don't know how many of you have been to Cape Cod, or Massachusetts, but there is a Dunkin about every mile. And so if you were trying to get there, and you miss your turn, you can rest assured that you're going to encounter another Dunkin Donuts in less than five minutes, it's just the way it goes. But when God's doing something new and wonderful, it'll always appear weird at first. All right, but here's the thing, and you're going to see this when Cory, Andrew, and Ross take us through the rest of this passage. What seems new to us, is really God's ancient plan playing out. But how would we know that just right off the bat, how would we know that, how should we know that without getting clarification?

Jeremy Stuart: [00:23:32] And see, church planting, it requires gospel clarity, that these questions, you know, like why do we need another church, or are you just looking for people who believe what you believe, or are you drunk at 9:00 in the morning? Right, they seem like obstacles to us, but they're actually presenting opportunities, right? They are opportunities to show people that there's actually a foundation to this work that God has called us to, right, there's a continuation of God's ancient plan.

Jeremy Stuart: [00:24:03] And so here's Peter, right, he sees an opportunity. He stands up from among the crowd with the 11 other disciples, and he's about to preach the first-ever recorded Christian sermon. And he sets it up first, which is what I'm trying to do this morning. In verse 14, he says, "Fellow Jews and all your residents of Jerusalem, let this be known to you and pay attention to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it's only 9:00 in the morning. On the contrary, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel." So he's saying, you think we're drunk at nine in the morning, no less, but this is what was spoken the whole time through the Prophet Joel, this is what God said would happen.

Jeremy Stuart: [00:24:54] Let me clarify this moment for you, he knows that they're not going to understand the significance of this moment if he doesn't bring clarity to the chaos, and it's the same when you're planting a church. You know, as church planters, we're always tasked with having the vision for the church, this grand vision, right? And we believe God has given us that vision, we work really hard to see that vision come to fruition. We often have to fundraise, we've got to gather a team, we've got to deal with all sorts of little details. I'm away from my church for the first time, we've only been meeting for two months, somebody just sent me a text message, where's the three-way? I have no idea what they're talking about, but those are the little details, right? I obviously forgot something before I left, but those are the little details that we have to deal with, right? But if in all that, if and all that, we fail to add gospel context and incorporate gospel clarity into what we're doing, right, if we failed to do that, then we might as well be just building another Dunkin, right? We might as well just be building another church building to fill with everybody who just believes what we believe, right, people who are just like us.

Jeremy Stuart: [00:26:09] And so what's happening at the start of this first church in acts, is actually happening because of the Gospel, and that's really important, right? It's happening because God took on humanity, because God walked the Earth, right? Jesus Christ walked the Earth, and these 12 men, these 12 men who are standing up in this passage, they walked with him, right, they learned from him, they watched him love like they'd never seen anybody love before, they saw him die, right, for the sins of the world, they shared a meal with him after he was raised from the grave, and then they watched him ascend into heaven.

Jeremy Stuart: [00:26:52] And before he left, he gave them a mission, he gave us a mission. Matthew 28:19-20, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” See, there is a promise of resurrection for everyone, everyone who believes in Jesus. And what you're seeing here in Acts, you're seeing the obedience of Jesus's apostles to get this promise out to the world.

Jeremy Stuart: [00:27:34] And, Peter, he's about to clarify that promise in these next lines, talking about this ancient prophecy from Joel, and this sermon is going to result in 3000 people being saved. And this 3000 person start, it's going to come together, churches are going to be planted, and people are going to start living as brothers and sisters in Christ. That beautiful picture at the end of this chapter, and more people are going to believe as they see them doing that. And God is going to use these first leaders to shepherd this first church and to raise up more leaders. And you could argue that the rest of the Bible is actually about gospel clarity, right, that these letters, these sermons that were written to the churches, they were written so that they could understand the Gospel and understand what the Gospel means for their lives.

Jeremy Stuart: [00:28:23] The Book of Acts, it has at least 19 significant Christian speeches, and it's about twenty-five percent of the book. John Stott has written that a better title might have been the addresses of the Apostles because the book is so filled with these Christian addresses. Because in the end, we need to be reminded, right, that's why we come here every Sunday, right, we need to be reminded whether we're on the ground planting like me, or supporting church plants like you all, our understanding of God needs to be recalibrated, our faith needs to be refreshed, and that's what Peter is about to do. He's going to quote from the Scriptures, he's going to try to bring clarity and context to this spectacle that's taking place, and Cory is going to walk us through the wonder of how God works out that plan.

Cory Johnson: [00:29:20] So Peter stands up and he begins to preach this first sermon from the Prophet Joel, every great sermon comes from the Book of Joel, right? And so he reads, he says, “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy."

Cory Johnson: [00:29:20] So if we remember, if we look back in verses 11 and 12, right, we've got a crew of people who are hearing these one hundred and twenty proclaim the mighty works of God, the truth of who God is, but they're hearing it in their own native language. And they're asking what is happening? What is going on here? Why are these people so weird? What is taking place with this stranger who I know doesn't speak my language, but now I'm hearing the mighty works of God, the truth of God in my own language. And so, Peter, to answer that question and to bring clarity, gospel clarity, goes to the book of Joel and he says, what you are seeing is what Joel told us would happen many years before. See the people in this context, they're Jews, so they knew the prophet Joel, they'd heard that Joel said that there would be a Messiah coming, that there would be a future day in which a Messiah would come. And Peter is telling them, these are those days, you are living in what Joel told us would happen, that's what's taking place.

Cory Johnson: [00:31:02] And so you've got to imagine if you were in their context, what does this now mean for them? They've heard the prophet Joel growing up, but now Peter is telling them the prophet Joel, what he said is happening right here. So what does this mean for them in their lives? Well, the first thing we can see is that they are living in the last days, that Joel spoke of the last days and now they are living in the last days. And so what they knew Joel meant by the last days was that one day there would come a Messiah, and with that Messiah would bring about a new day, a chance for people to repent, to turn from living life their way and instead live and trust the Messiah, and with that repentance would come the forgiveness of sins, and the restoration of their relationship with God. That the last days would be marked by following the Messiah, who would bring the opportunity to repent from sins and to find forgiveness and a restoration of their relationship with God. And so Peter says, we are living in those days, the Messiah has come, salvation is offered, you can find new life with God by following and trusting the Messiah, those are the days that they are living in.

Cory Johnson: [00:32:27] It also meant, though, that the Spirit of God would be poured out on all flesh, sons and daughters, young men and old men, male servants and female servants. Prior to this time, throughout the Old Testament, the Spirit of God was only on a few people for a select amount of time. The Spirit of God is God himself, his presence on this Earth, working in this world through people that we may know the truth of God. Jesus says in John's 16 that after he would ascend to heaven, the Holy Spirit, the Helper would come, and the primary aim of the Helper, the Holy Spirit, is to guide all men into the truth. That the role of the Holy Spirit is to work in this world and in our lives, that we may know the truth of God, that we may know God. And so, the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament would come and would rest on a few people for a moment of time to deliver the truth of God, that's how we get the Old Testament, that's how we get the prophets, that's how we get the words of Moses and of David, is that the Holy Spirit would rest on a select few. But now, Peter is saying in the last days, the Holy Spirit would rest on anyone and everyone, the Holy Spirit would be poured out on anyone and everyone who trusted in Jesus. You didn't have to be the select few, you didn't have to be the cream of the crop, anyone and everyone who trusted Jesus would be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Cory Johnson: [00:34:00] So what does that mean for us? Well, first, it means that we are still living in the last days. The last days marks the time from when Jesus first comes, which we see in the Gospels, to when Jesus returns the second time. The time between Jesus first appearing and Jesus second appearing is the last days, and it is the time when God is patiently inviting all people to trust in Jesus so that their sins could be forgiven and that they could be reunited into communion with God. You and I are in the last days, that invitation is for us. More on that in a second.

Cory Johnson: [00:34:42] The second thing that we see for this, for us, is that the Holy Spirit of God will be poured out on all flesh. We are the all flesh, we are the all mankind, the Holy Spirit of God is to be poured out on you and on me. Whether you're old or young, the Holy Spirit's for you. Whether you're male or female, the Holy Spirit's for you. Whether you're rich or poor, the Holy Spirit's for you. It's not just for the pastors, it's not just for the elite, it's not just for the men and women who have their act together, the Holy Spirit is to be poured out and filled into every man, woman, and child who trust in Jesus. The presence of God is to live within us, the power of God is to live within us by faith in Jesus.

Cory Johnson: [00:35:37] So what does that mean, Jason talked all weekend about that, all weekend about the Holy Spirit. But a couple of things I just want to leave with us, for what that means that the Holy Spirit lives in us. One, immeasurably more than we can imagine. In Ephesians 1, Paul prays that the church would have their eyes open to know the immeasurable greatness of God's power at work in us. So go ahead right now and just dream, imagine what all God could do in you through the Holy Spirit, and just know that you're barely beginning. There's an immeasurably great power of God's work in us, far more than our minds can even comprehend.

Cory Johnson: [00:36:17] We can also know that God's Spirit in us means that we live today, not for victory, but from victory. Victory is already done and secure, when Jesus walked out of the grave, he triumphed over death, he triumphed over Satan in every principality of darkness. And when we trust Christ and the Spirit fills us, we too can walk in victory, not for victory, it's already done, it's already secured, it's already purchased. That is a game-changer for mental health, and physical health, and relational health, is that the Spirit of Christ in us has already purchased victory, it is ours to be had.

Cory Johnson: [00:36:54] And the last thing that I leave us with for what this means for us, is that the Spirit of God's truth is in us, and we are left as his ambassadors to live and tell the truth of God with our lives. We are entrusted with the message of reconciliation, and we are empowered with his Spirit to do everything that God has called and invited us to do. We are the ones, the Temple of God, housing the Spirit of God that through his church, God would change the world. We've been given his Spirit, we've been given his truth, and we are invited to be messengers of truth to the world around us. That's how this church started, and that's how every church following, including this one, and these three, have all started and exist, is the Spirit of God working through the people of God that the world will be transformed by Him. But then Peter continues from the Book of Joel...

Andrew Arthur: [00:38:04] Well, we live in between verses 17 and 18, and verses 19 and 20, that you see before you, we live between these two moments after the Holy Spirit has been poured out and the church is birthed in the world, and this coming day of the Lord that is referred to in verse 20, that is shorthand for the second coming of Christ. And until that day comes pastoring healthy churches like this one, planting new churches anywhere and everywhere that we possibly can, and that type of work will always be required. So we're not going to reach a quota that will somehow exempt any of us in this room or any of our churches, from continuing to obey Jesus's command to make disciples of all nations, we're not going to cap out, we're not going to max out.

Andrew Arthur: [00:38:53] I'm reminded of an episode from The Office, where you have a paper salesman named Jim Halpert, and there's one episode where a cap was placed on his sales commission. He had a quota to reach, and he reached that pretty quickly, and the moment he kind of maxed out, he'd had no more incentive to do much more work and so he had idle hands, and so he began to devote and leverage his energy and his efforts towards pulling pranks on everyone in the office.

Andrew Arthur: [00:39:19] Well, no cap has been placed, nor will it be placed, on our calling to be the church and to advance the Kingdom of God. This is the work that every single follower of Jesus, and every single church on the planet, this is the work that we are to be about until our days are done or Christ returns. And when we lose sight of that, what happens is we start messing around with matters that don't really matter, and we begin to play silly, insignificant games with this thing called life. Rather than proclaiming the eternal kingdom of God, and the Gospel of Jesus, we grow preoccupied with the crumbling kingdoms of this earthly life. We obsess over the socioeconomic political dynamics that we are facing on a daily basis. We begin to grow preoccupied with our personal ambitions that are not anchored in the reality of Christ crucified, risen, reigning, and one day returning.

Andrew Arthur: [00:40:27] And this is the day that is being referred to in this moment, this great and glorious, or great and magnificent, day that Peter speaks of. And if you look at the verses, there are some weird and wonderful things that are going to accompany this day. There's some strange imagery here, he refers to blood and fire, the vapor of smoke, he talks about the sun turning to darkness and the moon to blood. Now, this is dramatic imagery, this is what's called apocalyptic imagery, and it is intended to grab our attention. It's the type of language that should cause us to kind of scoot to the edge of our seats, and to perk up a little bit, paying attention to what this language is referring to. And it's the same language that Jesus would use when he too would speak of this day in Luke chapter 21, there he says, “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people will faint from fear and expectation of the things that are coming on the world. Because the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory." And so you have this time of chaos and confusion that will precede the second coming of Christ, but the moment you and I look up and we see the Son of Man coming on a cloud and great power and glory, all of that chaos and confusion is going to dissipate, it's going to disappear.

Andrew Arthur: [00:42:03] This is why Jesus would go on to say in verse 28, "When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”. And that's the good news, you see, the second coming of Christ is something that should remain on our radars all the days of our life. As Christians, we should not act like ostriches, we don't bury our heads beneath the Earth. Instead, we are people who are lifted up, we are people who are looking up, we are like the kid at the Christmas parade who's standing on their tiptoes, peering down the street, just waiting for the main attraction to come by, just eager to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus in route. And so he's eager, he's on his toes, and he's nudging everyone next to him, saying, hey, he's coming, he's coming, and those who are buried in their smartphones are being challenged to look up and to pay attention. You see, the second coming of Christ is going to be a great and glorious day because when Jesus returns, he's bringing our redemption with him. Our salvation will be completed, all sin, all suffering, all sickness, all of Satan's demonic influence, will dissipate, it's going to disappear.

Andrew Arthur: [00:43:23] But here's the challenge, this day that you and I are encouraged to look forward to is a day that not everyone can look forward to, those who do not yet know the Savior, those who do not yet place their faith in Christ, it's going to be a tough day. You see this day that Joel and Jesus and Peter are all referring to, it is going to be a day of judgment, a day when Christ judges the living and the dead. Which is why he refers to fear here in Luke 21, but here's the deal as followers of Jesus, this is not a day that you and I have to be afraid of, this is not a day that we have to shrink back from, this is a day that we can look forward to, and here's why. You see these types of apocalyptic images, these types of events actually happened earlier, when Christ was crucified. If you recall some of the details that happened on that day, Christ's blood was shed, and we are told in all the Gospels that the Sun went dark, and a darkness covered the Earth from 12 to 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon, we are also told that an earthquake erupted. And then some really strange things happened as graves opened up, and those who are described as being saints trusting in the promises of God, their bodies actually stepped out of the grave. Weird and wonderful things were happening, and they were things that were designed by God to give us a foretaste and anticipation of this final day that is being referred to here.

Andrew Arthur: [00:45:03] Because in that moment when Christ was crucified, understand that God's judgment was falling upon the Earth, but God's judgment was falling in one place on one person. You see, the reason you and I can stand tall and lift our heads isn't because our faith in Jesus exempts us from judgment, the reason we can look forward to this day, we can stand up, we can look up, we can anticipate and be excited about this day, is because our faith in Christ means we've already been judged. This is why we call him Savior because the judgment of God fell upon him so that it will never hit us. And so we put our faith in Jesus, we trust in Jesus, we walk with Jesus, we don't have to fear the future day of judgment, we can look forward to it.

Andrew Arthur: [00:46:00] And in the meantime, what do we do? Well, in the meantime, we're nudging everyone we come in contact with, we're bumping everyone to say, hey, look up, look out, Christ is coming. Put your faith in him now, so that you can look forward to that day as well. So the weird and wonderful work of planting churches and pastoring churches, the work of evangelism and mission, sending and supporting disciples all over the world, this is a work that's required until Christ comes back. So let's be about that, let's be about that work.

Ross Sawyers: [00:46:39] The way we respond to this is in verse 21, "And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." I've heard Jeremy's story, I've read his story on the website, I'll listen to him at eight a.m., and it broke my heart just a minute ago, in a way it hasn't before, I don't know why. But to think about someone never hearing the Gospel until they are twenty-something years old, never even getting the consider or contemplate what it is that Jesus did. It's not even an opportunity to reject it because he's never heard it. And that's not just on Cape Cod, that there are twenty-somethings that have never heard the message to even consider, it's your neighbors and it's my neighbors, it's the people you work with, and hopefully, it's not the people I work with, it's the people that you grocery shop with, it's the people who will sit by at places we eat this afternoon, it's family, relatives that have never heard just a clear picture of the Gospel.

Ross Sawyers: [00:48:15] And we get that privilege to share it. And what a gift that these guys would step into crazy places all over the country to take it. And to think about the immeasurable work that the Spirit can do through us. I think so often the reason we don't share it is we're so dependent on ourselves to try to get it right, we're not leaning into the Spirit of God to empower and say it. The more we lean into the Spirit, the more will be empowered to say it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:49:02] In Romans 10:9-10 it says, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation We've talked about the supernatural and the things here, they can be weird, these things can be odd to the ear and to the eye. They're also incredibly wonderful, but can you imagine that in spite of who we are, that it's a confession that Jesus is Lord, and we immediately transfer from darkness to light. We don't have to work for it, we don't have to be more religious for it, we don't have to be more moral for it, we believe it, and then everything changes.

Ross Sawyers: [00:50:05] Just think about what happens in that moment of salvation, and what God has done for us at the cross. It's a substitution that took place as Andrew described so that it doesn't fall on us. It's a legal thing that's done over us, we're declared not guilty in the courts. It's no longer being an enemy of God, but being reconciled, so now that we're a friend of God, it's no longer being a child of Satan, it's being a child of God, it is being bought with a price. It is no longer the wrath of God coming on us, it's the wrath of God turned away from us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:50:47] You know, that just gets us started at what happens at the cross when we believe and trust Him. Rebecca, you didn't see this coming at all, but she's an attorney so she can handle it. So the other night I saw Robert and Rebecca and we were on the mezzanine, and I started listening to her story, and we actually shared her story several months ago at the women's retreat. During it, she was kind of angry, and she just described some different things going on. When she went home, in a moment, just like Jeremy just said, in just a moment everything changed, and she believed. And the reason I even say this is I was sitting behind her, and don't worry if you're sitting in front. Well, actually, I am watching you. I can't help it, it's just like you're watching the people in front of you, so it's no different. It's just, I get up here and then talk about what I see.

Ross Sawyers: [00:51:49] But I'm watching her as Travis is leading us in worship and her hand just fires up in the air. I thought about six or seven months ago, she's angry at everything, now there's a joy and a life and a love in her for God, and because she confessed Jesus is Lord and whoever believes in him will not be disappointed. She's not been disappointed at what Christ has done in her. And then I forgot to change my mic pack, so I had to leave, and I went around there and I created a disaster for everybody, I went upstairs and I got the right one on. And I came over here and I couldn't help but see her other hand, go up. And we're singing a song, I don't know which one it was, Rebecca, but it was You Rescue Us, that was one of them we sang. It was all about rescue and salvation this morning, and what a beautiful picture that God would intersect the life of an attorney. Now we have a Christian attorney in the U.S., I mean this is good news, but that's what happens with that confession. And I'm so glad there were people nudging, and praying, and willing to share, and a life group formed out of that that Michelle leads, and it's just cool what God does when we kind of get in the flow of the Spirits doing.

Ross Sawyers: [00:53:11] Is that a confession you've made, is that a joy that you have? I hope you'll enter into that weird and wonderful world of what it is to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and that you'll enjoy the weird and wonderful journey of being a part of others getting to experience that same joy in that same life.

Ross Sawyers: [00:53:35] Let's pray together. Father, thank you for the morning, and there's been a richness all day, and so thank you that we're just getting started for the day. God, I pray we would have an eager anticipation of what you're doing, and we'd be in on it all day, God. Thank you for each of these guys and the work you're doing through them and thank you for the strength of their teaching today and the power of your Spirit through them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:53:59] I pray God you cause their church plants to thrive, and the lost would be found, that those who are in darkness would be in the light. That there'd be clarity, God, of the Gospel, so it would no longer be foolishness to people, but it would be wisdom, and power, and life-changing, Father, for them. Father, show us how we can continue to be a part of what it is that you're doing so that more and more can experience the immeasurable grace of Jesus Christ, crucified, risen, ascended, and returning. And God, may we anticipate that day when we'll be made just like you. In Jesus' name.

Ross Sawyers: [00:54:39] Let's be quiet before the Lord as we always do. In these moments, whether you're online or here, I know the temptation online is just to kind of turn it off and wrap it up, but could you just in your own living room, just have quiet space with God and contemplate what you've heard this morning? And just as Jason told us last night, just sit there until you sense what the Spirit is saying and then act in obedience to that. So I ask, it's just in these moments that we would do the same and just be quiet, see what the Spirit says, and then that we'd move on it in obedience today.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051