Passing Our Story

Acts Chapter One Describes The Very Beginning Of The Church.

Ross Sawyers
Oct 10, 2021    51m
Have you ever wondered about the early church? The first verses of Acts chapter one describe the very beginnings of the church as the apostles are waiting for further guidance from Jesus after His resurrection. 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.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:07] Paul Harvey. In May of 1976, started a segment on ABC Radio called The Rest of the Story. For many of you, you may be familiar with that, for others, maybe not, but he became famous for that. He had an incredible radio voice, and what he would do is tell the back story of famous events or famous people, and it hooked you in, it was compelling the things he would start to talk about. And then you would always know at the end that it would be some famous person or some famous event, of which he'd just given details that we had no idea. And then he would end with this famous line, "That's the rest of the story." There we go, we just aged ourselves ou for those who know the rest of the story,

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:59] But I love that in thinking about Jesus's story because we have the most famous person in human history, in God, entering into our world, entering into our story with his story, and we have the back story, it's the most famous back story of all. We have it in the Gospel of Luke, and we have the back story of how the church continued to expand and grow in the Book of Acts.

Ross Sawyers: [00:01:24] If you turn to Acts, we'll start today and Acts chapter 1 verses 1 through 5. We're going to think about, in these coming months as we come towards Christmas, Acts chapters 1 and 2. We're going to do a very detailed study of each verse in Acts chapters 1 and 2, in thinking about how the church was established. This is crucial for us to understand because the same way that the church was established, is the same way that God wants us to move today. So when we look back at the rest of the story and how it began in the detail, it helps us to know how we live out our story.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:02] Now the beauty of God's story is we not only have the back story, but we also have the current story, and we have the future story of how it all wraps up. It's a beautiful story, and he's weaving people into his story by the hundreds and thousands as every day passes. While that's not the main media news today, the bigger stories that are going on are what's happening in the lives of men and women, teenagers, boys, and girls, all over the world today, as people's lives are being transformed by God's story as they understand the back story of the most famous person of all. And when we know the most famous one of all, then our desire becomes to make his name known, to make his glory known, to make his fame known, not our own name, but his name. And there's not a better way to live today than to live making God's name famous, of which it already is. We get the beauty of putting it on display today. My prayer for today has been that all across the nation, as people gather like we are, as they gather in theaters, in schools, where church starts are happening, they gather in homes, people are gathered everywhere online today, that the collective praise of God would so rise up to him, this would be so beautiful, rising from our nation today, lips that are filled with praise and gratitude to him and hearts that match what flow from the lips. That's my heart and my prayer as we move through this day, that we're simply joining in on what God is doing across our nation and across the world.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:41] Now, a little background on the Book of Acts. Luke is the author of Acts, and when we think about the Gospel of Luke and we think about the Book of Acts, those are like two volumes, it's one continuous story, Luke/Acts would be a good way to think about it, and Luke is described in other parts of the scripture as a fellow worker in the kingdom. By the way, I think if you read the end of Paul's letters, he'll talk about multiple people that we never really talk about, it's just people they throw out their name and they were a fellow worker. And I can't think of a much greater honor than to just have our name, and we were a fellow worker in God's kingdom. For someone is to put our name there, and say we were co-laborers with what God was doing in his story across the world, that each of us can put our name in that same spot. Luke was one of those, he was a fellow worker.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:41] We also know in Colossians chapter 4, that he was a beloved physician, he was a doctor. He was incredibly detailed in the way that he thought about life, and we'll see that in just a moment in these opening verses. And we know that Luke traveled with Paul in some of his missionary journeys, as we get further into Acts, we'll start hearing the language of we. And so as Luke writes this, he's talking about his experience with Paul. We also know that Luke is a man that was willing to get in the trenches in hardship, Paul was in prison and Luke was with him in that prison setting. And so we see a little bit of the back story of the man who wrote and penned Luke and then Acts.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:33] And when we think about Acts as a whole, and when we think about Acts 1 and 2, the way we're going to run the series is thinking about the church established. This is how it was established, and we want to know the rest of the story. So we know how we arrived where we are today, and we find that in Acts 1 and 2, and then in the following chapters of Acts as well.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:54] Now, when we think about Acts, when we think about the church being established, how else can we think about this book as far as the theme of it and what we see in it? I think it would be fair to say that in Acts, we see the spread and expansion of the Gospel, and it moves out geographically and it moves out culturally to the nations, and it goes in the power of the Holy Spirit. Some have called the Book of Acts the Acts of the Holy Spirit because that's what we see is the power of the Spirit moving through in establishing the early church.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:30] Now, when we hear the word gospel, I'm trying to really be careful, even more so in the culture in which we live in, to define words. Sometimes we can hear words in the church over and over and we hear it, but maybe it doesn't necessarily grab hold of what that actually is. And so the Gospel, when we talk about the Gospel, it means good news. St. Francis of Assisi was famous for saying something like this, and he did incredible work, but I think this is a saying that maybe he has not done us the most good in the church if we've adopted it. And what he basically said is live your life out in such a way that it looks like Christ, and if necessary, use words. I actually think that's a problem, because the Gospel is about announcing good news, it requires words.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:26] Now, I know many of you and I know your love for Jesus in the way that you walk and follow him. But if I just looked at your life, and I had no idea what God says, and no idea what had happened in your life, there is no way that I would conclude that the reason you are how you are today is because Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, died on a cross for your sins, gave you forgiveness, rescued you from Satan and from sin and death, and then he rose from the dead. So he took your dead life, he made you alive as well, and as a result, you've been changed forever and this is the way you live, and you're anticipating the return of Jesus. There is no way I ever come to that conclusion. I just look and say something is different about you, I don't know why that is, would you tell me? So it's announcing something.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:21] I was trying to think of a good picture today of what good news looked like, and I thought about yesterday, I was trying to think, what would be good today that I could somehow communicate announcing good news? Is there anything out of yesterday's news that I could communicate? And finally, about 10:30 last night, it hit me, that Texas A&M beat Alabama, and I thought that could be the best news I could share to give a picture of announcing good news about something. There is no way you look up here today and know that Texas A&M beat Alabama last night by three at the end of the game, and most everybody thought Bama would finish them off at the end of the game, let's just be honest, but that was good news. But you would not know that unless I said it. It's good news. I'm going to restrain from other thoughts from yesterday, and just keep it focused on the Good News of what A&M did yesterday, it's just too easy, it's too low-hanging fruit, so I'm not going to go for it. But it's telling the Good News, and that's what we see in the Book of Acts, it's the telling of the Good News of Jesus. It's not held within, it's spoken, it's something we say, it's something that we have to offer to someone.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:51] In the Book of Acts, we could do a character study of Peter and Paul. We could take a good look at what pioneer mission looks like, going to places where the Gospel had never been taken before. We can see what it looks like to plant a church and to start one from scratch where there's nothing and now there's something. We see conflict and trial, we see persecution and hardship, we see a debate in the church among difficult issues, we really see everything in the life of the church. And I'm excited about these next few months as we launch into Acts and look at how they did church and then look at how God wants us to continue to do church today.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:34] So we're thinking about the church established, and then the idea for today is the passing on of our story. Passing on our story, and I think you'll see in verses 1 through 5, why I see that as the main idea in these intro verses to this incredible continuation of what Jesus was doing in these early days.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:57] So let's start verse 1, "The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen." Let's go back to verse 1, and start to break it down a little bit. So Luke is the author, and he's writing to his friend, Theophilus. Now we don't know a lot about Theophilus, we know that his name means lover of God or friend of God, and we know that both in Luke at the outset and now an Acts at the outset that he mentions his friend Theophilus. Now what we don't know is if Theophilus is already a follower of Jesus, or is he curious, and so Luke is writing and letting him know these are the things to know about Jesus. And I hope that we have many that are just curious, that you haven't quite figured it out yet, but you're trying to figure it out of who Jesus is and what this really means. I hope if you're skeptical that you would find this a safe place to bring your skepticism and just put it against what it is that Jesus says. And so he's writing to his friend Theophilus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:12] Now, Luke is one of my go to’s if I'm talking to somebody that's newer in the faith or somebody that's exploring the faith. And I realized in looking at this book, Understanding the Bible in 30 Days, that I read the summer and just finished a little bit ago, it was a good reminder to me that partly why I like Luke is Luke was a Gentile. And that's another one of those church words we sometimes say, and we're not quite sure what that means. I went years in the church reading and hearing about Gentiles and I thought, I don't know what a gentile is. But a Gentile is a non-Jew, and so when we read in scripture, here are Jewish people and then non-Jews are Gentiles. So I'm a Gentile, if you're not a Jew, you're a Gentile. And so in Luke, he's a Gentile writing to Gentiles, which may be why I like it because it was more designed for me. The other gospels are writing with different purposes, and we certainly can learn in there and we do learn, and then we have a fuller view of Jesus through the four gospels. But Luke is writing really to people like us, that we don't have the Jewish background, and so he's bringing it to bear and how Jesus would play out in our lives.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:28] Let's go back to Luke Chapter 1, so in the first account, it says that he composed, and this is what he said in the introduction to Luke 1:1-r, and this is why I'm thinking on passing on our story is so critical in this initial part of Acts, "Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us." So, many have been compiling what it is that Jesus was doing and, "Just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word." So these things have been compiled and compiled from eyewitnesses. Remember, Luke is a doctor, he's getting details and these are eyewitnesses of Jesus that he's getting the information that he's writing, these are servants of the word. Verse 3, "It seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning." Luke just didn't take the eyewitness accounts; he took the eyewitness accounts and then he investigated carefully what was being said. So what he hands down to us, is what was carefully investigated by looking at eyewitnesses?

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:44] In Acts chapter 17 verse 11 were introduced to a group of people called the Bereans. And in that verse, it says that "They examined the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so." And I've said often, I'll say it again today, any time I teach, you should take what I teach and examine it carefully in your own study of God's word, as much as you know. And I know we're all in different places, there's only so many places we can go, but wherever you are, we can take a look if anything sounds off, or not right, examine it according to the scripture, and see if it's so.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:20] That's what the Bereans did, it's what Luke did, and now he's handing it down, and he hands it down in consecutive order. "Everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus." He's a physician, he thinks logically, he's getting the details, he's writing it down, and putting it in consecutive order. And here's his why in verse 4, "So that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught." He writes this so that his friend can know the exact truth, not partial truth, not some truth, not false and true truth, not whatever we want to define truth, the exact truth is written.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:27] Now, the beauty of the Gospel is you and I don't have to be so creative to come up with something else to say. All Luke did was hand down what he investigated carefully from eyewitnesses who were with Jesus so that they might have the exact truth. I framed this one way earlier, I'm going to frame it a different way now, we have the truth, right here. And we want to handle this truth with humility, so that we can pass on the exact truth to other people without being charged for being arrogant. Jesus said he's the way, the life, and the truth, he also said you'll know the truth and the truth will set you free. We have the truth, let's walk in humility with the exact truth, just like Luke is doing, and pass it down exactly as it's been handed to us. We have God's word, it's been handed down to us carefully, it's trustworthy.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:49] Last week, we had a guest speaker, Alan Sleeman. How many of you are here for that? Perfect. So I purposely did not listen to what he did last week, what I did is I asked people what he taught. I wanted to see if I could pass on to you, what somebody was given last week, and then how they pass it on to me. So I'm the third generation, Alan Sleeman's first generation, there are a few people that are the second generation, at least, that I talk to, I'm the third generation. If you weren't here last week, I want to pass it on to you, you're the fourth generation, we're going to just is keep handing it down.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:32] So I want to try it and tell me if I'm in the hunt from what you heard and you understood last week if you were here. He used the hand as a way to describe the trustworthiness of God's word. And he started by saying the thumb that represents stories of transformation, and that's what happens when people are encountered by the God of the Bible that they're transformed. And the second thing he talked about was history, that it's historically verifiable, and we continue to make archeological discoveries that validate the historicity of the scripture. The third thing he talked about, the third finger, is that the Bible answers the big questions in life. It doesn't shy away, though, whatever big questions we have, the answers are in this truth. And then the ring finger is unity, that from Genesis to Revelation, a book that is written over a fifteen-hundred-year period, over 40 different authors, has a singular theme running all the way through, it's remarkable. And then prophecy was tied to the Pinky. How many different prophecies have been fulfilled from the Old Testament in the New? And then he put his hand in a fist and he said people have tried to extinguish the Bible again and again, and yet it's a fighter, and they can't. Am I close? Third generation, if you weren't here last week, you’re the fourth generation that it's been handed down. I think that's a fantastic way to think about the reliability and trustworthiness of the scripture that we could share with someone. If you pass it on from here, to the fifth generation it goes, and it just keeps getting handed down. And that's what Luke is doing here, he is handing down truth, he's handing down the truth of Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:43] Now, in 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul is writing, and he talks about handing down the things which he had, "The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." Four generations, Paul, Timothy, another generation, then a fourth generation, he's passing it down. See, this good news is never intended to stop on us, it passes down to generations.

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:12] This last week, I was gone, I was on a solitude/community retreat with a group of men in Colorado. And I went a day early to Glen Eyrie in Colorado Springs, which is where Navigator's is located, they're an incredible instrument of bringing the Gospel to generations and ways to grow in faith. And so I hung out there for a time by myself, and I went on a hike on several trails, and one of the trails was the Upper Dawson Trotman Grave Trail. I know that's exciting to you, I think you'd probably think I'd rather go to a waterfall or something if I'm hiking, and you're going to a grave marker. But this guy is remarkable, he and his wife and what God did through them, so I took a picture of the of the grave marker. Dawson Earle Trotman, he was born on March 25th, 1906, and died June 18th, 1956, only 50 years old when he passed away. His wife, Lyla Mae Trotman, she lived until 2004. And this is what it says, "Dawson and Lila had a passion to know Christ and make Him known - and to help generations of others do the same through the worldwide Ministry of The Navigators. The Navigators which began in their home and continues to this day." Now, many in here, you may not even know you've been impacted by the Trotman's, but there's an outstanding chance that if you've been in Bible studies over the years that you've done a Navigator's Bible study, it's possible that you have memorized scripture through the Navigator's Scripture Memory Plan. I mean, what they continue to try to do is develop resources that help us to understand, follow Jesus, and then to be able to reproduce and pass those on to somebody else, it's generations.

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:03] Think about that for a minute, and some of you have the privilege of, you have grandparents, and parents, or great grandparents, that you look back and say one of them got intersected by Christ, and I go back and look at the rest of the story in them, that's why my story is impacted today because of what's been passed on through them. Some don't have that in their family, some of you may be first generation in your family that God has brought rescue and salvation, and whenever you pass it down, you're starting a new thing.

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:32] When I was 16 years old, God reached out and rescued me my sophomore year and in 1980 at South Grand Prairie High School, and I ended up in the next few weeks following Christ in Baptism, and then Becky Castle was my youth minister. And I looked forward to going up to Inglewood Baptist Church, which was just up the block from my house, and seeing Becky's Orange Volkswagen parked out in the parking lot, and I got fired up going in to meet with her. And in those initial weeks and months, Becky in her Bible, which was all marked up, I can still see her Bible just all written in marked up, she just had an intimate love for Jesus, and she was just passing on to me what had been passed on to her. And she taught me how to read the Bible, she taught me how to memorize scripture, she taught me how to share my faith with other people. She encouraged me to go on mission to other cultures, and other places, and to see that the Gospel is not just for our area, it’s not just for me, it's for the nations. In early on that was implanted in my heart by Becky, and all I've done in the next 40 years from then is pass on what people have passed on to me.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:51] And that's all we're doing, that which has been handed down to us over the centuries, we get the privilege of passing on to generations. Not just in our actions, in our words, we pass it on. We tried to; we had a hundred leaders at 121 work on the eight ways that I talk about often. And I talk about it because it's a tool, sometimes we don't know how to pass things on, and so we did that so that we'd have just a consistent way that we could pass this on to people. That the goal is not that you'd look at it and say, oh, I know I'm supposed to give, I know I'm supposed to serve, I know I'm supposed to share my faith, I know I'm supposed to baptize, I know I'm supposed to be in the word, I know. We basically know that you know that, but what those are about is you understanding it in such a way that then you pass it on and you become the one who passes it to the third generation. See, you are the second generation, we were the first. First generation, second generation, then when you pass it on, now it's to the third generation. And really, what we want to know is, did you then get it from the third generation, did that person get it to the fourth, that's when things start to take off.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:20] Ross Sawyers: And that's really all he's doing here, he composed it for Theophilus, look at the benefits the rest have received. And what he composed was what Jesus began to do and teach. What he began to do and teach, when Jesus did this, it wasn't like he did it, done. He began to do and teach, and Acts is about how we continue what Jesus began. And he did this until the day when he was taken up to heaven after he'd, by the Holy Spirit, given orders to the Apostles whom he had chosen, "To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering." So to these early apostles, to these sent out ones, these chosen ones, he presented himself alive after his suffering, so now he's talking about after the resurrection. He goes to the cross on our behalf, now he's resurrected from the dead, and to them, he brings many convincing proofs. Those proofs are demonstrated evidence, its logic, and one of the ways that he was convincing that he was resurrected, was through his presence with them after they had watched him crucified and buried. "Convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God." Forty days, you've got 40 days with these men that you had been spending time with for three years previous. What are you going to talk about? If you knew today that you had 40 days left, how would you spend those 40 days? What would you talk about? Jesus talked about the same thing that he talked about his whole life, the kingdom of God, that was the resounding theme of Jesus, is the kingdom of God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:36] In our perspectives course, we've talked about that theme, and then in the story of God's glory, it is a beautiful reminder of what it is that God is about. And this is a reminder today of what it is that God is about, he is about his kingdom. Jesus launched his ministry in Mark 1:15 by saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.", it's here. And what is it that was here? When he talks about the kingdom, sometimes that can be hard for us to grab because we're not in a kingdom in our government, but that's what God talked about, that's what Jesus talked about, was a kingdom of God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:29:30] Now, some people like to say they love the teachings of Jesus, or they like the moral code of Jesus. I don't think ultimately, if people understood the full teachings of Jesus, they would make that statement. What that statement says is we like some of the moral code, or some of the teachings of Jesus, probably we're not all in on all the teachings of Jesus. Let me give you an example of why someone who says that might not really like all of what Jesus taught because of the theme of what Jesus taught. Which, by the way, one of our guest speakers, I thought they said it well, all kinds of religions have moral codes, if all Jesus was, was a moral code, he would be no different than any other religion. You have to understand the rest of the story, what sits behind the moral code, and what sits behind it is the Kingdom of God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:30:39] The word kingdom, when Jesus came in, this is what he taught, they are basically two kingdoms, Satan is in one kingdom and ruling it, Jesus is breaking in, and he's bringing in a new kingdom. And what he's coming to do is push out darkness, and push out Satan, and push out evil, and sin, and death, and all that is associated with Satan. Now, when they were anticipating a Messiah, a Savior to come and to set up a kingdom, they were expecting a political and military messiah to come set up a kingdom and conquer everybody else militarily, Jesus didn't come that way The second time, he will come that way, he will come to establish and set up his kingdom. The first time he came, he defeated Satan, sin, and death at the cross. The next time he comes, he'll completely crush Satan, sin, and death, there will be no more. In the meantime, we're in one of two kingdoms, we're either in Satan's kingdom or we're in God's kingdom.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:06] Satan's kingdom, well, he set up his rule in his reign, it's full of lies, deceit, deception, discouragement, death. But Jesus came to set up a different kind of kingdom, but he came to set the kingdom in the hearts of men and women, teenagers, boys and girls, he came to rule and to reign in the hearts of people. And as he gathers people up from all over the nations that he rules and reigns in them, then when we by faith repent and believe we become citizens of God's kingdom. And as a citizen, we're called to be ambassadors of his, representatives of him. And the beauty of God's kingdom is when we receive Christ and become a part of his kingdom, he's not only our King, but he's our Father, the King is our Father. And not only is the king our father, but he's our friend, we're no longer enemies, we're no longer under the rule of the other kingdom, it's been pushed back and triumphed over.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:30] Jesus came in talking about the kingdom in Matthew 6 they asked him, how do we pray, we see it in Luke as well. He said, "Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come." What did he mean by that phrase? Pray this way, that God's kingdom would break into the hearts and lives of people. So when we recite, it's a beautiful prayer, let's don't blow past that phrase in a route memorizing of the prayer, we're praying for God to set up his rule and reign in the hearts of people. Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Seek first his kingdom.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:21] And one thing I realized in perspective, and thought about in Matthew 13, Jesus tells seven parables, seven stories, and in those stories, he's laying out from beginning to end the Kingdom of God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:36] He starts out by telling the Parable of the Sower and the Seeds, and when he's telling that parable, he says, hey, this is what it's like, this is what the kingdom is like. It's like a farmer's out there and he's throwing seed and he throws it and it goes to the side of the road, the birds come and snatch it up, this is like those who hear the message of Christ but it doesn't stick, Satan snatches it away before they can get it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:03] He says the seed can also fall on rocky soil, now it grows up a little bit, but the problem is the person who receives this, they initially have great joy, but then persecution comes, trials come. No, I wasn't in on that, I liked the idea of a received Jesus, and then I go to heaven, and I kind of do my own deal in the meantime, but the idea of persecution, hardship, trial, I'm out.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:36] It fell on a third kind of soil, and it was thorny. He said this is like the Gospel, and it falls on here, and it's going along well, but then the worries of the world get so much, like pandemic's hit, and the deceitfulness of riches, there's just the chase for wealth, and so Jesus gets sidelined.

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:02] There's a fourth kind, he says, and the seed falls on good soil. And the good soil is the soil that starts to bear fruit, it starts to look like Jesus, it starts to look like the Kingdom of God, and it bears out thirty, sixty, one hundred-fold, it just multiplies is what that fruit does?

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:25] Oh, and then he tells a second parable in that string of parables, this is kind of how we know where the Good News falls. And then he tells about a farmer who he has the ones who were working for him, they sow the seed, and it's good seed, it's wheat. But then while the man is sleeping during the night, something happens, an enemy comes in plants seed as well. After a little bit, the workers of the land realize, uh oh, somebody planted something else here, it's not just wheat, it's also tares. See, when you read tares in the Bible, that's a weed that looks like wheat. Weeds, not weed, just clarifying. And they asked the owner, should we go ahead and pull up the tares, and he said, no, you won't be able to tell the difference, they kind of look alike. See, people can look alike morally, but they're not in on Jesus, sometimes you can't tell, He says, let them grow up, and then when it's harvest time, when we reap the harvest, first, we'll take the tares, those will get bundled up, thrown into the fire, and then we'll gather up the wheat, and when we gather up the wheat, then we'll have gathered up with all the good stuff is.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:54] And he goes on and he interprets this parable, and he said the one who planted the good seed, that's like Jesus who planted the good and those who are in his kingdom. The other one is the enemy, Satan, and those are the ones that are sons of the Devil, sons and daughters of the Devil. And he says the one who does the reaping, that represents an angel, and the angels will come and they'll gather up out of those who are not, the ones that are following Jesus, and then they'll be burned and they'll be gnashing of teeth. But they'll harvest those who are good, and they'll be with him forever. They'll shine forth as the sun of righteousness, s.u.n., they'll shine forth like the sun of righteousness in the kingdom.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:43] We were in Colorado just at the right time, the Aspens were turning, and I've got a couple of pictures of that. I think they're at the back end. But I just loved, and that one picture is good, thank you, that's just great, fantastic. So the Aspens are turning, and as I just looked at them, I was hanging out on this parable and I thought, what a cool picture as the sun radiates and reflects on those aspens, and those who know Jesus in the end, we're going to be like the sun of righteousness in the Kingdom of God, we're going to shine way more brilliantly than even the turning of the Golden Aspens in Colorado in this season.

Ross Sawyers: [00:39:22] But then he goes on to tell other parables, and what follows is he says that one. And then he says, hey, it's also like this, this is what the kingdom is like, it's like a mustard seed gets planted, and when that mustard seed is planted, it's the most insignificant seed of all. And how many times have we seen the Gospel go into somebody, and you're wondering is anything ever going to happen here? And then all of a sudden later you look, and what it says about the mustard seed, that it grows bigger than the garden plants, so much so it's like a tree that the birds of the air rest on those leaves. So what may look insignificant now, may turn into something really big, that's what the Gospel does.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:04] And then he talks about a lady who had a little bit of yeast and she put it in some dough, and then over time, that dough starts to rise. That's what the kingdom is like, a little bit of yeast, a little bit of the Gospel, and then it just starts to blow up.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:23] I used to love when I was little going to my grandmother's in [inaudible]. We had great names for our grandparents like Opal was her name and we called her Opal, it's really creative. And so we would go to Opal's, to my grandmother's, and I loved walking into a small little house, and then she would cook the most amazing yeast rolls. And I loved the smell of them when they're on the pan, I loved the smell of them when they're in the oven, and I loved eating one hundred of them when they come out of the oven. There is nothing better than watching that just to expand and think, oh my, that is so good. And that's what the kingdom is like, and God's glory is going to fill the Earth. Right now, it's good and evil rising up together, there's a whole lot of good rising up and there's a whole lot of evil rising up, but I tell you what, it's going to be good in the end, it's going to be nothing but God's glory, it's going to be like one of those good grandmother yeast rolls when we're done.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:18] And then he talks about it's like a treasure, it's worth selling all for this, it's worth going all-in on Jesus. He tells two parables like that, and then he wraps up with another judgment one at the end. So that's a picture of the kingdom, I hope that you see the beauty of it. And when we think about the kingdom today, in Vision 2025 at 121, we're talking about establishing worship where there is none, that's another way of establishing the kingdom, or outposts of light as one of our readings said, everywhere we go. This is an outpost for the kingdom right here, every home that hosts a life group, or every restaurant or bar where we start a live group, we're pushing out darkness and we're establishing the kingdom there. Every time somebody comes to Christ, and the rule and reign of Jesus is in the heart of someone, worship is being established there, darkness is being pushed out. There's a transfer of kingdoms, no longer Satan's kingdom, we're in God's kingdom. And we're on that mission today just as the early church was so that those who are far away from God, not in that kingdom, can be in it. And every one of us has the opportunity to be a part of spreading the glory of God. I can't imagine a better and more invigorating task for us to be a part of.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:33] In Acts chapter 28 verse 31, interesting right, at the beginning of Mark, Jesus starts with repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. When we get to Act chapter 28 verse 31, Paul says what he's doing is, "Preaching the kingdom of God and it's open and unhindered."

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:56] I want to briefly hit 4 and 5, and we'll hit this plenty of times as we travel through Acts, "Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem.", so in [inaudible] he had told them that they needed to wait. And the reason they had to wait, is because the Holy Spirit had not yet come, and they weren't going to be empowered for their mission until the Spirit came. Now, before we get too hyped up about wait and we're always waiting, like I'm going to wait to do this or wait to do that. We're on the other side, the Spirit has come, we're not being commanded to wait for the Spirit to come. He's come, so we don't have to wait for that part, we can be on the mission.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:52] So he "Gathers them together, they're not to leave Jerusalem," Jerusalem is not a safe place for them, but they're staying there, they're going to wait for what the Father had promised. God's promises are always yes. "And He said, “you heard of from Me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Not many days from now, you'll be baptized with the Spirit.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:21] Here's my brief introduction to what we'll talk about in future weeks on this part. In the beginning in the gospels there's a baptism of repentance, John the Baptist is baptizing people in anticipation of the Savior coming. In those days, someone would get baptized to establish themselves behind a particular movement, they were getting in behind John the Baptist, the forerunner. Jesus comes and John the Baptist baptizes him, Jesus is baptized not for the repentance of sins, because he had none, his baptism is a preparatory initiatory act for his own coming. So when we're baptized, we're not even baptized for the same reason that Jesus was.

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:15] Then there's the baptism of the Holy Spirit, there's a lot of conversation about that in the theological church world. When a person repents and believes in Jesus, that person is baptized in the Holy Spirit, immersed in the Spirit, that's the normative teaching of Scripture. Once a person is baptized in the spirit in First Corinthians 12:13, we're told that that person is baptized into the body of Christ through the spirit, so the way we're unified and connected is through the Spirit baptizing us at our salvation. Once we're baptized in the Spirit at our salvation, we follow that with a water baptism that Jesus commanded in Matthew 28, that's what we experience here often. This week we had the opportunity in somebody's backyard to be a part of somebody's baptism, we're seeing that all the time. That's baptism with water, it's a picture of what the Spirit has already done in baptizing our hearts in change.

Ross Sawyers: [00:46:31] Jon Stott in his book, Baptism and The Fullness of the Spirit, I think says it really well. Whatever happens after that, a second baptism of the Spirit is not the right expression for it. It's not that God's Spirit doesn't do significant and mind-blowing things moving ahead, but the right expression for it is not a second baptism of the Spirit. We're baptized with the Spirit at our salvation.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:11] This is part of the rest of the story, and we're just getting started in what God has for us in his story. Are you in the story, the redemptive story of Jesus, and living out the kingdom as he's designed it. It's a beautiful start to Acts.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:35] One of the ways we remember is through the Lord's Supper. And I want you to just hear from some of our missionaries across the world because this is a a global act, a descriptor of the Lord's supper that we're about to take.

Video: [00:47:54] (Video Plays)

Ross Sawyers: [00:49:32] There are some representatives of it. What we'd like to do is just have some quiet space, and then David's going to play over us, and you're welcome to join in if you'd like. But I just want you to have space to sit before the Lord. And the scripture tells us that we need to examine our hearts before we take it, and so I would encourage you to do that whatever that would mean for you today, so that we take it in a worthy manner in a way that honors him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:50:01] If you didn't receive the elements when you came in, due to COVID we don't do the coming to the front anymore and taking the elements, we've got the more packaged ones to give you. So we're going to bow our heads, David's going to play over us. If you don't have the elements, our ushers will bring some to you, just kind of lift your hand and they'll get the elements to you, ok.

Ross Sawyers: [00:50:25] Father, thank you for our time this morning. And God, I pray that as we participate in this reminder of what you've done to bring us into the kingdom, what you've done so that we can live appropriately in the kingdom, and what you've done so that we can look forward to your established kingdom. Today, I pray, as we reflect on Jesus, what you did when you shed your blood and broken body, God, that you just motivate our hearts to love you, and glorify you, and honor you, and just be a beautiful picture of the unity of the body of Christ today and where we're unified at the cross. And so we thank you, and I pray you'll just work in each person's heart in these moments, in Jesus' name.

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