II Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.
As a church we need to grow. Some aren’t. Some have stopped or even taken a backward turn. I want to give you three more things that are ingredients of the church.
(7) The early church was an exciting church. We all like to go where things are happening. The word “carnal” is used by Paul. This is worldly, but we want to be Spirit-filled and controlled. If we were at a ballgame in the bottom of the 9th and the score was 7-6 and we saw a tying run and then a winning run, we’d get excited. This is a carnal, emotional experience. It’s okay to enjoy things God has blessed us with, our land and things in it. You can do these and still give God glory. An exciting church is more than this. If you look at attendance, it is more exciting to have 100 instead of 50. New programs can be exciting. New people join the church, and that’s exciting. Seeing souls saved is the single most exciting thing in a church. A revival is for the church, a re-awakening of the fervor inside us. Seeing people saved should bring revival because it’s exciting. In my opinion what makes a church exciting is to come with a feeling of expectancy. Come looking for something to happen. You can look for nothing and you’ll get nothing. I expect the Lord to be here. Without his presence this is a social club. Come expecting him to bless. I leave satisfied. We hope to hear a well-prepared sermon to get hold of us and motivate us. I don’t want to be part of a dead church. Jesus is alive. The church should be. Church attendance is a duty for some. It ought to be a joy. There are lots of exciting places to see, but the most exciting will be heaven. I want to ask Moses about that burning bush. God spoke to him and it changed his life. I want to ask Abraham about the time he was asked to offer Isaac on Mount Moriah. We can’t imagine how he felt when that ram was caught in the thicket. He sacrificed it instead of his son. That reminds me that someone died in my place. I want to ask Elijah about Mount Carmel and Paul about the Damascus Road. And Peter, James, and John about the Mount of Transfiguration. The New Testament Church was an exciting church. May we have excitement.
(8) It was a Spirit filled church. They saw answers to prayer that were miraculous. The Holy Spirit shook the place at Pentecost and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. There is a difference between being baptized and the filling of the Holy Spirit. Nowhere are believers commanded to be baptized with the Spirit, but we are told to be filled with him. Ephesians 5:18 says And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. The day a person gets saved the Holy Spirit comes to live in him/her. Second Corinthians 12:13 says For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. The filling is again and again. I like to have my cup filled again. I leak. One baptizing. Many fillings. Baptism establishes us as a Christian. A filling empowers us. In I Corinthians 3:1-2 Paul wrote: And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Paul wrote to clear up some things they were doing wrong. They were carnal Christians. He reminded the Galatians in 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Baptized into Christ but on the verge of apostasy. He asked in another place why they had come out of the bondage of sin and allowed themselves to be put again in bondage. Compare Peter, the coward, in Matthew to Peter who boldly preached in Acts. The filling of the Holy Spirit made the difference.
(9) The early church preached repentance. To repent means to change one’s mind. There are many things we may change our minds about; we all do. There are some I’ll never change my mind about. The Bible is the infallible, inherent, and perfect Word of God. It’s forever settled. Jesus was virgin born and conceived by the Holy Spirit. How? Remember Gabriel told Mary with God nothing shall be impossible. I won’t change my mind about the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. It happened. Jesus walked out of the grave victorious over death, hell and the grave. I will not change my mind that lost people have to be saved. Man has lived life as he pleases and ignored Jesus Christ. I had no peace and contentment before I met Jesus. He’s the only way to go to heaven. To refuse Jesus is to choose hell. There are only two places to go–heaven for the saved and hell for the lost. There is a literal burning hell. Just as you choose which grocery store you use, you make the choice of your eternal destination. It’s of your own free will. Don’t think you’ll do it anytime you want to. Without the drawing of the Holy Spirit you cannot be saved. And we don’t find him; he finds us. In the War, some Japanese soldiers were in the water unable to rescue themselves. A ship went over to help them. Rather than take the lifeline thrown to them by the US soldiers, they refused it time and again. They were killed. Jesus is throwing out the lifeline. Reach out for him; let him save you.