We are Contagious
We have reached the end our series on "This Is Us." As we have studied the first church in Acts 2:42-47, we have learned we are:
- Devoted to the Apostles Teaching/healthy teaching.
You might wonder how we have one more lesson from this passage since it appears we've touched on every verse. However, if we stopped after generous, I think we've missed maybe the biggest part of who we are.
There has been a lot of discussion on actions and attitudes that are inward focused, but make no mistake, the church wasn't created to be only inward focused and the early church wasn't solely inward focused either.
There isn't a verse in this passage that speaks on their evangelism, meaning their talking to others about Jesus. The only verse that has a reference to the gospel being shared or received is the verse preceding this passage and the verse ending this passage,
So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
- Acts 2:41
praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
- Acts 2:47
While the church was busy devoting themselves to scripture, worship, to one another, and to generosity, it appears they were busy sharing Jesus with the community surrounding them.
Their evangelistic nature and focus might not have been explicitly recorded, but from 2:47 we know the gospel was being spread and people were converting to Jesus. It might not have been explicitly said because it was expected.
"...you'll be my witnesses...."
- Acts 1:8b
Those witnesses shared a message that lead these individuals to become witnesses. It might have been a given that those who would obey the gospel message would be witnesses too. This morning what we come to understand about the church from verse 47 is "We Are Contagious."
We experienced a virus that originated in one part of the world and rapidly spread all the way to the other side. The Christian faith is contagious. It originated in Jerusalem and spread to the ends of the earth. 2000 years later, it is contagious as ever as it continues to spread.
We know virus spread through contact or the air. In the same way, the christian faith spreads through the influence of peoples actions and their words. We discussed how our Jesus calls us into community and to live our faith alone. Well christianity is not a faith that is meant to be kept to ourselves but is one that is meant to be shared.
If we are going to be a church that is contagious, a people who share the gospel and spread the influence of Jesus all around us, we must have one attribute,
Christianity Doesn't Spread Without Boldness.
Immediately after our passage starting in Acts 3:1, Peter and John encounter a lame man at the gate of the temple. They heal this man and cause everyone to be in amazement as they him walking into the temple alongside Peter and John. Capitalizing on this miracle and the reaction to it, Peter stand before them and preaches the gospel.
12And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: "Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. 17"And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,
- Acts 3:12-19
Telling people that they denied Jesus (who was God's servant), they traded Him for a murderer, they handed Him over to be murdered, and that He resurrected is bold. Telling individuals they need to repent to have their sins forgiven is bold. Telling this truth in a culture and area that had a great opposition to Jesus and His message is bold. As a result of sharing this message, the leaders take issue with them. They arrest Peter and John for the evening and Look at how Peter and John respond.
5On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, "By what power or by what name did you do this?" 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders, 9if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
- Acts 4:5-12
When met with opposition by the same leaders who potted the death of Jesus, John and Peter down back down, they double down. They didn't quit from sharing the message because these people were in positions of power and influence, they continued. Look at their response to Peter and John's courage.
13Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16saying, "What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name." 18So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." 21And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.
- Acts 4:13-22
They saw their boldness and that lead them to recognize them as being with Jesus. Could people recognize you being in a relationship with Jesus based off off your boldness? Despite their further threats, Peter and John say, "we can't help but speak what we've seen and heard." I can't stop. I won't stop. I have to share this. People need to know.
The rulers had such an issue with their boldness because of its result (Acts 4:4). The number of those who believed came to be about 5000. Recognize this: the gospel spread not through comfort but through bold christians. The church didn't boom in the book of Acts because all the environments were comfy and accepting of Jesus. The church spread when it was persecuted! When Christians are faithful in living like Jesus and sharing His message, despite whatever repercussion come, that is a faith that is contagious.
Christianity doesn't spread when we cower, conform, or stay silent. If every time somebody opposes we go quiet, change our behavior, fall in line, or stop sharing...not only are we being unfaithful, but we aren't helping the cause of Christ.
Church if we truly believe Jesus is everything He claimed to be and that He has died and arose for the sins of the world...we should want that message to spread and for everyone who walks this earth to come to know Him. If that's going to happen, we have to be bold.
A. We care more about what God thinks than what the world thinks.
I want people to like me, but if I'm following the will of God not everybody will.
18"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
We have to stop seeking the acceptance of a world that would never accept Jesus and fully seek his acceptance. If you want to be loved by the world and man, you're not going to share Jesus.
B. We are more concerned with individuals souls than their feelings.
Sometimes we shy away from telling people the truth because it hurts. We don't want to hurt their feelings. Yet, if the gospel is true, I'd rather hurt their feeling temporarily than have their soul hurt forever. If we are care more about somebody's feeling then telling them about Jesus and eternity, we really don't care about their feelings.
C. We are are willing to suffer for the cause of Christ.
Peter, who spoke in much of that we read today, said a lot about suffering in his writings.
12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
- I Peter 4:12-16
Peter was willing to suffer for doing what is right because He knew it was far better than suffering for what is wrong. Peter was willing to suffer for Christ because Christ suffered for him. Peter wasn't ashamed to suffer for Jesus, He was willing to glorify God. We don't endure the persecution and suffering for the cause of Christ as those in other parts of the world or who have come before us. Maybe one day well will and we find out about our faith when its tested. But today you may be ridiculed, harassed, labeled, insulted, and all kinds of treatment like that. Am I willing to proclaim Him despite how they treat me in return? That's boldness.
Church, our faith is not meant to stay in these walls or amongst ourselves, but is meant to be shared. In our community, in our state, and all over the world. That can only happen if we are willing to be bold. To have some courage and talk Jesus with people. May we commit ourselves to living boldly and proclaiming boldly the wonderful story of Jesus and what He has done, and done for us. We would never know Jesus if it wasn't for a bold christian and somebody will never know Jesus if we aren't a bold christians. As we close, let's pray for boldness