A Beautiful Pattern
Small Group Questions
- Does your walk with Christ present itself as a “pattern of faithfulness”? Do you worship God in the good and bad times? Give some examples.
- If you have been faithful what things helped keep you there? If not what things do you think drew you away?
- Do you fact check the sermons you listen to? How much time do you spend? What resources do you use?
- What have you done with the gifts and resources God has given you?
A Beautiful Pattern
Luke’s history of the early church is brought to an end here. What happened to Paul is generally thought to be the following. Paul remained in confinement for 2 years under house arrest. He was able to receive visitors and preach the gospel. During this time, he wrote the letters to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and to Philemon. In app. AD 63 Paul was acquitted and released. For the next two years he continued his missionary endeavors. During this period he wrote 1 Timothy and Titus. Paul was again arrested in AD 67, taken back to Rome. He wrote 2 Timothy during his second imprisonment in Rome. His imprisonment ended with his martyrdom under the Roman Emperor Nero, tradition says by beheading.
The book of Acts breaks off suddenly, with no formal conclusion to what God continued to do through the Holy Spirit and the apostles. Yet, God intends that the acts of the Spirit and the preaching of the gospel continue in the lives of Christ’s people until the end of the age.
The book of Acts then reveals God’s beautiful pattern of what the church should do and be. He has given us examples of the faithfulness of believers, the triumph of the gospel against the opposition of the enemy and the power of the Holy Spirit operating in the church and among God’s people.
This is God’s pattern for present and future churches, and we must faithfully proclaim it and live it.
1. A pattern for the faithfulness of the believer
What is said of Jesus should be said of His people. Jesus life was marked by His faithfulness to the will of the Father, and so should ours.
Paul arrived in Rome in chains and only after setbacks, storms, shipwreck and many trials. Paul remained faithful, even though God did not make his way easy or trouble free.
Book titled, “Not a Fan”- are you a fan or a follower? The difference between those who dabble around Christianity and those who have died to self and are born again; those who are a fan of the Savior and follow His miracles until they get what they want and those who follow Him to the cross.
The call of the faithful is to die to self. It’s the common theme of our church. We cannot have His resurrection power, unless we are crucified with Him. If you are to identify yourself with Jesus, you must first identify with His suffering and death.
Galatians 2:20 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
20 I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Paul was a faithful follower until he departed from this world and he left us with a beautiful pattern that we can follow. His prison letters to the churches in Phillipi, Ephesus and Colosse reveal a victorious man who surrendered all in order to be found faithful in Christ.
Philippians 3:7-14 New King James Version (NKJV)
7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain[a] to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already attained,[b] or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have [c]apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Faithfulness in good times is one thing. It is easy to be faithful in a marriage when you are getting along good, when the kids are acting perfect, when there’s money coming in and food on the table, when romance is flowing.
But faithfulness to your spouse when times are hard, when you are in pain and they do not understand, when you are fighting all the time and not getting along, romance has dwindled, and when you have no money in your pocket or food on the table is something all together different.
God, like a marriage, requires faithfulness through the good times and the bad, through better or worse, in sickness and in health, in prosperity and in adversity.
These times require fortitude. Fortitude defined as courage in pain or adversity.
Paul pressed on with fortitude.
What we see from Paul’s life was not an easy one, he did not live “his best life now”. I shutter to think how the 1st century Christians would fair listening to today’s gospel that being touted over this country.
This Acts church was faced with incredible opposition and persecution for identifying with Jesus.
Jesus told the church in Smyrna:
Revelation 2:10 New King James Version (NKJV)
10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
This highly persecuted church was told, “Be faithful unto death”
Paul told Timothy, during his second imprisonment in Rome, be faithful to his calling
2 Timothy 4:2 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
2 Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching.
Whether times are favorable or unfavorable- remain faithful to Jesus and the work He has called you to.
2. A pattern for the triumph of the gospel against opposition
The book of Acts presents us with a pattern of victory over sin and the devil
The true gospel of Jesus brings victory into the life of those who hear and receive.
The half-hearted, the unrepentant, the culturally religious are not promised such victory- only those who have the true gospel of Jesus and are born again of God.
John 3:3-5 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
3 Jesus answered him, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know, be acquainted with, and experience) the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus said to Him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter his mother’s womb again and be born?
5 Jesus answered, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a man is born of water and [[a]even] the Spirit, he cannot [ever] enter the kingdom of God.
And this is the good news, that we are born again when we repent, turn from our ways and towards Jesus and accept His blood as payment for our sins. We believe (trust in, rely on) in our hearts and confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord.
Faith in Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible, always causes us to triumph
2 Corinthians 2:14 New King James Version (NKJV)
14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us [a]diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
1 John 5:4 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
4 For whatever is born of God is victorious over the world; and this is the victory that conquers the world, even our faith.
But what “Jesus” is your faith in what? But which gospel? What will you tolerate?
Paul tells the church in Corinth about false apostles, and that he is jealous over them with a Godly jealousy:
2 Corinthians 11:4 New Living Translation (NLT)
4 You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.
Paul describes people who are preaching a “different Jesus”, a different “Holy Spirit” and a different “gospel” and he says, “You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you”
What do you tolerate to come into your life? Do you just believe everything that any speaker says about God? Do you just open up Google and start reading the first article on the subject?
Beware! There are false teachers, false apostles, false preachers that make the message sound good and use money to express their message but their focus has turned from the true Jesus.
The victory that overcomes the world is only found in following the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. If the message you hear is not the death of sin through the cross of Christ, it is not the gospel. If the message is more about you, and how you can be blessed and prospered, and makes you the center and not Jesus, it is not the gospel recorded in Scripture.
Do you follow the gospel of accommodation? The gospel that suits you and is convenient? A gospel that is non-confrontational? And requires nothing of you? Like in the temptation in the desert- Satan twists and manipulates the Word of God. “IF” you are the Son- if the message tells you to tempt God by putting “demands” on Him, it is not the gospel. If the message, twists and manipulates the Word so that you care more about amassing things in this life, than amassing eternal life and souls, it is not the gospel. Please pay attention! Stay in the Word of God. Listen to your teachers that God has placed over you. Either Ps Matt and myself are your pastors, or we are not. Do not even listen to me if you have to interest in doing what I tel you.
3. A pattern for the power of the Holy Spirit operating in and among God’s people
Overwhelming, the book of Acts records the Holy Spirit operating mightily among God’s people not just for the furtherance of the gospel, but for our healing, edification, encouragement, teaching, etc.
The gifts of the Spirit did not cease with the book of Acts and the death of Paul. They are to continue until Jesus returns for His faithful.
You believe in the ministerial gifts of a pastor, prophet, evangelist, apostle and teacher;
Ephesians 4:11-12 New King James Version (NKJV)
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the [a]edifying of the body of Christ,
Then why would you not believe in the charismatic gifts?
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
4 There are [d]diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works [e]all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by [f]the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
Acts was the beginning of the church age- all these things continue in us and through us until He takes us home. Are we not still in the church age?
Has God removed the Holy Spirit? If He has, we cannot be saved. It does not make any sense that He has done away with the charismatic gifts. That would be like saying that the power of God to open the Red Sea was only available to the Exodus generation of Israelites. We are still here. We are still in the church age. And this was a beautiful pattern to all future generations.
Acts 1:8 New King James Version (NKJV)
8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be [a]witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
We are not victims at the whim of the enemy. Like Paul, take authority in Jesus name-
Acts 16:16-18 New King James Version (NKJV)
16 Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” 18 And this she did for many days.
But Paul, greatly [a]annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.
Some of you have not asked for this indescribable gift
Luke 11:13 New King James Version (NKJV)
13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
The good gift that Matthew records in ch.7 v.11 is the good gift of the Holy Spirit- the power to be His witness, the charismatic gifts that He liberally gives to those who ask. (you can ask God for the gift of prophecy)
1 Corinthians 14:1 New King James Version (NKJV)
14 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
Because prophesy edifies the hearer. Love did not replace the gifts- we are to exercise the gifts in love until He returns to bring us home.
A Church where the HS is not in operation is a dead church. Do not quench the Spirit by limiting His power.
Luke 19:13 New King James Version (NKJV)
13 So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten [a]minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’
Do business with the resources entrusted to us- to employ in business, for the purpose of increasing it, making a profit
He furnishes us with gifts needful for His business, and from those He gives power, He expects service. Use your endowments, gifts and graces, for the good of others and for the glory of God until His return to judge mankind in the days of final accounts
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