Service Video Message Video Message Audio The service video is unavailable at this time. The sermon video is unavailable at this time. The sermon audio is unavailable at this time. Scripture Verses Acts 2:44-47, Acts 3:6-10, Acts 4:32-37, John 13:35, Acts 3:15-16, Acts 4:1-20, Acts 4:31 Downloads & Resources Revolutionary Living Dr. Jon Morrissette - 4/25/2004 So nowadays, the majority of Americans rather casually consider themselves Christian. I am sure that is how you would describe yourself if someone asked, right? But what does it really mean to be a Christian? If you are a Christian, how might someone distinguish your lifestyle from that of a non-Christian? Is church attendance the distinguishing trait between you and a non-Christian? Is it that you dress up and set aside an hour or two a week to be here? Is it that you take communion, pass the offering plate, listen to a sermon, and sing a few songs? Perhaps it's not even necessary to attend church to be a Christian anymore. Maybe it's that you try to be a nice guy. You say a little prayer before each meal. You say the pledge of allegiance at ball games with conviction. You give Jesus the nod. You try not to swear in front of children. You keep your Bible dusted. You celebrate Christmas and Easter. You give to charity. Maybe being a Christian is only a matter of wearing the right label, calling ourselves Christians. Maybe it's equivalent to you or I sticking an "I Love Jesus" bumper sticker on the car or wearing a Christian tee-shirt. Have we lost the vision of revolution that the early Christians had? What we do know is that the manner in which we are living our Christian lifestyle isn’t very revolutionary. In fact, just the opposite it true. Our lifestyle is mostly ordinary. Being a Christian is more a symbolic gesture than a substantive reality. We’ve lost our distinguishing traits. We’ve lost our identity, our distinctiveness, and our vision of revolution. The Church is virtually unrecognizable from the world. We believe all these wonderful things about Jesus Christ. We profess to have the word of life which is sufficient for the salvation of all men. We preach a message of love, forgiveness, reconciliation, hope, and eternal life. But now is the time for the power of God’s Holy Spirit to be evidenced in our conduct. The power of God should result in the sanctification of our lives and not just in the justification of our souls. There is a lot we can learn from the early Church. Not only did they unleash the power of God in their lifestyles, but they distinguished themselves in an otherwise immoral culture. The early Christians had revolutionary commitment (to the lordship of Christ). There is a lot of talk about a lack of commitment these days on every front. That isn’t just something you hear in the church. We hear that everywhere. The truth is that there is no shortage of commitment. We are as committed as ever to work, education, school, church, family, sports, television, hobbies, and shopping. Most of us are juggling enormous demands on our time and energy. We have to write in really small print on our calendars because there’s not enough room on them otherwise. Sometimes there is barely enough time to even catch our breath. But something revolutionary happened in the early Church. Ordinary men and women whose lives were just as cluttered with commitments as ours are, began giving their total commitment to the lordship of Jesus Christ. And not just in one or two convenient areas of life. No, they placed their entire lives under new management. They turned over the reigns. In Acts 2:38 (NIV) Peter says, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." For the early Church repentance was about making a singular commitment, by faith, to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Baptism was about making a pledge to live for Christ. And wearing the name of Christ meant something. Repenting and being baptized, "in the name of Jesus Christ" meant submitting to a new authority and power in your life. The lordship of Christ is what distinguished the early Christians from the world they lived in and it is what distinguishes Christians in every age. The early Christians showed revolutionary compassion (to people near/far from God). The early Church was infected with all the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. Acts 2:44-45 (NIV) tells us how they responded to the needs around them. "All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need." We shouldn’t suppose that the early Christians liquidated all their assets and possessions and put everything into one gigantic pot. It doesn’t say they sold everything. But they did downsize their lives greatly. They had garage sales and yard sales. They sold goods, services, and excess property. They made deep sacrifices for one another. Later in Acts 4:32-37 (NIV) we read this description of the church. "All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet." In Acts 3 Peter and John met a crippled man who spent every day begging at the temple. The man obviously wanted silver and gold, but in Acts 3:6-9 (NIV) Peter looks him in the eye and says, " 'Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.' Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts walking and jumping and praising God." In both examples the early Church demonstrated deep love and compassion. As a result of their compassion in the first example, we're told in Acts 2:47 (NIV) that the early Church enjoyed, "the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." As a result of the compassion for the crippled beggar Acts 3:10 (NIV) says the people, "...were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him." The early Church distinguished itself by demonstrating Christ’s love and compassion. In John 13:35 (NIV) Jesus says, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." The early Christians showed revolutionary courage (in the face of persecution). The revolutionary compassion of the early Church didn’t sit well with everyone. In Acts 3 Peter and John use it as an occasion to preach on resurrection power of Christ. In Acts 3:15-16 (NIV) Peter says, “You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.” In Acts 4:7 (NIV) Peter and John are dragged before the rulers, elders, and teachers to give an account of themselves. They were asked, "By what power or what name did you do this?" Listen to their response in Acts 4:8-12 (NIV). "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: 'Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.' " And check out the response in Acts 4:13 (NIV). "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." In Acts 4:18-20 (NIV) the Sanhedrin commands them to stop teaching in the name of Jesus. "Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, 'Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." The early Christians distinguished themselves by showing courage and boldness. The first Christians prayed with revolutionary boldness. After being threatened further Peter and John were released from the Sanhedrin. They immediately went back to their people and reported everything that had happened. The early Church praised God. They celebrated his sovereignty and control over history. In Acts 4:29-30 (NIV) they prayed for the strength to live out their convictions. "Now Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." In Acts 4:31 (NIV) we're told God answered their prayers. "After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly." We raised the question earlier about what distinguishes us as Christians. There are four distinguishing characteristics, which I’ll pose as questions. The four distinguishing characteristics of Christians. First, are you living under the authority of Christ’s name? This first question concerns our relationship to God’s Son. Everyone these days is eager to wear the name Christian. What we have to ask ourselves however, is if we are willing to live under the authority of Jesus Christ. Being a Christian isn’t about wearing a label. It is about being under Christ’s lordship. It is Christ’s lordship that revolutionizes life, not being an authority unto ourselves. If nothing extraordinary and revolutionary is happening in our lives, it is because of our failure to put ourselves under the name that is above every name. Repentance and baptism involves making a singular commitment. Some of us need to repent and be baptized for the first time. Most of us need to return to our baptismal pledge and ask the question of repentance, "Is Jesus Christ Lord?" Second, are you praying for God’s Holy Spirit to fill you? This second question concerns our relationship to God’s Holy Spirit. Nothing revolutionary and life-changing happens when we rely on our own power. The early Church surrendered their deficiencies to Christ and said, "Make us strong. We're threatened. We're scared. We're intimidated. We're broken. Our lives need healing. Our Church needs your power and wisdom. Give us courage and boldness." Very rarely do we confess such needs to God, but imagine if we did? Imagine if God shook this place and our lives by filling us with the power of his Holy Spirit? Well, you don’t need to imagine it. You need to pray! We want to invite you to pray with the whole church on Sunday mornings before first service, at 8:40 AM in this room. We're asking God to shake this place and work his signs and wonders. Third, are you showing Christ’s love and compassion to others? This third question concerns our relationship to people. There is a great deal of indifference these days toward the needs of others. Even in this church there is evidence of indifference. We can get so wrapped up in ourselves, in our own families, and our own needs that we stop showing love and compassion to those who are around us every day. Christ’s love is revolutionary. It has been proven to change our world time and again. Christ’s love and compassion is to distinguish us from the world. Discipline yourself to pay attention to others. Simplify your life so that you can be in a position to give generously, be available for others, and love. Fourth, are you courageously standing for the name of Christ? This last question concerns our relationship to the world. We need to have boldness and courage as we proclaim the resurrection power of Christ. We represent the living God. We are his messengers. Boldness on Christ’s behalf is revolutionary. We need to live out our convictions before a watching world. Just now we are going to transition into a time of commitment. Just now we will have our time of offering, a video clip and then we’ll be done. But before we do that, I want you to pray with me over those four questions.