Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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The Early Church 6/22/2014
Dear friend,

When did our church begin? Was it in 1896 when it was formed? Or did it begin in the late 1800's with a man named Laestadius? Or did it begin in the 16th century as a result of the Reformation of which Martin Luther was a major player? Or did it begin in the days of the Apostles, or in the time of Jesus?

What is the church? How should it be organized? What is its purpose? What should be the nature of the worship service? What should be the content of the sermon? What kind of music should be sung?

In answer to the first set of questions:

According to our Constitution and Bylaws, it began an AD 33 on the day of Pentecost, when the outpouring of the Holy Spirit occurred as is recorded in the book of Acts. As we have stated before, the book of Acts is an integral part of the scripture, for in it we have the history of the beginnings of the church of Jesus Christ, and we learn of the early life of the great Apostle Paul, whose conversion is recorded in this book. It is the continuing life and work of Jesus Christ through the indwelling of the Spirit in the hearts of those who are in His kingdom here on earth.

In response to the second set of questions:

Each Christian denomination, fellowship or group believe that they have their beginnings from the pages of the Holy Bible. How each group has come to understand the revelation of Jesus Christ and of the nature of His kingdom determines as to how closely they function as an outward manifestation of the invisible church, the kingdom of God. Therefore it is important to trace the beginning and development of the church in order to be able to evaluate as to how faithful we are in our congregation to that which the Lord intends us to be as a body of believers.

It is for this reason that in our bulletin is placed a prayer reminder that goes like this:

""May we pray that through our study of His Word, our knowledge of the person and the work of the Holy Spirit would be increased and that He would increase even more in our lives, both individually and collectively.
NKJ Ephesians 6:18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints --

May we reflect on what was preached in the beginning church.
May we reflect upon the response of the hearers.
May we reflect on the actions and attitudes of the first converts.

For the answers to our questions are given through knowing and understanding the beginnings and developments that occurred in the early Christian Church.

The portion of scripture that we will meditate and think on today is from chapter 2: 22-47 which may be outlined in three parts: Jesus Christ is preached and applied to the hearers, the hearers respond to the message favorably and the early church begins to gather. This occurrence is yet on the day of Pentecost, 50 days after the crucifixion of Jesus, which was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh, just as Jesus had promised to His disciples, telling them to wait at Jerusalem until He comes.

Beginning with verse 14 Peter had told the hearers in his explanation to the events of Pentecost that this was fulfilment of prophecy as written under the direction of the Holy Spirit by the Prophet Joel, some 700+ years before. He encouraged those present by telling them that "it shall come to pass that anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

As he begin to speak to the Jewish audience, he spoke of the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus by referring to the prophetical words of the psalms...as well as referring to the events in Jerusalem in the last months. He did not preach his own ideas or thoughts, but he tied his sermon to historical prophecies of the Old Testament and applied them to the current events.

Jesus Christ is preached and applied to the hearers
22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

The hearers respond to the message favorably
37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

The early church begins to gather.
42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, {from...: or, at home}
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Jesus Christ is preached and applied to the hearers, the hearers respond to the message favorably (repentance) and the early church begins to gather. (fellowship)

KJV Matthew 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Luke 24: 44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

The Apostle preached that God's foreordained plan had made ready for the kingdom all those who would come to accept the salvation provided through Christ, the one they had killed. They were not necessarily told that they must repent, but at the hearing of Christ being preached, they came to a change of their mind and asked the question: "What must we do?" They then were told to "repent, and be baptized for the remission of their sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit will be given to them."

Today we will concentrate on the one word of repentance. It is an old word which is not used much today, but it nevertheless is a vital word which has powerful implications in the health and vitality of a Christian church. Without repentance, there is not salvation, there is no joy and there is no real church...Let us look briefly at topic of repentance.

By the miracle of God’s grace we stand justified, not because of anything we have done, but because of what Jesus has done. The salvation of God does not stand on human logic; it stands on the sacrificial death of Jesus. Sinful men and women can be changed into new creatures by the marvelous work of God in Christ Jesus, which is prior to all experience.

It is not repentance that saves me; repentance is the sign that I realize what God has done in Christ Jesus. I am put right with God because prior to all else, Christ died. When I turn to God and by belief accept what God reveals, instantly the stupendous atonement of Jesus Christ rushes me into a right relationship with God. Oswald Chambers

“For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10).

Two kinds of repentance are possible in human experience. One is ‘the sorrow of the world,” a feeling induced by the fear of getting caught. Many people recognize the unpleasant consequences of their sin and are persuaded that they are guilty. This results in a superficial sorrow that may lead to a temporary reformation but not to a genuine turning to Christ for forgiveness. Godly sorrow, on the other hand, is accompanied by conviction of sin, the work of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:37). This stems from the realization of offending a holy God. It leads to genuine repentance.

Repentance is not a new term, for in the Old Testament we have two repentances. Both men said that they sinned, but only one truly came to a conviction of sin and a committed desire to change his life for the better while the other did not come to this conviction of sin.

KJV 2 Samuel 12:1 And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.
2 The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:
3 But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.
4 And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.
5 And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die:
6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.
7 And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;
8 And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.
9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.
10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.
11 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.
12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.
13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.

1 Samuel 15:13 And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.
14 And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
15 And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.
16 Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.
17 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?
18 And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.
19 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?
20 And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.
22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
24 And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
25 Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD.
26 And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.
27 And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.
28 And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.
29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.
30 Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.
31 So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the LORD.

David came to true repentance, while Saul did not. It was the message of the innocent dying for the guilty the brought David to the awareness of his need for repentance.

The first sermon preached which marked the beginning of the Church centered on the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.

The preaching of Christ as the Innocent who died for the guilty worked repentance in the hearts of those who received the message. When Christ is preached, faith is ignited through the Holy Spirit.

The gathering nature of the Holy Spirit drew the believers in Christ together in oneness and from there the church multiplied.

1. What is the message of the sermons that are preached in this church. Are the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ kept in the forefront?

2. Have I come to true repentance before God and therefore, before others?

3. Being a member of the body of Christ in this congregation through the ingathering of the Holy Spirit, does my life reflect the love of Jesus towards others in my motivations, in my attitudes and in my actions?

Acts 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, {from...: or, at home}
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Lord, thank you for your Spirit by which you have united us to Yourself, to Christ and to one another.

In His Spirit,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 22 Jun 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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The Cross of Christ 2.25.2018
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*Wendy and Dan Salo: Strength & courage to trust Him w/her health concerns