Sermon – Convinced about the Church’s Job (Acts 1:1 – 1:11) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Convinced about the Church's Job

Pete Woodcock, Acts 1:1 - 1:11, 2 December 2019

Pete speaks on the mission of the church from Acts 1:1-11.


Acts 1:1 - 1:11

1:1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

(ESV)


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

Okay. If you'd like to, turn to acts chapter 1 in the church bibles, it's on page 1092, and we're gonna be reading the first 11 verses, of chapter 1. And it's a great delight, isn't it? To be here as a church family and to have god's word in this place being read and preached to us as god's people. In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.

After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of 40 days and spoke about the kingdom of god. On 1 occasion, While he was eating with them, he gave them this command. Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my father promised which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Then they gathered around him and asked him, Lord's are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? He said to them, it is not for you to know the date or the times the father has set by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all judea and samaria and to the ends of the earth. After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hit him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going when suddenly 2 men dressed in white stood beside them.

Men of Gallilee, they said. Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven. Well, obviously, this is a slightly different service and we wanted to try out what a mix looks like as well. Although this is a this is a a little a little different, to the normal mix.

But I wanted to turn to this, passage because it really tells us really what we're to be about as a church. So it's exciting moving into a new building and all of that. But what actually are we to be about? So what you've got here in acts chapter 1 is is really quite a small group of people, actually smaller than than this group here and they're sort of led by a handful of just blokes, 11 11 men, 1 of them 1 of the 12 had been a traitor and betrayed them. So they had all of that sort of experience of someone that they had trusted walking out on them and betraying in betraying the lord Jesus Christ.

So you've got a handful of men that the authorities in Jerusalem regarded as ordinary simple, uneducated men and women. That's that's that's what you've got here and there was really nothing to commend them They didn't have large amounts of money. They were ordinary worker worker people. They didn't really have what we have today, great sort of communication abilities. There was no multimedia stuff that they could be using and all of sort of stuff and yet we're told and this is the first slide and I forgot to pick up 1 of these things, that they turned the world upside down.

That's a quote in chapter 17 of the book of acts. They turned the world upside down. Is that is that right? Yes, upside down. It's from the authorized version but it's a great expression.

They turned the world upside down. Now remember their leader didn't write any books he was basically just a wanderer. He didn't he didn't leave any home, that people could inherit. He had no belongings to in shrine in any museums. Those sort of false belongings of Jesus came later in some kind of weird religion thing, but he didn't leave any.

He never married. He never settled down. He never had sons to have a a dynasty in in in that sense. There was really nothing about him that that the world would see as wonderful and it was people the people in in acts chapter 1 that spread his name around and that was intentional. If you go through the Bible, the first part of the Bible, of the law and the prophets and the writings and the poetry and that sort of stuff.

We're told they all focus a beam on this 1 to come. But actually spreading that light, and that's the next slide, was was actually the job of other people. So the beam of light is the lord Jesus Christ into the prism but it's interesting that Jesus allows ordinary people this ordinary group of people in acts 1 to fragmented out to take it out. The whole spectrum of the gospel out into the world. So it says you will be my witnesses.

So Luke writes this book of acts and he writes it after The first group of Christians that saw the lord Jesus with their own eyes and experienced the resurrection of the lord Jesus in their own hearts and lives and actual evidence for that. They're sort of dying out and you've got a younger group of people coming in and they're saying, you know, what what was the early church like? What was the first sermon? How did the church grow from just being a sort of weird Jewish cult in the Roman eyes to actually dominating religion in the western world. So what was going on and so Luke takes up this pen.

He writes to his friend theophilus He's already written the gospel of Luke and this is volume 2 really and he tells theophilus that Jesus did stuff in Luke, but in acts he's continually doing stuff. He's continuing doing it. So he says in my former book Theophilus, I wrote about all all that Jesus began. See the word began? Began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to his apostles he had chosen.

So he began to do that in Luke's gospel, but now he's continuing to do that. Jesus is carrying on the work. It's an extraordinary thing. At the end of Luke's gospel, we see Jesus had died had risen again and ascended into heaven, gone up into heaven. We'll look at that in a minute, and that is called the beginning of his work.

That's what he began to do, and now we're told he's continuing work. So we got these 2 things. Look at the next slide. There's his unfinished work and there's his finished work. His finished work is that he died on the cross.

He's paid for sin. He's proved that that sin has been paid for by rising again. He ascended into heaven and seated at the right hand of god. He is lord of all the world of heaven and earth. He's finished that work, but he's continuing this unfinished work through ordinary people like those in acts chapter 1, through the church.

There's a finished work of Christ and there's a now active working through people like you and I. So he says in chapter 1 verse 8, you will be my witnesses to all of the world. You will go out and tell this amazing story of his death and resurrection and lordship to the whole world. Now in order to do that, In order for people to do that, they have to be convinced because it's a hostile world. It's a world that doesn't want to believe them.

It's a world that wants to mock the idea that a king would go on a cross. I mean, how bizarre is that The cross showed that the Romans were in power and anyone on the cross was under the Romans. But we turn this round and say no no no no the cross is Jesus dying. He's finishing his work of salvation there. And his resurrection proves that and his ascension now proves that.

And so we're going out into this world that's hostile that thinks the message is ridiculous. So what we've got to do is to be convinced about those truths. If we're not convinced about that message, we'll be weak and we're mumble and we won't spread the message. We'll be internal. We'll just think about ourselves and we'll think about nice buildings that we can be more comfortable in rather than going into a hostile world.

And 1 of the joys I think of being here, and I can see this now, is that I can look out. You can't see. People out there. There's no 1 out there at the moment, but I can point to them. And even if they can't hear me, it feels like they can.

And I can see the world, the bus is going fast. There's a 2 26. Don't know what that is. X 26. It's going to Heathrow.

There's a whole lot of people going on a holiday. Yeah. And I I can see this. Now if we're going to reach out we've gotta be convinced. And so here's the fifth slide.

They're convinced people. Have a look at verse 3 of chapter 1. I should have put this up, but I don't think I did. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many, here's the word convincing proves that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of 40 days and spoke to them about the kingdom of god convincing proofs.

How is this little ordinary bunch of people with not much money and no advertising abilities at their fingertips? Going to turn the world upside down. They're gonna be convinced, and they're gonna be convinced about these things. They're gonna be convinced about his death Now, his death, his resurrection, don't worry, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, just keep it at the first 1. His death, resurrection, ascension, and the sending of the Holy Spirit to empower them to do the job.

First 1 is death. Now you can move on. At the end of Luke, listen to this, they're convinced about his death. He said to them, Jesus said to his disciples on the road to emmaus, This is what I told you would happen while I was still with you. Everything must be fulfilled.

That is it that that is written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so that they could understand the scripture. He's opening their minds to understand the whole of the scripture. So what's the whole of the scripture about? He told them this is what is written.

The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead. And on the third day, rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations. Beginning at Jerusalem, you are witnesses of these things. They're convinced that the whole scripture is pointing to the absolute need for the death of the son of the living god. The only way people can be saved is not by religion, by their good works.

The only way people can be saved is not that they're a good British or whatever nationality person they want to be good at, the only way people are saved is that the son of the living god was stretched out on a cross and took the wrath of a holy god for the sins of the world. That must happen. That must happen. And that's the message that must be told. We're not just telling people that have a life with Jesus and it will make life nice.

We're not just saying that you can add Jesus to your panel play of other thoughts and other religions and other ideologies. Now Jesus is the 1 that died on a cross to be your savior to take your sin. They're convinced that's the message. That the whole Bible is about, and that's the message we have to teach and preach. We teach our children, our youth, and ourselves.

It must happen. They're convinced about that, but they're convinced about the resurrection of Jesus as well. Look at the next verse, and there's verse 3. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of 40 days and spoke to them about the kingdom of god.

They were convinced that this wasn't a ghost. This wasn't some weird religious tradition. He spoke to them 40 days. On the first Sunday after he was resurrected, they saw him and the second and the third and the fourth again and again over 40 days. He gave absolute evidence that he was physically raised from the dead.

They had no doubt about that whatsoever. And if we're going to go into the world, we've got to be convinced that the message is about the lord Jesus dying for sinners that we would be safe, but we've got to be convinced that he rose again. If we're going to be authentic church, if we're going to be an apostolic church, if we're going to be church that has got any message at all to the world. We need to know that Jesus rose again physically from the dead he is alive, never to die again. And what an extraordinary, wonderful message to this world that we're in?

Have you noticed how depressed people are getting? Have you noticed as we bang on about climate change, and it's our fault, and the pressure is on us to change. Have you noticed what people are beginning to say? See, some of us have lived long enough to know that the doomsday sort of cult they come round in their in in sort of circles. There was a time back in the seventies and eighties where know, the whole world was gonna be blown up by, by nuclear, you know, warfare and everybody there was books out and everybody was threatening those things.

And now it's the environment. So much so that you hear people saying, well, I'm not having any babies. I wouldn't wanna bring a baby up into this world. We've only got choked 12 years to that left the world is dying. We're dying.

Our next generation is dying. It's an extraordinary fear of death. We have a risen Christ. We have a resurrected 1. We have 1 that's broken out of this world that is dying and decaying.

We have 1 who's alive. Why isn't that message out on the news? Why don't we say, yeah, it's true. The world is dying, and of course we want to to do what what we can. To have a nice planet and not chuck rubbish around and pollution and all of that sort of stuff.

Of course that but I wanna tell you there's a new world coming and I know there's a new world coming because there's a new 1 in the new world. He rose out of this ward of death. He's alive. It's an extraordinary message today. And unless we're convinced that he rose again, we won't we won't mouth it out.

We keep quiet. We let everybody take over and preach their message of doom and gloom, but we've got a message of resurrection. So they're convinced of that. Third thing they're convinced about is the ascension. Look at these verses.

After he said this, so he's talking to the disciples in an upper room. He was taken before their very eyes. Our of 40 days of proving himself alive, and a cloud hid him from their site, and they were looking intently up into the sky as he was going. When suddenly 2 men dressed in white stood beside them. Men of Galile Lee, they said.

Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus who's been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way that you have seen him go into heaven. They're convinced that he died on a cross. He rose again, and he ascended into heaven. Now what does that mean?

It means everything. He's on the throne that he is ruling. Here's uh-uh we had when we did a big hunger it's in the summer, we were listening to, the broker looks like Calumbo, RC Sprall, and, he he says this about the ascension. I think it's brilliant. I think he's up there.

Yeah. The Ascension of Jesus was the supreme political event in world history. Now do you hear that? You see, we're so myopic. We think this next election is going to be 1 of the supreme things that's going to change our country in for good or bad.

Here we go. The ascension of Jesus was the supreme political event of world history. He ascended not so much to a place as to an office. He departed from the arena of humiliation and freeing to enter in his glory. In 1 moment, he leapfrogged from the status of despised Gallian teacher to the cosmic king of the universe, jumping over the heads of pilot and herod and Caesar Augustus.

The Ascension catapulted Jesus to the right hand of god where he was enthroned as the king of kings and lord of lords. From that moment, everything was different This despise little group in chapter 1 have a saviour that died for them 1 that's broken through death that rose again for them, and 1 who ascended and is ruling everything. That little group have all the confidence in the universe, the confidence of a god who's beaten death and is bringing a new world into order. They have confidence. He has authority.

He has authority Whether the authorities like it or not, what we say. We're under a great authority and we say it. So they're convinced about that. And then the fourth thing they're convinced about is that here, at least, in chapter 1, they're waiting expectantly for the spirit. Of course, the spirit comes in in chapter 2.

So we don't wait for the spirit, but they were waiting for the spirit. So just look at this verse here. On 1 occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my father promised, which you have heard me speak about. It's the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit came upon the church in, in chapter 2, and they received the power So not only do they they don't took sort of muster themselves together and steal up against the opposition and say come on.

Let's let's let's go out there whatever people think. There's a holy spirit that he he he will convince us of the truths of of what Jesus has done, that he'll settle in our minds and our hearts that we have a savior and a resurrected savior and a lord and savior that he is the king of the universe, and it's the holy spirit that sends us prompts us to be his witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. And they were expecting, and they were waiting for the spirit to come. Now we don't wait for the spirit. He's come.

We're born into the kingdom of god by the Holy Spirit and we can go and say to people in our frailty, in our muddledness. Sometimes in our weakness, all in fact always in our weakness, but there's power in the words. So we need a deep minded persuasion that these things are true. We need a heart gripping confidence that Jesus is savior and lord and ruling and sends the spirit so that we can go out and preach the gospel and it's unstoppable People will hear the message all around the world. Thousands will come to Christ, We wanna be part of that.

This little church called Cornerstone in Kingston. And so we don't wanna be distracted. That's my next slide. We're not to get distracted. There are people that are constantly wanting to distract us from that mission.

And even here, you see a distraction. So when they met together, so here's Jesus telling them to go into all the world, they're gonna have the spirit and all this sort of stuff and then listen. So when they met together, they asked him lord, Are you at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel? And then he said to them, it is not for you to know the times and dates the father has set by his authority, his own authority. There are always people that want to distract us And believe me, they come to cornerstone on a regular basis.

If anyone comes and you might be here for the first time and if you're gonna come up and do this to me without it being joke, of course, I will point you to many other churches in the area to go to because we don't wanna get distracted. But there are always people that are going and say, do you know did you read about there's a prophecy and there's a prophecy over Israel? And do you know how many borders Israel? Do you know And it's they want to argue over things that we don't know about and are not for us to know about because we've gotta take this message out. We've gotta be so convinced that when people come in, and try to distract us into things that are theories and prophecies about whatever we have to say, I'm sorry, mate.

We've got a job to do, and although it's all very interesting, I can't we can't we can't waste time doing that. So are you on board with us? Do you wanna do what the apostolic message is, or do you wanna talk about times and dates of the second coming? Because if you wanna do that, there's a church in Chestington called Chestington evangelical church, and I recommend that you go and talk to Daph. Yeah?

Because we haven't time for this and there are whole websites and believe me there are ministers conferences everywhere that distract us from the job. Okay. So now, we're not to get distracted. Here's my next slide. I'm pushing on.

What is the time? Yep. So because they're convinced men about the death, the resurrection, the ascension, and the second coming of Christ and that he is lord of all, because they're convinced about that, they do these 3 things. And this is the sign of a church that's convinced on those things. They pray, they organize, and they evangelize.

They prayed, they organized and evangelized. Actually fellowship and prayer go together here, but I haven't got time to bring out everything. So fellowship is important, and we find that very important at Cornerstone. But fellowship and prayer, they go together. You can see that.

Let me just whiz you through them. I'm not gonna be long. 3 things. They prayed. They all join together constantly in prayer along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus and with his brothers.

So if you read it, you'll see that they all get together and they prayed. They prayed why because they're confident that Jesus is the conquering king that he's won their job is not to fight for victory. Their job is to fight from victory. Jesus is ascended. He's lord.

He's won. And so they pray. The ascended lord has sent them out into the world and so they pray with confidence. He's the 1 who has all authority and all power. He ascended to heaven.

So we pray with confidence. He's the 1 that can change things. He's the 1 that leads the church. He's the 1 that will lead the church to go into all the world, and so they pray. They pray.

We thank God that we've moved and we've grown to this, and we want to move again if we can find a place. We wanna grow, but we won't we're not gonna change this world unless we pray. So let's be excited about having a new house, but we need to pray. The prayer meeting is central. Thomas Charmer, who is a famous Scottish minister, said, prayer does not enable you to do a greater work for god.

Prayer is the greater work for god. Prayer is the greater work. If you wanna know the greater work for god, pray. Why? Because you're saying I'm convinced you're there.

I'm convinced you're the ascended 1. I'm convinced we can do nothing without you. I'm convinced you're the lord of glory. So they pray. Second thing is, they organize.

There's a whole sort of lot of stuff about this, and I won't read it all, but Judous, who is a betrayer, had walked out on them, and it must have been quite shocking for them. We're really genuinely shocking for them. We were thinking about that in 1 in 1 John, but they get on. And what Peter does, he realizes that that actually there would be people falling away and Judith would fall away and it's a prediction in the scriptures. So they organized scripture bible teaching He's teaching the bible.

And as they teach the bible, they realize that they need another person to take the place of judas because there were 10 tribes of Israel and sorry 12 tribes of Israel and you need 12 apostles and that sort of stuff. That's what the church is based on. And so they need to elect 1, and there's 2 names come into the hat. And they organize themselves by reading the scriptures and seeing what the scripture says and organizing themselves on the basis of the scripture to get another person. So here we are.

Therefore, it is necessary, to choose 1 of the men who have been with us the whole time, the lord, the whole time with us the whole time, I'm missing a bit. Don't know what happened there. So they nominated 2 men. They so nominated 2 men They didn't know which 1. They prayed.

They cast lots. Yeah. And the lot fell on mathias. Who was added to the 11 apostles. You see?

They read the scriptures. They organized. And it's important to organize. We've got a lot of organization here to to, you know, get to this place. We want to be very, very thankful to to Paul Morley and his team.

There's a lot of organization to do. And at the moment, it's worse set up than it is at Beatlesford. Believe it or not. We came here to make it easier, but at the moment, it's worse because it's first time and we're trying to work out things and we're trying to you know, make it a lot easier and hopefully that will happen. But there's organization, but also there's nothing wrong with organization in saying how do we reach We gotta organize ourselves.

It's good organization. How do it's good to say, okay, we need to raise money. We we, you know, we it's it's a lot of money, you know, but things cost money. We won't be able to meet if we don't have so we need to raise money. So let's organize.

So we've got, you know, Phil organizing us. He'll be at the door, where's your 5 quid, you know? That's what it costs for that seat, an extra 5 quid to put your bottom on it. There we go. That's 2 pound 50 a cheek.

Think about it, like, break it down like that. You know? Okay. Some of you wanna just sit on 1 cheek, that's okay. You know, give us what you can.

But, you know, that's, you know, but we organize that. And it's very important. Bible, what's the Bible say? Organize our ourselves on the Bible. And we must keep doing that as cornerstone.

And then the last 1 is evangelize. You have to go into chapter 2 and you see they evangelize. And you'll probably know that story of pentecost. Then Peter stood up with the 11 raised his voice and addressed the crowd. And who did he talk about?

Jesus. What did he preach? Jesus. Jesus is lord. Jesus is his savior.

You need to repent and come to him. You need a personal relationship with Jesus. He evangelized. So Cornerstone on this first Sunday here, I wanted us to go over those basics and say that's what we've got to be committed to. We're not just here for comfort.

It's a way better building. We've got lots of potentials here, but we're here. So that we can take that gospel out, and we need to be convinced about that.


Preached by Pete Woodcock
Pete Woodcock photo

Pete is Senior Pastor of Cornerstone and lives in Chessington with his wife Anne who helps oversee the women’s ministry in the church.

Contact us if you have any questions.


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