Jack Graham - All In
Where there is life in Christ from time to time we need to be revived. And, of course, daily we're renewing our faith and our commitment to Christ, but there are seasons in life and seasons in the church that I believe God wants to do a new work, a special work of revival. And I'm praying that this is the time. I'm praying that God will do it one more time, before He comes again, because the only hope for this world, for our country, for your home and my home is Jesus Christ; that we know Him. And Jesus established churches across the world in order to advance His message, and that's the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And in Acts chapter 2, in fact, in these early chapters of Acts we see how the church is birthed. It all began, of course, in Jesus, and you can begin finding Acts chapter 2 if you would turn in your Bibles. But it all began when Jesus ministered for three years, He went to the cross, He paid it all and died on the cross for our sins. All who would believe in Him, respond to Him, receive Him, He promised that the Holy Spirit would come. And after His resurrection on the third day, He appeared with His disciples and then after forty days He ascended into heaven before their very eyes. The angel promised that He would return and Jesus is coming again! And Jesus said to those disciples, "You go and you wait until you are endued with power from on high, the power of the Holy Spirit".
So in an upper room on the day of Pentecost the Spirit came down and baptized them and they were proclaiming the Gospel of Christ in languages that everyone understood who had traveled from all over the world. And the Spirit came down and the church went out and Simon Peter stood up there in the corridors of the temple and preached Jesus Christ, and he preached it forthrightly and firmly, and he preached the Lordship of Christ. And when he was done preaching the cross, the central message, with the resurrection, the hope of the Christ and the church, then he gave an invitation. It says, "And with many other words he said, 'Turn to Jesus Christ. Repent of your sin and be baptized.'"
And on that day, the day the church was born, three thousand were added to the church, were born again, and then baptized into the body of Christ. That became the first church in Jerusalem. But that wasn't nearly the end. From there they began to gather in homes and families and preaching the Gospel publicly and from house to house. In fact, in Acts chapter 5, verse 47 it says: "And daily in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease to proclaim Jesus Christ as Messiah".
So as they began to spread the fire, people were coming to Christ, first, they were added, then they were multiplied, then ultimately there were too many to count! And it was said that they filled the entire city of Jerusalem with the truth about Jesus Christ. It was meant to be an accusation, a criticism but what a compliment to the early church! The fire the fervor of those men and women who saturated the city of Jerusalem with the Gospel! Some Bible scholars estimate that there were as many as 100- upwards to 200,000 conversions in the first six months of the church's existence in the city of Jerusalem, and from there to the world. Ultimately it was said of the followers of Jesus in the first century, "You have turned the world upside down"! They did so much with so little! But they had one thing: fire! The fire of the Holy Spirit.
And so they were all in, all the time for all the world! And they were defined by their devotion to Jesus Christ, their surrender to Jesus Christ. They were utterly and totally committed to Christ. And this is our call also: to surrender our lives completely to follow Jesus. Anything less is robbing Him of the glory He demands and deserves! So I'm calling this message "All In" because one of the reoccurring words in the passage we're about to read which describes the activity and the ministry and the mission of the early church is the word all or the word together. They were ablaze with the grace and the glory of God! And we are ablaze when we deny self and go all in to live for Jesus! To give ourselves fully to Him! And I'm telling you, it's time to go all in! It's now or never! It's time!
Too often we have made American Christianity into a consumer religion! Studies indicate that most people go to church in America today not to commune with God, but to consume religious experiences and services; not to worship God but to experience something for themselves. We want Christianity with options. "I'll take a little bit of this and little bit of that, but not any of this and not some of that"! We're to be all in, all the time! Why does the church exist? A group of one thousand church attenders were asked that question recently and 89 percent of those surveyed indicated that the church exists in order to take care of my family and my spiritual need. That is religious consumerism. Only eleven percent said the purpose and the mission of the church is to glorify God by proclaiming Jesus Christ to the world!
So what is the church and why do we exist? Verse 42 of Acts chapter 2: "And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. (That means miracles at the hands of the apostles of Jesus.( And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. (Notice the word all showing up.( And day by day (every day(, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And (watch this( the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved".
There was the life of God, the life of our Lord in this church, and therefore, the church was alive and ablaze. And what I see in this passage of scripture is a life-giving church. This passage is so filled with generosity and gladness and celebration! They were a happy and a joyful group as they were all in for Christ and His word, all in for one another, to love God, to love people! They were a life-giving church. So let me use the acrostic L-I-F-E, life to show you who we are what the church is all about. Why does the church exist? Who are we? What is our identity? Alright, first, to lift up Jesus Christ in worship, praise and adoration, to exalt Jesus! Before we go outward or inward, we must go upward in the exaltation of Christ.
Notice in verse 47 it says: "They were praising God and having favor with all the people". They were together in fellowship and in prayers-that is worship. It includes praying, it includes personal worship, and obviously, corporate worship, as they were together in this, bringing our hearts together, our lives together in corporate praise of the Lord Jesus Christ. I love Psalm 34, verses 1 through 3, for it says: "I will bless the Lord at all times (so that's personal(; His praise will continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear it and be glad. (And watch this; let's say this one together( Oh, magnify (say it( Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together".
So let me just ask you: what is your worship telling people around you, because your worship is your witness? Are you just sitting there or standing there while we're singing, stone-faced, silent, not participating, not sharing in the heart and the life of the church? Or even worse, are you talking to somebody, your neighbor while people are watching you who wonder whether or not this is real? Or texting somebody? Checking your phone for you latest update on Fantasy Football? What does your worship say about your faith? Does it say: "I love the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart, my soul, my mind, my strength"! Or does it say: "I really don't care that much; I'm just sort of here". They worshiped Jesus Christ with all their hearts!
That's why there was life: lifting up Jesus Christ. It's our goal to make sure Christ is here and present as we invite Him and worship Him, God is exalted on the praises of His people; He inhabits the praises of His people, and so we praise Him because He and He alone is worthy of our praise! He alone is to be worshiped because He alone is worthy! He is altogether worthy and He is always worthy, and therefore, I want to be all in on His worthiness and worship Him! "I" is for instructing believers in the Word of God. That's verse 42 "Instructing believers in the Word of God". They were all in worship and they were all in the Word.
Now here at Prestonwood we believe that God only wrote one Book, and it's call the Bible. And this Bible, this Book, written by God is inerrant, that is, there are no errors and it is infallible. And therefore, we are in total agreement as a church that our purpose is to grow in our understanding of God through His Word. And so we have small groups. Our Bible fellowship classes, for all ages, where we can study the Word of God together. And when we get together to preach this is not a weekly pep-talk! This is a time for us to grow and to know and to grow more in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. I love that word "they devoted themselves". The King James says "They devoted themselves continually to the Word of God, to the Apostles' doctrine and to teaching". And so the apostles, they were in a position of authority; they were teaching the Word of God, they were preaching Jesus Christ, and the people were showing up in record numbers because they had a hunger, an insatiable desire, a new appetite to know more and more about Jesus and the faith that they confessed.
These believers were defined by their devotion to Jesus Christ! And the indicator that you are a true believer is that you keep following Jesus. There's a verse of Scripture, in First John 2:19, that says, concerning some who came in and left; they started but didn't finish: it says, "They went out from us because they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would have, no doubt, continued with us; but they went out from us that it might become plain that they were not at all of us". If you don't have a desire to know and to grow in your faith in Jesus Christ, and you absent yourself continually from the teaching and the preaching and the fellowship around God's word, that's a sign that you don't know the first thing about Jesus. They were devoted together. They continued in this. Jesus said, "Abide in Me and My word, if you're My disciples", John 15.
So they were in the church, they were devoted to Christ in the church. There's a difference between being at church and being in the church. I'm going to say that again. There's a big difference between being at church and being in the church. Everyone is welcome to Prestonwood. Everyone is welcome in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone can come, and we make a big deal about inviting people, bringing people, encouraging people. We have all kinds of opportunities for people to come and to seek and to hear and to receive Christ. So if you are an unbeliever, than you are welcome to anything and everything we do with a couple of exceptions. You must be in the church to be baptized as a believer in Christ. We're told in Acts 2 when the Gospel was preached and they said, "What should we do"? They were convicted, Peter said "Repent and be baptized because of the remission of sin".
And so on that day 3000 were believing, and baptized on that day. What a day that must have been! And because they believed and were baptized, having already believed, they were in the church. They were in the body of believers. They were born into the family of God. Because the church is not some organization or club or social service activity that you join; the church is a family in which you live! And so you're in the family, you're in the church when you believe, repenting of your sin, receiving Christ as your Savior, believing that Christ died for you and rose again that you might have eternal life, calling on the name of the Lord. And then when communion is shared, as we're going to share it in just a moment, you must be in the church. Not at the church, in the church in order to receive the cup of communion. Sharing and symbolizing His blood that was shed for you and His body which was given for you.
So they were all in. They were all in in their worship, lifting up Jesus Christ; they were all in in the instruction and the devotion to learning and growing in their faith. And this is a living legacy that you should share with your family. Studies show that if you don't go to church for a month, the odds are almost two to one that you won't go for more than a year. And that vital involvement in the fellowship of the local church is essential to your family's well-being and whether or not you're going to pass your faith along to your children. Look at this, if both mom and dad attend church regularly, 72 percent of their children remain faithful in attendance. If only dad attends regularly, 55 percent remain faithful. If only mom attends regularly, 15 percent remain faithful. And if neither attend regularly, only 6 percent remain faithful to Christ and His church.
Sobering statistics! What kind of legacy are you living and leaving for your children and your grand children? Hebrews 10:24 and 25: "Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near". The more the darkness encroaches, the more we approach the end of the age, the more we need to be together, because it's going to get more difficult, darker and darker and more difficult as we go, and we need to be grounded solidly in the teaching and the preaching and the fellowship of God's Word.
"F" is for fellowshipping in the community of faith. A life-giving church fellowships in the community of faith. There is both diversity and unity. They were all together. As I noted earlier when you read this passage it's all together. You don't see one perpendicular pronoun in here! There's no "I, me, or my" in this passage! Why? Because there's no Lone Ranger Christianity. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto! And we need each other! We are stronger together, we are better together! There's power in partnership in the Gospel! And they shared everything together. They were giving their funds and giving away everything in order that the Gospel would advance, in order that people would be loved. This fellowship is not just, you know, cookies and pizza, coke after church! Fellowship is sharing life together and sharing the Lord together. It is sharing love together!
We are together because we love God with all our hearts, and we love one another. And this is the real mark of discipleship, that you love one another! God brings people, when we get to heaven we're going to see people from all kindred and colors and nations and cultures and languages, and the church on earth, until we get to heaven ought to be a taste of heaven. And I'm grateful that we're looking a little more like heaven in that we're seeing people of other languages and tribes and nations and cultures and colors to form this beautiful panorama of faith together! We're celebrating together! We are experiencing the Lord together! We're not a designer church, that you know, picks out a special group of people just to go reach them. We're across seasonal lines, we're across age groups, we've got... I love walking into this church and seeing people all ages, and boys and girls, and families of all different kinds! Together in Christ.
And what would bring a group of people like this together? Nothing other than Jesus Christ because we come from different backgrounds. We all have different interests. But we have one primary purpose and that is to know and follow Jesus Christ. To worship Him, to grow in faith in Him. So we're all in because we love Jesus and because we love one another. And the Jesus in me loves the Jesus in you. And the Jesus in you loves the Jesus in me. We're all in on Jesus. And one final thing, lifting up Jesus, instructing one another in the Word of God, fellowshipping in the Lord Jesus Christ, fellowshipping together all together in Christ, and then evangelizing the world.
Look at verse 47 of chapter 2. It said, "And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved". Every day people were getting saved in every way all over the place. Later on they stopped adding and started multiplying the church was growing so fast. And before you knew it, you couldn't multiply fast enough and they just said a multitude. And finally they said the whole city is saturated with the message of Jesus Christ! And they took the Gospel to the world! The church earned an audience because they gained favor with the people; their love, their devotion, their sacrifice, their surrender so they had favor with the people. They were ministering, serving giving.
No wonder so many were coming to Christ. They decided they would not just leave the Gospel inside the church walls, but they would get out and get into the homes and families. They didn't have enough room to house the church in one building so they were meeting in homes everywhere. That's what it says. Daily in the temple and in house to house they were sharing Jesus Christ. And that is a live-giving church. We were all in all the time for the One who paid it all for us. "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, and my soul and my all".