It’s my privilege to present Michael’s Sermon outline from Sunday 5th November 2023. Please read and meditate and consider your own place and role within a “Growing Church”.
SERMON SCRIPT 5/11/23: (ACTS 6:1–7)
Luke begins the book of Acts by describing the obstacles that the early church faced and how the apostles overcame those challenges for the church to grow and flourish.
Acts 6:1: “Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.”
TO THIS POINT IN ACTS, SATAN ATTACKS THE GROWING CHURCH IN DIFFERENT WAYS:
FIRST, THE ENEMY TRIED TO PREVENT JESUS FROM ESTABLISHING HIS KINGDOM ON EARTH.
Luke revealed in Acts 1:3 that the enemy caused Jesus to suffer in order to prevent Jesus from building His church. Jesus defeated the enemy by doing the will of His Father. Despite the horror of what was before him, He chose to put His Father’s will before his own. Before being crucified, Jesus prayed to His heavenly Father, asking Him to take away the suffering that would occur to him. However, He did not stop his prayer there. Jesus continued in Luke 22:41-43. “Yet not my will, but yours be done,”
LUKE ALSO ADDRESSED ANOTHER CHALLENGE THE GROWING CHURCH FACED IN ACTS 1:12-14: THE DISTINCT CHARACTERISTICS, DIFFERENCES, AND OPINIONS OF THE APOSTLES.
The apostles were the church’s pioneering leaders, yet they were not without shortcomings and inadequacies. They were different, with distinct points of view and personalities. Notably, none of the chosen apostles were scholars or rabbis. However, Jesus chose ordinary individuals to do extraordinary things. He chose the unqualified and qualified them to perform qualified miracles.
AGAIN, THE ENEMY FOUGHT AGAINST THE GROWING CHURCH WITH DISHONESTY.
The apostles called Barnabas (“son of encouragement”). Acts 5 sold a field he owned, brought the money, and put it at the apostles’ feet. The enemy got Ananias, and Sapphira became a liar and hypocrite. With Acts 5 and 6, the good old days for the growing church have seemed to disappear. They now had to deal with internal corruption, disputes, hypocrisy, and potential divisions.
THE DIVISION BETWEEN THE HELLENISTIC JEWS AND THE HEBREW JEWS (Acts 6:1-7
It is important to remember that though the titles Hebrews and Hellenists are used, they were Christians, followers of Jesus, and from a Jewish background. They had all embraced Jesus as their Messiah, and the early church took the responsibility to help support widows because they often had no other support.
There was a growing division between the Hellenistic Jews and the Hebrew Jews because the Hellenistic widows were neglected in the daily gift aid distribution, which presents us with the problem of poor administration and supervision. Again, Satan loves to use unintentional wrongdoings in a growing church to cause conflict. These were perfect conditions for a church-splitting between the Hebrew Jews and the Hellenistic Jews.
ACTS (2-4): HOW DID THE APOSTLES SOLVE THIS PROBLEM?
Then, the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “We should not leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. However, we will give ourselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the word.” It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. The apostles explained that they should remain faithful to their central calling, which was prayer and to the ministry of the word. The ministry is much work, even without administrative tasks. Still, as a growing church, we should give ourselves continually to prayer for the ministry of the word and pay attention to pastoral work.
THE DNA OF A GROWING CHURCH IS GETTING OTHERS INVOLVED IN THE CHURCH ACTIVITIES.
The apostles spoke to the general group of believers and sought the solution with much communication and input from the believers. They did not throw the complainers out. They did not divide the church into two congregations. They did not ignore the unhappy Hellenistic Jews. They did not form a committee and discuss the problem to death and accuse the Hebrew Jews, but they solicited opinions to solve the issues; this is the DNA of a growing church working together and delegating responsibilities.
WHO SHOULD WE GIVE RESPONSIBILITY TO?
Undoubtedly, the apostles suggested someone of good character, wisdom, and filled with the Holy Spirit; this is the DNA of a growing church. These qualities indicate that the apostles were far more concerned with the internal quality of a person than their outward appearance or image.
Then, the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem.
Considering all that could have gone wrong when Satan tried to attack the growing church through division, everyone involved deserves much credit.
- > First, those with the complaint, the Hellenists, did the right thing: They made their concerns known instead of gossiping and crying about it; they trusted the solution of the apostles.
- > The Hebrew Jews did the right thing: They recognised that the Hellenists had a legitimate need, and they trusted the solution of the apostles.
- > The Apostles did the right thing: They responded to the need without distracting themselves from their central task.
- > The Seven chosen men did the right thing: They accepted the call to service to serve God, and some of them spread the word of God powerfully.
- Finally, Satan’s strategy failed. He tried to divide the church, and it did not work. The apostles were not distracted from the focus of the ministry of word and prayer. The Word of God spread because this situation was handled with wisdom, sensitivity, and prayer.
In Jesus’ name