God is a Sending God - Acts 2:42-47

Series: THE BOOK OF ACTS

Summary

What up South East fam? Good morning. My name is Chris Bullard. I'm the lead LifeGroup's pastor here. I get to serve this incredible body of believers in this way. And I'm a little biased, but I believe that it's the best job in the church. I love what I do. I love that I get to do that. And especially for you guys. And part of that is getting to fill in from time to time. This morning is one of those times where I'll get to fill in. And like I said, I'm glad that you guys came. I'm glad that you're here. I'm kind of a direct communicator, so where were you guys last week? Where were you? I was a little light last week. I think it was a little light for various reasons. But maybe because you remember New Year's Eve, the snow came in. And it was kind of like our first snow, first real snow. And then it felt good just kind of staying in bed because that snow persisted all the way to Sunday, right?

And then it felt cozy, like when the alarm went off, it was just like, "I'm just going to stay in." But many of you watched online and we're thankful for that. We know that because we saw in the numbers, the online attendance was up last week. So even if you weren't here, you still were part of us. And speaking of online, I just want to say to the online family out there watching, thank you so much for allowing us to come into your space, whatever that looks like. Your living room, your bedroom, your home office, whatever it is, thanks for being a part of the family here, even though you're not actually in the room, we still consider your family. Thank you so much for that.

Another reason I think that people may not have been here last week is because it's a reordering of our priorities, right? It's that time of year when we start to give more weight and emphasis to certain things. Like as if for the last 365 days, we had this lingering problem and all of a sudden, we decided, "This needs to be resolved." So we make a New Year's resolution. And one of the most popular resolutions is what? "I'm going to lose weight. I'm going to get into shape. I'm going to be healthy. I'm going to start going to the gym." If you're a regular at the gym, you know this. You're there faithful. You've been going faithfully for years, and every single year around this time for the first five, six weeks of the year, you got guys like me coming in messing up your entire routine. I'm on your machine, blowing up your whole routine, because I decided that I needed to resolve this problem.

So yeah, people are in gyms and they want to get that beach body. We all want to get yoked and jack physically. We want to work on our physical fitness. But what if we also gave the same attention to our spiritual fitness? Then churches would be packed. We have 1947 seats in this auditorium. I pray every Sunday we could fill him up. I do. But if people were to prioritize their spiritual fitness and work on their heavenly body, that's what it would look like. But to those people who have come in and this is your first or second week, and you've resolved to get your relationship with the Lord right, we thank you that you're here today.

And I pray that those of us who are gym rats, church rats, we're here all the time, that we wouldn't be upset that somebody is on our machine or busting up our routine, but that we would welcome them in because we never know what God's going to do with their journey. So if that's you, we're thankful that you're here this morning, and we pray over you that God would do an incredible work, and many would come to Christ through the things that he wants to do through you. So let's resolve for that. So like I said, I get to continue on in the book of Acts. I got Acts 2. It's the second week, we have this series, which we've entitled The Book of Acts. Surprise, surprise.

But the book of Acts is basically the Acts of the Apostles. But it's more appropriate if we were to call it the Acts of the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit is so woven throughout the entire book of Acts. The Holy Spirit's moving with... Even if the book of Acts was void of the Holy Spirit, then it's just the acts of some random dudes. And it's nothing, it's powerless. But thank God that the Holy Spirit showed up at that time. And so we're going to continue in that series, and this is going to be Acts 2. However, I am going to allow... I'm going to punt on the first part of Acts 2 and I'm going to allow Aaron to unpack that next week. And I'm going to jump ahead in Acts 2 to the end, to Acts 2:42 through 47, which is commonly known as the birth of the early church.

But before we do, I want to talk a little bit about Luke. Luke was a Gentile. He was a doctor. We laid some really good groundwork last week talking about the fact that he was a physician and what that meant and worshiping in the temple of Asclepius and how that played into just the kind of person he was and what he had to go through and endure. But also, he was intelligent and we know that by his choice of words. He had a fervor for accuracy. He wanted to make sure that there was a good and accurate account of all the reports being circulated at that time about Jesus and all the things that were going on. So that's why he writes Luke, the Gospel of Luke, and then the book of Acts which they run together.

So, from a historian standpoint, Luke captured this so that we could share with everyone else. Luke was also one of the disciples, not one of the 12. But he was a disciple. He also spent considerable amount of time with Paul, which is really awesome. He's got the pedigree. He's been around some dudes that know what they're talking about. So I want to set the scene here a little bit. If you're in first century, and you're Jewish, then there's two fundamental pieces that are core to your belief as a person and who you are. One is the Exodus. The Exodus defined who the Jewish people were at that time, and then also the exile. So the Exodus being when God brings them out of Egypt, and then exile is when they're carried off into captivity.

When they returned from captivity, they were so determined not to sin, because they believe that that's why they went into captivity in the first place. So then you get Rome who's coming in and conquering and taking over most of the known world at the time. Rome starts to fold in their culture. Romans imposing their culture onto the Jews. And at that time, it made it really, really difficult for a Jewish person to live well and honor the fact that they didn't want to go back to exile, they didn't want to sin. And also to worship well. So there's a tremendous tension there, because this played into every part of everyday life. And it's at this moment that God nudges Jesus and says, "Now, is the Kairos..." Kairos is a Greek word, it denotes time, not just a time, but a specific time. Not just a specific time, but the right time. Not the right time, but the time. The time where God says, "Now. This is it." It's not a linear point on a timeline, this is the time. And God says to Jesus at this time, "Now's the time for you to step into that world into humanity into flesh." And Jesus leaves the comforts of heaven, steps down into this, and this is what he finds when he gets here.

I want to share with you guys a book that I read, and maybe some of you have read it, but I read it a while back, and I was recently rereading it. And I think it's got some relevance to today's message. And at the end, we'll see if we can kind of tie it all together. But in this book, it's called Gaining by Losing, the author is comparing... He's making an analogy of ships compared to churches, and he's got a couple different types of ships. One is a luxury cruise liner. He says... If you've been on a cruise, you know exactly what I'm talking about. These luxury cruise liners are loaded with amenities. Fine dining, casinos. Sometimes water parks, sometimes roller coasters right on the ship. So it's got all these great amenities. And he makes an analogy for modern day churches to that. He says a lot of churches have an attractional model, and they're designed in a way that would attract people.

The challenge with that is that when you're no longer pleased, or happy or entertained with the amenities, you'll jump ship, you'll go to another church. You just leave this luxury cruise liner and go to a different one that meets your needs. You get tired of the music, you get tired of the programming, you get tired of this. You're out, because the amenities have changed. Another ship that he was talking about was battleships. He says some churches or some people have the philosophy of seeing the church as a battleship. They want their church to be engaged on the front line in the battle, taking fire consistently. Just right there like a battleship would pull up in the harbor, the port right off the coast of the battle and just engage, just continuously taking fire. The challenge with this is that that's not sustainable. It's not sustainable for a battleship, and it's not sustainable for a church model either.

And then he poses this other ship. He says another possibility would be a an aircraft carrier. An aircraft carrier is a massive ship. It's humongous, and it's powerful. And it doesn't go into the battle, it goes near the battle, near enough. And it empowers and equips fighter jets, which in and of themselves are tremendously powerful. And then it launches them off the deck of the ship and then those fighters go into battle and they engage and then they're able to come back. Get re-energized, refueled, get more ammo. Get stocked up on all the things they need and then go engage the battle again. So like I said, we're going to come back to that and see if that any of that makes sense towards the end. However, we're going to move on now to prayer.

I want to talk about prayer just in a brief... Just briefly speaking, prayer is a telltale for me. So if you and I are engaged in relationship and I ask you, "Hey man, how can I pray for you?" And you give me some surface level answer, then I know. I know there's more work to do. You don't trust me enough, I haven't earned the right enough to hear what's deep and meaningful and moving to your heart. But if you give me something that's real and that I can grab on to. Something that's a real struggle for you, and you share your heart with me, then I know, man we were somewhere relationally. So think about this, if we could ever peer into a conversation between any of the members of the Godhead, I'm talking about God the Father, Jesus the Son, or the Holy Spirit. If we could peer into a conversation to see what was going on there, that blows my mind to think about the Godhead speaking to one another and what it is that they would talk about.

But even more so if it was prayer. It would expose the heart, it would expose the intent of whoever it was that was speaking. Well luckily for us, that is captured, we do get to be a fly on the wall, in a prayer that Jesus is praying to God the Father, and I think that's just mind blowing when I think about it. But we see this in John 17:1-5, Jesus is praying. And like I said, we're going to get to the Acts stuff and I'm going to... We're going to get to the Acts 2:42. But we've got a little bit of ways to go because I want to make a bridge before we get there. And this is where it starts. It starts in John 17:1-5. If you're reading out of the NLT, it says, "The prayer of Jesus."

It says, "After seeing all of these things..." What things? You got to read. You got to do your homework. There is a whole nother message. But it says, "Jesus looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come." What hour? This is the hour before the betrayal. A whole list of cataclysmic events are going to take place. And Jesus knows this. He knows the agony that's on the other side of this hour. But he says, "The hour has come. Glorify your son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given Him and this is the way to have eternal life. To know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ, the one you sent."

Now this is what I want to pick up on, I want us to be to have an open ear this morning, and be listening for sending language. "The one you sent to Earth. I brought you glory here on Earth by completing the work that you gave me to do." So a couple things stand out in this to me is that God sends Jesus. There's no doubt about it. God sent Jesus... Father God, like I said in the Kairos, nudges Jesus and says, "Now. Now's the time." Jesus leaves heaven and comes down. Also, again, this is the hour of his greatest need, right before the betrayal. We get to see. We get to peer into his heart and what's going on. What's moving our Lord and our Savior as he's talking to God.

And then he says that interesting part at the end, "I've completed the work." Now remember, this is prior to the cross. So there's a little bit of conflict there because most of us would agree that the work is the work that was done on the cross, which is true, I don't want to devalue that in any way. There absolutely was work that was done on the cross. But Jesus himself is saying right here, "I've completed the work that you sent me to do." An hour before the betrayal. So what is that work? I would pose that we at least entertain the idea that it's the work of being in relationship with others and raising others up. Jesus got in relationship with the men and women that he surrounded himself with that he was raising up for a specific purpose. And that's why I said I want to us to entertain the idea that it's relational in nature, because he says, "I've completed the work." What work? Think about the fruits of the Spirit. All the fruits of the Spirit are null and void outside the context of relationship. They cannot be executed outside the context of relationship.

Think about the 10 commandments. The first four are in relationship with God and then the last six are in relationship with others. Think about all the one another's that the Bible admonishes us to do. Love one another. Be patient with one another. All these different things... All of the one another's, they can't happen without the other. So there's relationship. So I want to pause, I want to start by saying relationship matters. That's foundational. Relationship matters. It does, because without relationship, there's no discipleship. Discipleship cannot exist without relationship. Because I can't come into proximity with you and be in a relationship with... You don't care about what I know until you know that I care. It's the same in this sense as well.

So in that same prayer further down in John 17. Now we're going to jump down to 17:15-18. This is what Jesus goes on to say. "I'm not asking you to take them out of the world." He's talking about the disciples, he's talking us. "I'm not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one." I think that's telling, because he's not asking for us to have a problem free life. The Bible tells us that there's going to be trials and tribulations. It's going to be hard. It's not going to be easy. He's not asking to remove us and put us in a problem free environment. He didn't want us to get plucked and pulled into heaven right now.

So He says, "I'm not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They don't belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth. Teach them your word, which is truth. And then listen for the sending language just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world." Again, them was the disciples them was believers, them was also us by proxy, right? By extension, this is us. He's also talking to. And again, hour of His greatest need, Jesus reveals his heart, where's his heart? What's his passion? It's for us. I don't know about you. But when I'm facing something like that, let's say like a court date, something like that. And you know that there's something coming up. That's a bad analogy, but I'm just saying, when you know that there's something coming up, even if it's for a traffic ticket, right? You know you're in the wrong and I'm going to have to...

Anyway, you get what I'm saying. When you're looking at that, you're like, "Man, there's some impending doom. There's something on the other side of this that I don't want to deal with. And it's hard for me to focus on anything other than myself." But Jesus focuses on us and he's praying to God for us. And I think that's incredibly awesome. And then he says, "God's word is truth and may you make them true by your word, which is the truth." I love that. He wants us to be set apart by His word that is holy. And then I love that Jesus acknowledges that he was sent by God, and he's now sending us, he's sending us. And then I think it's also important to note that right before this... So similar time, the exact same time, but just a little bit before this, Jesus says this about the Holy Spirit, "But I will send you the advocate."

He's talking to the disciples. He says, "I will send you the advocate, the Spirit of truth." Remember, we just said that truth is God's word. So the Spirit of God's Word, the Holy Spirit, This is who Jesus is going to send. Sending language. "I will send you the advocate. The Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father, and he will testify about me." And then in John 16:7, he says this, "In fact, it is best for you that I go because if I don't go, the advocate won't come. But if I do go away, then I will send him to you." Again, beautiful picture. Jesus not only sends us, but he also sent the Holy Spirit. God sends Jesus, Jesus sends us and the Holy Spirit.

Then let's jump ahead now and I know I'm going to hit you with a lot of scripture. But that's intentional. This is church. So in Matthew, if we jump ahead. We're going to jump ahead following the death, burial and the resurrection. So just a minute ago, that was the hour before the betrayal. Now we're going to fast forward to after the death, burial and resurrection. After Jesus comes back to his disciples, and this is what he says in Matthew 28:18-20. It says, "Jesus came. And he told his disciples, "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go." Again, sending language. "Go, not just go but go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples." That's discipleship. "Teach these new disciples to obey the commands that I have given you. And be sure of this, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Again, Jesus sends His disciples. But he doesn't just send them, he sends them with a purpose. So everything that's sent has a purpose. And then also time in proximity equal relationship. I said a little bit about that earlier. But time in proximity, they do equal relationship. You spend enough time with somebody in close proximity, and you will have a relationship. Could be good, could be bad, but you will have a relationship. I used to, a long time ago be a delivery driver in my 20s, and I spent a lot of time on trucks with some other guys and got to know them in a different way as we spent more time in proximity together. And as you do... I know this to be true with most people. More time in proximity spent with somebody, it gives you reasons to root for someone.

It's easy to not like somebody or look at them in a certain way when you're not in any relationship with them. When you don't have that time and that proximity. But it makes it harder, significantly harder when you do have that. Also, like I said, time in proximity equal relationship, but I love that at the end of this passage, Jesus acknowledges that as well when he says, "And surely, I will be with you..." That's proximity, "until the end of the age." That's time. Jesus is saying, "I want a relationship with you until the end of the age." And I love that.

So we're going to get to Acts now, finally. I'm trying to build a bridge so that we can get there. And I know we got other ways to go till we get there. But now we're finally at Acts. Acts 2 has so much content and it's so loaded. This could be an eight week sermon series on its own. But I'm going to skip Acts 2:1-41 so that Aaron can talk about that next week. And this week I'm just going to jump ahead to Acts 2:42-47, which is commonly known as the birth of the early church. But I want to make sure that I get the bullet points of all the things that I'm going to skip over. So Aaron will unpack these even more next week. But just on a high level, this is what happens at the beginning of Acts 2, the believers receive the Holy Spirit. Remember Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, now the Holy Spirit comes they receive. They got accusations of being drunk. And then Peter says, "Hey dude, we're not above drinking. But hey, it's only nine o'clock in the morning. So we're not drunk."

And then he preaches a message. The hearers of the message heard the message, they're cut to the core, they're like, "Bro, what should we do?" Peter's like, "Repent and be baptized." And then 3000 are added to the number that day. So now we're going to get into Acts 2:42 which like I said, most people see it as the birth of the early church. I would argue that it's probably not the birth, but the infancy because I would consider the birth the arrival of the Spirit and I would consider the labor pains, the passion of Christ. That whole week leading up to the crucifixion. All right. So if you're reading in the NLT, like I said, it would say the believers form a community. Now let's read that it says, "All believers." How many? All. All the believers, it wasn't just some of them, it was all the believers. They devoted themselves to the Apostles' teachings.

Now what were the Apostles' teachings? The Apostles' teachings were the time that they spent with Jesus. Jesus had done life with them for a few seasons, and train them up and spent time in proximity, he had relationship with them. And now the disciples that are carrying that on, and this is what it looks like. So they devoted themselves to the Apostles' teachings and to the fellowship, and the sharing of meals. I think that it's interesting that Luke decides to include that. Eating is such an essential thing. We all have to do it. Why is it important that he would include it in there. But then again, no insignificant details. I think where there's a line in the mission that says this... It says, "Where there is no food, there is no Torah study, and where there's Torah study, there is food." So to the Jewish people, it was very essential not just to study Torah, but to eat.

So culturally, even still today, around the Mediterranean little happens with the absence of food. Our culture is pretty much the same too. We do a lot of eating. Like if you have a LifeGroup and you meet regularly, but then also sometimes you'll do a social or a dinner. And then you guys have dinner, there's something instinctively different. I don't know what it is. The spiritual value, quality, whatever it is, there's just something about breaking bread together that's different. Let's read on. And it says, "And to prayer." So they're also devoted to prayer. "A deep sense of awe came over them all and the Apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders and all the believers met together in one place, and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions, and shared money with those in need."

Now, I want to talk about that particular line real quick. The sharing that we see here of what's going on, I would like to interject that this is probably descriptive of the early church rather than prescriptive of church everywhere. It's not a prescription for churches everywhere, because this is the only time we see this in the Bible where a church is actually doing this. I also want to note that they had a commonism. Commonism, now not communism, because that's different. Commonism means that what's mine is yours. I don't own any of it. You're free to use it if you need to. I want to be able to offer that up for you. Communism says what's yours is mine. That's a very different line of thought.

So I just want to make sure that we have a full context of it, because sometimes you read that and you're like, "Well, should I sell all my possessions? Should I give everything up?" If God tells you to, yeah, you better. But I don't think that that is prescriptive of us. All right, let's keep reading. It says they worship together at the temple each day. They met in homes for the Lord's Supper. Now meeting in the temple each day is a neat line that's in there and I think it's cool because you got to remember they're Jewish. They didn't all of a sudden stop becoming Jewish like, "We're no longer with Judaism. We're now Christians." They were still trying to figure all that out and what that meant. They were still living in that tension between living well, worshiping well under Rome. And then also trying to figure this out, "What does this mean for us to love God and follow God still? Do we have to be contradictory to all the ways that we already know?" No, they still met in the temple.

What do you think was being taught in the temple? The same stuff that they had been learning. They were still faithful and dedicated to it. And I love that it says each day. They weren't content with just regular once a week worship, they were about it. They wanted to continue to do that and they also... If we keep reading it'll say, "And they shared meals with great joy and generosity, and all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship, those who are being saved." I love that, that last line, "The Lord added." I think it's important to notice not anything that they did specifically. The things they did were good, but it wasn't... The power is not in that. The power is not in that. It's in the Holy Spirit. Remember the birth of the Holy Spirit came upon them. And then they started to do these things.

It's important for us to remember that Jesus is God's work in the flesh. And then the Holy Spirit comes and then it was a new age. It was the church. The church is God's work in the Spirit. It's been working ever since then, it's still working today. It's the only reason that we're still here. God was doing something new. He was doing something new and it was hard for the Jews to wrap their minds around that in that time, because what was happening was they always knew that the 12 tribes of Israel were going to be the recipients of God's promises. But when Jesus comes on the scene and he says, "Yeah, it's also going to be the Gentiles as well." Here's a quick side note, we've got nothing to do, nothing scholarly, didn't learn this in Bible college or any of that stuff. What I did notice was I wrote these whole five verses on my whiteboard, I'm looking at.

I'm looking for reoccurring themes, looking for words that stand out, and the one word that stands out is 'and'. It was and, and, and, and. I counted them up, there's 13, 'ands', in this passage if you're reading out of the NLT. So that's what I'm saying. There's nothing spiritual about it. It's just interesting that there were 13 ands, there was 12 tribes of Israel, plus one would be 13. That plus one to me in my mind was like, "Hey, that's the Gentiles. That's us. That's me." And I was so thankful for that. And I started looking, I'm like, "Man, all these ands. God is the God of and. He's going to do more than we could think or imagine. But I'm not talking about prosperity gospel, I'm not talking about God wants to bless you. Like, if you're just faithful to come into church, he's just going to automatically bless your bank account, and you got a new car and all this other stuff.

It's not what I'm saying, I'm saying that, even in the early church, God is the God of and, and they were advancing his story for His glory and God just kept contributing, and giving more of himself. Sending more of himself. And we see that we see that. I also love that in this first we can see that time in proximity equals relationship, the believers, all those things that we talked about them doing. They were spending time in proximity, and they had relationship. But I love, love, love that they took it a step further. It wasn't just time in proximity, it wasn't just relationship for the sake of relationship, they added a vital component. Once you do have the time in proximity, you have the relationship. But you have to take the relationship and you have to add intentionality to that. And that equals discipleship.

Relationship plus intentionality equals discipleship. These men, these women, the early church, they were living it out. They knew that relationship mattered for the sake of spiritual growth of others, then they were intentional. What I mean by intentional is they were leveraging every conversation, every interaction with whoever they were in contact with, for the sake of that person's spiritual growth. They knew that relationship matters. This is what it looks like to be sent. We are sent. We see that in the passages that we shared earlier about Jesus not only did he send the Holy Spirit and His disciples, but also us. And for the early church, it was never about the amenities. They didn't care about how being part of the church made life better for them. It was about being on mission with Christ. It was about continuing that movement that Jesus started of making disciples.

Now, this is what it looks like to be in a sending culture. And what I mean by that is getting poured into, having somebody invest time, effort, energy, resources into you so that you could be launched out for us to hold you, not as an asset to be grasped. Jesus didn't do that. He didn't count his deity. So there's something to be grasped. But he lowered himself in the form of a servant And this is what I'm asking of us is that or hoping that we can see through these passages is... This is what it looks like to be in a sending culture. One that's going to hold things with an open hand where if God wants to rearrange certain pieces, we don't hang on to those. I'm saying, if you get plugged in and you start serving, and you start getting invested into, and God's doing a mighty work in you, and you're growing like crazy, we want to be able to release that for God's will, wherever that is.

And I know a little bit about that, because I was at a church where I feel like we value... We obviously had a church in Texas. And I feel like we valued what it means to have a sending culture. Because when the opportunity came up for me to come here, it was a big deal. It's a big deal for me to have to move here. And I didn't know anybody here. But still, I feel like for almost a decade, this church had poured into me and invested and raised me up and gave me a place to play and made me an asset. They equipped the fighter jet that I would say that I am. But when the opportunity came to come here, they weren't like, "No, we're going to hoard that resource. That's ours. We put the time the effort and the energy into that." They were like, "God, if that's what you want, if this helps the kingdom, then so be it." And then that's what happens.

So then this is what it looks like to have a sending culture. And that same book I was talking about earlier on page 84. It's called gaining by losing. The author says this... It says, "As our society becomes more and more post Christian, training members to go, will be far more effective than inviting the community to come. Training members to go is going to be far more effective than inviting people to come." We love when this room is filled up, we really do. But also we love when God's work is advancing even beyond the walls of this church. Even beyond Sundays. So what does it look like to step into a sending culture? How do you do that? For me, it was getting involved in a LifeGroup. That was step one for me. And God started a work just like I said to the people that are here for the first week, second week, who've resolved to take their spirituality, and then their relationship with God to another level, that was me.

And God started a work. And now here I am in this incredible opportunity to share with you guys and be in this role, and I love what God's done. But that's what it looks like to be in a sending culture. And we want to do that corporately here at South East, but we also want to do that individually. As a person, what does it look like for you to step into a sending culture? It could be by joining a live group, but more importantly, living it out. Embracing the inconvenience because it is going to be hard, it is going to be messy. It's not going to be easy. There will be trials and tribulations and challenges to overcome. Some of you were like, "Well, I would get in one of those LifeGroup things but I just can't. I don't have time. It's another night of the week. I'm already too busy."

Good news, it's time for reprioritizing things. This is the time of year that we talked about where people are trying to resolve certain things. And this might be you. So here at South East, the primary method of discipleship is LifeGroups. It's a big church and has staff as paid players, so to speak. We can't effectively disciple everyone. So LifeGroups helps with that. It helps us get people connected to relational environments where they can't spend time in proximity for the sake of their spiritual growth. They could also learn under an intentional leader, someone who is intentional and investing and has been poured into and continues to get poured into. There's training and development for our leaders and we want to make sure that they're passing that on.

We want to honor the message of Jesus along with his method. We've always honored his message, but we want to honor the method as well. We just want to do it similar to a way that Jesus does as well. Why? Because heaven counts disciples, not congregants. Heaven counts disciples, not congregants. Doesn't matter how many congregants we can have. Doesn't matter how many people we push through membership class, it doesn't matter. But what will matter at the end of it all is how many disciples did we send? How many disciples have we launched from the deck of the SS South East that is the aircraft carrier. Right? How many disciples are we sending out that not only are discipled, but can make more disciples. How many?

Next week next Sunday is our LifeGroup season kickoff, and we'll be out in the lobby in the LifeGroups area. And if this is you, if you find yourself in a space where you're wrestling with the idea that, "Maybe I'm not meant to be alone. Maybe there is something to this scent thing. Maybe I am Sam, maybe Jesus's words are true." Then we would love to help get you connected to a group of folks that are going to rally around you, support you, care for you, share your celebrations, but also be there with you and your trials and struggles. Our [inaudible 00:35:25] LifeGroup season runs every single year from January 15 to November 15. And some groups stay together for multiple seasons. Some for a few, it just depends. There's no timeline on discipleship. So if you get plugged into a group, you're just going to be there long enough until you start to become infected with the fact that, "I want to advance the mission of Jesus. I become more in love with the mission of Christ rather than my own comfort."

What I mean by that is if I'm in a group, I'm not just going to stay in this group in someone's living room and just be content with being comfortable in my holy huddle with these people that I've become in relationship with. No. There's going to come a point where I've said, "Okay, I've got to be a contributor, not just a consumer." I got to be a contributor, not just consumer. I've got to get involved in the mission of Jesus of making disciples. And once you're ready, then we'd gladly welcome you as one of the LifeGroup leaders. So speaking to LifeGroup leaders, I want to just challenge you guys, don't just be leaders that are content with comfort, make sure we're challenging people to step up and casting vision as to what God has for them in their life, because it's that important. There's too much at stake. There's too many people right here in our own community that need what we're receiving if we're in LifeGroups right now.

So again, we'll be there next week, come see us for the kickoff, or you can even come talk to us today. But next week is when LifeGroups officially resumed for 2022. So we want to make sure that we're continuing on and that disciple making movement. Alright, I've got some implications. I know we've gone a long way and I know this is the series about Acts. And I didn't really get too deep into Acts, only because like I said, we could have done a long sermon series on Acts. But I wanted to make sure that we painted the arch of sending because that's what it's about. And then in Acts 2:42, that's where we see it played out. That's where we see it being played out in the early churches living what it means to be sent.

Implication number one is God is a sending God. God is a sending God. He sends. We know that. We saw that He sent Jesus, among other things. He's always sending. Sent manna early on. Sent a bunch of other things all throughout Scripture and we can see that it's biblical. We can make a biblical case for it. Implication number two, everything is sent. Everything that is sent with a purpose. Everything has a purpose, think about this. Your spam, your junk mail, you go open your mailbox, all that junk that's in there. It's there with a purpose, even though it might not have fulfilled its purpose. But what's cool is that we've got an even more way to your purpose because Jesus has sent us and He sent us with the purpose of making disciples.

Implication number three. Just as Jesus was sent, we too are sent. Again, just a beautiful picture of submission. I know submission is a ugly word in our culture. It's kind of tainted, but Jesus submits to God the Father when he says, "Now's the times. It's the Kairos. Go." He comes. He sends the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit submits to Jesus incomes. Now it's our turn to submit. The disciples did, will we? Just as Jesus was sent, we too are sent. Here's implication number four. It's that sent people, send people. When you're sent, when you've been poured into. When somebody is giving you time, effort, energy, resources, all of those things invested into you, you're the recipient of it, and you know it and there's nothing expected back from you. No ROI on the return, nothing like that. They've just poured into you for the sake of doing so.

And when you feel that way, when you feel sent, there's no doubt in my mind that you will want to send other people in a very similar way. And that's how we do it. So now, we're going to move to our time of communion. We have communion every single week here at South East. And as we do, I would like to give us a moment just to wrestle with the idea or to ask God, "God, you're a sending God, we can see that. We see that in scripture. But what does that mean for me today? What does that mean? How do you want me to live sent?" Let's spend some time with the Lord on that for a second.

Jesus lived it out. He lived it out, he completed the work. He completed the work and he was in relationship with those who got brought to him. Not only was he in relationship, but he was intentional and he was discipling those. And at one point, he broke some bread with them and he said, "This is my body which has been given for you. Whenever you eat this, do so in remembrance of me." In the same manner, he took the cup and he said, "This cup represents the blood of the new covenant. Whenever you drink this, do so in remembrance of me."

Speaker: Chris Bullard

January 9, 2022

Chris Bullard

Lead Life Groups Pastor

Message Notes

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Follow Along with the Message


John 17:1-5 New Living Translation (NLT)

After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.

John 17:15-18 (NLT)

“I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world.”

Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Acts 2:42-47 (NLT)

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

Implications: 

  1. God is a sending God.
  2. Everything sent is sent with a purpose.
  3. Just as Jesus was sent, we too are sent.
  4. Sent people send people.

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