The New Testament says much about our assembly life, about our church life. We are His sheep. We are branches of the Vine, living stones connected to the Cornerstone. We have our own company where we experience the reality of the living God and His life and love. (Acts 4:23; Acts 2:41-48)
Speaker(s): Pastor Thomas Schaller
Sermon # 11502
11:00 AM on 7/8/2018
Okay. Wow. Praise God. Welcome to Sunday morning service, 11:00 in the morning. Praise the Lord. A couple shout outs. Adam and Anastasia are married. Congratulations.
How many of you this was your first time at an international Convention, Baltimore? Last week was your first time? One sentence. What did you think about it? Amazing. I felt connected. God loves us without conditions. We felt love here. The Holy Spirit, the love of God, the encouragement, the local assembly is our subject today. We’re going to teach about the local assembly. P. Anil is here from India. Do you want to say one thing about the Convention? Great intimacy with God. Did you hear messages you can take back to you with India? Yes, I think that happened to all of us. Maybe we heard messages we can carry all of our lives.
Acts 2 and Acts 4. We will start in Acts 4:23, halleluiah! Praise the Lord! God is good to us. He cares about us. God cares about us. We have a local assembly. This is the church. We read about it in the book of Acts. We read in every epistle Paul is saying something, and James, John, and Peter about the local assembly. Christ was raised and ascended into heaven and at the right hand of the Father. He sent the Holy Spirit into the world. The H.S. is the same as Christ, a different person, another of the same kind. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit have no difference amongst them. They are equally God but also different. The Father is the planner. The Son executes the plan and the Holy Spirit reveals. We are worshippers of God and could not be doing this unless the Holy Spirit comes into the world. We cry out to God like he is our Father.
Gal 5:4 Abba, Daddy to God. This happened in the church in the beginning. 50 days after the resurrection was Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came down in Jerusalem on the people, they gathered there, and Peter preached. The Spirit moved in such a way. It was undeniable the presence of God was so strong. They spoke in different languages so people could hear the gospel in their own language without the speaker knowing it. The gift of tongues where they spoke in other languages and people came under great conviction. They realized Jesus was the Messiah. The tomb was empty, and Christ ascended. No one could find his body. He was gone but not gone. He was present at Pentecost. He started what is the church, the Body of Christ, the assembly. He is the shepherd and we are the sheep, the branches on the vine and he is the vine and we are the branches. The stones on the house. Lively stones, living stones, us. He is the chief cornerstone. He is the head and we are members of the Body. We are organically connected with each other and we assemble in different cities and addresses. Those are called local assemblies.
We want to read about the first one here in Acts 4:23. I like that phrase “they went to their own company,” their own group, their own people. They went to their brothers and sisters. They gathered. Good habit to go to our own company. We should have an assembly, a group of people we should go to. Sometimes life is hard and we need people who love us with God’s love. They don’t like us because we dress a certain way or we have a certain language or diction or some other distinguishing mark about us. No, they are the company that God has ordained. The local assembly we go to. We belong there.
1 Cor 12:13 we are baptized into the Body. We belong there. We are part of the assembly. Much of our mission work goes like this: you go to a place where you don’t know anyone at all and start to minister to people. You go to the market place and start to preach in the street. One or two talk to you as you go to coffee. You open the Bible and teach them. They are interested. The H.S. is drawing them.
The Father is drawing them to the Son, Jn 6:44. It isn’t you are an American. It can be. They can be interested in you for that reason or because you are French or German or Chinese or Vietnam. They might think it’s some opportunity for them to make some progress. Usually those motives fall away. When the Father draws them and the H.S. speaks to them, they become interested in J.C. Jesus Christ is exalted.
It’s an interesting word study, 1 Tim. 3:15 about this pillar that you see sometimes in the market. You see a pillar and on the top there’s George Washington or Lord Nelson and this pillar may be very high like in Trafalgar’s Square in London or here in Baltimore where George Washington is at Mt. Vernon in the city. He’s up high. The pillar is the word for the church.
The church is, 1 Tim. 3:15, the pillar and ground for the truth. It’s as if Jesus is at the top and he’s the point. He is the issue of interest. He is the Christ. He is the one we speak about and point to. God uses the church, the local assembly. I praise God for anyone that comes for whatever reason. This is about God. God is real. We need God in these difficult times.
Yesterday we lost one of our brothers. He went to heaven in a surprising way. About a month ago, I gave a shout out to him, Ray Korowski. I said I want to give a shout out to this guy there. Then I wept a little and loved him and honored him in the heart because I know his story and his family. Years ago they had an amazing crisis in their family. I remember him. It was a nightmare. And Diane is his wife. Something a family shouldn’t go through. He also didn’t come to the church. I went to Hungary as a missionary and I’d come back and I never saw him. Then when Dr. Stevens asked P. Scibelli and me to come and help him in the church, I remember preaching and him slipping into the back and I could see he was struggling. He didn’t see us so much. He was seeing God. God was speaking to him. Come back. Come back. Then I became the pastor here and he was coming every service and said he wanted to talk to me and I remember the dealing and searching in his heart. I remember his decision and growth, his freedom. He found Christ again in a fresh way. These years and then yesterday having a heart attack and went to be with the Lord.
Why do I say this? To comfort the family and tell everyone about it and to say my local church is important to me. It’s where I can get healed. It’s where I can find love. A lot of things don’t matter here. A lot of things are not that important to us. Something about the church is remarkable and mystical. You cannot explain it. It is spiritual. God is in the world in Christ. Christ died and went and sent another and Christ is here. Christ is in the Body. The Body of Christ is the fullness of God. Things happen in the local assembly ordained of God that human beings don’t know about it unless you are living in faith. You enter in in faith.
Nothing pleases God except faith, Heb. 11:6. I don’t want to go. Go by faith. I don’t know what is being said. You will learn it. Go by faith. I don’t have time for that. Then you’re not going to have it. The things that happen in this world happen then what do you have if you don’t have the whole purpose of the lifting the truth up. The purpose of the mystical Body of Christ that is ordained of God to magnify Christ. I will have my things, my world, my car, my garden, my personality, my talents, my money but what does it really mean if I don’t have my life with God in faith? What does it mean? It doesn’t come automatically. When two or three are gathered in my name there I am in the midst. Jesus is present.
Acts 2:41, baptized. 3,000 souls added. That’s a big number. They didn’t have a church of 3,000. They were in small house churches. This is the beginning of the church. They became believers. They started to think a certain way.
In our baptism last Sunday morning, we had a young man and we went to his house yesterday. He flew this morning to Texas to play football at a college. We looked on YouTube and saw some of his plays. He’s very talented and a young man and coming here for a few months. He said I’ll listen online.
Prov 3:5 is his favorite Bible verse. We had a few words for his departure. Having a local assembly.
vs. 42. Doctrine. Teaching. Understanding words. Thoughts. Definitions. They were educated. They were getting educated spiritually. Learning. Very simple profound doctrine. The basis of my life. Learning this book. Reading it, talking about it, listening to the teaching. Getting established in my faith. Many false teachers and false apostles and prophets and ideas that are not solid. You and I are responsible before God for our own lives to learn this doctrine and be established in it. When there is a clear sound and I can recognize it and say amen in my heart. I read that in my own Bible. I want to be established in it in my own heart and understand what we believe and embrace it. Words are sometimes – the outside of a word hits you a certain way but you have to find what it really means. Like the word “church.” You could go on the street and say something about church and they know the word but do they know the word like us? Do we know what the church is, the power of the church, what the church is, what kind of authority we have, what are the gifts that operate in the church and what is the real power of the church? The word “God.” I want it to have meaning and have God open it up. I think of teaching like a spring. We compress teachings and package them and the Holy Spirit untying it and releasing it and the thing I thought I knew is revealed in a fresh way. I see it and understand it and praise God for what it is. This is what happened in the early church and church history. We can lose the Spirit of God. We don’t lose him but we don’t have an anointing in the ministry. We fill the church with our program, our predisposed ideas, our legalism, our self-righteousness. It’s in everyone. Self-righteousness is in everyone not just religious people. I’ve met it in people who are very secular in their thinking and very proud about things. They are self-righteous. They are an atheist maybe but they are a self-righteous atheist. “I would never do such a thing.” This is not the fellowship of the church. The church is not about self-righteousness. It’s about the Spirit of God giving us love the better way. Not judging people. Love. We’re all in need of God’s grace. All of us need the grace of God that is able to build us up. The Spirit of God which reveals to us who God is.
They had the doctrine in vs. 42. They were continuing steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine. One year, 15, 20, 30 years. Why wouldn’t I be continuing steadfastly all my life in the apostolic doctrine? I get stuck with words on the surface but forever and ever we will have the word of God. The depth of it will have no end. And fellowship. They had fellowship. In homes. In the café. On the sidewalk, in the parking lot, in the morning, on the phone, fellowship. Eating food together, fellowship. The early church shared things and had things in common. They were open. If they had a problem, they could say it. Somehow could feel what the need was and able to understand and connect. And care. It’s fun. Fellowship. Be careful in your calculations how you live your life that you calculate only your life in terms that are natural. Maybe some of our lives we stagnate because we don’t bring God into areas of life. I’m inviting God into my life in all areas of my life. We manage our lives with material things and our time especially because we are such busy people here in America but there are some things that are very valuable, that are very precious and maybe I haven’t found them yet. Like people. Finding people. Finding the gifts in people. Visiting people. Spending a little more time with them. Opening my home and having a Bible study. Meeting people at a Dunkins or making some phone calls or doing an outreach or going in some neighborhood I haven’t been in. I might knock on doors and think about something and take two or three brothers or sisters and do this kind of outreach. We do that all the time around here. We have a lot of fellowship.
When Ray was getting his motorcycle out to ride with Butch Veader and the motorcycle guys, he had chest pain. He told his son to call 911 and he lied down and had a heart attack. He wanted fellowship. He had found it like many of us. The church. It’s not only an address. It’s more. It’s apostolic doctrine. It’s fellowship with the brethren. Its mission work. Years ago up in Maine when we were in a farm house with Dr. Stevens and 10 or 30 people and drinking coffee and eating cake and he took the time and ministered. We were part of the Body of Christ. He said let’s do this in parts of the world. It’s not hard. It’s the church. It’s how it started.
They had the breaking of bread, communion. Maybe it also means donuts or cake or coffee. Like the Filipinos last night. We had our Filipino fellowship once a month and broke Filipino bread and food. They were a family, a community. This is our local assembly.
This is where one of us is gone like Ray. He’s gone. I’m shocked. He was so amazing. The bikers lost an amazing guy but I’m happy. I know where he went. I study it. I think about it. I have apostolic doctrine. I know a little about that place because I read and study it in the Scriptures. The size of the city. God is on a throne and where are his feet? On a footstool. What does the Bible say about the earth? The earth is his footstool. If we are only the footstool, what is the throne like? What is it like in heaven? Where are we going? Who will we be with? Can you feel it in your heart and spirit and mind? Do you have a local assembly that talks about heaven? Do you have a place to go when your heart is broken that you can be restored? Do you have a place to go where the boring conversations and chatter of everyday life – it’s so dull and empty you are refreshed by a good solid message, a fervent Bible preacher like Pastor Scibelli or any of the other guys that bring the message home and say with passion and conviction, this is the way walk ye in it. You hear a voice behind you. Like the young man that was baptized. I’m going to Texas and I’m saying Father, cover him and protect him and use him and help him because we need a local assembly wherever I go.
vs. 42. Prayers. Sometimes we ask you to pray with your neighbor. I know sometimes we don’t like to do it but get over it. You go to church for prayer. You can sit quietly and pray. We are a family. If we can’t pray with each other, who can we pray with. If we assemble in the name of Christ and I don’t dare pray with someone, then we need to grow up and understand my house is a house of prayer for all nations. If we are a praying church, I’m telling you but you know this, we will go out and evangelize and we will bear fruit. We will send missionaries out and they will bear fruit. God will raise up people. We have a Bible college. My son Justin is a golf teacher and he said I taught this man and he knows you. He went to MBC&S. He’s a pastor of a church and has a few hundred people in the church. He said I got trained at MBC&S. Justin was teaching him golf. I was wondering how many have gone out from our Bible college and benefited from it and are fruitful and blessed of God. The church that prayers will get many answers. Much will happen by a praying church. They were praying and when the church is praying, God is moving. Times we get together and we pray for an hour or hour and a half. I know you pray at home. There are times in our services we could take a good period of time and prayer. In Alabama, there is a church with a few thousand who come out for prayer. The church is a house of prayer. It’s because we are praying God will do things out there. It’s because we are praying God will heal people of their sicknesses. GG pastors should be praying for the sick. There are many sick amongst us. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He heals. Not everyone but if he healed one why not have prayer for everyone and he could heal whoever he wants to. This is his will. P. Ganesh told me about a woman from a village who had a son with a big tumor on his neck. It had to be removed and they were poor people with no money. Two weeks later, after the all night prayer meeting he said mommy, mommy it’s gone. It was dissolved. A praying church.
vs. 43. There is something going on at a spiritual level. I was at the traffic light one day handing out tracts. I was going down the cars. I came to this window and the guy rolled down the window and looked at me cold with hatred and he said, you people ruined our neighborhood. Get out of here. There is hatred. There is fear. You people. We’re afraid. We don’t know what you are doing. We are afraid of what you are doing. You are changing people’s lives. This should not be happening.
vs. 44. We are only loving. That’s all. We are not here to destroy anything. We are here to love and see Jesus save and pour his Spirit out. We are here to face whatever comes our way. We are here with a message of love like Jesus on the cross saying forgive them; they don’t know what they do.
vs. 46. How often? Daily. If there is anything we learned in our ministry, it was to be around as much as we can. I might say I will be around so much but how do you get other things done? I have to find a balance. I can’t exclude myself from church life. To get on the sidewalk and be around and go in the café and love and receive. They were daily continuing with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house and did eat their meat with gladness. Is the church a happy place? Is it light? Is there humor? Joy? Light speech. Encouragement. Gladness in the church. I need someone to encourage me and enlighten my heart. Singleness of heart it says. Not complex. It was simple. If you can hang out with people and not be complex. Just enjoy the good things all around. You have the Spirit of God. It’s not complex. It’s worshipping God. It’s truth in the inner man. It’s not embarrassment or self-consciousness. It’s simplicity of the presence of God with the presence of God’s people. This is how they were living in a complicated world called Jerusalem. It’s time to get out of dodge. It’s time to get out of the city. But they didn’t. It was fresh, authority, spiritual, liberating, authority of God, presence of God in a troubled city. I’d be out of here in a minute. People leave places driven by anxiety and fear instead of being led by the Spirit in love and truth. Praising God. What good sign of God’s presence? Praising God in your house in the morning the first thing when you get up. Not only in mouth but heart saying the word of God and embracing God. Being Spirit filled, having favor with all the people. I have to say everywhere I go in Baltimore city, there are people who say I know you. One time in Ikea, I said could I have some meatballs and the woman said I know your voice. Are you on the radio? Meatballs? You recognize that? That’s all it took. People say, oh Greater grace. That’s a good church; you do a lot in the city. My niece went to your school. I go to the Easter play. That’s beautiful. We say thank you Jesus. This is the church, the local church wherever you put it. This is what happens. Because you belong to it. I mean belong to it. It’s my place, fitly framed into it. This is our home. We have favor with people and then it says God added to the church daily such as should be saved. This is our prayer this summer. God will add to the church daily. God will bring people in and speak to them. They will go home and the Spirit of God will draw them. They make decisions in their heart and this is our plan for the summer. We’ll have a great summer, a harvest of souls as we prepare for the fall and winter. We are preparing for the future now by investing and sowing seed. We don’t know what will prosper. This is our joy and way of living.
In chapter 3, it says that there was a man healed in chapter 3 and chapter 4 there is resistance. The high levels of society in Jerusalem, the educated class and the rich people – these are the people that intimidate you. You’re intimidated by the powerful people. Talk to Pilate on a regular basis. Those that have money…You are a small nothing humanly speaking and they know this. But that is like the way it is. That can’t define my world. The social structure of society can’t define my world. We have found the reality, the living God is present with us. We are very bold and also courageous. They said stop speaking in his name.
4:20 they said we cannot stop speaking the things we have seen and heard. I hope you have a little bit of that fire in you. I hope you have steel in us. There may be a day coming our society says stop and we say we cannot. We have been with God. We have found not just the word “God” but we have found God. We have found not just the word “church” but the church. We have found doctrine. It is in our heart. Our comfort, our blessing, our gospel. It is our ministry and way of life and thinking. This may hit home.
The word homosexual. The world reads the world and says it’s nothing wrong with that. How do you know the word? Do you know the word? Or use adultery if the other word upsets you. Use the word “lying.” Do you know the world lying? Do you know what lying is? You see. When you and I find the H.S. helping us understand what is adultery? What is lying? What is homosexuality, deceitfulness, foolishness, pride? When the H.S. is a Spirit of truth.
That’s what the world doesn’t have. They have their way of communication. We need another kind of communication. We need this book to speak to us and define for us with apostolic doctrine. Who is God, what he has done, who he is, what is in his heart and how much he loves us. Love. That’s a good word. I love coffee, my dog, my girlfriend. I know the word “love” but do you know the word love the more excellent way? Do you know what it is to honor a person, honor a woman and not take her virginity away, respect her as a woman and not as an object? Do you know what it is Jesus Christ came into this world to give us a local assembly and we will speak the truth and should it offend our flesh? We become more like him.
We are here to say something and have something that has meaning to it. Build us up in the mystical reality of who God is.
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