Those Were The Days

Title: Those Were The Days

Bible Book: Acts 2 : 22-42

Author: Denis Lyle

Subject: Church



Birth is a wonderful thing. A newborn baby is so exciting and amazing. The birth of a business is an exhilarating day. Often, when you go into a business, you will see a dollar bill in a frame on the wall with a date on it. It is usually the first dollar that business received on opening day. The birth of the Church of our Lord took place at Pentecost. We are told about what happened that day and the things that marked the Church from the beginning. We need to go back there from time to time to assess whether we are stirred in worship, prayer, fellowship, mission and evangelism the way they were then. Dr. Denis Lyle takes us back to the birth of the Church in his sermon, "Those Were The Days," and uses this text before baptizing new believers in the local church.

Those of you who have had the privilege of visiting the United States of America will know that when you arrive in your hotel room, various pieces of information will be there for you to browse over. One of the most interesting is the telephone directory. For you pick it up to discover where you worship on Sunday, you will be overwhelmed with the multiplicity and variety of the churches that are listed there. One advert that you will certainly come across will read something like this. "The First Baptist Church of Orlando, invites you to worship this Sunday." Several years ago when I was in Florida staying in Fort Lauderdale I had the privilege of preaching at the First Baptist Church in West Hollywood. It was quite an experience preaching to almost 2,000 people, perhaps that is why they are called first, because of their size, or maybe because they were first established in that area. However that may be, I want you to visit a church with me - "The First Local Church in Jerusalem."

Now I am sure that this was the first church because there was no other church before this one. You see, the church was born on the day of Pentecost. One moment there was no church the next moment there it was. The church will leave planet earth the same way it came, suddenly and supernaturally. The church is a projection into time of something God planned in eternity past and no period of the church's sojourn on this planet is more full of interest than the period in which it was born. My, our 21st century situation is one of desperate plight. Membership and attendance is often on the decline - some assemblies of God's people are about to close. What can we do? Wherein lies the solution? What is wrong with the church today? Some tell us what we really need to do is too look back to the past, the successes of the past, how it was done a 100 years ago. Still others say no, we need to go back and look at some great spiritual awakening and revival in church history and pattern ourselves on that. But what we really need to do is to go back to the New Testament and rediscover the secret of the church then.

Now I think we could write over Acts, Chapter 2 these words, "Those were the Days." What days they were. Days when the Word of God was preached effectively, days when the sinner trembled exceedingly, days when the Spirit of God moved powerfully, days when sin was exposed publicly, days when the Christians loved each other intensely. This was "The Old Time Religion," and I cry out from the depths of my soul, "Give me that old time religion again." It was good enough for our fathers and its good enough for me. "Those were the Days! Well, what kind of days were they?

I. Days of Proclamation - The Servant the Lord

Look if you will at 2:41 and you see, "His word," was Peter's message. So the first thing that strikes about this early church is this. They believed in the primacy of preaching. You say, "Preaching! Why preaching is a thing of the past. Nowadays we don't want such a strong emphasis on preaching." In these wild, weird and wicked times the work of the preacher is being re-thought, and re-vamped and re-examined. He's been pushed from the platform in favor of celebrated experts and entertainers. In an effort to appeal to people's interests, the church today emphasizes a great many different programs, methods and approaches. Small group activities, worship services emphasizing music and drama have become increasingly popular. Musical evenings and gospel concerts, seminars on everything from how to have a good marriage to how to handle money abound. Now not all of these things may be harmful some in their proper place may even be helpful. But what has been sacrificed in the flurry of activities and programs is preaching.

But the book still says, "How shall they hear without a preacher?" (Rom 10:14) What kind of preaching do we need today? We need the same kind we always needed. Just because we have split the atom and sent a man to the moon does not mean we need a new kind of Christianity. We have a new kind of preacher in some quarters today but we don't need him.

The preaching that we need today is apostolic, and that's what we have in Chapter 2. There was Proclamation. "Then they that gladly received his word." His word was Peter's message and of whom did Peter preach? We get the answer in 2:36 - "Jesus. both Lord and Christ."

Peter did not present them with religion, or a creed. He was not caught up socially, politically, or philosophically correct preaching. His message was not a lifeless, bloodless, cross-less gospel, but he proclaimed a living person. He proclaimed the person of Jesus Christ and the work He accomplished for guilty sinners at the place called Calvary. Peter presented the Lord Jesus.

A. The Person of Christ

"Jesus of Nazareth a man," (2:23). Oh, the wonder of it - that the One who had been "face to face with God," (Jn 1:1) "rejoicing always before Him," (Prov 8:30) Sharing in His Glory (Jn 17:5) - that this One who was Co-equal, Co-eternal, Co-creative, with the Father made" Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him, the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." (Phil 2:7) My. He really, actually became man. "Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,"

B. The Passion of Christ

"Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." (2:23) Here we see God's Sovereignty for the cross belonged to the eternal plan of God (Rev 13:8) Here we see Man's Responsibility, "Ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." (2:23) My. the Lord Jesus was born to die. (Mk 10:45) and His death on the cross was purposeful. "He died the just. God." (1 Pet 3:18) Peter preached the cross. The Rationalist says, "give me Christ without the cross," the Ritualist says "give me the cross without the Christ."

The Redeemed say,

A Cross-less Christ my Savior could not be
A Christ-less Cross no refuge is for me
But Oh, Christ crucified I rest in Thee.

A missionary told the story of the Lord Jesus in an Indian village. Afterwards he showed the life of Christ on slides on a white washed wall of a house. When the slide of the Cross appeared on the wall, one man rose up and ran forward and cried, "Come down from the cross, Son of God, I not you should be hanging there."

"He took my sins and my sorrows," My. how do you react to the cross? As you see the love of God for "sinners lost and ruined by the fall," do you respond at all? Can you gaze by faith at the cross and say, "Christ paid my debt, He bore my punishment, He sealed my pardon with His blood?"

Maybe you are saying, "Well, how can someone who is dead and in the grave meet my spiritual need?" My Ö the difference between the gospel and all the other religions of this world is this, their leaders are past and gone, but Christ is present and alive.

C. The Preeminence of Christ

For he declares, "this Jesus hath God raised up, therefore being by the right hand of God exalted." (Acts 2:32-33) You see, death was not the end for Christ, for He rose again and through the resurrection God was declaring that He was fully satisfied with the work His Son accomplished on the tree. (Rom 4:25)

"The head that once was crowned with thorns," My Ö. are you saying this Ö. "I would love to come to Christ, to know the joy of sins forgiven, but I'm afraid I could not keep it." Do you know something? You're right! But He will keep you! Who? Christ, who died, who rose, who lives, who is able to save, to keep, and to bring you to glory. Tell me, is this living Savior yours? Have you had personal dealings with Christ? Are you saved?

II. Days of Penetration - The Spirit of God

For as they listened to the preaching of the gospel, "Öthey were pricked in their heart." (2:37) They cried out, "Men and brethren what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them Repent and be baptised." (2:38) You see, these folk were saved just the way our candidates for baptism were saved. They were saved,
Through the Word of God:
By the Power of the Holy Spirit: (2:33)
In Response to Repentance and Faith: (2:38)

A. There Was Conviction

That word "pricked,' means "to pierce, sting sharply, stun, smite." The Holy Spirit applied the Word of God with such power to their hearts that they were pierced, penetrated, pricked, and cried, "men and brethren, what shall we do?" (2:37) They had a deep sense of their own guilt and a deep fear of God's wrath.

Conviction of sin is something we hear very little about these days. People have confused this experience with superficial definitions of guilt consciousness. But conviction is an awakened consciousness of sin. It's being weighed down with the guilt of sin, its sensing your need of the Lord Jesus. Have you ever been convicted of your sin? Has God been unsettling you in these days? Has the Holy Spirit applied the Word with such power to your soul that the old apathy, indifference, self-sufficiency has been disturbed? Is your spirit troubled to such an extent that inwardly you're crying "What shall I do? How can I be forgiven? How can I be saved? How can I get off the road to hell and onto the road to heaven?

B. There Was Conversion

In the Bible conversion means turning from the old way of life to the new one. It means a turning "from" and a turning "to." Paul reminded the Christians at Thessalonica that after they had heard the gospel they "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God." (1Thes 1:9) You see, conversion is made up of two sides of the same coin.

1. The First Side is called Repentance

"Then Peter said unto them repent," (2:38) The need for repentance is obvious. The Bible says, ""All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way." (Is 53:6) My  you have turned away from God, gone your own way, run your own life, made your own decisions, been your own master, and sought your own pleasure. That is why you need to repent. Indeed the Lord Jesus said, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." (Lk 13:3) Do you realize that? Do you recognize that unless you repent you will perish, go to hell and be separated from God, eternally? Now, to repent is to turn from sin. Have you done that?

John Bunyan tells us in his life story, which he entitles "Grace Abounding," that when he was greatly burdened about his sin. Though still finding it hard to break with the pleasures of them, he hard a voice which halted him. A voice he says did suddenly dart into my soul which said, "Bunyan, will you leave your sins and come to heaven, or have thy sins and go to hell." Have you turned from your sin?

2. The Second Side is called Faith

"Then. they received his word." There was a turning from sin and a turning to Christ. Saving faith is not consent to a proposition but commitment to a person. It's taking yourself out of your own keeping and entrusting yourself to the safe keeping of Jesus Christ.

Is that what you have done? Have you turned from your sin and placed your trust in Jesus Christ?

C. There Was Confession

"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized," (2:41) Why were they baptized?

1. To Obey the Lord's Command

The disciples had been commissioned by the Risen Lord to "make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." (Matt 28:19) Now the command to the apostles to immerse believers in Him, is a command for believers in Him to be immersed. Do you see that the command of Christ is clear and unmistakable? When we believe we are to be baptized and this is exactly what happened in the early church. Belief and baptism always went hand in hand.

#1. On the Day of Pentecost "they had gladly received his word were baptized." (2:41)
#2. In the City of Samaria - "When they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women." (8:12)
#3. On the Gaza Road the eunuch believing was baptized. (8:38)
#4. In the Jailhouse at Philippi the jailor believed and was baptized.
#5. In the City of Corinth, "Many of the Corinthians hearing believed and were baptized." (18:8)

Is baptism a big deal? Yes. This is not merely Baptist truth, this is Bible truth. Did you ever think of this? The Lord Jesus had a ministry that lasted a little more than 3 years. Of all the things he started his ministry with and ended his ministry, He started it by being baptized and He concluded it by commanding His apostles to make disciples and baptize believers. Now since baptism was the bookends of the ministry of the Son of God that alone should tell us that baptism is a big deal. Why were they baptized? 1.

2. To Confess their New Found Faith

Peter says, "Repent and be baptized every one of you, for the remission of sins." (2:38) Now does that mean that we're baptized in order to have our sins forgiven? No. It means we're baptized because our sins are remitted. The Greek word "eis," can be translated "because of." Be baptized because your sins are forgiven. My Ö. believer's baptism is an outward expression of an inward faith. Baptism is like wearing a wedding ring. It's a symbol that you're saved. Just like wearing a wedding ring is an emblem that you've been married. Now wearing a wedding ring does not make you married, but it shows you are married. You could be married and not wear it, but the wedding ring says, "Look, I belong to someone." And baptism says, "I belong to Christ.""

I heard about a little boy that went to a church that had a children's church where the children would go and learn Bible lessons. When he was in children's church one Sunday morning he gave his heart and life to the Lord Jesus. The teacher told him after church was over that he should go the pastor and tell him that he had got saved and wanted to be baptized. Well, after the service was over, he walked to where the pastor was and he forgot the words they told him to say and he said, "Pastor, I've been saved and I want to be advertised." Is this not what baptism is? It's telling the world that you belong to Christ. It is saying, "I'm not ashamed to own my Lord," yet some of you are. Is this you? Why?
Why have you not openly and publicly confessed your faith in Christ by baptism? My. are you beginning to see a pattern emerging in the early church?

III. The Days of Perpetuation ñ The Saints of God

Its interesting to notice how Luke describes the movement of God in relation to salvation. He says, "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (2:47) Now, who were added to the Church? Believers were added to the Church. Who added them? The Lord added them. To what were they added? The Church. God's purpose in saving men and women is that they might be added to and then function within the life of the local church. Do you see here the divine order? Do you see here God's blueprint for your life? You hear the gospel, you trust the Savior, you are baptized as believer, and you are added to the local church, thereby submitting yourself to its authority, as expressed through its pastors and elders. You see, these early Christians did not say, "Need I join a local church? After all, I'm in the student union at college, and I am on a missionary committee." No! They saw that they needed to function within the structure that God had appointed - the local church.

You see, a local church is made up of pastors, elders, deacons and saints. (Phil 1:1) Now were do you fit, in all of this? Are you saved? Are you baptized in obedience to Christ's command? Have you identified yourself with a local church, submitting to its authority? You see, there was no such thing in the New Testament as a spiritual gypsy. Those who were saved, were baptized, and those who were baptized were added, and those who were added, continued in Perpetuation. Now what did they continue in? Four things,

A. The Word

Luke calls it "the apostle's doctrine." (2:42) There was indoctrination. Now it's no accident that this comes first. In all the epistles doctrine comes before duty, precept comes before practice. We must be a church sound in doctrine. God designed the church to be a place where His Word is proclaimed and explained. Paul mandates such a priority all through the pastoral epistles where he described the ongoing process to Timothy when he wrote, "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." (2 Tim 2:2) I hear professing Christians say today, "Doctrine? We don't want doctrine." Such an attitude reveals an awful ignorance of the Word of God. Here were Christians hungry for the truth? Have you lost your appetite for the Word? Is that why you are no longer come on a Tuesday night? Time was, when you would not miss, but now its business, its work, its babies, its pleasure, anything and everything but the Word.

B. The Fellowship

The word (koinonia) means "commonality," These believers shared a commonality with one another based on their faith in Christ. Now fellowship does not take place because we have a cup of tea in the hall, fellowship is not little cliques meeting together who only welcome certain believers to their circle. Fellowship is all about sharing and giving. (2:44-45 2 Cor 8:4)

C. The Cross

"And in breaking of bread," (2:42) In baptism we show our death with Christ, in breaking of bread we show His death for us. My Ö. this duty is not optional, for the Lord commanded it for every believer. (1 Cor 11:24) It was His last request before He went to the Cross, "this do in remembrance of me." Do you come to the Table weekly? Does Calvary mean anything to you at all? Or have you fallen out of love with Christ? Is that why you never come?

D. The Throne

"And in prayers," (2:42) "Lets shut down the prayer meeting. My, propose that to any church and it would not get many votes. "Preacher we could never do that, the prayer meeting is the foundation for all that we do in the church." Yet some of you are voting to shut down the prayer meeting, you are voting with your feet, for you are never there. No wonder I say, "Those were the Days." You see, "they continued steadfastly." Some of you commenced wonderfully, but what about now? Do you see the 4 fold realm in which they moved?

These four and no more. Now this church like yours has other things going on during the week, but they are the incidental ñ the four I have mentioned in this message are fundamental. But do you know what has happened? The incidental has become the fundamental, and the fundamental have become the incidental.

"Those were the Days," Days when the Savior was exalted, the Sinner was Exposed and the Saint was Exercised. God do it again. "Those were the Days!" You know, if I asked each of these candidates to come forward tonight they would speak of a day, "a happy day that fixed their choice," a day when they were gloriously saved. Has there been such a day in your experience? Today can be that day. The Bible says, "Now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor 6:2) It can be your day of salvation today. You can leave saying "that was the day.""


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