What Jesus Did Next - Our Fall Sermon Series
The city of Jerusalem had been turned upside down. Weeks earlier Jesus of Nazareth entered the city like a king and the city whispered that he could be the promised king. But then Jesus was betrayed, convicted in a false trial, and the crowd shouted for his blood until he was crucified. And yet afterward, strange rumors persisted. Jesus' tomb was empty and many claimed that he wasn’t dead at all. Jesus’ former disciples weren't shrinking back in fear but seemed only emboldened to proclaim him as the king and Messiah. Thousands in Jerusalem were now confessing that Jesus the crucified king is Lord.
When Jesus ascended into heaven the story wasn’t over. Luke wrote a gospel that bears his name as well as the book of Acts. Luke said that the gospel was all about what “Jesus began to do and teach” (1:1) with the clear implication that Jesus’ work continued in the book of Acts. In this sermon series on Acts 3-12, we’ll walk through the story of how the message about Jesus spread throughout Jerusalem and into the surrounding region.
What to Expect
The great thing about this section of Scripture is that it’s compelling and relevant both for people new to considering or following Jesus as well as longtime believers. For those exploring who Jesus is, we’ll hear some of the earliest sermons about Jesus and hear the message about Jesus that the first disciples brought to the world around them. So if it’s been a long time since you’ve been in church, or maybe you’ve never really gone before, you’ll be able to follow along easily.
For those who have walked with Jesus for years this section of Scripture will inspire us with the priority of mission and give us an example of how the early church brought the message of Jesus to their area and how we can do that today. It’s easy for us as Christians to forget why we’re here and what we’re called to do and I’m praying that we are all stirred up as we consider the example of the early church.
While our Foundations series was a series of overview messages about our key beliefs and practices this series will be a return to our normal pattern of walking passage by passage through a section of the Bible. Acts has some of the most surprising, shocking, awe-inspiring stories of Scripture and we’ll get to explore them and marvel at them together.
In our Community Groups we’ll study the theme of “witness” during the Fall. In Acts 1:8 Jesus says “You will be my witnesses.” What does that mean exactly? How do we live all of life as a witness to Christ? That’s what we’ll consider and discuss together in our groups.
How to Pray
At the end of our Foundations series, we laid out three great hopes for our church in the area of mission. I’m praying that God uses this series to give us a vision for gospel advance in these areas and many others. We know our mission from Jesus is to make disciples (Matt 28) and to be his witnesses (Acts 1:8) but what does that look like for us?
1. Leaving a Gospel Legacy
The first place we want to be witnesses is in our own households with our kids. In Acts we see that often the gospel comes powerfully to a whole household (like the case of the Gentile Cornelius in Acts 10). I’m praying that as we look at this section of Scripture parents, who have the primary responsibility to train and disciple their children, will be strengthened for this task. It was in looking at the book of Acts as a teenager that I began to take ownership of my involvement as a teenager and I’m asking God to do that for our teens and kids. I’m also praying that we as a church would have a vision to help train the next generation as we support parents in their important work.
2. Lighting a Witness for the City
Pastor Ray Ortlund has said that he wants his church to “make the real Jesus non-ignorable” in his city. That’s exactly what we see in looking at Jerusalem and the surrounding region in Acts 3-12. The power of the gospel, the witness of the church, and the presence of the Spirit are so undeniable that the city has to take notice. I’m praying that as we look at the witness of this early church we would be inspired and equipped to be a witness in the city of El Paso and all its varied communities — Five Points, Westside, University, Ft. Bliss, Lower Valley, Horizon, and beyond. I’m praying that in our various places of influence and contact with our neighbors — whether that’s at work or school or elsewhere— God would shape us to be a faithful witness. We love Jesus, love our city, and want to see our city love Jesus too.
3. Launching New Works
The gospel work in Jerusalem spilled out over into other cities and into the whole region. I’m praying that as we watch this happen we would become a church with a passion for multiplication and launching new works. We want to see new community groups, new ministries, new outreaches, new churches in our city. And we want what God does in the members of our church to be sent out far beyond us into the US and around the world. Our church has a long legacy of investing leaders into other places and equipping people for a season who go on to be witnesses elsewhere and I pray that we continue well in that work.
Join us as we watch Jesus’ work in Scripture and consider how to join Jesus in our own city. Gather with us on Sundays. Find a small group to connect with. Engage with this section of Scripture through personal Bible reading and prayer. I believe God has good things in store for us this Fall.
The story of Jesus isn’t over when we open the book of Acts. This is what Jesus did next.
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