Becoming Mercy Fellowship | Part II - Fellowship

June 21, 2020 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: Becoming Mercy Fellowship

Topic: New Testament Passage: Acts 2–2

Christopher Rich – June 21, 2020

Becoming Mercy 

Mercy Is.. | Acts 2   

 

Introduction | Mercy….. Fellowship    

Good Morning Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. As we emerge from a season of lockdowns and unrest it is easy to ride waves of the daily and weekly challenges and chaos but we are going to spend this month slowing down and focusing on who are and who we hope to be in Christ as we are Becoming Mercy Fellowship 

 

Mercy is strength because God is Rich in Mercy. As we consider what Mercy is, means, calls us to do and be, we need a comprehensive understanding so we can be inspired to embody mercy and be a place inviting others to experience Mercy.  In the Bible, the concept of "Mercy" is not getting the just consequence we have earned as a result of our sin. It can also be as simple as extending or experiencing "kindness" think Steadfast Love. Mercy is a mega theme in scripture across generations and genres. Epistles, Gospels, Prophets and Psalms there is a constant theme of God meeting our sin with His mercy and then calling us to respond to sin in the world with Mercy. When we come to God in Christ, we do not have to fear judgment because judgement has been so roundly defeated that Mercy stands over it and declares I HAVE WON! Mercies victory is ours. We embody and embrace Mercy as conduits who receive from God and live and give mercy to others. 

Matt Nickel - “My prayer for our church is that we would be rich in mercy and devoted to fellowship”

 

What does” Fellowship” mean? Fellowship – Def. association of common interest. Weak. Greek is Koinonia - 

Rich word. It refers to a participation and communion with God and His people sharing, contributing for a common purpose. A "Fellowship" is a group of people brought together for a purpose.  In the New Testament God's people, the church, were defined and described as a partnership for the Gospel because of the Gospel. A fellowship is more like a team to play on than a club to join. Think about Fellowship of the Rings… I am not a big fan but I know it’s more than lets hang out and have coffee. Nearly every team has different skills and strengths… together they function well to overcome and thrive. In the Bible we see it identifies the idealized state of unity and purpose that should exist within the church. Everyone was invited to experience this community and encouraged to actively participate rather than passively consume.  This is in contrast to the communities we try to build on our own. True Fellowship exists when it is from and for God.  

 

PART I | Fellowship is Created By God | Acts 2:1-13 

Acts 2:1-13 | When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

 

Empowered by the Holy Spirit –The chapter begins with God’s people in a place of great fear. Jesus has lived, died, risen. They have seen, ate with, meet with, been taught by, and been given clear instructions about what they’re called to do. (Great Commission Next week) Jesus has ascended back to heaven. They should be emboldened to pursue mission but instead there is a lot working against them. There is a faithful crew of about 100 gathered together. The Holy Spirit shows up in a unique and transformative way that had not happened before and has not been repeated since. It was as transition and fulfillment of Jesus saying “Behold I’ll be with you always” and promised by the prophet Joel. It moves these people from apathy to action. From Fear to Faithfulness. It equipped them for mission and it was attractive to those around them.  2 Cor 13:14 says we have the grace of Jesus, the Love of God the Father and the “Fellowship” Participation and partnership with the Holy Spirit. 

 

Diverse in Every way but Unified in Christ – It says there are people from “every nation under Heaven”. They gathered for Pentecost a festival remembering God giving the Law (10 Commandments). They had come to town to worship God the Law Giver. They came from the east and west spanning 3 continents, Medes & Egyptians (Former Invaders/Oppressors) Greeks and Romans (current elites) Different languages, races, backgrounds, cultures, socio economic status. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit they were drawn together to then hear the Gospel, be reminded and made aware of the Might Works of God, each in their own language. It didn’t say and so those from outside Jerusalem understood Aramaic. So here, when the Holy Spirit moves it engages people where they are at and brings people together than have nothing else I common but God… who made them, knows them, loves them, and saves them. Fellowship runs deeper than our superficial differences. God created Fellowship binds us together with those whom we have nothing in common but Christ deeper than those with whom we have everything in common but Christ.  

 

PART II | Fellowship Is Centered On the Gospel | Acts 2:21-36

Peter has been given the Holy Spirit and He begins preaching. The Holy Spirit turns the powerless into preachers of power of God. He preaches in Jerusalem to a gathered multitude of people who are there to remember God the Law giver “Pentecost” will know be worshiped as God the Life Giver. There is a God in Heaven who has created everything good, but Sin and death have entered through humanities’ rebellion. 

Acts 2:21 | And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

There is a brokenness that needs to fixed a separation that needs to be ended, an emptiness that needs to be filled, certain death that needs to be met with purposeful life. 

 

Acts 2:23 | this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God’s plan for our sin, God’s plan to save, God’s plan to satisfy justice and our souls has always been Jesus going to the Cross. His life for ours. What you meant for evil, God had already purposed for Good. The cross was God’s idea and plan from the beginning. Our sin our lawless rejection of God was going to be how God 

 

Acts 2:32-33 | 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. Resurrection for Salvation is God’s purpose – Fellowship believes in the resurrection of Jesus. Peter and the other disciples are all witnesses. This isn’t fairy tale, we believe it as fact. We see God not as a force or idea but a Trinity Fellowship working together for the purpose of bring life and salvation to people who need it. The Father’s plan and promises. Jesus passion for His people seen in His life, death, and resurrection. The Holy Spirit’s power and presence pointing to what is true about Jesus. 

Acts 2:36 |Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Peter’s closer is to place certainty in the identity of Jesus. Who He is and what He has done. Jesus IS the crucified risen savior who died for our sin and rose to reign as King.  

 

PART III |FELLOWSHIP Requires a Response | Acts 2:37-41

Acts 2:37-41 | 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

 

Holy Spirit leads the response. It says in hearing the Gospel they were “cut to the heart” there wasn’t intellectual assent given, or a debate one. There was Heart surgery performed. Stone hearts were made tender to know their sin and desire their savior. There was conviction leading to conversion from death to life. 

Repentance – Turn and Trust. Turn from sin and autonomy to trust and reliance on Christ for life with Him.

Baptism – Symbol of what God has for you and in you. Pledge of allegiance, I am part of the squad. 

Receive – They’ve received the word of the Gospel, Life with God, and the Presence and Power of God. 

This is good news for people far from God! All of us on our own are far from God! But God has come and called (and is calling) His people! responded to the Gospel message, they were baptized, and 3,000 from every known language and country. This sounds like a lot and it is! But Jerusalem at the time was a city of 60-75K meaning this was 4-5% of the people but if half or most were from outside of the city it meaning maybe 2% of the population. That’s not much different than where we find ourselves now. Some of these people went back to their cities and regions undoubtedly sharing the Gospel, preaching Jesus and planting churches, but many stayed and became part of a new way of life different that what was before. 

 

PART IV | FELLOWSHIP defined the early church | Acts 2:42-47 

Acts 2:42-47 |42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.  46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

 

Something new was birthed. They didn’t have their individual experiences and then immediately go home and/or think it was from them only. People made new by the Gospel became part of a new people centered on the Gospel. We’ve seen God is the one who creates Fellowship, Fellowship is centered on the Gospel and true fellowship (unity of identity and purpose) requires a response to the Gospel. Don’t hear me wrongly if you’re not there yet or your not sure this place, time, gathering, people are here for you to pray and process with you. For those who responded to the Gospel placing their faith and Hope in Jesus there was more than a onetime moment the experienced but a movement of God they join and participated in. 

Devoted Disciples – This new community/fellowship of diverse, converted, Spirit-Filled, Jesus loving, God worshipping people had unique marks of their fellowship that made them distinct from their community. 

Engaging with God’s Word – What were the “apostles teaching”? Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Bible. 

Experiencing Life with God’s People – Gatherings both large (temple) and small (homes) for a purpose.

Enjoying God’s Provision- Shared Meals, association and friendship. Communion, remembering Jesus Work. 

Empowered by God’s Presence – Prayer with one another and for one another connecting to the source. 

 

Faithfulness came before awe not the other way around. Being devoted to fellowship produced work in their heart the caused them to worship God with greater vigor. It didn’t say a bunch of amazing stuff happened so people came, it says they were devoted to the regularly and the routine and out of that faithfulness to fellowship came awe (fear/reverence) of who God is. God moved in and through them so there was plenty to be amazed by. It says there were Wonders and signs. There were people trusting God, getting healed, experiencing new life, having sins forgiven, having shame dealt with and having needs met.  

 

Fellowship can be costly- Devotion and Awe lead to Dramatic action. They were filled with awe in the work of God so they held what they had with an open hand. They had mercy and compassion for one another that lead them to joyful sacrifice. They saw what they had as for the use and furthering of the Kingdom of God on earth. This is not the communist manifesto. There was some communal life but not communism. The love of Christ is what compelled them not the law of communistic confiscation.  This is a community of converted people loving one another as they have been loved by Christ. They sold… Not They taxed one another, there was a willingness. Many were productive and generous. They had possession to sell. The whole teaching NT has people working for flourishing for themselves and others. Many were in need and had their needs met by this new community of believers in Jesus. This is an ideal, but it’s also possible. I’ve seen it play out as we’ve had people who cannot make rent when job less or rallying around a business. 

 

Fellowship is Worth It – They have Joy in the Mission - It was from a glad and generous hearts…  they participate in these rhythm’s of giving and receiving not with guilt but with gladness. They gathered in crowds and homes because they wanted to. It was an outflow of their desire not a duty that all Christians must be in a small group. This description of devotion should be compelling not condemning. Let’s not assume that devotion, faithfulness, and participating in fellowship will lead to angst and apathy when the result is actually joy. They’re praising God! To be rich in Mercy and devoted to fellowship is not Joyless or reward-less. In fact experience the mercy of God and enjoying it with others is part of the reward.  

 

Favor with all people – A fellowship centered on the truth and life of the Gospel is counter-cultural, but it is not combative with culture. It is distinct from the community around it but it is not disconnected from the community. This new community was so compelling that the rest of the city was cool with it because of their merciful and joyful disposition. They have been loved by God who loves people even when unlovable so they loved their city in tangible ways. This is an area for growth but also an opportunity to engage. 

 

Fruitfulness in God’s Mission – God is the hero, He’s doing the work. The result of God created fellowship in the lives of people is faithfulness. The result to the world that needs God is fruitfulness in the mission and favor for God’s people. God is adding daily people who are being saved by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Is today your day? Christian, God does the work, so it frees us to not be consumed with results but to remain focused on being devoted to Fellowship. It’s God who has called us to Christ and it’s God who keeps us in fellowship with Christ. God is faithful to us and He calls us to be faithfully part of a fellowship who Trust Jesus.