A recent editorial in the New York Times commented how our culture has lost it's common "language" when it comes to religious matters. Words that most people understood in previous generations like salvation and grace have lost their meaning. "Some words, like 'sin,'" the author Jonathan Merritt points out, "now felt so negative that they lodged in my throat."
Sin and punishment are words that many in both culture and in church would like to have eliminated. I even find myself speaking of sin in general terms as if we know and agree to what it is. This week, we approach a text that seems almost out of place in the euphoria of the early church. And in it, we are reminded at just how serious sin is and how seriously God takes it.
There is an old story about a chicken and a pig who decided to make breakfast for the old farmer. The chicken mentioned that they should make bacon and eggs to which the pig refused. When asked why, the pig replied, "For you, giving some eggs is generous. For me, bacon means I'm all in!"
When we read the Bible, we see a generosity that seems more like the pig than the chicken. Does that mean we need to be as generous? How are we to be generous? This week, we will look at "A Generous Gospel" and determine how the Gospel shapes our generosity.
As we've seen over the past few weeks, the early church is on fire. They are reaching people, they are growing and all of this despite new opposition to the mission of the church. So, what do they do after their second big evangelism event? They stop and pray that God would keep them going.
I have a friend that reminds me all the time that the Christian life is one lived with a steadfast dependence upon God. Without God and the power of the Holy Spirit, we will never accomplish all that He calls us to because ultimately it is God that is working in and through us.
William Carey is known as the father of modern missions. When he was ready to head to India from England, a leader in a church where he was excitedly sharing his plans stood up and said,"Young man, sit down! When God pleases to convert the heathen, he'll do it without consulting you or me." I'm grateful that Carey ignored that man and went to India anyway.
When we get excited to share the gospel, we can expect opposition and often that opposition comes from within the body of Christ! How do we respond to it? Well, that's what we'll look at this week as we continue our series in Acts and explore "Dealing With the Opposition".
I've shared this story before, but it fits in perfectly with our text today. On one of my overseas missions trips, one of the long term leaders challenged us not just to teach English. If that's all we did, we could make English speakers who would still be going to Hell. Instead, he challenged us to use English as a means to open a door to speak about Jesus and the Gospel.
As he said that, I thought of this text and I knew that the only reason we do mercy ministry or missions is to open doors to tell others about Jesus. This week, we'll look closer at Acts 3:1-26 to see how we can use our good deeds to open doors for the gospel to come in.