What Are the Signs?
Acts 2: 41-42
It is only human nature to look for signs.
The Jews rejected Christ because they kept expecting certain signs from Him
which He refused to give.
We live in the 21st century, and we are still anxious to find signs of God's presence in our lives
and in our churches.
Such a desire has led some to see speaking in tongues as a sign that the Holy Spirit of God
is present in a person's life.
When this experience breaks out in a church, these people think that it is evidence that the Holy Spirit
is involved in the life of that church.
It is strange that there is only one church in the New Testament, which seems to have practiced speaking in tongues.
And it was the weakest and the most troubled and disruptive of all the churches of the New Testament.
When Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia, he spoke of certain evidences of the Holy Spirit as follows:
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
meekness, temperance." (Galatians 5: 22-23)
If we are to search for signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit in a church, then we should look at the early church
in the aftermath of the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit ever experienced.
In the midst of such an outpouring of the Holy Spirit we can observe certain signs of the Holy Spirit's presence.
We are reminded that conversion is not an end, it is merely the beginning.
"Being saved" is the first step on a long road in the Christian life.
After receiving Jesus, the new Christians were baptized.
They identified themselves openly with Jesus, and so must we.
They had received Jesus Christ, and their entire Christian life was ahead of them.
And the Christians on the Day of Pentecost realized this, for they were
"continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching,
and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer." (Verse 42)
When these people were added to the church, they meant business.
Their whole life was changed.
"They continued steadfastly."
That is tremendous!
That denotes a new attitude of life.
Life is intensified, and now life will be lived with a new power and passion.
There are new purposes.
The church throbs with new impulses, and exerts a new influence upon their world.
They "continued steadfastly."
They did not join the church as a person would join a club.
They didn't just drop in whenever they felt like it.
That is what many are doing today.
They join the church and attend as though it were some sort of religious club.
When this happens, sin will cause the believer, to lose the joy of his fellowship with God.
He will not mean business as he did when he made that first commitment.
He has lost his first love.
- this happens, Bible reading diminishes.
- When this happens, prayer is no longer in his life.
- When this happens, attending the services of the church becomes rare.
This will begin in small steps.
- Sunday night attendance is the first to go.
- Then Wednesday night prayer services will go.
- Then Sunday school attendance will diminish.
- Then Sunday morning worship service will be spasmodic.
- Then, this Christian will drift away from the church.
This will happen because it is easier for such a one to ease out than to be constantly confronted
with the demands of God upon his life.
But it this will not relieve him.
If he belongs to God -- God will not let him off.
But those New Testament Christians were committed.
The work continued day after day, and they were faithful in attendance and lived what they were taught.
The church was a learning church.
We should count it a wasted day when we do not learn something new about our Lord,
Most of these new converts knew very little about the teachings of Jesus;
therefore, they had to be instructed so that they might grow in knowledge of God and in Christian service.
Verse 42 tells us that the apostles taught the new converts.
"The apostles' doctrine" means "teaching or instruction."
Every church must have that kind of teaching.
It is vitally important that the church teach its members.
They must be taught in Sunday school and in group study and from the pulpit.
Teaching God's Word is absolute necessary.
The early Christians were taught how to live the Christian life.
The early Christians were taught how to love like Christ.
The Christian must not hate anyone, must not cheat anyone, must not mistreat anyone,
or degrade anyone.
When Christ is in the Christian's life, that Christian is determined to love everyone.
This does not mean the Christian must be emotionally attracted to everyone.
It does mean that the Christian must have a genuine concern for the welfare of that person.
These early Christians were also taught to sacrifice their life for Christ.
They were taught to care for others for this was Christlike.
When you see a person who cares only for himself, you are looking at a miserable person.
Jesus said that if a person tries to save his life, he will lose it.
To follow Christ is to determine to give yourself away for the benefit of others and for the kingdom of God.
"In His heart my Saviour hides me,
And He holds me in His hand.
At His feet I sit and listen,
And I go at His command.
At Thy feet new lessons learning,
Teach and mould me day by day;
Listening for Thy least commandment,
Let me joyfully obey.
While within Thy heart abiding
Let my heart be filled with Thine;
While Thy hand protects and guides me,
Fill my hands with tasks divine.
While I sit before Thee, listening,
Let me also ready stand,
Quick to catch Thy marching orders
And I go at Thy command."
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at hleewhite@AOL.com