Church on the Move | Part 1
Church on the Move
I love the church. I love our church.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “church”?
Chances are, what you would say is different than what the average person would say in our community (Freedom Fest)
And the truth is, what all of us think of when we think “church” is far removed from what the first church people thought or experienced.
They didn’t think, “boring.” Nobody was bored in the first century. To be a follower of Christ, could seriously cost you everything. Being called by Christ was a dangerous calling.
They also didn’t think building, rows, pews, robes, hymnals, bands, liturgy, lights, etc.
The church was simply a gathering of people who came together around one belief: that Jesus is the son of the living God, the crucified and resurrected Christ who put away the agony of death and now extends eternal life to all who repent and confess Him as Lord
That was all they had.
That was enough. The church was a movement.
The Church is a movement of God
The church was begun by God never to be still, but rather a steadfast movement of the gospel of Jesus Christ
How have we gotten to where we are?
The Word, “Church”
- The Greek term translated church in the Greek New Testament is: Ekklesia – a called out assembly or gathering.
- But the English term, church, comes from an entirely different Greek term meaning “of the Lord” picked up and adapted by the Goths, an East Germanic Tribe, around 300 AD. Kirche – Lord’s house. Phonetically, in English, sounds like church. But the German pronunciation is completely different (key-uh-key-uh)
- This really bad translation created some really bad theology. The church became a place, rather than a movement or gathering. It was tamed. Localized. Controlled by the people who controlled the building.
[William Tyndale picture]
- Then in the sixteenth century, a scholar named William Tyndale did something bold. William Tyndale, often referred to as the “Father of the English Bible,” translated and published the Bible in English from the original Greek and Hebrew texts.
This was scandalous because it gave away the power of the “church.” He once said to the bishops of the Church of England, who wanted to keep the Scriptures out of the hands of the common people:
“. . . if God spare my life, ere many years, I will cause a boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost.”
- In 1524, he fled from England to Germany, where his first version of the New Testament was published and smuggled into England. Tyndale continued translating the Bible until a friend betrayed him, and he was hung and burned atthe stake in 1536.
- One of the things that drove the church leaders of his day crazy was that he translated Ekklesia as “congregation” rather than “church,” moving the focus from a building to the people.
So who was right, Tyndale or those in control at the time?
- In Matthew 16, we find the first reference to the church in the New Testament.
- Jesus asked his disciples who people were saying that he was.
- Some said he was the reincarnated John the Baptist or Elijah the
- Then he said, “Who do you say that I am?”
- Some said he was the reincarnated John the Baptist or Elijah the
- Peter answered: 16“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
- Jesus replied, 17“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Ekklesia, and the gates of death will not overcome it.”
The Beginning of the Movement
- Two months after the resurrection (57 days), Jesus’ gathering officially launched.
- Luke, in Acts, tells us that after the resurrection Jesus spent 40 days with his followers. He told them not to go public until the Holy Spirit showed up.
- Acts 1:6–8
6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” [They didn’t know about the church. They were waiting for a new Jewish kingdom, Jesus as King. But Jesus set His sights on something much greater than a political kingdom.]
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; [“Power!” Awesome. And what will we do with our power?]
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” [Witness: one who testifies to, affirms something. You will testify/proclaim ME! You who witnessed me ALIVE. Make followers/disciples of ME. Teach what I’ve taught and baptize in my name.
They must have thought . . . Us? Ends of the earth? Who’s going to listen? How are we going to get there?
God has not called you to do something He has not prepared beforehand to do through you.
- They went back to Jerusalem and waited for two weeks. Luke, who researched all of this, tells us that it was the apostles, some women, including Mary and the brothers of Jesus. On the day of Pentecost, a Jewish feast day when the city would have been full of Jews and converts from all over the world, the Holy Spirit fell on the men and women in the room.
- How do we know the Holy Spirit had come? They could speak in the language of the Jews from different regions that were visiting Jerusalem for the feast.
- The people asked (Acts 2:7-8)…
- Luke lists at least 14 different groups that heard their own language.
- This was not a Jewish movement or message.
- This was the declaration of the gospel of Jesus Christ for the entire world
- They asked (Acts 2:12), “What does this mean?”
Peter stood up and preached the first sermon in the history of the church from the Word of God (OT, Ps 16, 110)
>>>>Acts 2:22-24 … 32-33 … 36-41
And the movement of church began with 3000 souls
Just as Jesus predicted: it was a gathering that rallied around one idea—
that Jesus is the son of the living God, the crucified and resurrected Christ who put away the agony of death and now extends eternal life to all who repent and confess Him as Lord
- You couldn’t go to church; you were the church.
The church wasn’t for church people . . . there weren’t any.
The church wasn’t about a location . . . there wasn’t one.
The church wasn’t about style, liturgy, or ritual . . . there weren’t any.
- The mission of the church was to do one thing: make fully surrendered followers of Jesus Christ.
- And from that day forward, there has always been a group who refused to let go of that ideal.
>>>Refused to make it a building.
>>>Missionaries, church planters, evangelists, Bible translators,
pastors, student pastors, Bible smugglers, and teachers
>>>Men like William Tyndale, who defied the church leaders when they sought to make it something else.
- People like you who give and serve and invite and cheer when someone is baptized.
- People who realized that when you gather in your home or office, you are the church.
- People who realized that when you serve the poor, you are the church.
- . . . when you pray for the sick . . .
- . . . when you live out the values of Jesus and you feel like an outcast in
your school, office, or home, you are the church.
- This is why we gather, so that we go out.
Send you on short-term trips.
We agree with Peter that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God and we want everyone to know
- I don’t know what comes to mind or what you feel when you hear the word “church.”
- But from now on, I hope you will think: a multiplying, multicultural gathering of
people who believe that Jesus is the Savior and whose lives reflect his teaching.
- The church is a movement of God
- A Church on the move must be empowered by the Spirit of God
- A Church on the move must be submitted to the Word of God
- A Church on the move must be committed to the declaration the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God
- The church began as a movement. It’s still moving. And by God’s grace, we will be part of that movement—the church for our generation.