Presentation on theme: "N EW D URHAM B APTIST C HURCH P ASTOR F RANK C UOZZO L ESSON 10 “T HE P IONEERING S PIRIT OF THE F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH ”"— Presentation transcript:
N EW D URHAM B APTIST C HURCH P ASTOR F RANK C UOZZO L ESSON 10 “T HE P IONEERING S PIRIT OF THE F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH ”
The Christian life is a life of faith. We are saved by grace through faith and we walk by faith and not by sight. The Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” The present day New Testament Church needs to recapture the “Pioneering Spirit” that the people of God have always had down through the years. God’s people down through the centuries have always thrust out to the uttermost part of the earth in obedience to the commands of God.
Even in the Old Testament we find Moses leading God’s people from Egypt towards the Promised Land. After the wilderness wanderings, we find Joshua leading the Israelites across the Jordan River and into Canaan. Battles were fought and victories were won but the task was not complete. God’s people were to drive out the enemy; but it was something that they did not do. Over and over in the first chapter of the book of Judges the Bible says that the children of Israel did not drive out the enemy. Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites. v. 21 Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean. v. 27 Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezar. v. 29 Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron. v. 30 Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho. v. 31 Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Bethshemesh. v. 33
The faith required to trust God for the complete victory is also the faith that would have made God real to His people. Their refusal to trust God for the victory and their choice to live without faith brought them to the place where God says of their generation in Judges 2:10, “They knew not the Lord.” Men with a pioneering spirit like Moses and Joshua came before them, but their generation was willing to simply rest on the work of those who had gone before. Their absence of faith caused them to lose touch with God. They simply had everything handed to them and they did not have to trust God by faith like their forefathers did. In so many places today, there are people who use the same names, who serve in the same places that others have served, but in reality they only inhabit the land and buildings that were conquered and built by those with a pioneering spirit. A spirit that trusts God to provide for everything that He promises as His children obey Him.
The generation that follows the pioneering believers faces the temptation of making the care and maintenance of what the pioneer’s built the goal rather than trusting God to do more. Unless we recapture this pioneering spirit and move from the death of a maintenance ministry, someone will say of us, “There arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which He had done.” It is so easy to make a goal out of a by-product, to find something that has been produced as a result of faith in God and make the product the goal and not faith in God the goal. Our great cause in this world is to make God known. David realized that he wasn’t there to just slay Goliath but, “That all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.” (II Samuel 17:46)
There is a fruitful knowledge of Jesus Christ and there is an unfruitful knowledge of Jesus Christ. The unfruitful knowledge is knowing “about” Jesus Christ. The fruitful knowledge is really “knowing Him.” If you know Him it is because you have exercised faith in Him. The Lord did not tell Moses that He would kill Pharaoh. He told Moses, “I will go with you to face him.” It is in trusting God to help us face our “Pharaohs” that God becomes real to us! Those that have a “Pioneering Spirit” know that all things are possible with God! You may choose to maintain what someone else has pioneered, you may choose to avoid conflict and a road in life where you expect little resistance; but remember if you do, you will not know God like He wants you to know and trust Him!
The great commission as given by our Lord in Acts 1:8 commands us to by witnesses into all the world. We are to win souls to Christ and establish New Testament Churches but this work will not be accomplished by means of funds, education and training alone; it will only be accomplished by believers with a pioneering spirit, who believe God and trust Him for what must be done. In Acts 1:8 the Lord Jesus told His disciples, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” We have been commanded to go into every village, every city, every town and every community and start New Testament churches. This is the work of God for today!
Certain things we should know about the New Testament Church: The church was started by Christ and His disciples and was empowered on the day of Pentecost. The Lord Jesus gave two ordinances to the church; Baptist and the Lord’s Supper. Christ also gave the church doctrine, our beliefs and teachings. The sole authority for our faith and practice is the Word of God. It is the work of churches to start churches. The Bride of Christ, the church, can and should give birth- Other churches. Definition of a church- A group of baptized believers who have voluntarily joined themselves together to carry out the great commission.
In the First Century church we find people who pioneered a work for God. As we study the scriptures we find New Testament pioneering teams that can and should be duplicated and transported anywhere in the world to help develop pioneers who will go to the regions beyond. Let’s look at a Biblical pattern that we find in the New Testament Scriptures. #1) First, we must see that the First Century church had a spiritual understanding of God’s work in the world. Everyone in a New Testament church should have a spiritual understanding of God’s work in the world. There is a difference between Israel and the church. The church had a beginning and it will have an ending as far as the work on earth is concerned. Christ is coming again to receive His Bride.
#2) The First Century Church had a basic knowledge of Bible Doctrine. We hold to and believe that same body of doctrine that the Lord Jesus taught His disciples. The same body of doctrine that the First Century Church took and taught to others, who in turn taught others so that we can teach faithful men and women who will be able to teach others, and on and on it goes. In II Timothy 2:2 Paul told young Timothy, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
#3) The First Century Church had a heart for World Evangelism. God’s children are to do God’s work in this world. We should look at world geography and apply God’s Great Commission to it. His work is bringing the lost to a saving knowledge of Christ and establishing New Testament churches for His glory. Let’s observe some New Testament Church Pioneers from the first century and look at how God used them to help establish churches. These New Testament Church Pioneers are people like ourselves who have desired to obey the Lord and to be used as He sees fit to do His will in the world.
-The Apostle Paul- Christian Literature God used Paul as the first missionary in the early church as well as a human penman for so much of the New Testament Scriptures. And so Paul represents to us, not only the pioneering spirit to start churches, but also providing things that people need to help them understand God’s word. We are talking here about the printing of Bibles and other Christian literature. We must have printed materials to put in the hands of families, children and young people. Gospel tracts, Bibles, Christian literature and other Bible study aides are all a vital part of helping believers to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.
-Philip- Following the Lord’s Leading. On any pioneering team, a Philip is needed. Actually, many Philip’s are needed. He was a deacon, missionary and evangelist. Acts 8:26-31 says, “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went : and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.”
I want you to notice that Philip was a man who allowed God’s Spirit to lead him to the place of the Lord’s choosing. New Testament churches with a pioneering spirit seek God’s face and pray earnestly for God’s direction, even when it doesn’t seem to make human sense. The place of God’s choosing may not necessarily be the most populated cities but rather it is always the place of God’s leading. We need men and women like Philip who are sensitive to the leading of the Spirit of God in this area of church planting. -Barnabus- Contributing to Special Needs. Acts 4:36-37, “And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.”
Barnabus was a layman and a successful businessman. He sold a piece of land that he owned and gave the proceeds to the work of God. One of the tremendous needs in the work of God has always been the way God provides laymen and business people who can contribute financially to the work of God in ways that the average believer cannot. There are multitudes of lay businessmen and women who feel that they cannot do the work of God because they are not preachers. This is the furthest thing from the truth. May God raise up Barnabus’ in our churches to be a part of this great pioneering work that God has called all of us to be involved in.
-Epaphras- Praying Fervently. Colossians 4:12, “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” If we want to have a pioneering spirit like that first century church, then we are going to have to have people like Epaphras who labored fervently in prayer for the work of God. Not everyone can go out and preach and teach the gospel, some folks are limited by age, health and physical limitations, but all of us can pray like Epaphras. The Bible says that we are to pray without ceasing.
-Luke- Providing Unique Skills. In Colossians 4:14 the Bible says, “Luke, the beloved physician.” Luke represents those people in our churches with special skills such as medical doctors, building contractors, electricians, plumbers, etc. They may not be preachers or missionaries but they are believers who love the Lord and God can use them to help churches plant churches. -Aquila & Priscilla- Encouraging New Converts. This couple in the church was used by God to encourage the preacher Apollos in Acts 18:24-26, “And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.”
New Testament churches need people like Aquila and Priscilla who will take the new converts under their wings and teach them or disciple them to spiritual maturity. This is sadly lacking in most churches of our day. -Timothy- Developing Disciples. Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:1-2, “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” Timothy also represents people in the church who have been given the gift of teaching so that converts can be taken from being babes in Christ and brought along to spiritual maturity, serving the Lord and duplicating themselves in others because of it.
-Persis- Laboring Much in the Lord. Romans 16:12, “Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord.” Paul mentions this woman Persis who labored much in the Lord. She was obviously not a pastor or a deacon, but yet God’s word mentions her labor of love as she worked hard helping Paul as he planted New Testament Churches. We thank the Lord for all the hard working lay people in our churches who assist the pastor in the work of the ministry, laboring much for the Lord. -Epaphroditus- Serving sacrificially wherever needed. The Word of God mentions this man Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25-30 who literally worked himself almost to the point of death.
Philippians 2:25-30 says, “Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.” May we have more people like Epaphroditus in our churches who sacrificially give themselves to the Lord’s Work, throwing themselves into the work and doing whatever is necessary to get the job done.