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The Church in Action


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Title: The Church in Action

The Church in Action
Lesson 1
Lesson TextJohn 110-13
John 110-14 10 He was in the world, and the
world was made by him, and the world knew him
not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own
received him not. 12 But as many as received him,
to them gave he power to become the sons of God,
even to them that believe on his name
Lesson TextJohn 110-13
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will
of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of
God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt
among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as
of the only begotten of the Father,) full of
grace and truth.
Lesson TextJohn 114-16
John 115-16 15 John bare witness of him, and
cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He
that cometh after me is preferred before me for
he was before me. 16 And of his fulness have all
we received, and grace for grace.
Lesson TextJohn 117-18
John 117-18 17 For the law was given by Moses,
but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No
man hath seen God at any time the only begotten
Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he
hath declared him.
Lesson TextActs 431-33
Acts 431-33 31 And when they had prayed, the
place was shaken where they were assembled
together and they were all filled with the Holy
Ghost, and they spake the word of God with
Lesson TextActs 431-33
32 And the multitude of them that believed were
of one heart and of one soul neither said any of
them that aught of the things which he possessed
was his own but they had all things common. 33
And with great power gave the apostles witness of
the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and great
grace was upon them all.
Focus VerseActs 433
Acts 433 And with great power gave the apostles
witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus
and great grace was upon them all.
Focus Thought
Grace is divine power that causes the heart to
rejoice and reflects in the lives of those who
find favor with God.
I. The Lost State of Man
The church in the Book of Acts has served as a
pattern for every group of believers since that
time. It gave us examples of the new-birth
experience, demonstrated effective evangelism,
displayed an attitude of generous giving, allowed
the Holy Spirit to work through believers, and
verified that they were true believers through
signs and wonders. This first church earned the
right to be considered a model for future
I. The Lost State of Man
From the focus verse of this lesson we see
another admirable quality among the early
believersgreat grace was upon all of them. We
generally think of grace as Gods redemptive act
toward sinnersthe gift of God extended to fallen
mankind. In the New Testament, grace through
faith is contrasted with the rigorous regulations
demanded in the Old Testament. Certainly, the
grace that brought us salvation is the highest
expression of Gods love for us.
I. The Lost State of Man
Still, the term grace has various uses, the
first of which was Gods unmerited favor.
Accomplished through the redemptive act of Christ
at Calvary, grace made it possible for fallen
humanity to be reunited with the Creator.
However, Gods grace does not end at redemption
it continues to work in the life of the believer.
Even the focus verse of this lesson expands the
meaning of grace beyond initial salvation.
I. The Lost State of Man
Strongs Hebrew and Greek Dictionary
descriptively defines it as the divine influence
upon the heart, and its reflection in the life
including gratitude, joy, liberality, and
graciousness. Certainly, the early church had
received Gods redemptive grace. However, Bible
commentators indicate that the great grace
described in this Scripture passage was Gods
special favor toward these believers, which was
something not necessarily experienced by all
I. The Lost State of Man
A mighty anointing of the Holy Spirit enabled
them to minister to their community through many
miracles, which advanced Christs kingdom beyond
their human capabilities. Bible commentators
suggest that the favor of God upon the church was
so obvious that the unbelieving community not
only recognized Gods preference upon this
people, but they also respected the church
because of such anointing from God.
I. The Lost State of Man
Many sinners were amazed by what God was doing
and were eager to become a part of the church.
(See Acts 247.) Perhaps this is a challenge from
the Scripture not only to be saved by the grace
of God, but also to grow in grace after one has
been saved.
I. The Lost State of Man
The Lost State of Man
A. Mans Sinfulness
By Adams disobedience to God in the Garden of
Eden, he lost his created state of innocence and
passed his fallen state of mortality to all
mankind. None of us can change the fact that we
are the descendants of Adam and thus inherited
his nature. The morally corrupt fallen nature
motivates one to sin.
I. The Lost State of Man
This is not to suggest that we are guilty of sin
solely because of Adams transgression. Rather,
we are guilty because we have personally done
wrong. Just as a dog barks because it is a dog,
and a cat claws because it is a cat, we humans
sin because we are of a fallen, sinful nature.
(See Romans 323.) Paul described this as the
works of the flesh and the bondage of sin. (See
Galatians 518-21 Romans 715-20.)
B. Gods Righteousness
B. Gods Righteousness
In contrast to mankinds sinfulness, God is
righteous. He is without sinwhether by action,
motive, or thought. All His ways are right and
perfect. His character is flawless and His record
is impeccable. God is incapable of sinning. He is
the model of perfection and the example to whom
we should look. (See Psalm 7119 119137-138.)
C. Gods Judgment of Sin
C. Gods Judgment of Sin
Because God is righteous, He cannot condone sin.
He can neither tolerate wickedness among His
creation nor ignore its presence. He is obligated
by His righteous nature either to destroy that
which is wicked or to take action to make right
His creation. (See Psalm 95-10.) God graciously
determined not to destroy His creation but to
make a plan of redemption available to all
I. The Lost State of Man
However, many people reject Gods grace and
challenge His authority to judge their
sinfulness. Some even argue that for God to
destroy wickedness would somehow detract from His
loving character. To the contrary, Gods
perfect nature dispenses perfect and fair
judgment, and His position as judge of the whole
earth necessitates that He judge mankind
according to His righteousness.
A. Mans Sinfulness
In the Book of Genesis, God is not only the
Creator and Sustainer of the earth but also the
righteous Judge of the same. (See Genesis 11,
31 39-19 65-8 1816-33 1923-25.) In the
Scriptures God fulfilled His righteous role as
the judge of sinners, but He also introduced
another attribute of His natureHis grace. Gods
grace has been working overtime since mankind
first sinned. Even in Gods pronouncement of
judgment upon mankinds sin, He made room for
grace. (See Genesis 315.)
I. The Lost State of Man
Those who decry Gods position as the judge of
sin should recognize that grace balances His
judicial acts. His judgments are always
righteous, and His grace and mercy always precede
the judgment. One might better understand Gods
decision to follow through with His creative plan
through the analogy of an architect who was
designing a multifamily apartment complex. One
night the architect was awakened by a horrifying
nightmare in which a fire ravaged the building
and many lives were lost.
I. The Lost State of Man
His thoughts troubled him to the point that he
considered canceling the project. However, people
needed a place in which to live. So he
incorporated into the design the most remarkable
fire escape he had ever considered. With this new
plan, he was now conscientiously free to proceed
with the creation of the complex.
II. The Grace of Gods Power
The Grace of Gods Power
A. Faith
We are saved by grace however, grace does not
save us apart from faith in Jesus Christ. (See
Ephesians 28.) Salvation is not something we can
earn by our faith. This would make graceGods
unmerited favordependent upon mankinds ability
or inability to believe, making salvation
dependent on humanity and thus impossible.
I. The Lost State of Man
Conversely, the grace of God precedes human
faith. Theologians call this prevenient gracethe
grace that goes before. It works in our lives
before we reach toward God, even before we are
capable of responding to Him. This act of God
makes it possible for all to have enough faith to
respond to God in a positive way. (See Romans
58 John 1232 Acts 1827.)
I. The Lost State of Man
Salvation is somewhat like a boomerang. God
initiated the plan through the Incarnation and
His ultimate sacrifice on the cross. When mankind
could not get to God, He came to mankind with a
divine plan sufficient to save everyone. This was
the gift of His grace extended to us! Since faith
is a prerequisite for salvation, this initial
work of grace makes it possible for us to reach
out to God in faith. The Scripture describes this
as the measure of faith that God gives to
everyone (Romans 123).
I. The Lost State of Man
The power of grace enables all mankind to have
adequate faith to accept Gods plan of
redemption. The boomerang effect is our using the
faith He has given us to respond to Him,
activating His grace in our lives. Some people
have referred to this faith as obedient faith, or
saving faith. It is important for us to note that
the devil also believes in God, but his belief
alone does not save him. His faith condemns him,
but our response to God in faith causes Gods
grace to bring salvation to our lives.
B. Salvation
B. Salvation
In the New Testament, those of the Jewish faith
tried to prove salvation by association. They
pointed to the Temple, the law of Moses, the
rituals of the law (particularly circumcision),
and the teachings of the prophets. To them, these
were signs of their having the favor of God.
Jesus challenged them with strong warnings, and
Paul also confronted their hypocrisy.
I. The Lost State of Man
In his letter to the Romans, Paul explained that
the Jewish nation was at a disadvantage to the
Gentile nations by having the law of Moses, for
the law condemned them as sinners. (See Romans
31-24.) Although the Gentiles were not as
informed about Gods requirements of the human
race, Paul concluded that allboth Jew and
Gentilehave sinned and are thereby subject to
condemnation and future judgment. However, the
remedy for the elimination of sin was not the law
of Moses, for the law only made a person aware of
his sins.
A. Faith
Salvation could not come through mere obedience
to the law, because the law could not remove
mankinds sinful past. The elimination of the
debt of sin could come only by the grace of God
made possible through the death of the
sacrificial Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.
I. The Lost State of Man
Peter also contended that salvation was through
Jesus Christ, not through the works of the law.
(See Acts 1511.) Jesus, Paul, and Peter did not
suggest that the righteous commands of the law
should be forsaken. Rather, they asserted that
mere obedience to the laws of God still could not
bring salvation. Only an act of Gods grace
accomplishes this. Paul declared, Do we then
make void the law through faith? God forbid yea,
we establish the law (Romans 331).
C. Justification
C. Justification
How then can one who has sinned ever be justified
before God? Are not sin stains irreversible like
a permanent marker? We find the answer to these
questions through a greater understanding of the
grace of God. Paul explained, Moreover the law
entered, that the offence might abound. But where
sin abounded, grace did much more abound (Romans
I. The Lost State of Man
In the Old Testament there were seven major
Jewish feasts, three of which required that all
Jewish males attend Passover, Pentecost, and
Tabernacles. All three of these feasts were
precursors of the New Testament salvation
plan. Essential to the Passover Feast was the
lamb that was slain and eaten. As the Jewish
participants ate the meal, they reflected on the
death angel sparing, or passing over, the
Israelites when he slew the firstborn in the
Egyptian households.
I. The Lost State of Man
The death of the lamb was in lieu of the death of
the Jewish people for their sins. John the
Baptist later prepared the way for this event to
be associated with the plan for mankinds
redemption when he proclaimed of Jesus, Behold
the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the
world (John 129). It is not coincidental that
Jesus was crucified at the time of the Passover.
He was the spotless, sinless Lamb that God
ordained to pay for mankinds debt of sin. (See
Acts 2028.)
I. The Lost State of Man
The Feast of Tabernacles reminded the Israelites
that God did not forget them during their
wandering in the wilderness for forty years. The
attendees at the feast performed a ritual where
they waved branches bound together and recited a
prayer from the Psalms, Hoshana, translated,
Please save us! (See Psalm 11825-26.) It is
significant that this is what the people cried
out to Jesus when He rode into the city of
Jerusalem on a donkey. (See Zechariah 99
Matthew 215-11.)
I. The Lost State of Man
During this feast, the priests performed a
unique ritual where they drew water from the Pool
of Shiloah (or Siloah, or Siloam) and carried it
ceremoniously to the Temple (Nehemiah 315
Isaiah 86 John 737-39 97, 11). The observers
at this joyous celebration quoted Isaiah. (See
Isaiah 121-3.) The Feast of Tabernacles was
considered by some to be the most joyous of all
Jewish celebrations for it included various
musical instruments and much dancing.
I. The Lost State of Man
It was at this feast that Jesus cried out, If
any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath
said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of
living water (John 737-38). The Feast of
Pentecost was celebrated fifty days after the
Passover Feast, coinciding with the time when
Moses received the law at Sinai and the time of
the grain harvest. This feast is spiritually
significant because both the law of Moses and
food are synonymous in the life-sustaining
I. The Lost State of Man
Food sustains physical life the Word of God
sustains spiritual life. Jesus is the Word of God
and the Bread of Life. (See John 11, 14
630-51.) God chose the time of the Feast of
Pentecost to fill mankind with His Holy Spirit.
(See Acts 21-4 II Corinthians 33.) The
new-birth message is consistent with all three
major Old Testament feasts.
I. The Lost State of Man
The death of the Lamb of God occurred at the time
of the Passover Feast the outpouring of the Holy
Spirit came at the Feast of Pentecost and the
Holy Spirit baptism fulfilled prophecy regarding
the Feast of Tabernacles. (See Ezekiel 3625-27.)
Therefore, the death of Christ was not a random
act of God, but He perfectly planned it to
coincide with the Old Testament Scriptures.
I. The Lost State of Man
Furthermore, it was a simple, yet beautiful, plan
whereby the sinless God incarnate would die, and
His grace would recompense our debt of sin
through His death. Though we all have sinned, we
are now justifieddeclared righteousin the eyes
of God. He sees His suffering and death as
sufficient to pay our debt of sin. (See Romans
324 Titus 34-7.)
D. Power to Reign
D. Power to Reign
Paul proclaimed, The wages of sin is death
(Romans 623). There was no human way mankind
could reverse this condemnation. Only an act of
God could redeem us from the curse of sin, which
was death and damnation.
I. The Lost State of Man
Just as the written law was the strength of sin,
Gods Word is the strength of grace. As sin
requires death, the gift of God through grace to
mankind provides eternal life. (See Romans
57-21.) This is the doctrine of grace! Grace has
the power to reign in our lives and to give us
eternal life.
E. Grace to Receive and Administer Gods
E. Grace to Receive and Administer Gods Gift
Paul referred to his personal experience as an
example of the sufficiency of Gods grace. Anyone
can receive Gods gift of salvation and minister
to others through the gifts of the Spirit. (See I
Timothy 112-16 Romans 121-8 I Corinthians
I. The Lost State of Man
Because he zealously persecuted the church, Paul
was the least likely candidate for salvation. He
experienced the great grace of salvation, and
grace continued to work in his life after his
miraculous conversion. God used his life in
mighty ways to minister to believers and to take
the gospel to the Gentile world.
F. Grace to Live Holy Lives
F. Grace to Live Holy Lives
How often have we heard someone lament, I would
become a Christian if I knew I could live it?
This is like a parent saying, Ill send my
six-year-old to school when he learns to read.
The purpose for school is to teach students the
unknown, not to serve as an outlet for what they
already know. Jesus expressed this principle with
an analogy it is the sick and not the healthy
who need a physician (Matthew 912).
I. The Lost State of Man
It is Gods grace that saves us and afterward
teaches and enables us to live holy lives (Titus
211-14). Peter taught that the grace of God,
which imparts salvation to us, is the means of
maintaining a holy life. Ten times in his
epistles he used the word grace and concluded his
second epistle with these words But grow in
grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now
and for ever. Amen (II Peter 318).
G. Strength
G. Strength
Grace is perhaps the first energy that comes to
us from God, and it brings to us a measure of
faith whereby we can respond to God. Paul
admonished Timothy that he should discover
strength in the grace of Jesus Christ (II Timothy
I. The Lost State of Man
At our very best, our personal strength is
insufficient to please God therefore, we must
rely on the grace of Jesus Christ to enable us to
overcome sin, discouragement, and the persecution
that comes from the world and Satan. Peter
encouraged the believer to walk according to the
lifestyle that Jesus Christ exemplified (I Peter
41-3). However, he explained that a believers
sufficient strength would come through the grace
of God (I Peter 410).
H. Resurrection
H. Resurrection
Not only is grace the first experience we have
in God, it should continue until the end. Peter
declared, Wherefore gird up the loins of your
mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace
that is to be brought unto you at the revelation
of Jesus Christ (I Peter 113). Just as we rely
on Gods grace to keep us while we are in the
world, we also should rely on His grace to
rapture us from this world. (See John 141-4.)
III. The Salutation of Gods Favor
The Salutation of Gods Favor
A. Grace Introduces Most New Testament Books
Our common greeting today varies with the time
of day and from informal with friends to formal
with strangers. Almost all New Testament writers
of the epistles began their letters with a
pronouncement of Gods grace.
I. The Lost State of Man
Such greetings as Grace be with you, Grace and
peace be multiplied unto you, or Grace and
mercy unto you were common. The early church was
well aware that it was the grace of God that had
saved them, and it was His grace that would keep
them through temptation and tribulations. This
greeting was a reminder of how they were saved.
It was a common bond among themall had sinned,
but all had experienced Gods grace.
I. The Lost State of Man
Furthermore, it was an affectionate greeting of
goodwill among believers and also carried the
authority of a blessing bestowed upon the
receiver of the epistle.
B. The Christians Life Reflects Like
Precious Faith
B. The Christians Life Reflects Like Precious
In his first epistle, Peter referred to his
readers as being strangers scattered (I Peter
11-2). This may have been a reference to their
dispersion because of their Jewish nationality.
However, he was quick to point out they were not
strangers from one another, for they had a common
denominator as the elect, or chosen, of God.
I. The Lost State of Man
In the apostles second epistle, he referred to
them as those of like precious faith (II Peter
11-2). They all had experienced a common
salvation rather than a hodgepodge of religions.
The believers were not divided by national
boundaries, nor were they divided into Jews and
Gentiles they were a family of believers
I. The Lost State of Man
Because salvation was wrought by Gods grace and
they were of one family by this grace, the
apostle was at liberty to write these
instructional letters to them regarding how they
should live. The grace of God was the same for
all and therefore should initiate similar
lifestyles. Certainly, as Gods grace works in
our hearts, the evidence of that work is
reflected in the way we live (Titus 33-7).
C. The Promises of God Are Given by His
C. The Promises of God Are Given by His Grace
Peter explained that the outcome of Gods grace
working in our lives is the giving of great and
precious promises (II Peter 11-4). At a glance,
we may credit these promises to Gods power, but
a closer examination of Scripture reveals that
all scriptural promises are ultimately the result
of Gods grace. Apart from His grace, we receive
no promises from God.
IV. Multiplied Grace
Multiplied Grace
A. Multiplied through the Knowledge of God
It should not be a strange thing for one who has
experienced the grace of God to ask for more.
Although there are several means of obtaining
more grace, one way is through seeking a greater
knowledge of Jesus Christ from the study of His
Word. (See II Peter 12.)
A. Multiplied through the Knowledge of God
Since we are not fully apprised of the storehouse
of spiritual blessings that God desires to share
with us, we should diligently seek understanding
of Him through His Word and continual communion
with Him.
B. Multiplied by the Power of Christ
B. Multiplied by the Power of Christ
Another means by which the work of grace is
multiplied in our lives is through Christs
divine power. We become increasingly more aware
of Gods view of life. (See II Peter 13.) Were
it not for grace multiplied, we would be blinded
to godliness and thus rendered powerless to
please Him. The power of God now works in us
through His grace, showing us not only how to
live but giving us the power to accomplish it.
C. Multiplied by the Blood of Christ
C. Multiplied by the Blood of Christ
The sprinkling of the blood of sacrificed
animals under the Old Testament law postponed
Gods judgment upon the Jewish nation. Their
obedience to these rituals delayed Gods wrath
for their sins, but the blood of animals was
insufficient to remove their transgressions. This
is not so with the blood of Christ. Jesus Christ
submitted to the Cross, but He was without sin.
I. The Lost State of Man
He owed no debt of sin, yet He allowed His death
to atone for our sin. If grace postponed the
judgment of the Jewish nation because of the
blood of sacrificed animals, certainly grace
would be multiplied to all who experienced the
redeeming quality of the precious blood of Christ
applied to their lives through water baptism in
the name of Jesus Christ (I Peter 12).
D. Multiplied in the Salvation of Our
D. Multiplied in the Salvation of Our Children
The grace of God does not diminish with time or
usage. It is ever fresh and equally distributed
to the next generation. Peter made this
observation in his message at the birth of the
church For the promise is unto you, and to your
children, and to all that are afar off, even as
many as the Lord our God shall call (Acts 239).
V. Receiving Gods Grace
Receiving Gods Grace
A. Submission
Submission is an essential quality for the grace
of God to work in our lives. One of the
attributes of the word grace is graciousness.
Alternate words for graciousness include
kindness, tactfulness, cordiality, congeniality,
and politeness.
I. The Lost State of Man
In dispensing His grace, God does not force
Himself upon us, but He stands at the door and
knocks. It is up to us to submit to His Word,
open our hearts, and invite Him in.
B. Worship
B. Worship
We acknowledge our gratitude for Gods grace by
worshiping Him. We graciously extend to Him what
He has bestowed upon usnot wrath, but favor. We
recognize from whom our salvation comes and we
worship Him. To withhold our worship from Him is
to imply we saved ourselves. Such an attitude
certainly will quench the work of grace in our
C. Receiving the Will of God with Joy
C. Receiving the Will of God with Joy
The Greek words for grace and joy are similar.
Perhaps we could say that Gods grace extended to
us was not given grudgingly rather, He lavished
it upon us willingly. Likewise, we should serve
God with joyful heartsnot grudgingly, but
lavishing our praise upon Him. Our attitude
toward Him should reflect His gracious attitude
toward us.
I. The Lost State of Man
As we study Gods Word and see areas in our lives
that need improvement and direction to better
please Him, we should willingly and thankfully
pursue Christs will for our lives.
C. Receiving the Will of God with Joy
Sin left Adam hopelessly separated from God.
Adam could not rid himself of that sin, and God
could not fellowship with him because of it. Adam
passed his sinful nature on to the entire human
race. However, God had a plan where He would
become incarnate in the man Christ Jesus. He
lived a sinless life, but evil men still
crucified Him on the basis of their trumped-up
I. The Lost State of Man
Through an act of grace, He who knew no sin
allowed His death to pay our sin debt. All who
identify with Him through the new-birth message
of repentance of sins, water baptism in His name
for the remission of sins, and receiving His
Spirit into their lives are saved from their sins
and are allowed again to fellowship with Him.