Acts #17 (chapter 5:11-42)
The Book of Acts
Five Essentials of Effective Evangelism
Acts 5:11-42
I invite you to turn with me to Acts 5, verse 12.  I introduced this chapter last week with the thought that no one would have imagined that the severe response Peter gives to the sin of two church members would have resulted in church growth, and yet that was what happened. 
There is a subtle truth nestled away in that story that reminds us God's goal for the church is Christ-likeness.  And in a nutshell, that is really why we exist.  We exist as followers of Christ to reach lost people, un-Christ like people, and see them saved and changed to be like Christ. 
And that is really the heart of evangelism and evangelism is at the heart of what we do.  It is the objective and the goal to go into all the world and teach them how to be Christ like.  It is never the goal to simply see them make a profession of faith, but to grow into being like Christ, a disciple of Christ.
And beginning in verse 12 and reaching all the way to verse 42, you see an example of how that worked in the early church. There are five elements found in these verses of what I would call effective evangelism. 
Obviously we won't be able to cover all five tonight.  In fact, it may take us two or three weeks to move through these verses, but I want us to see them and benefit from them. 
This church was blowing and going and reaching people , and all that in spite of outward persecution and inward sin.  And it's important to note that what's implied is everyone was involved.  It wasn't just the church leadership or a select few doing all the work.  
So what was the secret to their effectiveness?  Let me point out, straight from the text, these five elements of a powerful evangelistic church. 
We’ll identify the first one as
1. Purity
I don't have to say much about this one.  We covered it in the first eleven verses of the chapter, but I will add, the church that will have an impact through evangelism must be pure. If you’re going to go around announcing to the world that Jesus Christ has come to remove our sin and make us holy, then our holiness better be visible. 
Many folks are looking for any excuse they can find to reject the gospel, and they would just as soon use you or me and how sorry we are.  The most common excuse that you and I hear from people is, “Well, I know a whole lot of people who go to church, and they are nothing but a bunch of – fill in the blank – hypocrites.” 
I tell it's true the church is full of hypocrites, but come one down!  There's always room for one more! 
But in reality, for Christians to live a blatant, open rebellious life devastates our claim of transforming power through Jesus Christ. 
We are claiming that the Lord can take a sinner and turn him into a saint.  We are saying, this is what the gospel promises.  As Robert Murray M’Cheyne once said, “It is not great minds, it is not great plans, it is not great ideas God uses.  It is great likeness to Jesus Christ.  A holy instrument is an awesome weapon in the hand of God.” 
A holy life presents the evidence of the transformation the gospel announces, so the church has to be holy if it is to be effective in its evangelism. 
So when we talk about evangelism in the church, right off the bat, we must acknowledge the need for purity. 
Now, following these purifying deaths, notice what we read:
verses 12-16
The second element that lead to effective evangelism is
2.  Power
By the way, a good way to read this verse is to see from the middle of verse 12 through verse 14 as a parenthesis. 
The thought that begins at the first of verse 12 is finished in verse 15
The apostles were doing miraculous sings and wonders so that they brought them out into the streets and so forth.
So there is this amazing explosion of signs and wonders being done by the apostles and it reached all over Jerusalem and into the neighboring areas. 
And remember, all of this is happening after the apostles had been forbidden to do anything.  They had been threatened if they did any further preaching and miracles in the name of Jesus.  But they just inspired them to be more bold and the power that came as a result of their obedience was amazing. 
Now I want you to notice something very important in these verses.
verse 12a
Contrary to public perception, this is not a miracle-working church.  This is a church with miracle-working apostles.  There’s a big difference.  You have to make that distinction.  Scripture makes that distinction.
The Lord Himself gave this power to do miracles to the apostles and it was specifically given to identify them as such.  Not everyone in the church could do what they did.  In fact, Paul told the Corinthians that signs and wonders and mighty deeds were the signs of an apostle and it was limited to their life and ministry. 
I know there are a lot of people today to who believe in that kind of thing, but as far as I can tell, it was only for the beginning of the church age.  Miracles were only a part of the beginning and they were given to validate the apostles as men of God.
They claimed to be speaking the Word of God.  How could you verify they were who they claimed to be?  You couldn't compare what they said against the Bible because it wasn't around yet.  The evidence was they had divine power and it served as the validation of their ministry. 
And then the apostles died, the age of miracles and signs and wonders died.  Just as the apostles don’t last, and fade, so do the miracles.  They are fading even by the end of the book of Acts where there are no more miracles. 
In fact, the miracles are fading even with the apostle Paul still around.  He’s leaving people sick here and there.  The church had a such testimony at the beginning that would just lay the sick in the streets so Peter's shadow would fall on them.  They brought multitudes to the apostles and notice, verse 16 says they were all healed. 
But as the Holy Spirit began to reveal truth, and it began to be written down and circulated among the churches, the miracles were no longer needed to validate the message of God.  They could refer to the writing of the apostles and others for what they needed. 
But I don't want to miss the point.  In its earliest days, the church had people listening to its message because of the evidence of its power.  So how does that apply to us today? 
It applies to us in that we preach and share the record of that power.  We have the complete divinely-inspired heaven-sent record of all the miracles they did recorded for us on the pages of the New Testament, and that is a powerful record!
And just because these miracles occurred then means we have the privilege of drawing from their record now. 
Plus we also possess and house the power of God through the person of the Holy Spirit and the greatest miracle of all is the miracle He performs in conversion.
And once that happens, God does a divine miracle that opens the eyes of those who were lost to Scripture and it just comes alive.  And all the power displayed in the early church through those miracles becomes as alive to that person living today as it was to the people in Jerusalem witnessing the miracles. 
So this early church was effective in evangelism because of its purity and its power and thirdly, its
3.  Persecution
verses 17-18
Just as was expected, the opposition rises up. Here in our culture and age, we've gotten so used to our freedoms that we have forgotten effective evangelism always has a cost.  Where the gospel is preached, there will always be opposition and resistance. 
You may not get thrown in jail. You may not be physically assaulted or beaten, but anywhere the gospel is preached with purity and power, there will be persecution.  I
The world cannot stand a pure church.  It cannot stand a powerful church drawing its power out of biblical authority.  It becomes a horrible irritant to the system.  More and more at this time.  So persecution is predictable, and maybe more predicable right now in our lifetime than ever before.  
That shouldn't threaten or weaken our evangelism.  It might threaten cowards and fly-by-nights, but it will not slow or deter the people of God. 
As I said, we've been blessed, but the early church was immediately threatened and persecuted.  And I would just guess, we would have more of it if we were bolder and more vocal than we are. 
We are out of time, so we'll save that discussion for next time as we'll pick up right there. 
Let's pray..
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