May 5, 2024

What Makes a Church Great?

Passage: Acts 4:33
Service Type:


  “ What Makes a Church Great? “


Title: What Makes A Great Church

Text: "And with great power gave the apostles witness of the

resurrection of the Lord Jesus:  and great grace was upon them

all."--Acts 4:33.


This great church at Jerusalem is our God-given example of

"how to do it."  These folk got in touch with Heaven, received

their orders and the power to carry them out and please God. In

this day, when hundreds of churches are like dead batteries, giving out their sermonettes to Christianettes by preacherettes we need some prophets who will stand like the Rock of Gibraltar and build a mighty fortress for God.

     Let me share with you seven things that made the early New

Testament church one of the greatest the world has ever known.



     Their purpose was to obey the Saviour.  Jesus had asked them

to tarry in the Upper Room.  He said, "But tarry ye in the city

of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high" (Luke

24:49).  Obedience is always a vital link to power and blessing

from God.  Someone has said, "It is not ours to reason why; it is

but ours to do or die."

     Then, their purpose was to obtain the promise.  The promise,

of course, was the blessed Holy Spirit.  Jesus had promised in

Acts 1:8, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost

is come upon you"  This promise is made to every person

who desires to receive it from the Lord.

     Their purpose was to offer the Gospel.  They were to be

witnesses "both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in

Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). 

Peter stood before the great crowd in the streets of Jerusalem

and offered the Gospel to the Jews from many nations.  The sermon

was simple, and his purpose was plain.  He wanted to help people

get to Heaven.



     Peter was an ordinary man and not really a great preacher,

but his sermon was great preaching.  Great preaching in the early

church had a threefold characteristic:  It exalted Christ, it

edified the Christians, and it exposed sin.  These great

characteristics are present in all great sermons.

     Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit, when He was come, would

reprove the world of sin or expose it and reveal righteousness to

the world, which was exalting Christ and would explain the

purpose of the cross and the judging of Satan.  Three thousand

people responded to the invitation and then five thousand, at a

later sermon.  No one can deny that this is great preaching!



     The power at Pentecost was the same used at creation, to

divide the Red Sea, to keep Daniel safe in the lions' den, and to

rescue the three Hebrew children from the fiery furnace.  This

was also the same power that turned the water to wine, healed the

nobleman's son, fed the five thousand, gave sight to the blind

man and raised Lazarus from the dead.


This great power was manifest in the streets of Jerusalem

that day and is available to every Christian who will seek God

and pay the price.


Notice this power depends on certain things. 

It is dependent upon a clean life.  God will not fill a dirty

vessel with His Holy Spirit power.  We must be clean.  It depends

on consistent walking.  Jesus is the same yesterday, today and

forever.  The fly-by-night, blow-hot-blow-cold, in-and-out kind

of Christianity does not know the power of God.


Then, great power depends on continual asking.  Jesus

said, "If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father,

will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish

give him a serpent? . . .How much more shall your heavenly Father

give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:11,13). 

Surely God will not refuse those who know how to die and can tell

others.  "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh . . ." (Heb.

12:25), for then you shall be in danger of hearing the words of

this text, " . . .I have refused him" (I Sam. 16:7).


                    {The Recruiting of David}

     With Saul rejected and Eliab refused, we are delighted to

see David recruited to do the job!  God knew this boy's heart. 

David had a willing heart.  When the Lord looked into his heart,

He saw a boy . . ."after his own heart" (I Sam. 13:14).  His

motives were pure, his life was clean, and he was ready to go

where the Lord led.


David also had a wise head.

He was wise enough to wait until the proper time to claim the throne.  His experience of victory over the bear and the lion, as well as over Goliath,

expresses a note of wisdom.


David had working hands. 

Notice that out of eight boys, he was the one working.  This is an indication that he was more suited to be king.  When the Lord recruits His workers, surely

these areas of the heart, the head and the hands are of major

importance.  He is looking for a clean heart, a clear head and

calloused hands.



     It is sad that those who do the work of God upon the earth

are persecuted, but this is history.  Christians have always been

persecuted.  Jesus said to His disciples, "In the world ye shall

have tribulation . . ." (John 16:33).  The Apostle Paul promised,

"If we suffer, we shall also reign with him . . ." (II Tim.



These early Christians went through deep waters, and eleven

of the twelve apostles were killed in a violent way.  When people

really go all out to please God, there will be criticism and

threatening, as there was in the early New Testament church.

     The chief priests and scribes tried to stamp out this early

religion. It even included imprisonment.  Peter was thrown into

jail, as were some of the others.  Finally, Herod killed James

and would have killed Peter, too, had not the Lord spared him. 

Stephen was stoned to death.  All except John were martyred for

their faith in Christ.  John was exiled to Patmos, where he wrote

the book of Revelation.



     The people in this early Christian group were those willing

to give up their very life's work.  Peter left his nets and

followed Jesus.  James and John were willing to forsake their

fishing business and become fishers of men.  These folk were

willing to give up their wealth.  Barnabas sold his house and

laid his money at the offering table to be used for the work of

God.  They were willing to give up their very life.  Stephen was

willing to lay down his life in the street and give up his soul

unto the Lord.

     What a blessing to look out over the congregation of people

at our church and see those who have been willing to do these

very same things to further the cause of Christ.  It takes great

people to make a great church.  People are the church, not the




We read that "They continued daily with one accord. Praising God and having favour with all the people." (Acts 2:46,47) 


As miracles took place, such as the healing of the

blind man at the gate of the beautiful Temple, all of the people

joined him in praising God.  David must have caught the spirit of

this when he wrote Psalm 107.  Five times he cried out in this

psalm, "Oh, that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and

for his wonderful works to the children of men!"


There ought to be great praise to God for the Gospel and for

His willingness to endure the death, burial and resurrection in

order to provide redemption for sinners. 


Then, there is a need for praise for His goodness.  How good God is!  "But God

commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet

sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). 


There ought to be great praise for God's grace. It is by this grace that we are saved, and by His mercy has He saved us.


     One shabby little old lady with gray hair listened to the

testimonies of people in the church about the goodness of God. 

She stood to her feet and said, "I don't have much of this

world's goods.  My health is not so good.  I only have two teeth,

one up and one down; but, praise God, they meet!" This certainly

ought to be the attitude of all true Christians. There is always something to be thankful for.



     These people had a promise of Heaven, and so do we.  These

people had a promise of the Holy Spirit, and so do we.  They had

a promise of genuine happiness, and so do we.  "And this is the

promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life" (I John

2:25).  Thousands of promises in the Bible are for your benefit

and mine. Surely the need of this day is to analyze carefully these

seven great things that this great early church had, apply them

to our situation and benefit, that we, too, might have a great



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