1 Part 20: UNASHAMED, UNDAUNTED and UNSTOPPABLE! Texts: Acts 2:42 (NLT) - All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord s Supper), and to prayer. Notice what this verse states: "ALL the believers devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching. The King James Version says: "They continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine." Part 3 Living in the Dimension Beyond Average LET ME PREACH! A. Why did the early believers experience such extraordinary favor and blessings? 1. They lived in the Dimension Beyond Average! 2. These new believers made such an impact upon their society, the church exploded with exponential growth. Everyone wanted to experience what these disciples had discovered! 3. The last six verses of Acts chapter 2 explain why they were so highly favored. a. First, they were devoted to and continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine. b. What was the apostles' doctrine? What you believe about this is really important. c. The apostles' teachings can be categorized in two parts: (1) a general message of how to live, and (2) specific doctrines, such as: the blood atonement, forgiveness, water baptism, Holy Spirit baptism, the Lordship of Christ, etc.
2 4. According to their epistles, the apostles clearly believed that our instruction should come from the Bible. just as Jesus taught His disciples. a. Even when threatened by death, they never changed their message to accommodate society or its beliefs, as many Christians do today. b. They continued to base their teachings upon the Word of God, rather than the changing opinions of men Regarding specific doctrines, scripture is VERY clear that the apostles taught that salvation can only be found in Jesus Christ and that every person must be born again through water and Spirit baptism. 6. They believed that mankind is restored to a righteous and blessed relationship with God only by the blood of Christ. If we continue to live according to the principles of God's Word, our lives will be blessed. a. Romans 1:16-17 (NKJV) - For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith. b. Notice that verse 17 emphasizes that God's righteousness can only be revealed by embracing His Word. 7. Some may say, "...but times have changed and the Bible should, too. How could these ancient scriptures possibly be relevant in our world? a. It's true that some things cease to be relevant because of changing times but not the Bible! b. Though ancient, it's message is just as new and relevant as it ever was. We may age and grow old, but God's Word never does! 8. Speaking of growing old...(joke).here are a few signs of aging that I read about the other day. You'll know you're getting old when: a. You see a really beautiful woman and your pacemaker opens the garage door nearest you. b. You and your teeth don't sleep together. 1
3 c. Your back goes out, but you stay home. d. You wake up, looking like your driver's license picture. e. It takes two tries to successfully get up from the couch. f. Your idea of a night out is sitting on the patio. g. Happy hour is a nap. h. Your idea of weight lifting is standing up. i. You quit trying to hold your stomach in, no matter who walks into the room. j. You actually enjoy hearing about other people's operations. k. Your ears are hairier than the top of your head. l. You have a party and the next door neighbors didn't even notice. B. The apostles preached the Gospel. 1. The word Gospel actually means good news! a. What an incredible 'understatement!' Good news? How about outrageously awesome news? The best news ever? Or, amazing, stupendous, life-changing news! Those words would be more accurate. b. 'Good news' would be applicable for finding a cure for cancer or sickle-cell anemia; or if nations declared world peace and everyone ceased fighting and laid down their weapons. c It would be good news if the Democrats and Republicans began to get along and were committed to making our nation a better place to live, instead of being more loyal to their party agendas than the people who elected them. d. If everyone was healthy and well, had good jobs and owned their own homes,...that would be good news. But the Gospel? That's what I call incredible news! 2. The word 'Gospel' is used in the Greek New Testament 98 times. Here are a couple more examples other than our text:
4 a. Matthew 4:23 (NKJV) - And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. b. 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 (NKJV) - Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,  by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you unless you believed in vain. c. Paul taught that we can be saved only by holding fast to the Word that he preached. Without implying any disrespect, using the word gospel by itself doesn't really convey how good the Good News actually is! 3. Unlike the English language with a vocabulary of over 2 million words, the Greek and Hebrew language in Bible times was much, much smaller. a. Today, the average person has a working vocabulary of about 20,000 words. b. So, how about the Greek language which proclaimed the message of Christ, or the Good News? The Greek New Testament contains a total of about 1,700 different words in a variety of forms and tenses. c. It may seem that there are more words, but they are used in 5,624 different ways. In turn, those 5,624 forms are used over and over to comprise the total 138,020 individual words in the Greek New Testament. d. As in any language, some words are used more than others, such as "the," "a," "you," "him," "her," "I," and many others. Of these common forms, 311 words in the Greek New Testament are actually used over 50 times each to comprise almost 80% of the words in the New Testament. Some are used hundreds of times.
5 4. It's also important to understand that the languages of the Bible do NOT express comparisons as the English language does. a. In English. we use words that provide a degree of comparison when we want to emphasize a difference in quality. b. The ancients had no such comparisons. We can call one thing good, another better, and something else the best! c. For example, a child may say a McDonald's hamburger is good. But Fuddrucker's makes a hamburger that most of us would say is definitely better. But a couple of weeks ago, as our family relaxed after the church services, Jason Forgey, (a member of our extended family) cooked some hamburgers for the whole clan that were absolutely the best you've ever tasted! Like a master cook and his grill, you can't beat what Jason can prepare! d. What I'm saying is that when the Bible says Good News, it really means it's the BEST news because it teaches us how to live the greatest life possible. No other way of life could be nearly as good! C. This also highlights my problem with how most denominations teach the Bible. 1. They say that the Bible is all about dying and how to prepare for the next world. The truth is, the Bible is really a handbook for REAL LIFE while you're still here on earth. 2. I contend that God is more concerned about how you live than how you die. If that sounds like heresy, just think about it: if you live right, wouldn't that automatically prepare you for dying? 3. God gave us the Bible because He wants us to live! a. John 10:10 (NKJV) - The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. b. The Greek word for life is zoe: the state of one who is absolutely possessed of vitality; fullness of life.
6 c. The Greek word for abundantly is per-is-sos: superabundant; superior; over and above; extraordinary. 4. When Jesus said that He came so that we might have life more abundantly, He wants us to possess an absolutely superabundant vitality that is extraordinary, superior, and far above the rest of humanity! 5. After all, wouldn't He want the man and woman He had created and then placed in a veritable paradise called Eden to live the best life possible? a. God loves us and wants to bless us. Living a blessed life brings Him an unbelievable amount of glory! b. It was the enemy not God who spoiled the incredible life that Adam and Eve were enjoying in the garden. c. Satan intentionally ruined the good things God had created for humanity, because our misery and suffering would bring him glory! 6. Unless we know God, our lives can never be blessed in the way He intended. It just cannot happen! a. Without Him, our lives are only a fraction of what they could be. b. The blessings that come from embracing the principles of God's Word are living proof that life with God is far greater than it could ever be without Him. c. If you compare the eternal rewards for a life spent in serving Christ, it automatically removes the importance of preparing for death. 7. Think of the Bible as your road map to happiness and fulfillment. It's for living here and now not just for eternity or when you die. 8. Why is it important to live according to the teachings of the Bible? a. It would be the same as ignoring the directions of a map. You'll get lost and fail to reach your desired destination. b. If the directions seem too involved and you decide to omit a few turns on the map, you won't reach your destination. c. The same is true with God's Word. This is why those who fail to live according to the teachings of the Bible are called lost.
7 D. Knowing that the Bible is our road map to the Dimension Beyond Average, I'm continually amazed at how many will change His Word and still call it Good News. 1. I'm also amazed that they still expect God to bless and smile upon all they do. The Word of God is the seed that contains the fulfillment of His promises and blessings. If we change the seed to some other concept, we'll also change what it produces. 2. I realize that in some circles, what I'm teaching today is extremely unpopular. But I have three major reasons for what I preach: a. As a pastor, I must answer to God for what I say. So, if my only option is to proclaim the Word of God, let me preach! b. 1 Corinthians 9:16 (NKJV) - For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! c. Second, I love the people of this church as my own family. Preaching the Bible is my way of helping those I love experience God's divine favor in their lives. So, let me preach! d. Third, I believe that people really want to know what God's Word says. We've heard enough of man's opinions and look where it has led us. We need to hear from God. So once again I say, let me preach the Word of God! E. Since the Bible is not only Good News, but Incredible News, let's look at where it came from Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV) - All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2. The Bible is given to us by God for instruction, which is the meaning of the word doctrine.
8 a. It's like the instruction manual for a new car or computer. If you want to make the best use of your purchase, follow the instructions in the manual, right? b. Isn't it strange that people will live empty, miserable lives, but never consult the manual that can fix their problems. 3. In the above verse, the Word is also given to correct certain actions that could bring harm to ourselves, our families and others. But correction is what people object to the most. They don't want correction, even if harms them or those they love. 4. The Bible also helps us enjoy a full, blessed life rather than an empty one. This scripture assures that it makes us complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work. 'Complete' means: there is nothing lacking. F. The Word of God is always perfect. 1. Psalm 19:7 (NKJV) - The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. 2. In ancient literature, the quantity of recovered New Testament manuscripts is unparalleled. a. There are over 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the Bible, about 8,000 Latin manuscripts, and another 1,000 manuscripts in other languages (Syriac, Coptic, etc.). b. In addition to this extraordinary number, we have tens of thousands of citations from New Testament passages written by the early church fathers who lived immediately after the apostles, plus the earliest manuscripts written by the apostles themselves. c. In contrast, the typical number of existing manuscript copies for any Greek or Latin authors, such as Plato, Aristotle, Caesar, or Tacitus, ranges from one to 20. How strange that no one questions their validity or whether they were translated incorrectly! 3. So, let's put to rest the argument that the Word of God has been changed so many times, we can't possibly know what the originals scriptures said.
9 a. In 1947, a young Bedouin boy discovered the Dead Sea scrolls. Some of these manuscripts date back hundreds of years before Christ. b. The only differences they could find between the scrolls and the same books in our Bibles are minor differences in punctuation or spelling, which is consistent with different languages. For example, we say Paris, while a Frenchman may say, Paree. G. Now, let's consider the absolute and vital necessity of the Word of God. 1. God's Law is perfect; without His Word, we will walk in darkness: a. Psalm 19:12-14 (NKJV) - Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.  Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression.  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. b. Psalm 119:105 (NKJV) - Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. c. Why do we need God's Word to help us find our way? Isn't man smart enough to find his way without God's help? The problem is, we have all been affected by our fallen nature. d. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV) - For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. H. God warns us about changing His Word. 1. You would think that mere mortals wouldn't dare change the Word of the Living God; but that has become quite common these days. Notice what the Apostle Paul said would happen:
10 a. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NLT) - "For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.  They will reject the truth and chase after myths." b. We live in those times! 2. When the Prophet Jeremiah sent a scroll of the Word of the Lord to King Jehoiakim, one of his advisers read the scroll to him. Look at what the king did: a. Jeremiah 36:23-24 (NKJV) - And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe s knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.  Yet they were not afraid, nor did they tear their garments, the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words. b. As King Jehoiakim read a few pages from the Word of God, he would cut them out and throw them into the fire. c. His people also despised the Word of God. That's what happens when the leaders of a country fail to value God's Word. Their followers do the same. As a result, the nation of Israel was destroyed and taken into captivity by the Babylonians. 3. As long as sin exists, our world will always have problems. And there hasn't been a perfect world since the fall of man. a. Some of the biggest problems our nation has faced began when the Supreme Court ruled against the teachings of the Word of God on significant matters, such as abortion and prayer in schools. b. Steps were also taken to undermine the teachings of God's Word. Unfaithfulness and immorality of every type have been embraced as the right of each individual. c. The Bible and prayer were outlawed in schools and the Ten Commandments removed from public buildings.
11 d. Today, people are seeking to silence the preaching of the Word of God. Pastors' sermons, here in our own city, have been subpoenaed to be sure they fit the politically correct message of the times. e. If you preach against things that will destroy people's lives, that is now termed as hate speech. f. Had the apostles lived in our day, they would have been imprisoned for life for their teaching. g. Jesus certainly wouldn't be welcome in our world. 4. Each day when I awaken, I'm wondering what crazy things happened in our world during the night. a. As a nation, we have lost our compass and the light that guides us through the darkness. b. The big question is this: does the Word of God change from generation to generation to fit the lifestyles of the day? No! Of course not! So, let me preach! c. Psalm 119:89 (NKJV) - Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. d. Matthew 24:35 (NKJV) - Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. 5. God further declares the huge price that must be paid by those who attempt to add or take away from the spoken Word. a. Revelation 22:18-19 (NLT) - I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book.  And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book. I. What should be our response to God's Word?
12 1. The story of King Josiah is one of the most inspiring in all of scripture. a. 2 Kings 23:25 (NKJV) - Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him. b. After Judah had strayed so far from God, idol worship became the order of the day. Solomon's beautiful temple had fallen into such a state of disrepair, it was quite a dilapidated structure. c. When Josiah became king at the age of eight, he began to lead the people away from idolatry and to repair the House of God. d. His father, King Amon, and his grandfather, King Manasseh, were two of Judah's most wicked kings. However, Josiah chose an opposite path and began to implement reforms that brought Judah back into the divine favor of Almighty God. e. Why do you suppose he took an opposite course than his parents and grandparents? It's simple. He was not reared by them because they were killed. Instead, Josiah was taught by godly people. f. How sad that the only hope some children have is for someone other than their parents to teach and train them. 2. Parents are commanded to instill godly values in their children. The truth is, having a godly influence in your life is the only hope for our world. It's not about great evangelists or great sermons but how we raise the next generation. 3. America could be completely turned around in just one generation if parents understood that the spiritual education of their kids is as important as secular education...or their soccer and gymnastic competition...or their music.or their TV programs. So let me preach! 4. As I've often said, the parents of today are either taking it for granted that their children will become believers, or they assume that the church will take total responsibility for turning their kids into model Christians.
13 a. Is this why they allow their kids to sleep late on Sunday mornings instead of going to church? b. What is just as bad would be bringing them to the House of God on Sunday morning and then expecting the church to undo in one or two hours what has been pumped into their kids' young hearts and minds during the other 166 hours of the week in the school, watching TV, social media, or other influences of the day. c. It won't just happen! Again I say, let me preach! 5. As a grandparent with several very athletically gifted grandchildren, I've told their parents over and over, This is really great but you must bring my grandchildren to church on Sunday! a. Do your daily devotionals together, as a family. Teach them to love and honor God and His Word. That is what matters most in life! b. What usually happens is that our children will grow up, graduate and move on to some occupation other than sports. As adults, the only sports most of them will be involved with will be watching their favorite team play on TV. c. If they do make it to the pros, that's fantastic! No one will be rooting for them any more than me. And listen up: if you do make it to the pros, pay your tithes! Let me preach! 6. The Bible says that when Josiah was 18 years old, they found a copy of the scriptures as they were cleaning and repairing the House of God. a. As the words were read to King Josiah, he tore his clothes and wept when he realized how terribly Judah had transgressed the Law of God. b. By implementing further changes in society, God spared the nation from imminent destruction, like some terrible sword of Damocles, waiting to fall at any moment. c. God pushed back the disaster that had been set in motion because of their bad choices and had mercy upon them.
14 7. Josiah honored God's Word and urged his people to obey the laws of God. a. As a result, Josiah and his people were greatly blessed by God. b. In comparison, Jehoiakim cut away the parts of God's Word that he did not like and burned them. After he was killed, the nation was destroyed and his people became slaves. c. God help us to imitate Josiah! J. Life Application Points: 1. Love the Word. 2. Study the Word. 3. Go to church without fail and hear the Word preached. 4. Believe the Word. 5. Live the Word.