Hello, and welcome to this message from Calvary Albuquerque. We're excited to hear from our special guest speaker, Pastor Nate Heitzig. Nate serves as the Executive Creative Administrator at Calvary Albuquerque. If this message encourages you, we'd love to hear about it. Email us at email@example.com. and if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/give.
At Calvary, we believe that God has called us to serve Him regardless of our rank or title, and each person has a part to play. It's not a job. It's a calling. Now we invite you to open your Bible as Nate begins.
Hey, turn to your neighbor and say, you want to be my friend? Now whoever said that, turn to them and say, bro, have you seen my Facebook? I don't need any more friends.
Hey, again, it's Connect Group weekend. And I truly believe that connect groups are one of the most important things that we do. And I believe that they are the number one thing that we do that reflects Christ's desire for the church. I think connect groups reflect Christ's desire for the church more than anything else we do as the church. We do a lot of stuff, but connect groups truly reflect God's desire for what he wants us to be.
See, I believe that the only reason the church needs a brick and mortar building any more is for family ministry, reaching out through community and involvement to grow and build and strengthen one another. And you say, well, hold on, Nate, isn't the church all about preaching the word? Isn't that the purpose of the church?
It is, but here's the reality. We've never been in a culture and in a day and age where good Bible teaching is more readily accessible at our fingertips. Before you even get out of bed in the morning, you can listen to incredible Bible teaching from around the world. You can download podcasts. You can listen to the radio. You can listen to CDs or MP3s. We've never been in a day and age where Bible teaching is more readily accessible. And we're blessed to have incredible Bible teaching here at this church.
But the purpose, I believe, of the church going forward into the future, the brick and mortar, this building, is to provide opportunity for connection, connecting to each other, building one another up, accountability, commonality, unity and growth on a personal and group level. And that's something you can't get-- that love, that connection, you can't get that at home in your bed.
Now we live in a time where our society is becoming more and more disjointed and divided, don't we? Rather than celebrating what we have in common, we live in a culture that emphasizes that which separates us. And I don't know about you, but I've never seen our country more divided than today, right? Doesn't it seem like every time you turn on the news, there's another story that's just dividing us, that's pulling us further apart, that's making light of our differences rather than what we have in common?
Have you ever turned on the news and there was an article, or there was a news story that just united the world? No, it doesn't seem like there's ever a story that regardless of race, creed, color, religion, that it just unites us. That doesn't exist. Our culture is divided. Our culture is separated. We emphasize that which separates us.
Families are falling apart like never before. People are looking for a place to belong, a community where they can feel safe, a family that they can belong to, a place to genuinely love and be loved.
News flash. That's what the church is. That's what the church is supposed to be. That's what connect groups are all about. That's why we exist. Connect groups are a place to belong. They're a community where we can feel safe, not judge. It's a family that we can belong to. It's a place to genuinely love each other and to be loved. It's a place to call home.
And I don't know about you, but this resonates with my heart. I need this. I need that kind of a place where I can be loved, where I can be myself, where I can be real and authentic and I don't have to put on a mask, because let's be honest, when you're sitting in a room with 2000 people and you know people are going to see you, you think about how you look. You think about what you're going to wear. You want to make sure your makeup looks good. And maybe you're a guy and you still wear makeup, I don't know.
But you're looking about all these things and you're thinking about how you look, you're putting your mask on, making sure you look nice, you're putting on a front. But when you're in a room of people, when you're with family, you don't put on a front, do you? When you're with your family, when you realize that no one cares how you look, no one cares how you act, you can be real, authentic, you can let your guard down. You can build relationships that last. We need that. We crave that. As human beings, it's innate within who we are.
You know, the church is the only organization that Jesus Christ ever started. The Bible tells us that he purchased the church with his own blood in Acts 20:28. Colossians 1:18 says, Christ is the head of the church, which is his body. He is the first of all who will rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. Not only did Jesus start it, but Jesus promised that he will bless it and maintain it, that he will cause it to continue. Of it, Jesus said, I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
Man, I love this verse, and I love the meaning of the Greek here. The Greek word for church is ecclesia. And the Greek word for gates of hell is Hades. And literally what the translation could be, Jesus says, I will build my gathering, and not even death can overcome it.
Now I want you to think about this. I will build my gathering. Not even death will overcome it. Here's the reality. When we are a part of the gathering of Christ, the gathering that Christ wants to build that is founded on his death, burial, and Resurrection, when we have commonality and unity in what we believe, in what we hold true, in the truth of scripture, then what's going to happen is that even when we die, that unity, commonality, and community will not be broken. It will just be furthered, because we'll have that commonality and unity in heaven.
When we build the church that God wants to build, not even death can overcome it. It can just strengthen it. So that's what he's speaking of here, this gathering, this group of people who have community and unity. And that's only going to get stronger no matter what happens. No, the church isn't perfect. We have our flaws. But there is nothing like the church in the world. There's nothing like it in the world.
And there's a personal call to this. We're not talking today about the church corporately, we're talking about the Church personally, because you and the person sitting next to you, you're the church. You're the church. You are what this passage is talking about. There is a call to this for you. There is nothing like the church unleashed. There is nothing like you and I taking the call personally of who God wants us to be and letting the world witness and view that. You and I are a part of this church that Jesus purchased, that he heads, and that he protects. He has a purpose for each of us individually in this great plan of his.
I was just in Orlando this past week for a conference. And unless you've been hiding under a rock, you know what's happening in Orlando right now and Florida in general. Hurricane Irma is barreling towards it. It just made landfall with the Keys. We want to keep praying for Florida. But I was just in Orlando. I flew out on Friday night, and it's a good thing I did because they closed the airport down on Saturday. And if I would have missed my flight, I would have been stuck in Florida right now instead of being here with you.
But I was in my hotel feeling a sense of security because my hotel that I was staying at was a Category 5 rated hurricane hotel. They had a generator, water. So I knew I was safe there. And in this safe space of the hotel I was looking out the window just wondering what it would look like once the hurricane hit. I'd never been in a hurricane. Part of me wanted to stay there because it was a safe hotel just to see what it looked like when the hurricane came, because I've never seen that. I've been told that the skies turn green, literally they turn green and it's just a crazy experience. And I was like, well, hey, if I'm safe in the hotel, maybe I should just stick it out.
But I got out of Orlando, thankfully. And as I was sitting at the resort looking outside, I was reminded of a movie called Twister. Who in here has seen the movie Twister? Well, a side note. This movie came out in 1996 when I was 10 years old. And if you really want to feel old, then know that this is the same year that many of this past year's American Idol contestants were born in. So there's that for you.
Well, in this movie there's one scene when they are tracking this storm and it rolls through a farm. And as they're driving and trying to escape the carnage, they see something interesting. Anyone remember this scene, when they're in the farm in twister? Along with debris, water, and dirt, they see flying through the sky none other than a cow. That's right, a cow. And that at one point in the movie, we hear one of the most famous lines. He says, we've got cows. We've got cows.
Obviously, under normal circumstances, a big cow could never fly through the sky. But the tremendous power of the wind had picked up that cow and given the cow the power to fly. It was the first super cow. The power of the storm counteracted the laws of nature and caused that cow to do something impossible. Come on, somebody, there's a truth packed in there for us. The power of the storm counteracted the laws of nature and caused that cow to do something impossible were it not for the power of the storm.
Church, I don't know that things have ever been more dark in our culture spiritually. And it's so tempting to retreat into our little Christian subculture feeling like there's nothing we can do. Yet as I read about the early church in the Book of Acts, I see that they made an impact on their culture. They were the church unleashed. Could that be said of you and I? Are we part of the church unleashed? Individually, you say, yeah, we're part of the church unleashed. Look at what Calvary does. People are coming to Christ every day, every week. This church is growing. We're part of the church unleashed.
No, personally, are you part of the church unleashed? Is your neighborhood changing because of your relationship with Christ? Do your neighbors know about your relationship with Christ? Do your coworkers know about your relationship with Christ? Does your friends and family? Are you the church unleashed? Are you making an impact on your culture around you? Because it's a personal call, not just a corporate call. You are called to be the church unleashed.
As believers living in an ungodly world, we wonder if we can ever make a difference. We wonder if we can effectively penetrate our cynical culture with the good news that God has given us to proclaim. And the answer to this comes in the source of our power. Church, if we rely on our own strength and methods, I promise you we're never going to make a difference in our culture. Just as that cow couldn't make itself fly no matter how hard it tried, no matter how much it willed itself to fly, that cow could never make itself fly.
Who's seen that commercial of the ostrich wearing VR glasses, and it really wants to fly. And it really, really wants to fly but it can't fly. A cow can't fly. It can't make itself fly no matter how much it wants. But if we choose to be driven by God's limitless power, we become like that cow in the twister where nothing can stop us. And we can make a more dramatic difference than we could ever dream of. The power of God can counteract the laws of nature and cause you to do something impossible.
The power of God. When you allow the power of God to grab hold of you, to pick you up, to propel you forward. It can counteract the laws of nature. You say, well, I'm not talented. I'm not gifted. God hasn't given me a good voice. He hasn't given me the gift of speaking. I can't open up my home and allow people into my home. It's too messy. They're going to judge me. I can't meet with people because I'm too messed up. I don't want them to see how broken I am.
When you allow the power of God to grab hold of you, when you allow it to pick you up, it will counteract the laws of nature and cause you to do something impossible. We just have to be willing to be a part of the church unleashed.
Now something more incredible happens when we as a church connect with one another, and with our powers combined, Captain Planet. No, with our minds connected, with our lives ignited together, we can change the world. P.S. I'm not calling anyone in here a cow, so please don't send me an email.
Are you part of the church unleashed? You can be, if you do it God's way in God's power. And in a little bit I'm going to tell you how you can find that same power and experience it for yourself. But right now let's read our text, Acts Chapter 2 Verse 42 through 47. And as we open God's word, let's open in prayer.
Lord, we thank you for this opportunity to study your word. We ask that it would convict us, that it would challenge us, that it would change us, and that it would propel us out these doors to make a difference, to be part of the church unleashed. As we rally around one another, we want to be a part of something incredible. In your name we pray. Amen.
Acts Chapter 2 Verse 42 through 47. It's going to be up here on the screens if you didn't bring a Bible. But let's read it together. Acts Chapter 2 Verse 42. And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship in the breaking of bread and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they sold their possessions and goods and divided them among all as any one had need.
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
This is the formula for how to have a successful church. This is the formula for how it works, what makes it successful. And what I love is that it's so simple. It's not complicated. There's not some convoluted formula that if you have this kid's ministry, and this kind of worship, and this size room, and this lighting, and this kind of-- it's simple. We can build all that other stuff around it. But the core of it, how to have a successful church, is simple.
Acts Chapter 2 is about the birth of the church. In fact, this is the first day in the life of the church. And although this church lacked every worldly advantage, although it was attacked spiritually and physically, it not only survived, but it thrived. And somehow it did it without surveys and church growth consultants and experts.
There's three things that stand out in our text about what made this church work, what made this church that Jesus founded work. Number one, they were intimate with God through worship and by the word. That is, they were dedicated to doctrine and they were pursuing God, pursuing the passionate praise of God. They were intimate with God through worship and by the word.
Number two, they were involved with one another. They lived life together. They were a part of each other's lives. They didn't isolate themselves. They lived life together, not just when they were hearing Bible studies, but throughout the week. They ate together, they spent time together, they encouraged each other. They kept each other accountable. They pushed one another towards righteousness. And this is where we're going to spend the bulk of our time today because it's Connect Group weekend.
But third and finally, they were imparting the gospel to the world. They were changing the world around them by doing some very basic things. And by the way, this is our vision statement. Our vision statement says, we pursue the God who passionately pursues the lost world. We do this with one another, through worship, by the word, and to the world.
This is important because people often ask me, hey, where do we get our vision statement from? And why does it say what it says? And how do we come up with it? We didn't just come up with it because we said, hey, these are some good things we'd really like our church to do. This is clever. We think this sounds good.
We have it because that's what the Bible has for us. It's what the Bible has for what the church is supposed to be. And we want you to fulfill God's purpose and calling for your life. And as a part of the church, as the church, we believe that if you implement these things in your personal life, if you live life with one another through worship, by the word, to the world, you will be a successful member of the body of Christ. And that's our desire for you, is that you would grow in your understanding and be a functioning member of the body.
And so that's why we have this vision statement, because we invite you to be a part of our vision for what God has for this city, to impact this city and turn this world upside down.
Number one, we're to be intimate with God through worship and by the word. Look at Verse 42. And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship in the breaking of bread and in prayers. Now look at Verse 47. Praising God and having favor with all the people, the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
We see two things here. Number one, we are to be dedicated to doctrine, and number two, we are to be passionately praising God and pursuing him. God has called us to live for the praise of his glory, Ephesians 112 says. Here's the reality. I am here on this earth to glorify and know the God who created me. That's what I was created for. That's why I am on this earth. You were created to know and glorify the God who created you.
Now this answers the existential crisis of our day and age of why am I here? What's my purpose? What was I created to do? What kind of job should I have? Where should I go? Before you get to all that, you were created to know and glorify God. And if you missed that part, you're never going to find God's purpose for you outside of that. You were created to know God and to glorify Him. And if you don't know Him, if you're not glorifying him, you're never going to really find the purpose that He has you on this earth for outside of that. You've got to start there.
This is the answer. This is why you were made. If you've wondered, this is it. And if you don't know God, if you don't have a relationship with God, I'm going to give you an opportunity in just a little bit to make sure that you know God and know that you're going to go to heaven when you die.
1 Peter 2:9 says, you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light. So we were created to praise God, to passionately praise God. We were also created to be dedicated to doctrine. We as a church are to be dedicated to scripture. Paul said his own goal was not merely to evangelize, but to present every man mature in Christ.
Ephesians 4:11 in the NLT, speaking of the church, says their responsibility is to equip God's people to do His work, and to build up the church, the body of Christ, until we to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's son will be mature and full grown in the Lord.
Let me ask you a question. How can we have unity and commonality in our faith and knowledge of Christ unless we're dedicated to doctrine, to spreading and receiving good teaching, to understanding the principles and the precepts in God's word? If we're not dedicated to that as a church, then we're never going to be united in our commonality, in our faith and knowledge. We got to start there.
And this is part of God's plan to build His gathering. To build His gathering, a group of people who have unity in our faith and knowledge, because if we have unity in our faith and knowledge, we can find unity in a lot of other things. But we got to start there. Unity in our faith and knowledge. A group of people who are pursuing God and pushing one another towards the same goal.
Now the problem is that we think of ourselves as consumers instead of a congregation. We live in a consumer culture. So we view ourselves, when we come to church, as consumers rather than as a congregation. You know, the New Testament doesn't know anything of the trend among many today to shop for a church as though they were looking for a supermarket that sells what they like. And so they walk in the doors and look around to see if it's what they like, if it's what they want. And if it doesn't fit the bill, they go to the next one because we're consumers.
The New Testament doesn't know anything about where one is on a quest to become more spiritual, wanting nothing to do with anyone else. I read recently that Baby Boomers expect three things in a church, good music, social groups, and big meeting rooms. Those are the three things that they're looking for.
Now these three amenities could be an initial attractor, but what about the teaching of the word? Worship, service, evangelism? Many people sample churches at the same rate at which they sample soft drinks. And the moment they feel a little bit uncomfortable or challenged, they leave, because man, that's just too confrontational. I don't want to deal with that. Hit a little too close to home. I'll go find somewhere else that doesn't make me feel quite as uncomfortable.
Well, let me warn you that part of our ministry as a pastoral staff here at Calvary Albuquerque is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. It's part of our goal. So if you're feeling afflicted, you come in these doors and you're brokenhearted, you're hurting, you're lost. We're going to comfort you. We're going to lift you up. We're going to strengthen you. We're going to let you know that hey, you're one of us. You're part of this tribe. We're going to comfort for you.
But if you come in here with a haughty heart, feeling a little too comfortable, we're going to afflict you. And we won't have to work too hard. You're probably going to be afflicted just from the message. And the hope is that you'd be afflicted to a place of repentance and restoration to truly be a part of God's plan for your life.
There we go. I like that. The slogan of one of America's fast food chains IS alive and well in the church today. Have it your way. And so we have a group of people who are consumers instead of servants, consuming instead of communing. They're spectators instead of participaters. They're customers instead of disciples. And guess what, our McChurches are producing McChristians. Our sermonettes are producing Christianettes. Programs have taken the place of power. Gimmicks have taken the place of gospel and church. We need to fight against this with every breath we have.
We to be building up true believers who are strong in the understanding of scripture. And this is one of the things that connect groups fight against. Connect groups' goal is to take what we hear and give us an opportunity to apply it and allow it to change our lives, allow it to change our lives so that we don't just hear it, but that we go from that place into a smaller place to talk about it.
We live in a culture where it's really easy to hear and not listen, right? If you have kids you know this. How often do you tell your kids, I know you hear me, but I need you to listen to me. Wives, how often do you tell your husbands this? I know you hear me but I need you to listen to me. Because it's one thing to hear. Hear doesn't cause change, doesn't cause progress. But listening causes change and progress.
And guess what? I fear that this culture has seeped into the church, that it's easy to come and sit in a row and hear the word of God, and then get up and not talk to anybody, walk out of the auditorium, go in our car, and it has gone in one ear and out the other. Connect groups challenge us. It takes us from a big room and puts us in a small room where we can't hide and we're forced to talk about it. We're forced to be challenged, and we're forced to change and grow from that place.
Look, you can hide in an auditorium of 2000. But you can't hide in a room of 10. Connect groups turn us back from just spectators into participaters. We're no longer just consuming, but we're communing with one another. We aren't just creating customers anymore. We're creating true disciples, a place where we can't hide.
Look, it's easy to come into church with a consumer mentality, and come to our seat and say, well, that's my seat. Someone's sitting in my seat. That's where I always sit. Why are they sitting there? That's my spot. And then the worship starts and they say, why are they playing that song? I hate that song. I wish they'd play this song.
And then the pastor starts talking and they say, why are they talking about that? I wish they'd talk about something else every now and then. And then go to kids' ministry and say, why did they do this kid's program? I wish they did this. Why did they have that check-in system? Then go to the coffee shop and say, why did the beans taste like this? I think the beans should taste like that.
And it's easy to walk through the whole entire church as a consumer and never be a part of the congregation. We need to turn this consumer culture upside down, dump it out, get rid of it, throw it out of the church. And we need to be the congregation that God has called us to be, being disciples, not consumers.
The preaching of the word of God in our day and age has been devalued, while drama and entertainment have taken center stage. And what happens is we've ended up with a high view of man and a very low view of God. And in many ways, it looks like the world is impacting us more than we're impacting it.
Now don't get me wrong. I believe in being culturally relevant. I believe in being in touch with what is going on around me. And I believe that we can take those things, we can take drama and entertainment, and we can use it to further the word of God, to bolster the word of God. But the second we allow it to replace the word of God-- and we say, you know what, we don't need teaching anymore, we can just have these things in place of it because it does a better job-- that's the problem.
We can never allow those things to replace good Bible teaching. And that's what I love about Calvary Albuquerque. That's the core of who we are. Since I've been a kid, I've heard my dad say, don't let the movement become a monument. And the message will not change, but the methods always will. We have always been dedicated to doctrine and the teaching of God's word, and that's never going to change.
And that leads us to number two. We need to be involved with one another. Look at Verse 44. Says, now all who believed were together and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.
They were involved with one another. The early church looked out for each other. A word that is used here is the word koinonia. Means fellowship, communion, distribution, contribution, partnership. And what the church did in having all things in common was implement this principle. And what this principle is, at its core, is hospitality. It's hospitality. It's opening your home with joy and treating strangers like family.
Again, we don't allow our family to go without food, right? If our family's hungry, we give them some food. We give our families shelter. This is the idea, that we would treat strangers, , we would treat each other in this room the person next to you, like family, with hospitality, with love, opening our home, fellowshipping, communing.
Now the communal situation was initially established, then done away with. But the koinonia principle behind it remains today. It simply means that God's people take care of one another. It means that we don't rely on other people to take care of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We do it. We don't wait for the government to take care of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we do it.
The church is a place that takes in the hurting, the broken, and the searching. And it doesn't say to them, let us help you, it says, you're one of us. Let's bring you up to where we are, and let's help each other. And while we're at it, let's help the world. It says you're one of us. It brings them to us.
Attending church is not a spectator sport. The Bible compares it, and our involvement, to being in a family. And I think this is one of the downfalls in our culture today is that breakdown of the family has occurred. We don't any longer know what family's supposed to look like. Because maybe you had a bad family when you were younger. Maybe your family wasn't what a family should be. And so when you hear about family, you get so afraid of that because you're afraid of, what happens if that's just like my first family? And they let me down and they hurt me.
And so we end up making our decisions based on fear rather than faith, and missing out on what God has for us. And I challenge you, don't live life dictating your decisions by fear.
The Bible also compares the church to being part of a body. And a hand can't exist without the rest of the body to support it. God has commanded each of us to be a functioning, vital part of the church. He's commanded you to be a part of the church. It's not optional. We've got to conquer that fear. We've got to be a part of one another's lives. Ephesians 4:15 says, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the head, that is Christ, from him the whole body joined and held together by every supporting ligament grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work.
It's not an option, church, for us as believers to take or leave community within the church. It's not an option. If we are true Christians, we will want to be a vital part of all that God is doing today in and through his people. And I've heard people say, well, there's just too many hypocrites in the church. Who's heard that? Who's said that? There's too many hypocrites here.
And therefore they decide to not be a part of a church at all. And then they'll say, well, I've just become bitter. Why is that? Because you found out that church isn't all perfect people, but instead people like you and me? People who make mistakes, and yes, even sin?
What did you think the church was? I've heard it said that the church isn't a museum for saints. It's a hospital for sinners. If the church was for perfect people, then you're not allowed to come here. If the church was for perfect people, then none of us could be here. I couldn't be here.
Here it is. You need to write this down. If your theology separates you from sinners like you, you've got some work to do. I'll say it again. If your theology separates you from people like you, you've got some work to do. Because our theology shouldn't separate us. Our theology should connect us. Our theology should unite. Us our theology should cause us to love each other, to go to the uttermost parts, to the broken, the destitute, the hurting, the sinners, the sad, the depressed, and reach an arm out to them and pull them up, and strengthen their walk rather than push them down and squash them.
We need to have a theology of love. And if we don't get this right, it doesn't matter what we get right. Doesn't matter. The future of the church hangs on our willingness to be one and to be united. And guess what? It reflects Jesus and His oneness more than anything else we could do. The Bible says it. The Bible says, you are my disciple if you have really good theology. No. You're my disciples if you teach the Bible verse by verse. Mm-mm. You're my disciples if you have the coolest church. Uh-uh. You are my disciples if your kids' ministry program is the best in the city.
No, it says you're my disciples if you love each other. We're marked on how well we're doing. Our scorecard is decided on how well we're loving each other. The way we build this gathering is by love. Imagine for a second a world where people were skeptical about what you believed, but they were envious about how well you loved and treated each other. Imagine that. They look to what you believe and they say, that doesn't make sense, that stupid. But man, they love each other so well. They treat each other so well. I want that. I long for that.
True community is hard. True community is uncommon. If it's easy, you're doing it wrong, if it's hard and takes diligence and intentionality, you're doing it right. If it's easy, you might not be a gathering of Jesus. If we don't get this right, it doesn't matter what we get right. Church should not be some kind of miserable experience. Church should be an oasis for people in a hot desert, a place to be refreshed, revived, and equipped to go back into the world that we all live in.
We shouldn't dread it. We should look forward to it, even long for it. Psalm 1:22 1 says, I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord. And church, God has a unique plan in place for this church in this world. Paul tells us that we are the called of Jesus Christ. This word is ecclesia. It means, again, a called out gathering. First and foremost, God's people have been called out from this world system that is hostile to God. Jesus said, they are not of this world, just as I am not of this world.
That doesn't mean we're supposed to isolate ourselves, because Jesus also says, let your light so shine before men. But it means we're not supposed to love it, according to 1 John 2. We're not supposed to love the world's ways, the way the world does things. We're called out of it. But we're also called to be together. We're called out of the world and called to be together, to be a gathering. Acts 2:44, again, says, now all who believed were together. They worshiped together. They prayed together. They studied scripture together. They ate food together. They prayed together. They gave their tithes and offerings together. They shared the gospel together.
This is why community is so important. This is why connect groups exist, fulfilling God's plan for the church, his gathering, helping you fulfill God's purpose for your life. God wants you to live life together. And connect groups are the way that we intentionally mobilize our church to accomplish God's will and purpose for his church. It's why we say, if you just come to Sunday services or Wednesday services, you're missing out on a huge portion of what God wants for your life.
God wants you to be in community and to live life together. I would suggest to you that if you really want to walk with the Lord and grow spiritually, involvement in the church is an absolute necessity. And when I say church, I mean gathering, not attending. It's easy to attend. It's different to gather. And there is nowhere that you can experience a with one another gathering atmosphere better than connect groups. Hebrews 10:23 says, let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some.
Church, you can't call Sunday church a fulfillment of this because you can come to Sunday church, and sit down and leave without talking to anybody, without stirring one another up for good works, without encouraging one another, without considering one another. You can do that. But you can't get away from exhorting one another, from building one another up in connect groups. There has to be something more.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians Chapter 12 that every member of the body is to participate in the life of the church, every member. And yet did you know that only 18% of Christians are involved in small group community? Only 18%. That means 82% of the body is missing from the life of the church and God's call for us as Christian.
Community in America is broken. It's broken. A recent study shows that for every single person in America, we only have about two people that we can have any real meaningful conversation with. We only have two people that we can have any real conversation, that we can confide in. Most of us don't even know our neighbors. And I'm guilty of this. We don't even have relationships with the people in our neighborhood.
And I know it's hard for us to believe that we are that disconnected, that we're that isolated in our day and age, because we live in a day and age where we've never been more connected socially. We've ever been more connected technologically. And there's never been more of an opportunity for connectivity than today in this day and age.
You know that the average person, again, they only have two people that they can confide in. They have an average of 314 friends on Facebook. They're connected to an average of eight community groups on Facebook. And we become so focused on, well, how many friends do I have? How many likes do I have? How many followers do I have? What did that person say? Did they unfollow me? Oh, no, they didn't.
And we get so consumed with our social network, and yet we have no real relationships, no real friendships. We need to have real, authentic, life-giving, gospel-centered community. That's the answer to what our culture craves. It's what we need to look for. It's what we need to find.
Third and finally, we need to be imparting the gospel to the world. Look at Verse 47, and this is really a natural outgrowth of the first two. Praising God and having favor with all the people, the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. What I love about this is this is really, again, a natural outgrowth of the first two. It doesn't really say how they were saved, other than the Lord added to the church daily.
So what it shows to me is the church, simply by being in the church, the gathering, simply by being the gathering, by being dedicated to doctrine, praising God, being connected to each other and loving each other well, cause the world to look on and say, I want that. I want to be a part of that. And then God did the work. God added to the church daily.
It shows me that, well, it's important to verbalize our faith. Again, Mark 16:15 says, go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature. If we're appreciating it but our lives aren't showing it, the world's going to see right through it and see that it's fake, that it's false. And they're not going to want anything to do with it. s We've got to show the world our faith, and then tell them about the Gospel according to God.
Everybody has a part to play. Everybody has a job to do, a need to serve. And one thing that everyone in the church should be looking for is areas to serve in. That's why we're here right now, to worship, to learn, to change, to help, to use the gifts that God has given us, and also to be equipped to go back into the world as changed people representing Jesus Christ.
I heard this once. The holiest moment of the church service is when God's people go out the doors. And I couldn't agree more. Church service ends, it's the most holy part of the service because you have to make a decision of whether or not you're going to put into practice what you've heard, if you're going to let it change you, if you're just going to go on the same way, not put it into practice, not change, not grow. When we go out those doors we make the decision of how we're going to live.
This is the church unleashed. We grow together, we live life together, we work together. This is commonality, this is unity at its best. At its core, this is what a family does. A family grows together. A family lives life together. A family works together. Church, this is why we call this our home. This is why we have banners that say, welcome home. This is why we say in the church service, we want to live life together, that whatever you're going through in life, we want to go through it with you. This is why we say, if there's anything we can do to go above and beyond to make you feel welcome here in our house, please let us know.
And maybe you hear that and you hear it really cynically. You say, what do they mean, home? Welcome home. Sounds so silly. Maybe you hear that and you just dismiss it, we want this to feel like family. And I'm going to challenge you. If it doesn't feel like family, that's on you. If you look at that and you say, well, this doesn't feel like family, that's on you.
The weight is on you because you're not stepping out into the opportunities to connect. You're not stepping into the opportunity of community, to grow with one another. Instead, you're standing far off, and you're looking at it and you're judging and you're saying, I don't want to get involved in that. And you're cynical, looking at it. If this doesn't feel like family, that's on you.
So what area of the church do you serve in? Because each of us has a vital and important part to play in the church and a role to fulfill. A question we should ask ourselves, is what would my church look like if everyone was just like me? Ask yourself that. What would my church look like if everyone was just like me? Maybe it'd be better, maybe it'd be worse.
And then I want to you know that God's power still makes a difference in people's lives today. What about you? Do you desire greater boldness in your witness for Christ? Has your prayer life become dry and one-dimensional? Do you feel like you're lacking something in your spiritual walk? Is your world turning you upside down instead of you turning your world right side up?
I believe, if that's the case, then our ineffectiveness in the church today is due to our neglect of these principles. The church was began and maintained by the power of God through his principles. A.W. Tozer said that if the Holy Spirit were taken away from the New Testament church, 90% of what they did would come to a halt. But if the Holy Spirit were taken away from today's church, only 10% would stop.
We're not seeing the same results because we're not relying on the same principles. I would challenge you to apply these principles to your life. And then let's pray for the same power that the early church experienced in their lives because it wasn't just promised to them, it was promised to us. Acts 2:38, Peter said to them, repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all who are afar off, as many as our Lord will call.
Church, let's pray that God would propel us like that cow into our world as a powerful representative of Him, that when the world sees us coming, they will say, we've got Christians. Let's ask God to show us how we, like the early church, can be the church unleashed. Amen? Amen.
Lord, we thank you for your word and the truth that is revealed in it. God, we pray that you would propel us out of these doors, that we would be the church unleashed, that we would grow, we would be strengthened, and we would impact our world. And as we're praying right now, as we have our eyes closed and our heads bowed, maybe you're in here today and you don't know God. Your life is not glorifying Him.
As a matter of fact, when you look at your life, your life is displeasing to Him, it's dishonoring to him. And you want to make a difference, you want to be connected, you want to grow. But you just don't know how. Again, Peter said, repent. Let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Jesus Christ wants to forgive you. Jesus Christ wants you to have the assurance that when you die, you're going to go to heaven. And all you have to do is accept him. And when you accept him, you accept the power of God to be propelled into the real purpose that God has for you.
If you want that, if you want to know that when you die, you're going to go to heaven, you want to experience the power of God in your life, I'm going to give you an opportunity right now. I just want you to raise your hand up so that I can see it. Your just saying, Nate, pray for me. I need Jesus Christ. Amen. To my left. Another one to my left, over here. A few of you. Anyone else? Just raise it up. Over here to my right. Raise it up high so I can see it. If God is calling you right now, you respond to that call of God.
In the back. Anyone else? Just raise it up. Right over here to my right. Over here. If you've lost that zeal, lost that passion that you once had, you're missing something, now's your time to know God, s to glorify God. Anyone else? In the far back.
Lord, I thank you for these hands all across the room. Lord, I pray that you would give them courage and boldness to take a step of faith in you. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Hey, will you stand up? We're going to close and sing one last song. And as do, I'm going to ask you very quickly, if you raised your hand up, to get up from where you are and come down here to the front, where I'm going to lead you in a prayer to accept Jesus Christ. You come right now if God is calling you. If you raised that hand up, you come right now. And you say, Nate, hold on. I don't mind raising my hand up when no one's looking, but you want me to take a step of faith.
I do and here's why. If you can't stand up for Jesus Christ in this gathering, in this room of people who love Him, how are you going to do in the world that hates Him? This is your opportunity to cement your faith in Jesus Christ, to know that when you die, you're going to go to heaven, to know that your sins are forgiven, to know that you can make a difference, that you can find your purpose in life, that God can use you to do something incredible.
Don't look at the person next to you. Don't look at the person behind you. They didn't die for your sins. Jesus Christ died for your sins. Only He can forgive you of your sins. So you get right with him right now. You come right now. Let's sing this out. And as we sing, you come if God's calling you. We'll wait for you.
[MUSIC AND SINGING]
No turning back. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back.
Amen. I'm going I'm going to pray with those who are right here in just one second. But I want to have one final call to you. Maybe you know you need to get your life right, but you just have to wait a little bit longer. You say, I'll do it next time. I'll do it next week. I'll do it next month. Amen. You come. We'll still wait for you.
Look, here's the reality. You don't know how much time you have. You could die in a month, or you could die today on the way home in a car accident. We're not promised tomorrow. We're promised right now, and this is your opportunity. If you were to stand before God today, would he say, depart from me, I never knew you? Or would he say, well done, good and faithful servant.
Right now is your time for assurance to know that when you die, you're going to go to heaven. And guess what? What you're going to give up is going to be pain, separation, loneliness, depression, sleepless nights. What you're going to again is joy, assurance of salvation. You're going to gain somebody walking with you through life and encouraging you and strengthening you. You're going to gain a huge family of people who love you and are in support of you and are excited for you.
And so is there anyone else right now? We're not going to sing this again, but God's speaking to you here in this moment, and you want to give your life to Jesus. Amen. Come on, church, let's get loud. Anyone else? Anyone else? Amen.
Well, he, right now, for those of you that have come forward, I'm going to lead you in a prayer to ask Jesus Christ to come into your life. And it's a simple prayer. But I'm going to ask you to say it out loud, and say it from your heart. Just repeat after me.
Say Lord, I know that I'm a sinner. I know that I've done many things that have hurt you. But Lord, I believe that you died for those things, that you rose from the dead. So I ask you to come into my life, forgive me of my sins. I turn from my old life and I turn to you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and help me to live for you. In Jesus' name, amen. Amen. Let's give them a round of applause.
We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Albuquerque featuring our guest speaker, Nate Heitzig. How will you put the truths that you learned into action? Let us know. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/give.
Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Albuquerque.