ACTS: FAITHFUL & FRUITFUL

Pastor Drew Humphrey

Do you think it's possible for a local church to be uncompromisingly committed to the biblical gospel, while at the same time enjoying multiplication and success in its ministry? There's a common notion that a church can have one or the other, but it can't have both. The book of Acts, however, gives us a different perspective. In giving us a glimpse into the life of the early church, Acts shows us that faithfulness and fruitfulness are meant to go hand-in-hand. This series exlores that theme and invites us to dream big as a local church.

Going Forward by Looking Back

Acts 1:1-3

March 1, 2015


This week we begin a new series in the book of Acts. But before we can march forward in our study of this book, we first need to look back. Luke (the author) begins his account of the early church by pointing our attention back to the earthly life and ministry of Jesus, and he fixes our attention on two aspects in particular: the authority of his teaching and the certainty of his resurrection. Both of these provide the foundation upon which faithful and fruitful ministry is able to be built.


A Counterintuitive Command

Acts 1:4-5

March 8, 2015


Before Jesus left the earth and went to reign with the Father, he left his disciples a very strange command: "Wait in Jerusalem and do nothing until the Holy Spirit arrived." Jesus understood that apart from the Holy Spirit, there was nothing the disciples really could do to advance the gospel. And as we think about how this counterintuitive command applies to us today, we realize that we’re in a similar predicament. We must embrace the fact that we’re  deficient, because it’s in deficiency that we can become defiant, and in defiance that we can become dependent, and in dependence that we can become dangerous. 


Is it Time?

Acts 1:6-11

March 15, 2015


What does it mean to have the Holy Spirit? In trying to figure it all out, the disciples had a question for Jesus: Did the pending arrival of the Holy Spirit mean that the time had finally come for him to restore the kingdom to Israel? In his response, Jesus clarified and redirected their expectations by informing them that that there is one thing they don’t need to know, and two things they do. He tells them that they don’t need to know the times and seasons that the Father has appointed, but they do need to know that they’ll be on the front lines of the kingdom’s advance, and that the kingdom’s reach will be much greater than imagined.  


Christ-Centered Community

Acts 1:12-26

March 22, 2015


In the days immediately following the ascension of Jesus, the activity of the early church provides us with a window into what it means to be a Christ-centered community even in the physical absence of Christ himself. Specifically, we learn these four things: 
(a) In a Christ-centered community there is unity, (b) There is authority, (c) There is submission, (d) There is grace. This week we unpack each of those and apply them to our lives as Christians.


When God Shows Up

Acts 2:1-21

March 29, 2015

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This week our study in the book of Acts brings us to the second chapter, where we read about the day God delivered on his promise and poured out his Spirit upon his people. From this moment onward, things would never be the same. The day of Pentecost enlarges our expectations of whom the Spirit ministers to, as well as whom the Spirit ministers through.


Audio for this sermon is not available.


What You Must Know about Jesus

Acts 2:22-41

April 5, 2015

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If someone wanted to know about Jesus, what are the things that he or she must know in order to have an accurate picture of who Jesus is? It’s an important question, because it seems like our collective understanding of Jesus often goes no deeper than our Americanized paintings of a bearded white guy with long wispy hair. We think of him as a nice person or an inspirational teacher or a moral example. But if that’s all we know of him, then we’re missing out on what makes him uniquely Jesus. This week as we look at Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, we learn a few things that we absolutely must know if we want to know Jesus Christ.


The Forgiven Church

Acts 2:42-47 (Part 1)

April 19, 2015


At the end of Acts 2, we see an intriguing picture of the early church that is marked by radical generosity and strong communal bonds. But often we’re not sure what to make of it. Is this meant to be a definitive model for contemporary churches? Or is this a largely irrelevant historical account that we can disregard? This week we’ll dive into some of these difficult issues as we consider what this passage has to say to us as a church today.


Faithful and Fruitful

Acts 2:42-47 (Part 2)

April 26, 2015


Do you believe that it is possible for a local church to be uncompromisingly committed to the biblical gospel while at the same time enjoying multiplication and success in its ministry?” In other words, is it possible for the church to be both faithful and fruitful? Our stereotypes of faithfulness and fruitfulness would lead us to answer, “No.” But this text at the end of Acts 2 has a very different answer. This week, we’ll unpack what it means to be both faithful and fruitful.


Help for Those Who Get it Wrong

Acts 3:1-26

May 3, 2015


In a one-strike-and-you’re-out sort of world, Acts 3 should make us sit up in our seats a little bit and take notice. On the surface, it may seem like nothing more than a story about a man who was healed and made able to walk. And certainly that’s part of it. But the bigger picture of Acts 3 is the story of a God who grants second chances. It’s the story of how people who got it all wrong were given another chance to get it right.


When Jesus Gets You in Trouble

Acts 4:1-22

May 10, 2015


The story of Acts takes a pivotal turn in chapter 4. For the first time in its young life, the church is faced with direct opposition to its message. By looking at this first incident of persecution, we can learn what it means to follow Jesus when he gets us in trouble. Even those of us whose lives are largely free from persecution have something to learn.


On Mission in the Midst of Adversity

Acts 4:23-31

May 24, 2015


Often in our lives, affliction and hard times have the tendency to make us feel turned around and upside down. They make us lose our bearings and leave us reeling in uncertainty. But in our passage this morning, we learn about two vital reference points that allow us to keep our bearings even when adversity leaves us disoriented. It doesn’t matter how tossed around or turned upside down you are, if you can maintain contact with these two reference points, you can stay focused on the mission before you.


Two Kinds of Generosity

Acts 4:32-5:11

May 31, 2015


Two stories of extravagant generosity. Two accounts of radical sacrifice. Two sizeable donations to the church. And yet, below the surface, we learn that one was completely rotten. What was it about the generosity of Ananias and Sapphira that brought upon them the wrath of God? This week, we’ll look at this cautionary tale of foolish self-promotion and what we can learn from it.


Signs and Wonders

Acts 5:12-16

June 7, 2015


God answers big prayers for the growth of the church and the good of the world. As we study this remarkable passage of miraculous healings, we see this timeless theological truth ringing out loud and clear. Even though many of us may have never seen a shadow heal anyone, we can relate to this passage, because the God who answered prayer mightily 2,000 years ago is still the same God who answers prayer today.


If it Is of God

Acts 5:17-42

June 15, 2015


At a crucial moment in the life of the early church, a Pharisee named Gamaliel made a keen observation. “If the Christian movement is of man, it will fail,” he said. “But if it is of God, it will be impossible to overthrow it.” What Gamaliel failed to realize, however, is that the verdict was already in. God had already shown that the church was a divine institution, and Gamaliel (and the rest of the religious leaders of the day) had absolutely no power to stop it or even slow it down. 


Many Needs, Many Roles

Acts 6:1-7

July 19, 2015


What do you contribute to the church? Do you believe that you have an important and necessary part to play? In Acts 6:1-7, we learn a key principle: a diversity of legitimate needs in the church calls for a diversity of legitimate roles. Because there are so many different ways that people need to be helped and encouraged and ministered to, there are many different opportunities for you to plug in and offer the help, encouragement, and ministry that are needed. This sermon will help you appreciate that the church needs all of its members to engage in service, in the ways that they are uniquely wired for.


The Wrong Side of History?

Acts 6:8-7:53

August 2, 2015


When Stephen found himself before a council of angry men who had charged him with the crime of blasphemy, he knew that the stakes were high. He was being accused of standing against God and resisting his work. But by appealing to the Old Testament, Stephen showed his accusers that it was actually they who stood against God and resisted his work. All that God had been doing was ultimately meant to lead to Jesus, and their rejection of Jesus was a rejection of God. Is it possible that we might be prone to the same mistake?


When Death Is Victory

Acts 7:54-60

August 9, 2015


By most any of the world’s standards, death is the ultimate loss. It takes us away from all that we have worked so hard for: wealth, family, friends, and more. But for those whose hope is in Christ, death need not be a loss; death can be victory. By looking at the execution of Stephen, you will learn that death can be victory when:your condemnation has been removed, your future has been secured, and your focus has been expanded.


The Church Scattered

Acts 8:1-8

August 16, 2015


It is often easy for followers of Christ to stay huddled within the safe and comfortable confines of our own friendly Christian worlds. But as we witness the church being forced out into new territory as a result of persecution in Acts 8, we learn a valuable lesson: when the church scatters, the gospel spreads. This means that scattering isn't a bad thing. In fact, it's vitally necessary for the church to scatter in order for it to fulfill its mission and reach the world.


Simon the Great

Acts 8:9-25

August 23, 2015


When the gospel becomes a means for us to serve ourselves and increase our own glory, it ceases to be the gospel. The story of Simon the Magician illustrates this truth for us with startling clarity. Although Simon seemed to join the gospel movement that was sweeping through his city, we learn that he did so out of impure motives. His only interest was to exalt himself and feed his own sense of greatness. But the gospel simply will not allow this. It calls us to set aside our own glory and be captivated instead by the far superior glory of our saving God.


By Divine Appointment

Acts 8:26-40

August 30, 2015

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If you’re like many Christians, you struggle with personal evangelism. You know you should be sharing your faith with others, but more often than not, you fail to do so. Well, if that’s you, then a simple scene that took place on a chariot in the desert many years ago has much to teach you! When God led Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch, he showed us an encouraging picture of what personal evangelism can look like when it’s carried out faithfully in obedience to and in reliance upon the Holy Spirit.


Year of Grace Kick-Off

Acts 9:1-22

September 6, 2015


This week we kick off our Year of Grace by looking at the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus. This story is a stunning picture of God’s love for the most unworthy. In it, we see the power of grace to transform those whom it touches. We will see that grace transforms our relationship to God, it transforms our relationship to God’s people, and it transforms our relationship to God’s mission. Nothing else can bring about such a dramatic change.


The Offense of Grace

Acts 9:23-31

September 13, 2015


When grace infiltrates our world, it turns enmity into friendship, judgment into acceptance and hatred into love. But we have to understand that there’s another side to the story, as well. Grace is amazing and powerful and restorative. But that same grace also can bring offense. In the aftermath of his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus, Saul learned this first-hand. Not only did he find himself alienated from those outside the faith, he also found that his encounter with grace had created conflict with those in the church.


Still on the Job

Acts 9:32-43

September 20, 2015


When Jesus was on earth, he had a vibrant ministry among needy people. But once his earthly ministry came to an end and he returned to his heavenly home, who would succeed him? Who would take up the mantle and continue his work? The answer is: no one! In looking at the two miracles that close out Acts 9, we learn the wonderful truth that Jesus is still at work. He has not retired and left the task to someone else. Even in his physical absence, Jesus is still on the job!


Seeing People as People

Acts 10:1-33

September 27, 2015


Whether we like to admit it or not, all of us have a tendency to see people as being only as deep as the labels we attach to them. We size people up, we slap a label on them, and then on the basis of that, we determine whether or not we want anything to do with them. But the good news is that the gospel frees us from this ugly and dehumanizing practice. Here in this world where people are only as valuable as the labels that have been assigned to them, the gospel opens our eyes to see their true humanity and relate to them in a meaningful, redemptive way, despite our external differences. The gospel allows us to see people as people.


God's Glory in Diversity

Acts 10:34-11:18

October 4, 2015


Everyone seems to be talking about diversity. Universities and businesses and governments are implementing new initiatives to increase the diversity within their ranks. And the church has been swept up into the craze right along with them. But all of this raises the question: Why is diversity such a valuable thing? Some pursue diversity because it’s the trendy thing to do, others pursue diversity because of the positive feelings it generates, and yet others pursue generosity because it scores them political points. But the Bible points us to an entirely different motivation: Diversity in the church is valuable and worth pursuing, because it demonstrates the glory of the true God.


The Church at Antioch

Acts 11:19-30

October 11, 2015


Some churches seem to be focused on reaching the lost. Their main value is evangelism, and all that they do revolves around that. Other churches are focused on teaching and training. They pursue sound doctrine, biblical literacy, and theological understanding. And still there are other churches that focus their efforts on serving the needy. They are zealous for social justice, the alleviation of poverty, and tangible expressions of love. But the problem is that these churches are often separate churches. These passions and values seem to be incompatible. Is this the way it needs to be? Must evangelism, teaching, and service all be divided up and exercised in isolation from one another. The church at Antioch gives us a resounding answer to this question: “Not at all!”


God's Supremacy Over Opposition

Acts 12:1-19

January 3, 2016


Right when the church in Acts began to gain momentum, it found itself in the crosshairs of its enemies. With one apostle executed and another on the brink of execution, the growth and success of God’s mission suddenly looked more doubtful. But what this story from Acts 12 teaches us is that opposition to God’s mission shouldn’t surprise us, nor should it overwhelm us. No amount of opposition can ever hinder the work of God.


Misplaced Glory

Acts 12:20-25

January 10, 2016


The sin of self-glory is a deadly thing, and even if you have never openly claimed to be a god, you probably still struggle with it. In some way, you’re likely tempted to focus your attention on yourself and prop up your own perceived sense of greatness. King Herod certainly fell into this sin, and his story helps us see our own sinful tendencies as well. By looking at Herod’s fall, we can learn about the source of self-glory, the seriousness of self-glory, and the substitute for self-glory.


Tools of a World-Changing Church

Acts 13:1-3

January 17, 2016


The church in Antioch has the remarkable distinction of being one of the most influential churches in history by virtue of its role in sending out the Apostle Paul for global missionary service. In fact many churches today can probably trace their origins back to this one church that listened to the call of God and sent out the greatest missionary of all time. What did it take for the church of Antioch to have such an incredible influence? Acts 13:1-3 gives us some insight and helps us see four tools of a world-changing church that were present in Antioch.


Audio for this sermon is not available.


Gospel Ministry Is Spiritual Warfare

Acts 13:4-12

January 24, 2016


When you share the gospel with someone, you’re engaging in a spiritual struggle with unseen forces. The story of Paul and Barnabas on the island of Cyprus gives us a vivid example of this truth, and it challenges us to consider how the reality of spiritual conflict should impact the way we go about our mission of reaching the lost world around us.


Story and Savior

Acts 13:13-43

January 31, 2016


One of the dangers we face as contemporary Christians is the danger to separate Jesus from his historical context. We may rightly celebrate him as our Savior, but we often fail to see that he is vitally connected to a long, ongoing story which stretches back to the beginning of human history and patiently builds up to his arrival. In Acts 13, the apostle Paul delivers a message that addresses this very tendency, calling us to revisit the ancient narrative of God’s redemption and see how it points us toward the Savior that God has sent for us.


Through or Around?

Acts 13:44-52

February 7, 2016


The Jews in Antioch of Pisidia had a unique privilege: the privilege of being God’s chosen means of bringing blessing and salvation to the ends of the earth. From Abraham onward, this was God’s intention for his people. But when Paul and Barnabas brought the gospel to their city, these people who should have been the first to embrace it instead turned it away. Nevertheless, God did not let this rejection deter his plans to bring salvation to the Gentiles, and he determined that if he could not work through the Jews in this city, he would work around them.


These Vain Things

Acts 14:1-18

February 14, 2016


The gospel is good news on many levels, but one of the most important ways in which the message of Jesus Christ is encountered as good news is in the fact that it calls idolaters away from vain worship. The gods we have fashioned for ourselves do not save us. The stories we have told ourselves do not give us answers. But the good news is that these gods and these stories are not all there is. In looking at Paul’s message to the pagans of Lystra, we can learn something about our idolatrous hearts and the idolatrous stories of our culture that shape our hearts.


Resilience in Mission

Acts 14:19-28

February 21, 2016


It’s tempting at times to think that faithful and fruitful ministry is defined by triumphant moments and mountain-top experiences. But if we really want to see where faithfulness and fruitfulness are born, we need to look to those moments when we’re knocked down, set back, and on the verge of giving up. In those moments, our resilience (or lack thereof) will forge us into the kind of people who make a difference in this world for the sake of the gospel.


The Jerusalem Council, Part 1

Acts 15:1-19

March 6, 2016


How does a sinner come to faith in Jesus? Can a person come directly, without any stops or detours along the way? Or is it necessary to first fulfill certain external requirements? These are the questions at the heart of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, and these are the same questions that trouble many of us today. This morning we look at how the Council answered these questions and how their answer impacts us today.


The Jerusalem Council, Part 2

Acts 15:20-35

March 13, 2016


Salvation by grace is an incredible thing. But one of the practical implications of that doctrine is the possibility for tension in the church. If we truly are welcomed into God’s family without having to conform to certain external standards first, then this means that the church will be full of vastly different people. And if the church is full of vastly different people, then it will only be a matter of time before someone’s expression of freedom will be at odds with someone else’s. When that tension arises, how are we to respond? The Jerusalem council helps us see that love for our brothers and sisters should guide us in how we navigate these tensions.


When God Says "No"

Acts 15:36-16:24

March 20, 2016


Have you ever heard God tell you, “No”? Perhaps it was in response to your desire for relief from a physical ailment. Perhaps it was in response to your request for a new job or a promotion at work. Perhaps it was in response to an effort to share the gospel with a friend. Most of us don’t have to be Christians very long before we hear God tell us, “No.” This can be a confusing and disorienting experience. But behind every “No” of God, there is a far better and more glorious “Yes.”


Life's Most Important Questions

Acts 16:25-40
March 27, 2016


What are the most important questions in your life right now? Most of us spend our time asking questions that are relatively shallow and inconsequential. But every now and then, God grabs our attention and forces us to ask a deep, soul-searching question that changes the course of our lives. This week, we’ll look at the story of the Philippian jailer and see how God prompted him to ask a question that would affect him for the rest of eternity.


A Tale of Two Cities

Acts 17:1-15
April 10, 2016


The Bible is a challenging book. It exposes our sin, it makes us aware of our weakness, and it shows us that the only way to be right with God is to repent and trust in the Savior. It’s not surprising, therefore, that many people seek to silence God’s word and avoid its demands. But if we are to be the kind of people God wants us to be, this cannot be our attitude. We must learn to embrace God’s word, understand God’s word, and obey God’s word—even when it is difficult and challenging.


Faithfulness in a Secular World

Acts 17:16-34
April 17, 2016


You’ve probably noticed that the world around you does not always honor the one true God. In fact, more often than not, it seems as though the world has completely overlooked or forgotten about God. It raises the question: How can we live as faithful Christians in a world such as this? Surrounded by secularism, what does it look like to engage with others and bear witness to Jesus Christ? Paul’s experience in the city of Athens helps us answer these questions and navigate the world in which we’ve been placed.


Grace to Persevere

Acts 17:16-34
April 17, 2016

 

Are you feeling exhausted? Are you burdened with fears? Are you all too aware of your own selfishness? If so, the words of the risen Jesus to Paul in Acts 18 serve as a timely encouragement. In your low moments of weariness and discouragement, Jesus wants you to know three things: don’t be afraid., I am with you, and I care about this city. This week, we’ll explore how each of those things minister grace to us as we follow Christ.


Investing into Others

Acts 18:24-28
May 1, 2016


Most of us would love to be able to come alongside others and invest into their lives. Most of us understand, furthermore, that this is something we should be doing as a part of Jesus’ command for us to make disciples. But more often than not, we find it difficult to know what exactly this is supposed to look like. In Acts 18, the story of Aquila and Priscilla helps us by providing a real-life picture of what it looks like to invest into the life of someone else. If you struggle to know how to do that, their example will help you take that next step.


God's Power in Action

Acts 19:1-41
May 8, 2016


What does God’s power look like in real life? Most Christians would agree that God is powerful, but saying that he’s powerful isn’t the same thing as seeing that he’s powerful. When it comes to knowing what it looks like for God to act in mighty ways, we may often feel left in the dark. But Acts 19 serves as a helpful remedy. In this collection of multiple stories, we get a clearer picture of what God’s power looks like in real life. We see what it sometimes looks like, what it never looks like, and what it always looks like. These points will help us know where to find God’s power at work.


The Paradox of Preaching

Acts 20:1-16
May 29, 2016


What can a young man who dozed off and fell out a window during a sermon teach us about preaching? More than you might think! The story of Eutychus helps us understand the terrific paradox of preaching. On the one hand, preaching is inescapably ordinary. In fact, it’s so ordinary that on some Sundays it might put you to sleep! But on the other hand, preaching is absolutely necessary. The church is nourished and sustained by the preached word, and so despite its ordinariness, it cannot be abandoned.


The What and Why of Pastoring

Acts 20:17-38
June 5, 2016


What is the role of a pastor? Is it his job to provide executive oversight of church operations? Is it his job to do ministry on behalf of the church? Is it his job to meet the emotional needs of the parishioners? Many different people have many different ideas about what a pastor should do, but God’s word is clear that a pastor is first and foremost a shepherd of the God’s flock. Studying from Paul’s address to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20, we can learn what this shepherding role should look like and why pastors should take it seriously.


Following God into Tough Places

Acts 21:1-36
June 12, 2016


Is it possible that God might at some point call you to follow him into a difficult, bleak, risky, or daunting situation? And if so, are you willing to go? These are the two questions that we must ask ourselves as we study the account of the apostle Paul resolving to travel to Jerusalem despite the danger that he knew he would face there. The prospect of losing his freedom would not deter Paul from following what God had led him to do. What about us?


Your Grace-Shaped Story

Acts 21:37-22:21
June 26, 2016


Many Christians feel inadequate when it comes to sharing the gospel with other people. But what if every Christian had an evangelistic tool they could use to introduce others to Jesus? In Acts 22, the apostle Paul helps us see that our own grace-shaped stories are a powerful way for us to be obedient to the commission Jesus has given us of making disciples. As we study this text, we’ll see why your grace-shaped story is worth telling.


The Slow and Strange Ways of God

Acts 22:22-25:12
July 17, 2016


Even if you’ve diligently tried to follow God’s will, you can probably relate to the feeling that you’re headed in the wrong direction. Or that you’re stuck in a holding pattern. Or that you’ve made some wrong decision in the past that is catching up to you. But there’s good news: God often works in surprisingly unpredictable ways to get us where he wants us to go. At the time, it might feel like we’re off track. But we can rest in a God who knows exactly what he’s doing. 


Confidence in the Gospel

Acts 25:13-26:32
July 24, 2016


True confidence is revealed when the stakes are high. The apostle Paul was frequently in high-stakes situations, and it was on those occasions that his confidence in the gospel was truly revealed. Although we may never find ourselves in the same shoes as Paul, we can still learn from him and his resolve to stick with the gospel even when it got him in trouble. How can you have that same level of confidence in the message of Jesus? This week we’ll explore that question. 


Saved from the Sea

Acts 27:1-28:10
July 31, 2016


On the surface, the story of Paul’s shipwreck on the way to Rome may seem like nothing more than an adrenaline-pumping, edge-of-your-seat thriller. But when we put this story in its biblical context, we see that this story of dramatic rescue from the storm at sea is actually part of a larger theme in Scripture: the deliverance of God. In a memorable and compelling way, this passage helps us see how God is at work in and through the gospel to rescue sinners from the storm of judgment and wrath.


Faithful, Fruitful, and Relentless

Acts 28:11-31
August 7, 2016


It has been a remarkable journey through the book of Acts, as we have explored what it looks like to be faithful and fruitful as a church. But as we wrap up this study, one of the greatest dangers facing us would be to leave behind everything we’ve learned and assume that the things we’ve considered together can stay in the rear-view mirror. But the conclusion of Acts calls us to something better and greater; it calls us to relentlessly press on, despite adversity, opposition, and rejection.