Discuss Acts 4:23-31

  1. In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you today?
  2. How do you define the sovereignty of God? How sovereign is God?
  3. Acts 4:24 defines God as the master of the house (the Sovereign Lord). According to Acts 4:24, what are the boundaries or limits of God’s house?
  4. Why is it necessary for the Sovereign Lord to speak to us?
  5. There is a pattern here of rebels fighting against God (Acts 4:25-27). Describe how this looked in David’s life, Jesus’ life, and now in your life.
  6. What does Acts 4:28 say the people did?
  7. What was primary in the crucifixion of Jesus, the will of the people or the will of God?
  8. How did the reality of God’s sovereignty encourage the church to pray in Acts 4?
  9. How should the reality of God’s sovereignty encourage you to pray?
  10. Did the people resign themselves to the idea that God is going to do whatever God wants to do so their prayers don’t matter? Why should we pray?
  11. Think of one person you know who is living as a rebel against God. Pray and ask God to give you the boldness to talk to him/her about Jesus.

From Unthinking to Kind-of-Thinking to Believing

thinkI wonder where you are in this progression? Where am I? I need to talk with my neighbors so I can help them take a step toward Jesus.

We all start here:

  1. Don’t listen to God
  2. Don’t think about your sin
  3. Don’t repent of your sin
  4. Don’t experience God’s mercy
  5. Don’t tell your neighbors

Then we take a small step:

  1. Kind-of listen to God
  2. Kind-of think about your sin
  3. Kind-of repent
  4. Kind-of experience God’s mercy
  5. Kind-of mumble to your neighbors

Then we are Spirit-led

  1. Pay attention to God’s Word (think on these things)
  2. Exercise godly grief (a Godward repentance)
  3. Experience the riches of God’s grace in Christ (clarity on the cross and resurrection)
  4. Eat Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood (dependence on Christ for forgiveness and obedience)
  5. Go make disciples (beautiful feet telling the good news)

Revelation 4:11 Worship

Main Point: The Creator God is worthy of all worship.

We have a great calling. God has called us to think about, celebrate, and talk about Him. So, it is strange that the Church, which has more training and resources available to her than ever before is so often silent. It is shameful that I am often silent when I should speak. Why is that? Why are we silent in worship and evangelism? Why are we not joyfully and consistently talking to people about Jesus?

In his book, Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out, Alvin Reid claims that one big reason we don’t talk to our neighbors and coworkers about the gospel is we don’t talk to ourselves about the gospel. Better still, Jesus says that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil (Mt 12:34). Whatever you treasure, whatever you think about, is going to come out of you. We have a treasure problem.

At one point, after teaching, Jesus stops and asks, “‘Have you understood these things?’ They said to him, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old’” (Mt 13:51-52).

Jesus wants us to be gospel-masters. I wanted to say, “Jesus wants us to be treasure-masters” but we are already treasure-masters. We know how to treasure worldly things in our minds and talk about those things. We know how to store up idols like money, family, work, cars, and houses. We easily and joyfully talk about those things. This is a call to stop stock piling worldly things in our minds and hearts. We are called today to store up the things of Christ.

When we talk to ourselves about God, when we store up God in our hearts and minds, then out of that overflow the mouth will speak. When the church talks to one another about God, when we treasure God in our songs, prayers, and conversations, then out of that overflow the mouth will speak. In our time today, I want to give you treasure that is worth talking about at Walmart or around your dinner table and for all of eternity. We will become master scribes and master stewards who taste and tell that the Lord is good.

Read Psalm 95

Here is our plan, Lord willing, for today and the next five weeks. We will focus on six passages that together form a simple outline for you to use when explaining who Jesus is and what he has done. We are pausing our memory work in Philippians 3 and are committing ourselves to memorizing Revelation 4:11 this week, then Romans 3:10-11, Hebrews 9:27, 1 Peter 3:18, 1 Peter 1:3, and finally John 3:36. If you haven’t found a Sunday school class, I want to invite you to join the group Matt Mills, Clint Spruill, and I are teaching at 9:45 am in the fellowship hall. Come and join us as we encourage one another to store up the gospel in our hearts. We will become master scribes and master stewards who taste and tell that the Lord is good.

Right now, let’s dig into creation and evangelism. Revelation 4:11 says, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

When telling the gospel story, to yourself or to others, start with creation.

I. The Triune God created all things (Gen 1:1-2)

Genesis 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Here’s the truth:

  • God created everything

Now we need to clarify that God did not form everything from cosmic playdough that was already on hand. Scripture teaches that God created then formed everything that exists. The Trinity (Father, Son, and Spirit) were engaged in creation. In Genesis 1:2, we see the Spirit of God present and working in creation. Colossians 1:15 says, “Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rules or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”

Everything physical and spiritual was created by the Triune God. All the rocks and trees, all the birds and bees, all the yous and mees were created by the Father, Son, and Spirit. Every spiritual being was created by the Triune God. You will never find anything anywhere that does not owe its origin to God. You will never find anything anywhere that wasn’t created for Jesus.

Now, creation is not a minor issue. Instead, we should constantly worship God because of creation.

II. The Triune God is worthy of worship because of creation (Rev 4:11)

Here is our memory verse for the week, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things and by your will they were created and have their being.”

  • The wonders of creation call us to worship God

Revelation 4 is a picture of worship in heaven. There are four magnificent creatures and twenty-four elders around the throne of God. Everything in these creatures and elders longs to worship and celebrate and enjoy the power and presence of God. Worship is not only a matter of praising God for his saving grace. We also worship God for who he is and how he works. Look at Revelation 4:11. Why do the twenty-four elders fall down and worship God? They worship God because he created all things and by his will they were created and have their being.

These angels look out over creation and their right and joyful response is to praise God. They look at the intricacies of the human body and they praise God. God you did that! The look at the intricacies of the universe and they praise God. God you did that! They look at a rose, a blade of grass, colors, textures, and sounds and they praise God. God you did that!

And God was not forced to create all things. Revelation 4:11 tells us God created all things according to his will. It was his plan and his desire to bring all of this into being. No deficiency or need made God create all of us and all of this. God created to display his glory. The glory, honor, and power of God are meant to be enjoyed by all of creation. So, where do you see and enjoy the glory of God? Paul Tripp says he goes to Starbucks to worship. He doesn’t worship the coffee or the cups. The glory and beauty of food and drink point to God and cause him to respond with thanks and praise to God.

Wednesday night I walked through an indoor garden filled with 6000 tropical plants; over 200 difference species. It was the most beautiful and intricate and exciting thing I have seen in some time. I worshipped as I went through that garden. But I didn’t worship the plants or the soil or the gardener. I worshiped and thanked and celebrated God who made those plants and gifted the gardener. The wonders of creation call us to worship and

  • Worship involves giving God glory, honor, and power

Earlier in Revelation 4, in verse 9, the four living creatures give God glory, and honor, and thanks. Here, in verse 11, the twenty-four elders give God glory, honor, and power. The four living creatures give God glory when they praise him for his work of creation. They don’t give God’s glory to another. They praise HIM for creation. And they honor God when they serve his will in creation going here and there and seeing all. They glorify God when they give him thanks. Thank you, God, for creating us and this magnificent universe! That’s the four living creatures. They glorify God by worshipping him. They honor God by doing his well. They look at God’s work and they thank him. We should do the same. What about the elders?

The elders give God glory, honor, and power. Now, they don’t give God glory, honor, and power because God lacks glory, honor, and power. They give God glory, honor, and power because he is worth it. The elders, most likely a class of angels, glorify and honor God by trusting God and seeking to accomplish his will. The power God gave them is used to accomplish God’s purposes. They love God with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

You see, creation is full of God’s glory. Creation is full of opportunities to honor God by accomplishing his will. Creation is filled with good works for you and I to accomplish by God’s power. Accomplishing your work, loving others, confronting evil, forgiving sin, and asking for forgiveness are all opportunities to glorify God, honor him, and show his power.

Like the angels, we are meant to worship God by doing his will. We are meant to look around at God’s creation and give him thanks. Creation fuels worship and creation plays a major role in evangelism.

III. We must talk to ourselves and others about God

You must

  1. Store up treasure in your head and heart

We must read and think about how God created. We need to read and think about why God created. Like the elders and living creatures, thinking rightly about creation will cause us to worship. Here’s an example of storing up treasure. Memorizing Philippians 3 has caused me to repeatedly think about my resurrection from the dead. I’m straining forward to the resurrection. My goal, by any means possible, is to attain the resurrection from the dead. We’ve been storing up this resurrection treasure in our heads and hearts.

Now, I was at a worship conference this passed week. We sang a lot and we sang about a lot of things. Guess which theme really got me excited? I loved singing about the resurrection because I have been treasuring the resurrection in my head and heart. Out of the overflow of the heart my mouth rejoiced in God’s promise to raise me from the grave. Thinking and worship are tied together. Worship and evangelism are tied to treasure. Let’s focus on creation. We need to

  1. Talk about God’s purposes for his creation

God is not a cosmic scientist who discovered creation and is now studying all the parts. God is not trying to figure out what plants, angels, and humans can do or why they exist. God intentionally created everything for a purpose. God created marriage, family, work, and government for a purpose. We’ve already read from Colossians 1:15 which tells us that all things were created through Jesus and for Jesus.

Are you thinking about the significance of the fact that all things were created for Jesus? Are you talking about how everything exists for Jesus? The path that we walk as Christians is a path of restoration. On Jesus’ path, we constantly seek to restore people and things to God and his purposes through Christ. What is broken around you? Maybe it’s a broken pipe, or a broken bone, or a broken spirit, or a broken promise, or a broken relationship, or a broken law. Glorify God and honor him by using the power God has given you to restore what is broken. Work for good and explain the good. The resurrected Christ has strength and wisdom for you to be an ambassador through which broken things are restored to God’s creation purposes.

So, how does your singleness advance God’s creation purposes? How does your family serve God’s creation purposes? We live in a day and in a culture where people want to know their lives and work have significance. This desire is a product of creation. Connect people to God’s creation purposes. Talk about the gift and goodness of work. Every time something works like God created it to work, that becomes an opportunity to point toward the wisdom and goodness of God.

We also need to talk about the effects of sin. Every example of brokenness is an opportunity to point to God’s purposes and, by the resurrection power of Christ, work toward restoration. Find ways to connect pain to restoration in Christ. Every case of sickness or death or frustration is an opportunity to talk about the yearning we all have for the perfection of life with God. We long for and are heading for a new creation. Every case of success or fruitfulness or joyful work is an opportunity to talk about the goodness of God in creation. God has not abandoned us. God’s work of creation includes purpose; talk about it. Then

  • Look for and celebrate God’s glory in creation

What brings you joy? Maybe it’s a savory dish or the skill of an athlete or painter or inventor. I would love to talk to you about all the shades of green I saw in that garden of 6000 plants. What about your neighbors and coworkers? What brings them joy? Here’s an interesting conversation starter, “What are you enjoying these days?” Ask the question and show your neighbor or coworker love by listening. See if you can ground their joy to God. I mean give them a simple statement without being condescending. Say something like, “Isn’t God good? He made language so we can tell and enjoy a good story. God created us with skill and strength, so we can play sports and paint pictures and play music.” Connect that joy to God who created.

But what if you ask and they don’t have any joy? What if you ask, “What are you enjoying these days?” and your neighbor Eeyore says, “Nothing, everything in my life is terrible.” What will you say? Should you sneak away and go quietly enjoy your own pleasures? No, love that neighbor by grieving with him. Your next question is powerful. Ask this, “I’m sorry, will you tell me your story?” Ask the question and genuinely listen. Don’t look at your phone. Don’t tell your story of when something like that happened to you. Listen and grieve. After you have grieved with your neighbor say something profound like this, “I grieve like you over the broken things in my life. Can we get together and talk about how God helps us in our sorrows?”

When your neighbor says yes, where do you go? You can go to Isaiah 53 and the suffering servant who bears our sorrows and carries our griefs. Start in the suffering of Isaiah 53 and make a bee-line for the cross, resurrection, and indwelling Spirit. If you aren’t ready to have that conversation, then find someone who can help get you there. Come and let me know and I’ll connect you with someone who can disciple you so that you can go and make disciples. The beauty and brokenness of creation provide everyday opportunities for us to help one another worship God.

Are you familiar with “God-sightings”? God-sightings are celebrations of God’s simple things. Start when your children are young and most things are amazing. When your little one is excited about a bug, clouds, or a puppy, simply say, “Aren’t you glad God made bugs or clouds or puppies?” Look for and celebrate God’s glory in creation. Keep looking and celebrating. Cultivate joy and gratitude. People will likely start to wonder why you have hope. When they ask you for a reason for the hope that is within you, bring out the treasures of creation and salvation.

Here is our last and profound way to honor and glorify God.

  • Gather with the church

As elders, our calling is to proclaim the greatness of God in Christ so that you can see him and love him and honor him and glorify him. In 1 Timothy 4:12 the Apostle Paul told Pastor Timothy to devote himself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching. God has revealed himself and salvation through the Word. Therefore, we read Scripture, we read a lot of Scripture, because we need to hear from God and we need to hear about God. Through our prayers we seek to stir you up to join in the worship of God.  Through the sermons we seek to teach you about God and life. I give you notes and questions on the blog each week so that you can do the work of storing up treasure in your heart that will eventually flow out of your mouth. You need to feast, so we as elders need to work hard to teach you. We want to give you treasure that you store away and bring out to your family, coworkers, and neighbors.

But we do more than read, pray, and preach. We sing. Our singing is a powerful way to glorify and honor God. Our singing is a powerful way to teach one another and store up treasure in our hearts. Every Sunday we glorify God and help one another store up treasure. Like a chef gathering the best ingredients, we work to gather the best songs. Like a marksman meticulously weighing grains of gun powder, we meticulously weigh songs. In response to what Dale is doing with the songs, we need two things from you. We need you to think and we need you to sing.

Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Let me break that down with teaching and a word of exhortation, “think.” You need to think about the truths we are singing. You need to store up treasure in your heart. You must help your children think and store up treasure. You need to read the words of the songs and ask, “What glorifies God in this song?” You need to read the words of the songs and ask, “How can I use all the power God has given me to honor him with this song?” We want you to work biblical truth deep into your heart and mind. Therefore, we want to give you meaty songs. Last week John Piper said, “the heights of your exaltation cannot go further than the depths of your theology.” Your joy and gladness in worship are not dependent on your preferences. Your joy and gladness in worship are dependent on your beliefs.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. We gather together each week to worship God and teach one another. God has set things up so that our singing is an act of worship and teaching. Our singing to God and about God is an act of discipleship.

So, show up each week having stored up treasure in your heart through Bible reading and Scripture memory. Gather with the body of Christ each week so that you can be taught and so that you can teach. Show up, think, and sing. We need you. We need you to teach us and you need to give God glory, honor, and power. He is worthy because he created all things. He is worthy because he has redeemed us through his Son. Let’s sing his praises and then go out and tell others.

Let’s pray- God, make us master scribes and master stewards who taste and tell that you are good.

Revelation 4:11 Discussion Questions

Check out the Two Ways to Live gospel outline.

  1. Review these passages: Revelation 4:11; Colossians 1:15; 3:16; Matthew 12:34-35; 13:51-52; and 1 Timothy 4:12.
  2. In what way did God comfort, challenge, or correct you today?
  3. Why do you think many Christians are not joyfully and consistently talking to others about Jesus?
  4. Describe the last time you talked with a neighbor, classmate, or coworker about Jesus.
  5. Make a list of those people you are trying to win to Christ. Pray for opportunities to talk with them about Jesus and pray for boldness to take those opportunities.
  6. What part of creation often calls you to worship and thank God?
  7. Explain what it looks like to give glory, honor, and power to God.
  8. In what ways are you seeking to glorify God? In what ways are you seeking to honor God? In what ways are you using your God-given power to glorify God and do good to others?
  9. Explain how worship is the product of storing up treasure in your head and heart (Matthew 12:34; 13:51-52).
  10. Explain how evangelism is the produce of storing up treasure in your head and heart. Use the doctrine of creation to explain this treasure principle.
  11. Why is it important to understand that all things were created for Jesus?
  12. Explain how 1 Timothy 4:12 works through Mambrino Baptist Church.
  13. Explain how Colossians 3:16 works through Mambrino Baptist Church.
  14. Pray for God to give you opportunities to talk to others about Jesus.

I need to read this again and again

A. W. Tozer in “The Old Cross and the New”.

“From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life; and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique — a new type of meeting and new type of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as of the old, but its content is not the same, and the emphasis not as before.

“The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into the public view the same thing the world does, only a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.

“The new cross does not slay the sinner; it re-directs him. It gears him to a cleaner and jollier way of living, and saves his self-respect…The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.

“The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere, but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross. The old cross is a symbol of DEATH. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took the cross and started down the road has already said goodbye to his friends. He was not coming back. He was not going out to have his life re-directed; he was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise; modified nothing; spared nothing. It slew all of the man completely, and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with the victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

“The race of Adam is under the death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear, or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him, and then raising him again to newness of life.

“That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world; it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life to a higher plane; we leave it at the cross….

“We, who preach the gospel, must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, or the world of sports, or modern entertainment. We are not diplomats, but prophets; and our message is not a compromise, but an ultimatum.”

The Biblical Evangelist, November 1, 1991, p. 11.

Pray for our youth

Our youth are at camp this week. You know you should be praying for them, but what should you pray for? Alvin Reid, in his book Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out, gives us five helpful ways to pray.

  1. Ask God to open their spiritual eyes (2 Cor. 4:4).
  2. Ask God to give them ears to hear (Matt 13:15), faith to believe (Acts 20:21), and a will to respond (Rom 10:9).
  3. Ask God to send people into their lives to witness to them (Matt 9:38).
  4. Ask God for ways to build caring relationships (1 Cor 9:22).
  5. Ask God for an opportunity to invite them to an event where the gospel is shared (Luke 14:23).

Our youth are at camp, an event where the gospel is shared. Join me in praying for the realization of the other 4.