What's Next?

Acts 2:36-47

The most important and wonderful experience that can happen to any person is for that person become a Christian.
Then it is important to know what God wants us to do after we become Christians.

In Acts 2, the apostle Peter preached repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.
Then in Acts 2:40 he said, "Save your sales from this untoward generation."
He called that generation an unwilling generation.
Paul is telling us that there is something beyond our being born again.
The Bible teaches the church what we are to do after we are saved.

First, after the new birth comes baptism.

In the first century, when people received the Word of God, they were baptized. (Acts 2: 41)
Why are they baptized, and why are we baptized?

A Christian must be Christlike.
Jesus said, "Follow me."
When we are baptized, we are following the example of Jesus.

Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River.
From Nazareth to the Jordan River where John was baptizing was a distance of 40 miles.
Have you ever realized that Jesus walked that distance to be baptized by John because
He felt it to be so tremendously important and necessary.

We should also want to be baptized because this is a direct command of Jesus.
In Matthew 28 when Jesus gave the Great Commission, he was telling all of us to make disciples,
"baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Ghost."
A person cannot be obedient to Christ if he or she has not followed Jesus in believer's baptism.

Furthermore, baptism is telling others that we believe that Jesus died, was buried and rose from the grave.
In Romans 6, Paul tells us that we are buried with Christ in baptism, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead,
even so we should walk in newness of life following Him.

At the time when we were saved, we died to the old sin life, and our sins were cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Now we have a new life – a resurrected life.
Baptism is a picture of that resurrection.

When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, He identified Himself with humanity.
When we are baptized, we identify ourselves with Christ.

When a young man or woman joins the Army, they receive a uniform.
When a person joins the Christian army, he or she is to wear the uniform of Christ, which is baptism.

Baptism does not save.
Baptism is a testimony that we have been saved.
Baptism is not essential to salvation, but it is essential for obedience to our great God.

Secondly, after the new birth there is church membership.

When we are saved from our sins, we should follow Jesus Christ in believer's baptism.
At that point, you become a member of a local church.
The Bible teaches that on the Day of Pentecost the Christians were baptized, and they were added to them.
What does that mean?
It means that they became members of the church.
For Acts 2:41 says, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized;
and the same day that were added unto them about three thousand souls
."

We believe in the church because the Bible says that Jesus loved the church and gave Himself for it.
As a Christian, I will love the church and give myself to it.
In Hebrews 10:25 the Bible exhorts us, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,
as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more,
as ye see the day approaching
."

The Word of God exhorts us so strongly to be active in the church because the church reminds us to worship God.
The church teaches us how we should live as Christians.
Most of us are so caught up in the affairs of life that we seldom stop to acknowledge our faith in Jesus Christ
and our love for Almighty God.
The church helps us to do this.

It is possible to worship God anywhere and anytime, and we should;
but I have observed that we most often worship God in church.

Someone has said that religion is more often caught than taught.
When we are with others in church, we have our faith strengthened.
The Bible exhorts us, "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering." (Hebrews 10:23)
Worship with other Christians in our church helps us to hold fast to our faith.

Thirdly, after the new birth there is a continuing steadfastness.

Jesus admonished His church to be faithful unto death with the promise that He will give us the crown of life.
(Revelation 2:10)
That is exactly what the early church did.
For Acts 2:42 says, "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship,
and in breaking of bread, and in prayers
."

Only steadfast determination will enable us to reach our full potential in the Christian life.
Physical growth may occur naturally, but if we are to grow in grace, it must be supernaturally.

A renowned mountain climber was recounting the assent of his group in the Alps.
Two of the party were lost.
The mountain climber reported, "When last seen, the two men were ascending the heights."

This should be the approach of every Christian as we continue steadfastly serving Jesus Christ.
Luke recorded that the early Christians continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine.
This would be the teaching that they had received from their Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have this teaching in written form in the New Testament.
You and I are responsible to read the Bible, to study the Bible, to analyze the Bible, and to meditate on the Bible.
The Bible is spiritual nourishment for the Christian.
It is referred to as bread, honey, milk, and strong meat.
The Bible should be our favorite book.

The early church was a fellowshipping church.
The churches is where you and I can encourage one another.
Again and again as a pastor, I have had members remarked to me following the death of a loved one,
or a family crisis, or a long and prolonged serious sickness,
"I don't know what I would have done without the church."

Fellowship is not just having cookies and punch after a worship service.
Fellowship is helping one another in adversity.
Fellowship is praying for one another and their difficulty.
Fellowship is putting our arms around one another in sorrow.
Fellowship is sharing with one another the burdens and joys of life.

We also are to continue steadfastly in prayer.

In its very simple term prayer is talking to God.
Prayer was a vital element in the life of our Lord.
Jesus prayed when He was baptized.
He prayed all night before He selected His disciples.
He prayed at the grave of Lazarus.
He prayed a prayer of thanks as he broke the bread and fed 5000 people.

In the garden of Gethsemane He prayed, "Not my will, but thine be done." (Matthew 22:42)
When Christ was crucified, He prayed that the Heavenly Father would forgive those
who took part in the crucifixion.
In his closing moments on the cross, He prayed, "Father into thy hands I commend my spirit."

Jesus considers prayer so important that He now intercedes as our great High Priest.
You and I should be like Christ, and pray often and earnestly.

Alfred Lord Tennyson said, "More things are wrought by prayer, than this world dreams of."
Martin Luther wrote, "Prayer is a powerful thing, for God hath linked himself thereto."

We must make prayer the habit of our lives.
Be like the psalmist who wrote, "Seven times a day do I praise thee." (Psalm 119:164)
Paul taught us to "Pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

As we go through life, everything should remind us to pray.
When you see a flag waving in the air, pray for your country.
When you see a church, pray for the work of God, missionaries, pastors, etc.
When you pass a funeral home, pray for those who sorrow.
When you pass a school, pray for the teachers and the students.
When you pass ... Pray!

One motivational speaker said that we spend 27 hours a year at stop lights.
I really think that we spend much more time than that waiting for the light to change.
If we would pray every time we miss a green light and we are stopped at a red light – just pray.
And you would spend 27 or more hours each year in fellowship with God.

Then after the new birth comes giving.

In the early church, the disciples used their possessions to help one another.
The Bible says that they "had all things common." (Acts 2:44)
This is not communism.

It simply means that they were willing to help one another.
It was not government control; it was an individual decision.
The generosity of the early Christians is recorded in Acts 2:45 which tells us that they sold their possessions
and distributed them to each other according to the needs of each individual.

One principal that the Bible emphasizes is that of sowing and reaping.
God promises us that we are going to reap what we sow, more than we sow, and later than we sow.
I believe that this principle also applies to giving.

The apostle Paul wrote, "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly;
and he which soweth shall reap also bountifully
." (2 Corinthians 9:6)
If we cast our bread on the waters, it will surely return to us.

Paul was teaching the Corinthians that if they wanted God to bountifully blessed them,
then they should bountifully bless people.
The principle is: sow sparingly and reap sparingly – sow bountifully and reap bountifully.
This is a principle that runs all through life.

How does a person get more energy?
The answer is by using or giving more energy.

How does a person get friends?
By being friendly.

How do you get people to smile at you?
You smile at them.

How do you get people to love you?
You love them.

Whatever you put out is what you are going to get back.
The same is true in our giving to the Lord's work through the church.
If we give our tithes and offerings liberally, graciously, and joyfully, God promises that this kind of giving
will not go unrewarded.
Indeed, God promises to open the windows of heaven and pour us out of blessing
that there is not room enough to receive. (Malachi 3:9-10)

After the new birth comes gladness and praise.

The gospel record tells us how one day Jesus asked a rich young ruler to follow Him.
Making the wrong decision, the young man turned away from Jesus.
The gospel writer told us that he "went away sorrowful." (Matthew 19:22)

Luke tells us about the conversion of a tax collector by the name of Zacchaeus.
When Zacchaeus received Jesus Christ as the Lord of his life, the Bible says
that he "received him joyfully." (Luke 19:6)

Jesus would have all His followers to be joyful.
That was the condition of the early church after they had received the new birth.
They were "praising God, and having favor with all the people." (Acts 2:47)

The result of the spiritual condition of the early church was such that
"the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:47

Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White