God’s Story: The Church
1: We spent the whole year looking at God’s Story.
2: It began with a perfect creation
3: humans living in perfect love with God
4: Then sin entered into the world and changed everything
5: God did not give up though
3: He found a way
1: He began by calling out Abraham to follow him
2: From Abraham came the nation of Israel and the Law given to Moses
4: But sin always had a way to keep people separate from God
3: The Son of God came to do what all of us were unable to do
2: Live a perfect life
4: And give himself as a sacrifice once and for all for our sins
1: Jesus died, but then rose again, defeating death
5: He empowered his followers to continue the work that he began.
1: He told them,
2: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
3: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
4: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
5: and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
1: And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
5: At another moment with his followers he spoke to them saying
4: You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you;
3: and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
2: and in all Judea and Samaria,
1: and to the ends of the earth.”
3: Wait one minute! Why doesn’t he just stay here and do this?!?!
4: I would think that people would be more inclined to follow him rather than ME!
2: Then before all his followers Jesus ascends into heaven promising to return one day.
1: Now WHAT?!?!
5: Well, Jesus did tell us to wait in Jerusalem for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
2: Pentecost came and so did the Holy Spirit.
3: Miracles happened.
4: People spoke in different languages spreading the message of Christ rapidly
1: Peter gave his first sermon to the crowd.
5: Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
3: Over 3,000 people accepted Peter’s message.
2: Believers began meeting together.
4: Through these communities they were able to devote themselves to
3: eating together
4: helping each other out if anyone had need
5: praising God and enjoying the favor of all people.
3: But eventually persecution broke out.
4: Steven was murdered for his beliefs
2: Saul began hunting down Christians and putting them in jail
1: But then Jesus confronted Saul on the road to Damascus
5: Saul converted
4: He changed his name to Paul
3: Everyone heard about this but were afraid
2: This is just a trick to get Christians to come out from hiding!
1: Don’t trust him! It’s a trap!
4: But one person showed him grace. His name was Barnabus
3: His very name means “Son of encouragement”
2: Paul and Barnabus worked together on mission trips to start faith communities
1: What started in Jerusalem spread all the way to Rome
5: People’s lives being transformed by the Spirit of God
2: For 20 centuries so many people have come before us to continue the work of Christ.
4: Christianity spread throughout the Middle East
3: Christianity made its way through England and Africa
1: And eventually the message of Christ made it to America
2: Many people have given their lives to spread the message of God’s love
3: Many sacrifices were made to see this truth get into the hearts and minds of all people
4: Christians have been persecuted
5: Some have been executed
3: Some have been marginalized as ignorant, stupid and dangerous.
1: But now this precious message has been handed down to you!
2: The message and mission of Christ has been carefully handed down from generation to generation
3: And now it is given to you!
4: What does this mean?
5: How does this affect who you are?
3: Consider what the Bible teaches us about our identity in Christ!
1: In Christ you are…
2: Godʼs beloved child (John 1:12; Ephesians 1:5)
3: Christʼs dear friend (John 15:5)
4: Declared perfectly righteous (“justified”) (Romans 5:1)
5: Free from condemnation (Romans 8:1; Colossians 2:14-16)
4: United with Christ, “one spirit” with Christ (I Corinthians 6:17; Ephesians 5:31)
3: A member of Christʼs body (I Corinthians 6:15, 12:27)
2: The Temple of God (I Corinthians 6:19)
1: Filled with the “fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19)
2: A “holy one” [saint] (Ephesians 1:1)
3: Blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3)
4: Holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4)
5: Bought with an infinite price and forgiven (I Cor. 6:20; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14)
4: Bathed with wisdom and understanding (Ephesians 1:8)
3: The recipient of an eternal, infinitely rich, inheritance (Ephesians 1:11, 18)
2: Possessed with the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16)
1: Inseparable from Godʼs love (Romans 8:35-39)
2: One who will NEVER be abandoned (Matthew 28:20)
3: The beautiful bride of Christ who “ravishes” the heart of God (S. of S., 4:1, 6:4)
4: One over whom the Lord rejoices, sings and claps his hands (Zephaniah 3:17)
5: One for whom the Lord throws a party (Zephaniah 3:17; Luke 15:7-10)
4: A recipient of Godʼs own peace (John 14:27)
3: Filled with the peace and joy of God (Romans 14:17)
2: One in whom Christʼs joy is fulfilled (John 15:11)
1: Given direct access to the Father by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:18)
2: Seated with Christ in heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6)
3: The writer of Hebrews reminds us of all those throughout history who have come before us
1: Those who continued the work and mission of God to bring it to this point and time
5: And then the writer tells us
2: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
4: All of those believers who have come before us,
3: let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
5: Don’t get tangled up by sin but have the discipline to say no to those things which will hurt me.
1: And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
3: the spiritual life is a marathon, not a sprint. We must pace ourselves for all of life.
2: fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
4: So many things try to divert our attention. We must stay focused on Christ
5: For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame,
1: and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
4: What appeared to be the defeat of Christ at the cross,
2: God was able to bring victory through his resurrection.
3: And now all authority has been given to him.
5: Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
4: The Christ-filled life is not always easy.
3: Our loyalty to Him will be challenged
2: People will often let you down
1: Life can just be really hard sometimes
3: But God has not left us alone
5: We have the same power within us that Jesus had throughout his lifetime
1: The Holy Spirit can transform us to be more and more like Christ
2: The Holy Spirit can use us in ways we could never have even imagined
3: The Holy Spirit can forgive us when make mistakes
4: The Holy Spirit can give us gifts that can be a blessing to so many people
5: The future of the church rests on our shoulders
3: The mission of Christ has been entrusted to you!
1: You have been invited to be a main character in the continuing saga of God’s Story!
2: What will the newest chapter look like? How will you make a difference?
4: Let’s Pray
PASTOR: Dear Lord. We thank you for writing such a beautiful story, a story filled with your love reaching out to us. We thank you for making a way for us to be invited into your story in such an amazing way. I pray that we would fully give ourselves to your love. I pray that we would see ourselves as you see us – as the full expression of Christ to this generation. Help us all to fully live into our faith. May we be given the same power that you had to change the world. I pray that you would raise up from this youth group pastors, teachers, musicians, missionaries; a community of people full of God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. May our actions and the way we live our lives attract people to you! Give us a global vision for how we can change our world beginning with right here, right now. Amen