Sermon Series: What Do We Do Now? Part I ~ Just Do It!

The disciples did not grasp the need for Jesus to die. They also struggled to comprehend His resurrection. Now they are wondering what to do. After we accept Christ – what are we supposed to do next?

Sermon Series: What Do We Do Now? Part I ~ Just Do It! ~ May 05, 2019 ~ Acts 1:6-11

Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
(Acts 1:4)

So, the disciples, believe it or not, still weren’t entirely sure what this meant; but they knew they did not want to let go of Jesus. They did not want to let Jesus out of their sight. They’ve already lost Him once before. They were convinced, without a shadow of a doubt that He would be gone forever. When they went to the tomb, they were expecting to find a body. When it was empty, they were surprised. So, now that He’s back, they don’t want to let Him go, and I understand that. I’m sure they want to hold onto Him for the rest of whatever.

But if you would join me in the unison prayer as we begin to study the Word of God, we will find out what Jesus wants the disciples to do next. Let us pray.

Lord, upon the pages of this book is Your story. It is also our story.
Open our eyes that we may see, our ears that we may hear, our minds that we may understand,
and our hearts that they may be transformed.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

So, in verse 6 in our reading this morning:

So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

(They still didn’t get it.)

He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing there staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go.”
(Acts 1:6-11)

Why are you standing around, staring, gaping at the sky? You got stuff to do!

The apostles still didn’t grasp the need for Jesus to die. They also were still struggling to comprehend His resurrection; and now after all they had been through with Him, after all they had heard Him say, after all they had seen Him do with their own eyes, they’re not sure what to do next. What do we do now?

And I thought oftentimes isn’t that the question we have for ourselves? After we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, after we’re Born Again, after we’ve made the airplane, what are we supposed to do next? And we’re starting off a series of sermons this morning: “What Do We Do Now?” Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at that, because the high has faded. Now that we’ve made this decision, now that Christ is in our lives… okay?

Think of it this way. Similar to being a New England Patriots fan, after they have defeated whatever your favorite team is and they win another Superbowl, Patriots fans are excited on Sunday night! Yay! Some of that might sort of roll over into Monday morning a little bit. But by Tuesday, your life has returned to normal. There’s nothing earth-shatteringly different. Similarly, getting saved can kind of be a bit of an anticlimax. You’re really emotionally and spiritually into it at that moment, and then all of a sudden, it’s over.

Even the great Billy Graham. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, using their own statistics – Billy Graham used to fill stadiums with people, and at the end of his event, he would always offer an opportunity to come and make Jesus the Lord of your life. He would invite people, “Get up out of your seat, and come down front.” You can YouTube it. I’ve seen video of some of his events. People would get up from their seats, streaming down by the hundreds, by the thousands. They would come down front, there would be pastors and people up front ready to receive their confession or whatever you want to call it, their statement of faith, and make Jesus the Lord of their life. Even the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association says that from the moment those people get out of their seats and come down front, that the vim and vigor of their new-found faith lasts on average about eight weeks. And then eight weeks later, they seem to have faded and gone back to their normal life – unless they are part of a church community that they are involved in a Bible study, that they have people surrounding them to encourage them, partner with them. It can kind of fade.

So, just as getting saved can be very emotional, the disciples have been on an emotional and spiritual roller coaster as well. Perhaps, now that that’s beginning to fade, maybe that’s why they’re not thinking straight. I mean, they’re still asking, “Lord, when will the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” So, what are they expecting? They’re still expecting Jesus to raise an army, to overthrow the Roman Occupation, to set up the Davidic kingdom, and now they can be in charge again. That’s what they’re asking. Isn’t there a part of you that wants to go, “Still? You guys still don’t get it?”

Well, there can be a tendency, after one gets saved as well, to kind of rest because we still don’t get it. We still don’t understand. We feel like now that we’re a Christian, we’ve crossed the finish line, we’ve won the race! That’s not quite an accurate way to look at it. What being saved does is write the last chapter of your story. If we are all a book, the last chapter is your salvation. You now know how your story ends – with Jesus in heaven. Yay! But between now and your final chapter, there’s a lot of chapters still to be written! And along the way, the evil one is going to try and tempt you, going to try and trick you, he’s going to lie to you, he’s going to seduce you in every way possible. See, Satan’s only purpose in life, according to Jesus in John 10, is to steal, kill and destroy. That’s what he’s here for. And getting saved is not the end of our battles. In many ways, it’s just the beginning! Think of it this way.

Before you have Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, do you know how your story ends? It ends with Satan, in darkness, separated from God forever. All unbelievers do not go to heaven. That’s what the Book says. So, if you are going to end up with Satan, Satan doesn’t have to recruit you. You’re heading his direction anyway! He’s not going to expend any energy on trying to get you to follow him. You’re going to be there at the end. However, when you confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior, when you confess your sins to Him and you’re forgiven and you’re Born Again and you’re saved, now you’re going to heaven. Your final chapter has a different zip code. Now, Satan is worried. “Oh my gosh. I’m going to lose them! I’m going to lose her! I’m going to lose him!” Now he’s going to focus his energy on you. So, oftentimes when you accept Christ, oftentimes it’s like putting a target on your head. Now, Satan throws everything and the kitchen sink at you to get you to change your mind, to get you to change your ways. You’re at risk of not ending up with him. So, your battles aren’t over when you accept Christ – in many ways they’re just beginning.

But it’s okay. You can survive. You can overcome all those things coming at you. You can be victorious because you know how your story ends – with Jesus in heaven.

Now, perhaps this is why Jesus answers the apostles’ question in verse 6: “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” with verse 7. He says, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.” In other words, don’t worry about it! One thing you do not have to do – they’re asking, what do we do now? When’s your kingdom coming? What happens next? Jesus says one thing you don’t have to worry about, you don’t have to be stressed about, is the future. Not any longer. You know how your story ends, so there’s no need to worry anymore.

I don’t know if you know some people – I’ve come across them in my life – who are absolutely obsessed with the last book in the Bible, Revelation. Ever met those people? “What about the rise of the anti-Christ, and the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and the battle of Armageddon, and the mark of the beast, and 666, and…” and they’ll just spend so much time and energy on all that stuff, all that worry. That may be the last chapter in this Book, but it’s not the last chapter in your book.

The angels said to the disciples, “Why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go.” So, He went up into the clouds, into heaven. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 says He will return on the clouds, and it says when He does, those who are dead in Christ – those who were believers and have passed on – will rise to join Him in the air, and those who are still living who are believers will follow right afterwards. So, when Jesus comes back, all believers are outta here! That’s called the Rapture. Revelation happens to the people who are left behind, hence the book series and movies. Revelation’s not going to happen to you if you are a believer, it’s only going to happen to people still here, who were not believers at the time. So, you don’t have to worry about all those stories. Your final chapter has already been written. How many times can I say it? When we accept Christ, we know how our story ends – with Jesus in heaven. Our future is assured.

The question of what do we do now? Jesus is pretty clear. Step one – verse 8:“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” What are we supposed to do now? Evangelize. That is the primary function of the church. Some people think it’s to feed the hungry or help the poor or house the homeless or visit those in prison. Yes, those are all things the church is supposed to do, but the church only does that because that’s what saved people do. They can’t stop themselves from being like Jesus. They understand a paper airplane is meant to fly and a follower of Christ is meant to serve.

But the church is not the Christian version of the Welfare Department, or of the Department of Health and Housing. That is not our primary function; because you can still have a roof over your head, you can have a full belly, and end up in hell if you don’t know Jesus. What good is a twelve-course meal and living in a virtual castle if your story ends in being lost forever? The primary purpose of the church is to tell others about Jesus. As Jesus says,

“Go and make disciples of all the nations.”
(Matthew 28:19)

So, how do we do that? Well, there’s lots of ways we can do that. In my dissertation, I focused on two. Two primary: I called them Street Evangelism and Servant Evangelism. Now, Street Evangelism does not necessarily mean you have to be out on the street talking to strangers, although we are doing that. Street Evangelism, to me, references conversations – a face-to face conversation with someone – a family member, a friend, a coworker. Yes, a stranger. I want to talk about Street Evangelism for a little bit. I understand, I really do – it is hard to begin a conversation with a stranger. I know, it’s still hard for me! But let’s be honest. When it comes to sharing our Christian faith, it’s really not all that much easier when we speak to family, friends, coworkers, right? No harder, speaking with strangers. Of course, we have to pay attention to context. When we speak to someone who is hungry, the truth is, they don’t need a sermon, they don’t need a Bible study. They need food. So, the first job is to help feed them. That’s what we do here on Saturday mornings with Sparrow – we feed those who are hungry. But then, we’re supposed to tell them why – why we are feeding them – by sharing with them the truth of the gospel. If we only feed them, we can leave them lost forever.

So, how do we do this? How do we share the gospel with other people? What do we say? Well, I developed a survey that I’m going to be taking out in the next week or so with Jordan, and Kyle, and anyone else who wants to join us. We’re going to go out on Wednesday afternoons down to Bushnell Park and we’re going to talk to some folk. And I developed this survey just to sort of break the ice and begin a conversation. So, I’ll walk up to someone, and you can be my someone, and I say, “Excuse me, would you mind answering a few questions for a survey?” And you’ll all say, “Yes!”

Starbucks or Dunkin? I heard Dunkin.
Baseball or Football?
Red Sox or Yankees?
Giants or Patriots? How do you feel about the Jets?
Selena Gomez or Ariana Grande?
I don’t know, they tell me they’re famous, I don’t know.
McDonalds or Burger King? Or Chick Fil’A?
Religious or Non-Religious?

Oh, so you’re religious? Are you Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Mormon, or other?

So, once you’ve now moved into a more spiritual realm, you say, okay, so you’re religious. What happens after we die? Oh, we go to heaven, okay. I believe we go to heaven too. But, who gets to go? Everybody? Who gets to make that decision? Would you say good people are in heaven? Would you say you’re a good person? See, you ask somebody, “Would you say you’re a good person?” Most people say yes, because most people are. And then you come back with, “Well, would you mind if I tested that with a few questions? Have you ever told a lie? What do you call someone who tells a lie? A liar. Have you ever stolen something, taken something that was not yours no matter when – a piece of candy from your sibling’s Easter basket, or that pen that’s chained to the counter at the bank? What do you call someone who steals? A thief. Have you ever taken the Lord’s name in vain? Hit your thumb with a hammer, closed your hand in a car door and screamed out? That’s called blasphemy.” Here’s one that got me. Commandment 7 says, “You must not commit adultery.” Jesus says, however, “If you even look at someone with lust, you have already committed adultery with them in your heart.” Have you ever looked at someone with lust?

So, they will say yes, because everyone has. “Then by your own admission, you are a lying, thieving, blaspheming adulterer at heart!” Me too! Because you have to get people to understand. They don’t need a cure unless they understand they are sick. They don’t need a Savior unless they admit they are a sinner. And people won’t want to do that. “But I’m a good person!” Yes, you are a good person, but good is not the standard. The standard is Christ, and the standard is perfection. No one’s perfect, least of all, me. I too am a lying, thieving, blaspheming adulterer at heart.

Well, when God uses the Ten Commandments to judge us, then will we be found innocent or guilty? Guilty. Will we go to heaven or hell? Hell. Does that concern you? Do you know what Jesus did, what God did, so you don’t have to go to hell, so you and I both don’t have to go to hell? And then you share the gospel with them. He sent Jesus to take all of your sins, all the penalty for your sins, so that you wouldn’t have to; and all you have to do is believe in Him and confess our sins to Him and ask Him for forgiveness, and repent (which means change our ways), and He’s promised to forgive us, and He will prepare a room for us in heaven.

So, you start off just having a conversation, having a few laughs, and you kind of move over towards the spiritual side, “What do you think happens after we die?” Because a lot of people just think, “Oh, we all go to heaven!” “Really? Why do you think that? Who gets to go, who gets to make the decision? Are good people in heaven?” It’s a conversation starter to get towards the spiritual side.

Now, that’s just one way to do it. There are other ways to do it. One of my professors said, “You know, I had luck when I was doing evangelism in Memphis years ago with asking people the very simple question – very politely saying, ‘Has anyone ever taken the time to explain to you what it means to be saved?’ and most people will say no. ‘Well, let me share with you what it means to be saved. God sent Jesus into the world to take our sins – are you a sinner? I’m a sinner, are you a sinner?’ and you share the gospel with them.” That’s another way.

Here’s another way: we have these invite cards, and there are a bunch of them out on the only piece of furniture that we have in the lobby at the moment, in a little white basket. They are cards to come to church and this is one way to use these cards. You walk up to someone, wherever you are, and you say, “Hey, do you go to church? I’d like to invite you to my church.” There you go, done. “Oh, you’re not ready to make that decision? If you have any questions, on the back is a website, truelife.org, and they have a bunch of videos, that if you’re not sure, you have some questions, short videos you can watch in the privacy of your own home on your phone, computer, whatever, you can click there and it’ll answer some questions for you. Thank you very much!” That’s it. Just hand them a card a move on. I leave them every time I leave a tip at a restaurant. You can place them wherever you want. They’re not that hard to use. There are a bunch of them out there, I encourage you to take them, put them in your wallet, put them in your purse, let the Holy Spirit move in you and just invite someone to church. That’s it. You don’t have to go into the deep questioning, you know, “Have you broken any laws? Are you a sinner?” Just invite them to church. I’ll tell them. That’s another way to do it.

Then there’s a last, very important – just one of many ways – simply, tell them your story. See, lots of people can get into an argument about this: “Oh, I don’t believe that, it’s just written by a bunch of old, white, dead men!” I don’t want to get into a theological conversation. If they don’t believe what the Bible says, that’s fine. But they can’t call you a liar if you share your experience – what Christ has done in your life. What are they going to do, say, “No, that didn’t happen!” So, that’s another way to share the gospel.

If you want to do a survey, ask some questions, if you want to ask that fancy question, that tough question of “what happens after we die?” See, the reason people get defensive is because you’re hitting close to home. The Holy Spirit is convicting them. “Well, gosh, I have lied. I have stolen. I have committed blasphemy.” But they’re saying it to themselves! You’re not calling them names. You’re not pointing your fingers and saying, “You’re a sinner!” You’re saying, “Have you ever told a lie?” They say, “Yes I have.” And then I’ll say, “I have too!” “Have you ever stolen anything?” “Yes, I have.” “I have too.” What do they call us? Liars, thieves. You’re getting them to convict themselves! At least to think about it. They may turn around and walk away angry, but I’m telling you right now, they’re going to think about that conversation for a while, and if you gave them a card as they left…

The point is Jesus says in Matthew 28:

“Go and make disciples of all the nations.”
(Matthew 28:19)

He says in Mark 16:

“Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”
(Mark 16:15)

The original Greek the gospel writers use makes it exceedingly clear that this was not a suggestion, it was not a preference, it was not a wish. This was a command. Jesus fully expected His followers to evangelize, to share the Good News of this table. People are out there. They are in danger of eternal darkness. Everyone does not go to heaven. Believers go to heaven. There are people out there at risk of being separated from God forever. Don’t we care about those folks? Don’t we love our friends and family and coworkers enough to at least offer an opportunity? We have the only solution. Jesus said:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
(John 14:6)

So, serve people. Feed people. And then when they say thank you, don’t just say you’re welcome. Tell them why you did it. “I helped you because Jesus said to help those who are in need. Can I ask you a question? Where do you think people go after they die?” and you start a conversation.

Ask them, “Has anyone ever taken the time to explain to you what it means to be saved?” Tell them your story. Jesus is expecting us to be His witnesses, telling people about Him everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. He told us, “Go and make disciples of all the nations.” I don’t care how you do it, it doesn’t really matter. Just do it. That’s one thing we’re supposed to be doing now that Easter has faded. Another thing we’re supposed to do… well, you’ll have to come back next week and find out what that is!