The Herald Weekly Vol XVIII : 6

Herald’s Purpose, Commitment and Message

As we gather for our 16th Church Anniversary today, it is good for us to stop and reflect on why Herald was established by God in December 2003. As the years pass, it is easy to forget God’s purpose in allowing us to start a new Church.

After the death of Christ our Saviour, His followers mourned the loss of their dear Master. After they saw Him ascending into heaven on Mount Olivet, they returned to the upper room in Jerusalem. There might have been much sadness, and some confusion as to what to do next. But, in the midst of their grief and loss, however, they did not forget the last words of their beloved Master. They remembered Him saying to them, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Thereafter, the Holy Spirit descended on the believers of Christ, and filled all those who were gathered for prayer in the upper room in Jerusalem. It was on this occasion that the followers of Christ were given the power to speak in tongues which were understood by the multitudes that were gathered in Jerusalem. Everyone understood what the disciples said as “every man heard them speak in his own language” (Acts 2:6b).

As we study the Book of Acts, we are reminded of how the early Church was established. Truly, there are many precious lessons which we can learn from God’s Word:

1) A Common Purpose

The early Church had one common purpose in mind, and that was to obey the Great Commission that Christ gave to them before He  ascended into heaven. In Matt 28:19-20, Christ said to His disciples, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” This was the main focus of the early Christians. Their main aim was to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, and to make disciples of those who followed Him. That was the purpose that motivated all of their coming together, and their going from one place to another. That was the purpose to which all their energies were channelled. Beloved, what is the purpose of our gathering at Church this morning? Is our purpose in Church to know Christ, and to make Him known?

2) A Strong Commitment

Acts 1:14 says of the members of the early Church: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” This may be a simple verse, but it tells much about the unity of hearts of those who followed Christ. They were united in prayer and supplication. They were committed to being united for the Lord’s work. Who were these who were united as a church? In Acts 1:13-14, the names of 11 Apostles were mentioned, and some women, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus’s brothers. Later, they cast lots to choose someone to replace Judas Iscariot (who betrayed Jesus), and the lot fell on Matthias (vs 26), who became the twelfth Apostle. Most of them were with Jesus when He was on earth. They received the Great Commission from Him on Mount Olivet, and committed themselves to this cause that He had called them to.

If you have come to worship with us in our Church, what then is your commitment? Would you be willing to commit yourself to praying and studying God’s Word together? Would you make a strong commitment to the call of obedience in bringing the gospel of Christ to those who have not heard of salvation through His death and resurrection?

3) A Focused Message

What was the message of the early Church? When the multitudes asked why the disciples of Jesus were all speaking in different tongues, Peter explained to them why he and the others were able to speak in languages which many could understand. His main message for the hearers was, “Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). Among those who heard Peter preach, three thousand were converted, and were baptized. Peter’s focus in his message was not to boast of his time spent with Jesus; neither did he share about how he betrayed Christ three times before the cock crew. The message that he preached is the same which Paul preached, as well as the message of all the other Apostles. This was the message of God’s power, His love for sinners, His plan of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Stephen, who was the first martyr of the early Church, preached about how God called Abraham out of the land of the Chaldeans so that he would be the father of many nations in a land which God promised to him. Repeatedly, Stephen mentioned how God wrought great wonders in the lives of the patriarchs, from the time they were in Egypt, to the time they possessed the land of the Gentiles in Israel. He referred to the people who persecuted him as “stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears… (who) always resist the Holy Ghost” as their forefathers did in the wilderness. He chided them for rejecting the “coming of the Just One”. And for that, they stoned him to death.

Peter was put into prison when he went about preaching about the good news of Christ. When the early Church was against the Gentiles receiving this good news, he stood firm that “God gave them the like gift as He did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 11:17). This was the same message that the first missionary team preached when they were set apart for the work which God had called them to do. This was the very message which Paul and Barnabas preached in all their Journeys all over Asia Minor. They endured persecution, beatings, shipwrecks, “perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren” (2 Cor 11:26). Even when there were minor agreements among the Apostles, the message they brought to the people remain focused. It was the message of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

What then is the message that you would focus on each time you come to Church, and when you leave after the worship service? Is it a message of health or wealth, the words of a very good speaker or the lyrics of a very touching song? Or would you bring to your family members, neighbours, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, the message of salvation and hope that is found only in Jesus Christ?

4) A Stedfast Following

After the multitudes heard Peter preached, “…three thousand souls were baptized. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). There was no turning back once they repented of their sins. They listened to the preaching of God’s Word, and lived according to what was taught by the Apostles. There was gladness, and singleness of heart. Those who grew in faith were those who lived by the teaching of the Church, and because of that, many were added to the Church.

Beloved, as we celebrate our 16th Church Anniversary today, let us reflect once again on the purpose of the establishing of our Church. Do we share the common purpose of obedience to Christ’s Great Commission? Are we committed to being united in prayer and the study of God’s Word? Would we be focused on sharing the gospel message of salvation in Christ with others around us? Are we stedfast in following the teachings of God’s Word so that we will grow in our faith, go where God sends us, and reap the harvest of souls which is truly plenteous?

Let us be challenged once again to be part of God’s plan for His Church, His people. Let me challenge you to be obedient to the Great Commission, and “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet 3:15).

Pastor Bob Phee
(1st printed 27 Mar 2011, edited 9 Feb 2020)

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