We return to our Christian roots today as we begin a series of messages from the book of Acts. Today we look at the very beginnings of Christianity, to our roots, and make the point that you must be connected to your roots. Otherwise, like a plant that loses its connection to its root system, we fall into a dangerous place! Roots: Are you connected?
Once I was called to a client’s property to figure out why his beloved fruit tree died. It didn’t take long to see that mice had eaten away at the bark under the snow. Have you ever heard of girdling a tree? Here’s your science lesson for the day. One way to kill a tree is to girdle it by making a cut into the trunk in a circle all the way around the trunk, intentionally or unintentionally. You don’t have to go terribly far into the wood, just a short distance. In time the tree will die. Do you know why? The root system dies by disconnection. There are tissues just under the surface of the bark that transport sugars from the top of the tree, to feed the root system. Cutting off that system starves the roots and then the roots can’t send moisture to the rest of the tree and the whole thing dies. It’s the connection to the roots that keeps the tree healthy.
Roots! Your connection to your roots is vital! That’s why we’re studying a portion of the Book of Acts, written down by Luke, but authored by God.
“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
These are the roots of your faith, if you’re in the faith. Peter had just finished preaching after the Holy Spirit filled 120 frightened and hiding, yet praying, followers of Jesus. As he preached, the Holy Spirit moved upon the lives of those who listened. Let’s go back and focus on what happened there, because it also happens to us.
Verse 37 – Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
The Holy Spirit drove their response to the Word. It’s the Holy Spirit that gives you that riveting sense of “this is more than just a person speaking”. These folks were riveted; they were “cut to the heart”. Have you ever had that experience? You know then. The question that follows that is: What shall we do?
Notice, it’s not “what do we say?”. The response that the Holy Spirit produces is an action, a do; not just words.
Verse 38 – Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Turn away from what you know is sinful and wrong, then make a line in the sand of life; and step over it. Being baptized is drawing a line between you before the Holy Spirit moved and you repented, and the new way of living afterward. This change of mind and action by repentance leads to a different life, a change that’s permanent. There is no looking back after baptism. It’s a funeral service as much as it is a resurrection.
But that changed life has to be fed. The 3,000 plus newly changed believers grew. How did they grow?
Verses 42-45 – And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
They began to be fed by:
They did those things “steadfastly”. That word comes from a Greek root word for strength. So they adhered to these things with strength; they didn’t quit doing these things, they became their new lifestyle.
I was looking through the selection of glues at Lowes this summer. I had a couple of things that needed to be joined together and they couldn’t fall apart. I ran across this stuff called Gorilla Glue. On the package it said these words: “For the toughest jobs on planet Earth”. How could you go wrong with something like that?
The early Christians were Gorilla Glued to these four things and amazing results followed, as we’ll see in the next weeks of study.
But here’s my particular point for today: these 4 things are the roots of every person who is truly a Christian.
There’s a beautiful rose called the “Peace” rose, that was developed decades ago that’s a classic. Do you know how roses of different varieties are related? They’re related by their root stock. There is a tough, resilient variety of rose that has a great root system. Any rose you get at the garden store, no matter the color, is grafted onto the same kind of roots. The upper portions of the root stock rose are cut off and a segment of the Peace rose, or another rose variety, is grafted onto that root stock. The tops may look different, but the roses are all related by their roots.
It’s the same for you and me. We may look different from each other, but we have the same roots. That’s reflected in the rest of what Peter said: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call”.
The roots of Christianity reach to you! You have been grafted, if you’re a Christian, to these very same roots that we’re talking about; the roots found in the early church. The promise of what Peter shared is yours. What does that mean for you?
Your life as a believer is fed by Gorilla Glue devotion to Bible teaching, meeting together in large and small groups for fellowship, personal and corporate prayer, and godly service beyond yourself. Those are marks of a believer. The Promise of the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Holy Spirit can never be underestimated in a believer. The sealing of and filling of a believer with the Holy Spirit is that spiritual Gorilla Glue and more.
Take a look at your life. Do you see all the characteristics of a Christian root system that you are adhering steadfastly to? If you don’t, here’s what may have happened. You’ve been girdled. There’s disconnect with your roots that is dangerous. If you feel like you have lost your first love for Jesus, aren’t glued to the things the Scripture says are your roots, here’s what you say: “Men and brethren, what should I do?”
The reply: repent (turn around the whole ship), be baptized (cut off the world, the sin, the patterns of the past, visibly) and receive afresh the gift of the Holy Spirit’s life and work in you.
This portion of Scripture isn’t just for the person who has never believed. It’s for anyone and everyone who listens to what God is saying to them right now.