GATHER (Week 1): We Gather for God’s Glory!

Key Verses:  Acts 2:37-47 (NASB)

Here is today’s big idea: “God Gathers His Church for His Glory!”  

Turn to Acts 2:37-47. What we are about to read is the response to Peter’s first sermon in Acts 2:14-36 which came immediately after the infusing of the Holy Spirit on the Church on Pentecost. Read Acts 2:37-47.
The Church does not exist for the Church’s sake: Church is God’s idea, for God’s purposes, for God’s glory! The Church is not a country club of the saved for the saved. The Church is simultaneously a place of resurrection and transformation, all for God’s glory! We are the rescued ones who are now rescuing. We are the resurrected ones who are now raising the dead. We are the found ones now seeking the lost. We are the blind who can now see for the purpose of showing others the way. God Gathers us together for His Glory!
This Acts 2 story is our inheritance! This is not only our heritage, but this is our legacy. The legacy we are called to leave our communities is the legacy of God’s power and presence being in their midst. We must focus on who we are as an Acts 2 people and what purposes we live for as those people. I am giving you today the 7 BIG WORDS we are going to focus on over the next year: GATHER, FOLLOW, REST, BELONG, LOVE, SERVE, and GO! These words are our heritage and our legacy. This is who we are and what we do!
Over the next year, we will focus on learning what it means to be a Jesus-community on mission, an Acts 2 church, built around the teaching of these 7 BIG WORDS: GATHER, FOLLOW, REST, BELONG, LOVE, SERVE, and GO! This year-long teaching emphasis on the 7 BIG WORDS will conclude on August 25, 2019 when I depart on a 3-month sabbatical, but our application of these 7 BIG WORDS will just be beginning. During my sabbatical, Pastor Ken and the elders will continue to lead us in even greater application at a personal level, in our relationships, and as a church family in being a Jesus-community for God’s glory. When I return on November 24, 2019, we will begin FBC’s “Year of Celebration” as we live out what we have learned and on July 11, 2020 when we invite all of our former pastors, friends, and family members to a big celebration—we will not be celebrating FBC, but God’s faithfulness to, in, and through FBC to fulfill His purposes for His Glory! This is a 2-year focus that moves us toward my sabbatical, through it, and beyond it because God has given us both a heritage and a legacy that we cannot squander or miss out on!

A quick administrative note: For more information on what you can anticipate at FBC over the next year, you will be receiving a letter from me—the first of ten over the next 2 years. The letter will go out today at noon via email and mailed out in the next couple of days. I also made a video of me reading the letter that will be available online. Please make sure we have your preferred means of communication starting now with letter #1, you won’t want to miss out as we are going on a sacred journey to fulfill the reason the Church and FBC exist in the first place. We have a lot to learn and a lot to do in response to what we learn. Jesus is calling: He is wanting to “pierce our hearts” as He gathers His Church.


Let’s look closer at the Acts 2:37-47 story to learn a valuable lesson: Who gathers us together?

  • The pastor, elders, or any other human leader? Who gathers us together?
  • Do we gather ourselves with some self-interest? Who gathers us together?
  • A cause that we believe in, is it a movement that draws us together? Who gathers us together?
There are lots of organizations and clubs in our communities that are drawn together by a human leader, by the desires of the people’s self-interests, or by a cause that may be bigger than themselves, like the community itself. We gather ourselves into clubs and cliques, God gathers us into His Church! There is a difference…

Are you His Church? Then it is your responsibility to prioritize gathering and being His church, to be where you are called to be. This should exalt your opinion of and prioritization of being here. There is no better place to be on the Lord’s Day than being gathered with the Church as Jesus calls. You are invited by God to be here and join FBC on this sacred journey to all of us together being built up as His Church for His Glory!

  • Jesus Christ very directly stated in John 15:16, “You did not choose Me but I chose you.”
  • Jesus prayed to His Father in John 17:6 & 23, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me… I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”
  • Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 16:15-18, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church [ekklesia], and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The Greek word ekklesia that Jesus uses in Matthew 16 has an everyday meaning of “gathering or assembly”, but when specifically used of the Church it has another deeper layer to its meaning: “the called-out ones.”


Why does Jesus gather His Church? The Church are those called out of the world by God to gather as His people for His purposes and His glory. God is gathering His Church to build His Kingdom for His Glory! The work of building God’s kingdom is the manifold ministry of the gospel for the purpose of calling out of the world those who are of God’s choosing so that they may join with God in the work of redemption.


Remember the situation of Acts 2:37-47: “Now when they heard this [‘this’ = Peter’s first sermon in Acts 2:14-36 immediately after the infusing of the Holy Spirit on the Church on Pentecost as Jesus promises in John 16], they were pierced to the heart, and their response was, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’(37).


Here are the results on that first day of Pentecost and these are same results we pray for:

Acts 2:41, “Those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.”
Acts 2:42-47 describes what the Church community looks like when the people are gathered for God’s glory by God, And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (v. 47).

Is this promise for us today? Is God still gathering His people today? Is FBC Jesus’ Church or our club?

Acts 2:39, “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”
Jesus is calling generations to Himself! But each of us must respond as He gathers us! As in Acts 2, it is the Holy Spirit’s work to empower preaching about Jesus. Just like in Acts 2, it is the Holy Spirit’s work to convict people of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). “Pierced to the heart” is an idiom that means you feel remorse for your sin and the anxiety over your separation from God’s salvation. When you are cut to the heart, the Holy Spirit shows you the reality of Heaven and Hell, and this breaks you. You must respond to God’s invitation for salvation, you must, or you will die. I have felt in my body what it feels like to be pierced to the heart! I was pierced to the heart in the fall of 1996, the agony of my sin felt like I was on fire and the horror of the consequences of God’s judgement for my sin made me feel isolated and alone in sheer darkness.
Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever felt the horror of the reality that apart from Christ you will miss out on the most important event of this life and spend an eternity separated from God?   Have you experienced the joy and peace of having your guilt of sin removed from you so that you can experience the abundant life of being secure in God’s acceptance for this life and for eternity in Heaven? Have you put your faith in Jesus Christ, repented of your sins, and been baptized by your own faith decision?
Gather Week 1:  Listen to it here
The video series can be found by clicking HERE.