Good morning, friends. Our topic this morning is "The Marks of a Renewed Church." In the New Testament, church means "people," not "buildings." The church lies at the very heart of God's eternal purpose. God's purpose is not merely to save isolated individuals and so perpetuate our loneliness. God's purpose is to build a church, to build a redeemed people for his own glory. We're very concerned about the renewal of the church, and we're concerned about the biblical vision of what the church is intended to be.
So I want to ask this question this morning: What are the chief distinguishing marks of the church? It would be interesting, if we had time, to sit down alongside one another and answer that question. What are the chief distinguishing marks of the Christian community?
One of the best ways to answer the question is to take a fresh look at the first Christian community as it came into being in Jerusalem on and after the day of Pentecost. Mind you, as we do that this morning it's important to be realistic. There is a tendency to idealize or romanticize the early church, to look back through tinted spectacles, to speak of it with bated breath as if it had no blemishes. Then we miss the heresies and the hypocrisies and the rivalries and the immoralities that troubled the early church, just as they trouble the church today. Nevertheless, one thing is certain: the early church was radically moved and renewed by the Holy Spirit.
So let me rephrase my question. What does a Spirit-filled church look like? What evidence did that first century church give of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in its midst? If we can answer that question we're well on the ...
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John R. W. Stott (1921 – 2011) is known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist, author, and theologian. For 66 years he served All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London, England, where he pioneered effective urban evangelistic and pastoral ministry. During these years he authored more than 50 books, and served as one of the original Contributing Editors for Christianity Today. Stott had a global vision and built strong relationships with church leaders outside the West in the Majority World. A hallmark of Stott's ministry was his vision for expository biblical preaching that addresses the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women. In 1969 he founded a trust that eventually became Langham Partnership International (www.langham.org), a ministry that continues his vision of partnership with the Majority World Church. Stott was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."