Matthew Hudson is the pastor of Bella Vista Baptist Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” (Luke 1:1-4)
That is a blessing, that there are some things that are most surely believed, and some things that need to be rehearsed, they need to be told, that thou mightest know the certainty of those things; the things that Jesus did. I believe it’s worth talking about. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, God used Luke to write this to Theophilus to say, “I want set forth in order so that you know what it was that Jesus Christ did.”
I’ll tell you what our world needs today. They need to hear what Jesus Christ did for them. They need to hear the Gospel. They need to hear about the death, the burial, and the resurrection of the soon-coming King. They need to hear that message.
It set in order in the scriptures that the Holy Spirit has given to us, right here in this King James Bible. We don’t need to write a new one. God’s Word has already been written. It is already there for us. It is not only inspired, but it is preserved and given to us.
So, Luke writes this to Theophilus. He said, “I am setting in order, and this is the beginning.” This is what Jesus Christ did. I want you know exactly what He did. I can just picture, as Theophilus receives this. Here is a Gentile doctor writing to a Gentile man, a convert. He is reading the Gospel message, and saying “Wow, that was some kind of Man that lived.” But Jesus is more than just a man. He is God in the flesh. He is the Son of God that died in our place, and Theophilus is reading that and sharing it with somebody else because it stirred his heart just like it does mine, just like it does yours.
You say, “That is a great, amazing story. I mean, to think Jesus came from Heaven, the Eternal Son of God, was born in stable, laid in a manger, and then lived a sinless life and went to Calvary, and died on the cross, was buried, and then He arose again and left an empty tomb. And he is coming again. That is a great story!” But it’s more than a story, it’s history and prophecy. It’s reality!
In Acts we find another treatise to declare, penned by Luke, which says: “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” (Acts 1: 1-14)
Now here is my message. In verse number one, I want you to notice these words there, “Jesus began...” and also notice the first three words of verse fourteen “These all continued...” I want to take those five words this morning and preach about how Jesus began and these all continued. I want to preach on just this simple thought, “To Be Continued.”
Not too many months ago, I got the Revival Fires newspaper in the mail, we get those and put them out at our church; Brother Corle, thank you for that and all the good messages in there. I was reading a message that started on the first page. It caught my attention, and really excited me. I was reading down through the message, got down to the end of page one, and it said continued on page nine. I flipped over as quick as I could, since I wanted to see where that message was going, but as I turned over and began to read, it wasn’t fitting with what was on page one. I thought, ‘This isn’t the same message, and not even the same text, though it is a good message, too.’ I am reading down, and thinking, ‘I know I read that it was continued on page nine, and I could never be wrong...’
So I went back over there and looked, and it said page seven, not page nine. I was on the wrong page! I flipped back over and read page one again, and I got down to where it said continued on page seven, and when I turned to page seven where the correct message was at, it all fit together and went just right, and everything connected. It just continued the message that had already been started which spoke to my heart.
I sat there and began to think that when Luke wrote to Theophilus in the book of Luke, what he was saying is, “I want to set in order what happened, and I want you to understand that it did not start with the apostles. Jesus came, and Jesus is the One that began it, since Jesus is the Author and the Finisher of our faith. No, it is not the Pope, it is not a preacher, not an evangelist or a missionary. It is Jesus Christ, Himself. He is the One that came to save us, and He is the One that came to start this. He is the Founder of the church, and I believe that.
Then, when Luke started in Acts, he says to Theophilus, I am continuing this, “of all that Jesus began...” and I stopped on that. I said, “Now that is good; Jesus began it.” Then I got down to verse 14, and it says, “These all continued.” I believed that they not only continued in prayer. We are going to talk about that, but I believe that what they were actually continuing is everything that Jesus had done. Everything that Jesus began, they were continuing in that.
I grew up in an independent Baptist church, and I thank God for that. I was raised in the home of a preacher. My dad staggered out of a bar on September 6, 1969, 50 years ago this year. He had been drinking and just living in parked cars, living a life away from God. He was kicked out of the Army. He staggered out of a bar on a Saturday night, and two men from a Men’s Prayer Meeting at an Independent Bible preaching church said, “Let’s go witness to that drunk.” They walked over to my dad just as he walked out of the Red Rooster, about 25 feet from the door. He took me there and showed me the spot, and said, “It was right here that I got saved. I got on my knees, and said, ‘Jesus I am a sinner, and I need you to save me.’”
Dad got saved that night and God transformed his life and used him as a preacher of the Gospel. So I grew up in an Independent Baptist Church with soul winning, Bible preaching, separation and the word of God. I saw a lot of things growing up. When I left the US for the mission field, there were some churches that I visited on deputation, and I saw some things that encouraged me, I said, “These men are continuing, and they are doing what God wants them to do.” That was exciting to me. Then I turned the next page of my life, and I turned the next page, and I turned the next page.
Now years have passed and I come to the page of 2019, and can I tell you that, as a young preacher, what concerns me is that I think that we are getting a little bit off of the page. I think that what some folks have done is that we have taken what Jesus did, and we said, “But that only worked in that first century church” or “That only worked when Jesus was doing it.” Many people and preachers have turned the page now, and it is no longer what Jesus began, but it is what we want to begin. It is as if we are going to decide to start something new, we are going to do something different, as if we don’t need to continue what Jesus began.
Can I tell you something? Let’s just go ahead and get it out. This is what the message is: “It is to be continued…..” Right here in this Book, what Jesus did and what Jesus said. It is what we are to do! What he started! He began, and we are to continue. It is not up to me to start it up or to come up with a new idea. I am just to continue to do what Jesus began. I just need to get filled with the Spirit. I don’t need something new. I want to continue with the old time religion, and yes, it’s still good enough for me.
You see, there was a period of time, after Jesus was on this earth, that it didn’t look like it was going to be continued. When Jesus was standing before Pilate, it looked like what He began was not going to be continued. When all of the disciples fled, and when Peter said, “I don’t know him,” things looked dark and it looked like it wasn’t going to be continued. Then, when they took Jesus and nailed Him to that cross, and the disciples were forsaking him, it looked like it wouldn’t be continued. When they took His body and put Him in that grave, and the disciples were hiding out for fear of the Jews, it looked like it wasn’t going to be continued. Then when they came, on that resurrection morning, to the tomb, and went back to tell the others.
It didn’t look like it was going to be continued when Peter said, “I’m going fishing, I’m done with this.” It looked like what Jesus began was going to die out, and it wasn’t going to be continued. I flipped through the pages, and I said, “Oh, there has got to be more!” Luke, I am glad that you wrote something else to Theophilus. I don’t want to see that just Jesus started it, and it died out when He was done, but I need to see that, all the way up to 2019, preaching this Gospel message is to be continued!
I get to Acts chapter one, and I say, “It doesn’t look like they are going to make it,” because they went through different stages. This is why it looked like it wasn’t going to be continued, because they went through a stage of grieving, they were grieving for Jesus. “Jesus was our Pastor! I mean, Jesus was our Leader! He was the One that preached like nobody else preached. I mean, He had authority. Nobody spake like He spake. But He is gone now. Let’s just go fishing, it’s over!”
Have you ever been there grieving? “Do I go on? What do I do? I mean, this was my life. I loved sitting under that man. That man spoke the word of God, and I was helping him, and that is what I loved, and now we are grieving. Are we going to go on as a church, or are we going to say, “Well it was only good while he was alive”? Are we going to continue?
Folks, we need to continue even when we are grieving, even when we are hurt, even when we don’t understand. They went through grieving. They went through a stage in chapter one of guessing about when Jesus is coming back again, and when are You going to set up the kingdom, or even guessing who is going to be on the right hand, who is going to be on the left, just like some of us. We are going to gripe, and we are going to gossip about everything that is going on, when we ought to just continue. It looked like it wasn’t going to be continued.
It looked like it wasn’t going to be continued when they got to the Mount of Olives. They are standing there looking up, and the Bible says they were gazing at Jesus when He ascended, and wondering, “Is it going to be continued? What Jesus began?”
The angels showed up and asked, “Why stand ye gazing up into Heaven?” They are saying, “Jesus started the work and gave you a job to do. Go out there and continue it!” When it continued is when they started going, and started doing what Jesus told them told them to do, ‘go ye into all the world.’
So, as I was reading through this, I began to think. “What is it that we are to continue as Independent Bible Preaching Baptists today, in 2019?” I am concerned that the page has been turned, and we are no longer continuing. We have read what Jesus did, and we read what the apostles have done. The page has been turned, and we have seen what other Christians have done. We have seen the revivals in the 60’s, and the 70’s, and the 80’s. Now we come to 2019, and we tend to think, “Well, we’ve got to turn the page.” But instead of turning the page, to “these all continued,” it is as if we think we’ve got to begin again.
We don’t have to begin it. What we have to do is just continue what Jesus already started. See, what Jesus started was about preaching. He came to preach. He came and preached the Gospel and the Spirit of the Lord anointed Him. He preached the Gospel like nobody ever preached the Gospel, and what we need to do, once again, is just continue the preaching of the Gospel.
God has chosen the foolishness of preaching. I believe God still uses preaching. God still uses the Gospel. Preaching not only gives the Gospel, but the whole counsel of God that preaches against sin, that preaches against worldliness and carnality. It preaches against immorality, it preaches against perversion. America still needs preaching like that in 2019. This world needs preaching. It is not up to us to say, “Well, that is not very popular anymore.” It is up to us to say, “We are continuing!” That is all I am doing, just trying to do what Jesus started and these all continued.
Wouldn’t it be great today to have a group of preachers that said, “Jesus began it, and we are going to stay in that group of whom it says, ‘and these all continued.’ We are doing what Jesus started, and we are just continuing with the same thing.
Jesus not only was a Preacher, but He taught us how to praise God. He brought glory and honor to God, and I think that a lot of times today in churches people talk about praising God, but what is really scriptural praise is not at all what they are doing. The dancing, singing, rock n’ roll music, and whatever other stuff that gets called ‘praise and worship’ that you have in those places, its not about God.
There are two things mentioned in the Bible about pleasing God. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him...” and then it also says “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:8) You have faith and you have flesh. If you are all about flesh, you are not pleasing God, but if it is about faith, you are pleasing God. So if your music is about flesh, you are not pleasing God, but if it is about faith, trusting God, and love for God, and I just want to glorify God and thank Him for what he is doing in my life, I believe God looks down and says, “I am pleased that you are continuing the same things. Keep on trusting God. Keep on doing what Jesus started.”
I believe it is about faith and praising God, even in the valleys. I tell you, there was a time in my life where I don’t know if I could honestly tell you I was sure that what had started in my life was really going to continue. I wanted to continue and be faithful, but there were some dark days. It is easy to get up and preach to others that when you go through a trial, just go ahead and pull your boot straps up and do it. But when you go through the trial sometimes it is difficult, and you say, “How can I even go on?” Has anybody ever been there before? But that’s what our job is, to continue.
You say, “Well, Jesus started it, but I don’t know if I’m going to be able to keep on.” That is where the disciples were at when they were grieving and saying, “I just don’t know if I can go on anymore. Thomas, let’s go and die also. Jesus is dead; we can’t go on.” But they continued. I’m laying the introduction here for the message. I believe this is what God wants us to do -- continue.
It blesses my heart in Acts 16, when I turn over there, and see Paul and Silas in the prison. They have already been beaten. They are in the stocks, and at midnight they began singing and praying. Man, what are you doing in there, singing and praising God? That’s when an earthquake takes place that miraculously sets them free. It’s almost like they answer us: “We are just trying to continue what Jesus taught us to do. We don’t understand what is going on, we don’t know why. We are trying our best to serve God, but I just want to continue to bless His name, and keep on praising, so I am going to sing. Silas, you start off, and then I will sing, and we are just going to praise God.”
Thank God for churches that still love to praise the Lord. Thank God for the music here this week that has been a blessing. We ought to get back to that part of the old-time religion, where it is not wrong to praise the Lord. It is not wrong to shout Amen!!! Don’t act like a bunch of Methodists and Presbyterians! You need to say, “Hey, I’m gonna praise the the Lord. I am gonna shout and thank God for what He is doing.”
“Why are you doing that? You are beginning something!” No, I’m trying just to go back and continue what was already started. We ought to praise God. He is a good God, and I am going to thank Him for all the things that He has done.
Verse 14: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” (Acts 1:14) Now watch this. This is the message here that what Jesus began, they continued in preaching and praising and winning souls and planting churches and doing the work for God. This is what Jesus began and they continued. We need to keep on continuing with the same thing.
I believe it all started with them deciding, “We’ve got to continue, first and foremost, what Jesus taught us to do, and that is to pray. We need to get alone with God. We’ve got to secure the power and presence of God.”
God said that we need the power and that we are to wait for it. We are not to go on our own. Tarry here in Jerusalem until ye be endued with power. I believe that is significant. Jesus said, “Don’t go out there on your own, because without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5) Don’t get ahead of yourself and go out there and preach in your own power and wisdom. Thank God for you young men that are excited about preaching. But wait, hang on a minute. Before you go out and preach, get alone with God and get the power of God on your life. See, He said you will receive power after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you.
I think what is missing sometimes and why the page is different is because we think we will receive a position one day, and then I’ll be a witness. Jesus didn’t say you will receive a position in a ministry and then you will be a witness. No, He said you will receive power and be a witness! He didn’t say, “Well one day you will have the personality of a great preacher, and boy you will be calm and cool, you will be energetic, you will be charismatic, and then you will be a witness.” Not at all! He said, “You will receive power!” He said it is not about the personality, it is not about the position, it is not about the popularity. He said it is about the power! You have got to go back to getting the power of God on your life.
As a preacher’s kid that grew up in Independent Fundamental Baptist churches, and I am not apologizing for that, I am proud of it, Amen!! I am glad. AAs a young preacher, I learned to kick up my heels and get excited. I am not that young anymore! Man, did that hurt! I think I am still middle aged. I’ve got a 23-year-old, a 20-year-old, an 18-year-old... and a 3-year-old. That is some kind of age gap there, right?
I tell you this as a kid that grew up in a good Bible preaching church, what we need to do is to continue what Jesus already started. We don’t need to invent some new method or program, and we don’t need to go around trying to find out some way to be a CEO of a church. We need to have a prayer meeting to get ahold of God and get God’s power on our life, and then we will do the praying and the preaching, and we will get up and praise the Lord the way we ought to and preach the word of God the way we ought to. But we better get back to prayer.
Our church’s emphasis this year, God put it on my heart that the theme ought to be “Everything By Prayer” (Phillipians 4:6). As I began to preach those messages, I began to challenge the people. “We need to pray more. Not simply, for those who do not pray. Oh yeah, you pray, but you are not praying. You are not getting a hold of God.”
I might sit back as a preacher, and say, “Okay, God you put me in a place here, and boy when I received the position, I mean Pastor Clyde Gilman did a great work, and now he has gone on to Heaven, and the page changed. Now, you are the new pastor, and you received the position. You are going to have the blessings of God fall in your lap.”
But God says, “That is not the way it works. You get the same kind of blessing from God when you spend the time in the same kind of earnest prayer.” Sometimes, young preacher boys think, “Man, if I ever got the platform that Brother Corle has, I’d tear it up.” No, no, no, no!!!! It is not about the platform. It is all about getting the power of God on your life. It is all about just saying, “I want to know for sure that God’s hand is upon me, and I’d rather not even walk up on the platform, God, if You are not going to show up and be there. Just leave me out in the parking lot. God, I want to know that you are there!” I am not going to get away from that.
Why was it that when Jesus started praying, His disciples would go to sleep, or when He was soulwinning, they would be out in the city buying meat? Jesus went alone up on the mountain and spent all night in prayer. What He was trying to say is, “I am beginning something, and you need to continue that.”
When was the last time we wept over a lost soul? When is the last time we wept over our country? You say, “What are we supposed to do now? I mean, all the sodomites, and they’re running for President, and we’ve got all this wickedness around, what are we going to do?” Why not pray? God is able! “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14) Wouldn’t it be great if we had some prayer meetings where we got ahold of God, and said, “Lord we need your power on our life! God we need you to speak to us.” Those old-fashioned prayer meetings of getting together and praying, and not just trying to go through some ritualistic prayer, but actually getting in touch with God, having God bless.
As I read down through this text, I noticed that the power came. I tried to do a lot of things in life. I don’t like tools that are not power tools. I like power tools! I like plugging stuff in! I got to the Ukraine as a missionary, and we were cutting some boards. But I had never used a two-hand saw before. We were chopping firewood. Some Ukranians came, and I held the one end of the saw, you know where you go back and forth, that takes teamwork. We have got to work together to cut it. I said, “Hang on guys, I’ve got a gas chainsaw in my garage. Let’s get this baby cut. You boys work the illustration of teamwork, but I’ve got the power!”
Can I tell you what is missing in our churches? We are trying to get a job done without God’s power. “Hey, let’s do something for God,” and we have worked out this little plan, we have got the video just right and got it all choreographed together. Boy, it is going to be good! We are going together back and forth, and God says, “Why don’t you grab this power tool of prayer and try this, it cuts it a lot faster!” Get ahold of God. Say “God, I need your power on my life. When I get up to preach, I don’t want to just preach some little old outline and try to impress people. I need you to show up. When I get up there, there are hungry, needy, hurting people out there. I have nothing I can give them. There is nothing I can say that will help them, but Your Word will change their life.”
“When I go out knocking doors, I don’t want to just go through some little salesman pitch and try to manipulate them to quickly repeat a prayer. But I sure do like it when I ring that bell or knock that door, when I know whatever words come out of my mouth is from You, Lord. That Catholic person, or that Mormon, or that Jehovah Witness, or that Baptist who answers the door, God, I sure hope that You will show up and start speaking through me.”
When I stand in my Sunday School Class, and start giving out the Gospel or start teaching a lesson. I have to have God’s power. When I got to Bella Vista, Pastor Gilman said, “I want you to start a new Sunday School Class in our church. We’ve got several adult classes, but I want you to start a Bus-Parent Sunday School Class. I said, “Amen! Alright, that will work.” He said, “I want you to teach the bus parents, and get them saved.”
So I got a list of all the bus kids and started going by their houses. We had 22 in our class this past week. I have been teaching it for four years. About every week, it is a different 22 people that come in. I have had them with tattoos. I had a man come in with tattoos that actually had words written on his face where his eyebrows belonged! I have them come in pinned up and pierced through and tattooed all over, all kind of things.
Sometimes I get up there and think, “God, I don’t need to get up here and try to crack jokes and make them laugh. I need you to speak to them, because the same Gospel that a drunk heard, who staggered out of that bar in Phoenix, Arizona and right in front of a tavern had two men who gave him the Gospel, that is what these folks need to hear.” That is what they all need to hear. They need to hear somebody say, “Here is deliverance.”
I’m reminding us today that the message is to be continued,. So if you would just allow me this illustration, I will be done.
As the pages turn, and your story is being written, does it still say, “These all continued”? I got saved in 1983 as a 9-year-old boy, on the third row, and my dad was preaching about Judas Iscariot, and he mainly said, “You know everything about God, but you don’t know God.” I came forward and asked Christ to save me.
I looked back to 1983, and where is the church at today? Turn the page a little bit. Boy, revival! Still revival. I think there are men in here who have been around enough to see the trends some people are following. You say, “You know what, there are some pages changing, and it seems like we have gotten away from this old time religion and Bible-based, Holy-Spirit-filled preaching.”
Can I challenge us today, because I am just sharing my heart with you. I took over a church from a pastor who was one of the greatest preachers that preached in these conferences, but I am not Clyde Gilman. I get up behind the pulpit when nobody is in the auditorium, and I pray. How many of you remember him shaking that pulpit? I try to shake it sometimes. But that is just not who I am.
But can I tell you, the same Holy Spirit that Clyde Gilman had access to can empower me to preach, too, if I will pay the price. I have to get in that place of prayer and say, “God will you put Your hand on me? My personality is different, my style is different. I am not trying to imitate somebody’s preaching style or voice ormannerisms or type of clothing or whatever they do. God, I am just trying to get the same Holy Spirit that they had. I am trying to get the Holy Spirit of God on my life, so when I get in there and I say Jesus began it, and others continued it, you will touch their hearts and challenge them to continue and stay faithful.
Jesus began it. These all continued it. We could name great men of God down through the centuries, all the way down here to 2019. Turn that page, and there is a list of preachers right here. Is going to say, “And these all continued,” or is it going to say, “And that is where it dropped, or that is where it quit.” I challenge us this morning from my heart, we need to get back to once again plugging into God’s power. We need to get back to old-fashioned praying and begging God, “Holy Spirit, would you help us.” We need to purpose in our hearts that we are going to stick with the same old time religion, the same Gospel message and Bible preaching that Jesus began, and be one of those of whom it says, “These all continued.”