Saturday, 15 August 2015

Bible Reading: Acts 2v42-47

In these verses as we see the churches life Luke is not giving us a blueprint but he is showing us the rhythms of the churches life, rhythms the church are devoted to.  The first rhythm we see teh church is committed to is Living with Jesus as Lord and Messiah

If you think of church as being like a bike wheel what is at the hub, at the centre? In early church we see that it’s Jesus. v42 “They devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the Apostles.

Peter has just proclaimed Jesus as Messiah and Lord and 3000 believe and are baptised. Convicted of their sin, their rejection of God’s Messiah, and amazed at the grace on offer in Christ crucified but resurrected they believe and publicly confess that in baptism. Now Luke wants us to see what comes next – they join the church where they learn what it means to live with Jesus as Lord and Messiah.

They devote themselves to it, this isn’t a quick decision, this is a change of king. This decision transforms the whole of their lives. They deliberately and intentionally prioritise knowing more of Jesus. To hearing more of how Jesus fulfils the Old Testament, how every promise and picture points to him. To hearing more of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit enabled to enjoy life as God’s adopted child. To hearing more of what Jesus taught, what he did and what it means to follow him. The hungry church fall on the Apostles teaching like starving children on a meal after a day of play.

They aren’t just listening to Bible teaching and coolly and critically evaluating its quality, or admiring its effectiveness. They’re hungrily devouring it. They aren’t just interested in Bible teaching but they’re Bible hungry Bible learning Bible transformed people. They get that these are the very words of life as the apostles teach them what Jesus taught and did.

And just as God proved that Jesus words were from him, just as he verified Jesus identity as his Son through signs and wonders. So he does with the Apostles, verifying their authority and teaching through the wonders and signs they do. And the church is filled with awe – amazed at God at work and rightly responsive to God’s word.

They are devoted to remembering Jesus, not just in his teaching but in his sacrifice. They break bread together, now that’s a term used for sharing meals, but as part of such meals they would often share the Lord’s Supper. They were devoted to remembering Jesus death and resurrection and all that he had done for them. Forgiveness for the past, uniting them together in the present and securing their resurrection future.

And as they drink in Jesus words, as they remember what he’s done and who he’s made them, they also pray. God’s adopted children doing what comes naturally to children with a gracious loving Father. Approaching him, talking to him, opening their hearts to him, responding to him, dependent upon him.

Jesus is at the centre of His church. They are living with him as Lord and Messiah, learning from him, remembering him, and making the most of the relationship he has won for them and us with his Father through the Spirit.

Do you see the rhythm? It’s worth us just pausing to think about what this is teaching us.

The Holy Spirit creates the church as the place for believers to thrive in, to grow in, and to find joy in. The church is the natural environment for the believer. To be a Christian outside of the Church is like being a fish out of water. Why would you opt out of God’s given environment for your flourishing? Now no church is perfect. Even church in Acts isn’t perfect as we’ll see in coming weeks. But imperfection isn’t a reason to leave church, it’s a reason to apply the gospel to your heart and to others in the church. It’s a reminder to keep Jesus central, to feast on his forgiveness and share it with others, and grow and understand more of what it means to follow Jesus. And to pray that God would transform us together as we bear with one another.

There’s no such thing as a nominal follower of Jesus. You wouldn’t describe a nominal Christian as being devoted, therefore you’re not describing a Christian if that isn’t part of the description, or at least not a healthy Christian. A healthy Christian can’t take or leave these things, they can’t be indifferent to them. It’s worth pausing to ask; am I devoted to these things? The gospel of God’s devoted love for us, which cost him his Son, should inspire devotion in us. And if we find its missing, or waning we need to go back and read what Jesus has done for us, be reminded again of his devotion to is Father and us which Peter proclaims.

Are we keeping Jesus central? Are we learning from him? Not just hearing Bible teaching, but applying it to our lives together and as individuals? Are we thirsty for it? Are we keeping Jesus sacrifice and our new identity central? Are we remembering it often enough? Does it define the way we relate to others? Is prayer part of our life together?

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