Jul 3 2022 Doing Life Together Pt. 2
9th July 2022
John: We’re focusing on the early church in Acts – the practice of the Church shortly after Jesus ascended.
Acts 2:42 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
The teaching of the apostles – we think of Sunday school or Bible study – and not often to think of the context of what they had – They didn’t have the gospels – the teaching of the apostles was the Torah, plus what the apostles had seen and heard from Jesus.
Teaching is taking something someone doesn’t know and helping them to know it.
In this context – it was to take what they did not know about the Torah about the promised Messiah and how Jesus fits into that.
Here is an example of teaching and learning in the New Testament:
Acts 17 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So, you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[b] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’[c]
29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
Paul was telling them that there is only one God – Lord of all, and that God is Jesus.
Learning is the business end of teaching.
Learning is one of my favorite things to do. I like to learn new things and add to the inventory of things that I know. As I get older, I learn that part of what I thought I knew was wrong – it needs to be trashed because my perspective has changed. God does not change and truth does not change – but even crazier – stuff that I learned the first time – I needed to learn so that I could get to the point to replace with the new stuff.
Like the men of Athens – I needed to learn new truth.
Don’t get me wrong – some truths will never change.
Jesus was dead, buried and risen – and now will reign forever – that will never change.
I used to believe that God made distinctions for race or gender – He does not. I used to think that my behavior got me qualified to fellowship with God – it does not.
I used to think that my denomination made a difference in how God interacts with me – it does not.
I used to think that those who broke bread differently, had different leadership structures or whatever were not saved – but I see stronger Christians than I and realize we will all be in eternity together.
I know many denominations who worship differently from how I do – but we will be together for eternity.
God, help us to be devoted to learning – to the apostles teaching.
Patty – one of my most favorite parts of the Christian life – Fellowship – still talking about Acts 2:42 –
Fellowship derives from the word Koinonia – joint participation in a common interest or activity – fully invested for the same end. It is because of Jesus. We all have a lot of different interest. I don’t know that I would have become friends with a lot of you if it weren’t for Christ. We are one body.
Second – how it is used in Scripture –
42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Christians in the early days spent a lot oof time together. It is not as easy in this day to spend time together – but it is more than just meeting on Sunday.
1 Cor. 1:9 God is faithful through whom you were called into fellowship with His son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
1 John 1:7 – if we walk in the light, as He is in the light – we have fellowship with one another.
Fellowship is a connection with believers – we were made to thrive by being together. I talk to other Christians and realize – that is the way Jesus is like.
I think when we are in fellowship – it is a small taste of what heaven will be like.
2 Cor. 13:14 - 14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Mike: We have an amazing wealth of wisdom in this Church. And while we coordinate these things – we have a meeting – but we don’t know what the others will say –
I was going to give the Geek part – but Patty stole that – and I was going to talk about the Presbyterians and Methodists – but John stole that…
I don’t follow a lot of news – but I see there is something going on in Akron.
Lord, our lives are in your hands. Help us to put our attention on you. We pray for the conflicts in Akron over the police shooting earlier this week – we ask for peace, understanding, and justice. He has shown you, O man, what is good – to do justice, love mercy – and walk humbly with our God.
This is on the community -the word is GATHER – doing life together.
Acts 2:42 - 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching (john) and to fellowship (Patty), to the breaking of bread (last week) and to prayer.
We are an individualistic society – but…
Acts 4: And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. 32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.
Doing life together is hard! But we don’t have to change our economic system to do life together. Individualism has a twin sister – or a partner – and that is consumerism. The two are connected – and working together – the two have created a segment of individual spiritual consumers – and the church has become a supplier of consumer products for individuals – and that is not healthy – and it hinders partnering – doing life together – mentality.
Two things we need to focus on if we are going to do life together well.
First – we need a better theology of church – ecclesiology –
Simon Chan – The church is not an organization that exists to serve the spiritual needs of individuals!
What? Do you agree with that?
Of course, the church serves spiritual needs of individuals – but that is not why it is exists – that is not its identity. The identity is to BE the Body of Christ – it exists to express and proclaim the kingdom of God, and Jesus, to an antagonistic world. The church is to be Jesus on earth while He is in heaven.
One way we do that? Caring for one another. Aren’t those the same? We must first be the body of Christ – here to express and proclaim Jesus to an antagonistic world.
We need a better theology of the world – but the world is the world and we should never expect it to be anything else – until Jesus returns – because that is what it is. If it is antagonistic toward Me, it will be antagonistic to YOU
All who desire to be like Jesus will be loved by everyone in the world? No! WILL BE PERSECUTED!
Why is the world the way it is? Because it is the world. Just like the Church is the body of Christ, so the world is the world.
Chan: In light of this – the church is a contrast community –
Paul says – our citizenship is in heaven.
On earth – “We are a colony of resident aliens” – Eugene Peterson – in the Message – quoting Peter.
Our citizenship is in heaven – and we are visiting earth! As immigrants – and we need to view ourselves that way. How would an immigrant view themselves here? That’s how we need to be.
When we traveled to Europe – it was like we carried a sign that said – we are Americans! Everyone knew! People were very friendly in Austria – they realized; those Americans are lost.
Italy – different subject! But we are a colony – the colony poses a constant challenge to the world and the rulers of the world, both spiritual and human!
Those we voted for and those we didn’t! We like being a challenge to those we didn’t vote for! However, we must never use the ways and means of the world to challenge the world. We must never challenge the world the way the world challenges one another.
Matthew 5 – I’ve talked about it a million times.
Jesus talked about a contrast society when He talked about the kingdom of God.
Mustard seed – Leaven – very small and inconspicuous things that have the potential to have a large impact when properly deployed.
Matthew 13:33 He spoke another parable to them, "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened."
50 pounds! One large loaf of bread! It will fill the entire 50 pounds of dough!
Our problem – I’m not sure we want to be leaven! I don’t think we want to be small and concealed. I think we’d rather be the rolling pin – I don’t bake, but I watch shows – we want to SHAPE the dough – flatten it – make it what we want – but God wants to hide us in it! That way, He can turn it into what He wants.
“We are far more effective if we know that the gospel will never be entirely acceptable. We must believe that the gospel will be an offense, and will not be accepted in the world, and that the Christian movement will always be a minority movement.”
Jesus said that the road is narrow…
The gospel must seek to penetrate the world and all of its parts – but it cannot do that unless it is in contrast to the world.
Acts 13: And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness
The continually gathered together – and they prayed. That’s how they hid in the dough. They spoke the word of God with boldness. This means Jesus. The gospel. They spoke Jesus, the gospel, with boldness – and then it tells us there was POWER -
. 32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.
We cannot separate the power and the spirit from the church doing life together – you must have one to have the other.
Another theological thing – when we think of church – not just local, but church global – we are good at thinking local church – what we do. Global – not just missions – but we don’t connect ourselves – the church as one body – but we are part of the body of Christ connected through Time and Place.
The apostles teaching – we are connected all the way back to Jesus and the Apostles
What happened – 1517 – October 31 – Martin Luther to the Cathedral at Wittenberg and nailed the 95 theses – And then all kinds of reformers began to reform – and we had hundreds focusing on their own distinctions. There is one body, regardless of your denomination.
Chan writes it this way -churches like ours – who approach church like we do. There is little sense as the church being a corporate spiritual reality existing in and through time – worshiping God with angels, saints, and all through time –
Hebrews 1 – such a great cloud of witnesses – let us run with endurance. Everyone who has gone before is sitting in the arena as we have been handed the baton. A whole new perspective opens up when Christians see themselves participating in a much larger reality.
Revelation 4, 5, 7, 19 – you will see what worship is all about – what is going on in heaven
Second point – and it is short – first we need a better theology of church – Second – our Christian discipleship should develop qualities that enable us to gather in unity and harmony.
Fellowship – we think of developing a devotional life – fighting off temptation – believing the right stuff, sharing the gospel – but if we have all of those and are unable to do life together – live in relational harmony – then something in our discipleship has failed.
For homework – what I would like – and I will bring this to a close – I just looked up – I’ll send out this list by email later in the week – there are 99 “One another” verses in the New Testament. About 40 of those have nothing to do with the one another verses – “they were talking to one another” – but about 60 of them – 60 verses that tell us how to do life together.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; (Rom 12:10 NAU)
bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. (Col. 3:13 NAU)
with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, (Eph. 4:2 NAU)