Theology Tuesday: Four Non-Negotiables of Christ’s Church

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). That word “devoted” is the key word. Everything that happened in the rest of this paragraph came from these non-negotiables. But what undergirded everything was this one thing: “Love.”

  1. The preaching and teaching of Scripture. They devoted themselves to “the apostles’ teaching,” that is, the Scriptures. The Bible contains 66 books (39 in the OT and 27 in the New Testament) that contains books that are historical, poetical, and apocalyptic. We have books called “gospels,” which are selective biographies of Jesus’ life, epistles (letters), and such. All written over a course of 1500 years, from Moses to the Apostle John. The Old Testament is about the promises made regarding Jesus and His rescue. The New Testament is about the promises kept. Jesus spent 40 days not only showing that He was alive, but showing from the OT Scriptures how this would happen. The apostles taught from the OT as shown by the Holy Spirit.The point of the Bible is, as Peter preached, was “this Jesus.” Jesus is the point of the Scriptures. Spirit moved forward in not only opening hearts to rescue those from their brokenness, but also to help them understand the Word of God. You see, when we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we have the mind of Christ and our hearts are opened to understand spiritual matters that we couldn’t understand before. It’s here we see in verse 43 that “awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.” At this point, these wonders accompanied and provided authority to the teaching–since the NT had not been written. Hearts were opened to hear and understand His Word, and that brought a sense of awe. Dear Christian, does reading about and hearing about God’s work and promises leave you in awe? Are you hungry and thirsty for His Word? Do you crave to hear His Word preached?
  2. Christ-centered fellowship. “And all who believed were together and had all things in common.” Fellowship is based on the gospel as taught by the apostles teaching! By connecting with Jesus and being part of His family makes us brothers and sisters. We are brothers and sisters. It’s what Tozer mentioned that 100 pianos tuned to the same tuning fork are tuned to each other. The apostle Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 1:9: “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” The apostle John adds to this aspect of fellowship: “[t]hat which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). Our fellowship with each other is fueled by fellowship we have with God through His Son! Does our fellowship simply look like hanging out, or is there a piece to our fellowship where we are strengthening others in Christ?
  3. Monday-through-Saturday community. Breaking bread deals with generosity and hospitality among believers, as well as having favor with the people (v. 46).  Something has happened. Why does it seem we do not have as much favor with all the people? I’ve been watching a lot of Billy Graham videos over the last few years, and seeing him on talk shows such as Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Woody Allen, and Donahue. He never compromised on the gospel. He called sin sin. He preached on hell and judgment. Yes, it was a different day, but we don’t seem to have much favor. “Day to day, attending the Temple together … received food with glad and generous hearts” (v. 45). Robert Louis Wilken wrote, “A society that has no place for God will disintegrate into an amoral aggregate of competing, self-aggrandizing interests that are destructive of the commonweal. In the end it will be enveloped in darkness.”  Do they see Jesus in how we live? Do we spend more time gossipping or gospelling? Does the awe and wonder we have for Jesus affect us Monday through Saturday? (Samuel. Jesus. Us?) Do we see this place as a haven from the world or as a hub to fuel up?
  4. Christ-pursuing prayer.  They were praising God, with awe coming on every soul.  By adoration, confession of sin, thanksgiving, supplication/requests, they maintained a connection to God by the Spirit after Jesus ascended!  Why the prayers?
    • Because there was a desperation.
    • They were new. They had never done this before.
    • They did not have protections from the government like we in the States are used to, so they relied more on Christ to sustain them.
    • They went from 120 to 3000 to even more every day– logistical and administrative challenge!
    • They were thankful for what God has done in their own hearts and in seeing lives changed.
    • Most of all, they were zealous to know God and His heart!
    • Are we zealous to connect with God in prayer? Or do we feel little need for relying on Him because we feel experienced enough?

May God help us be devoted to that for which He is zealous!

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