Friday, November 23, 2007
Discipleship And the Church Acts 2:41-47
So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers. 43 Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. 44 Now all the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 So they sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. 46 And every day they devoted themselves [to meeting]together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.
Moore of SBTS writes "A Princeton biologist has found Jesus in an anthill. No, he didn't discover a Last Supper scene made of bread crumbs. And, no, he wasn't the victim of a new coercive form of evangelism. In fact, I don't know if he's ever thought about Jesus at all. But he's found a laboratory-based, grant-funded way to say something quite old: "Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways and be wise" (Prov 6:5).
According to the International Herald Tribune Princeton University mathematical biologist Iain Couzin is constructing a computer model to detail how army ants are able to move from colony to colony without "a mad, disorganized scramble." Couzin expresses awe that these tiny, relatively simple, organisms can build intricate highways and food-delivery systems without ever experiencing gridlock. Humans can learn a thing or two here, he suggests.
Now, at first glance, nothing seems further from the spiritual life of most Christians or from the mission of most churches than an Ivy League entomology study. But, what if our listening to this researcher will astound us even further about the wisdom of our Christ in the same way the Hubble telescope photographs cause us to gasp anew at the old truth that the heavens declare the glory of God?
Most Christians are familiar with Solomon's admonition to look to the ant (Prov 6:6-11). Our children sing songs about it. Our leadership manuals teach us to plan for retirement based on it. Most of us, however, tend to see this as helpful, homespun advice about good hard work. It makes sense to us, but it hits us with all the spiritual gravity of "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise." But there's much more here.
Solomon tells us that there is wisdom to be gained from looking at a mound of ants. And, for Solomon, as for Jesus and his apostles, wisdom isn't data. Wisdom is a way one walks, a voice one hears, a Person one knows. The way the Proverbs tell us about, the structure of the universe, the Scripture tells us is a Logos, through whom God made everything that was made. Jesus of Nazareth is, Paul tells us, "the wisdom of God and the power of God" (1 Cor 1:24).
This is why laziness, right along with discord, gluttony, gossip, lack of self-control and every other form of folly mentioned in Scripture is not just a character flaw. Our foolishness tells us whether or not we are walking in wisdom. Since we know the Wisdom of which Solomon spoke (Matt 12:42), our laziness or ineffectiveness or lack of foresight tells us much about how we are following Christ.
The ants show us a design God has placed in the structure of the cosmos, a grain we'll either work with or against, as we follow Jesus in assuming our stewardship of our callings in the world. Solomon's counsel to look to the ant is itself an indictment of a humanity in rebellion against its Creator. After all, God commanded Adam and Eve in the beginning to "work and keep" the Garden, and to exercise dominion over "every creeping thing that creeps on the earth" (Gen 1:26).
Now, a fallen humanity, turned away from their Creator, must be told to learn from the dominion exercised by one of the tiniest of all "creeping things": the ant. Solomon points to the foresight and effectiveness of the ant in storing food for winter (Prov 6:8). He admires the fact that the ant labors without coercion, or even direction from any chief officer or ruler (Prov 6:7).
Because we are future kings and queens of the universe in Christ, the Scripture has much to say about how we work in this time between the times. This is why so much of the Scripture is spent counseling Christians against idleness or insubordination. But, in this present age, the reign of Christ is seen in the church (Eph 1:20-22), a rule that is seen in His working through the Holy Spirit through gifts for the purpose of upbuilding the Kingdom community (Eph 4:1-16).
And that's where the ant research gets really interesting.
Couzin argues that the secret of ant effectiveness is the use of swarms. The insects are able, he says, to travel through any type of terrain without problem because they use their living bodies as bridges. "They build them up if they're required, and they dissolve if they're not being used," he concludes. But how do millions of ants know how to do this, without running all over each other?
While Couzin hasn't completely solved this one, he argues that chemical markers set forth "rules" that the ants follow, rules that wouldn't make sense for any individual ant, only for the swarm as a whole. "These rules allow thousands of relatively simple animals to form a collective brain able to make decisions and move as if they were a single organism," the Herald Tribune reports.
I stopped in mid-sentence when I read that line, and felt the hair on my arms stand on end.
Thousands of years ago, Solomon told us to look to the ants and be wise. It wasn't just, as we often suppose, that the ants work hard. It was that they are able to work effectively despite the very mystery this study seeks to unravel: they have no chief officer or ruler. The way they're able to do it, this study tells us, is through one body with many members, all keeping in step with a common instinct. In so doing, they become, though legion, one organism with a collective mind.
Paul warned the church at Corinth that the mission of the congregation was jeopardized by a wisdom of this world that was, in fact, folly. The foolishness was a discord in the church, over leadership and spiritual gifts, that threatened to signal that Christ himself was divided (1 Cor 10-13). Paul, like Solomon points them to a hidden wisdom that is found not in the philosophers' writings but in the "low and despised" things of the universe (1 Cor 1:28).
The congregation shouldn't splinter apart into quarreling because, he tells us, "we have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16). There shouldn't be rivalry or jockeying for position because "you are the body of Christ and individually members in it," all various parts led by a central nervous system with a name, a birth date, and a manger he previously called home.
I wonder how often our ineffectiveness at our mission as congregations has less to do with a commitment to "excellence," and more to do with a refusal to see ourselves first ecclesially and only second personally. Perhaps our churches are so immature precisely because we see ourselves first in terms of our personal ambitions, our personal careers, our personal lives.
I wonder how much of the deadness and silliness in our churches has less to do with a laziness that refuses to toss aside individual glory for the unity of the church, a laziness that refuses to set aside one's preferences to discern the mind of Christ. I wonder if we really get that we are all individually tiny components of a vast, multinational organism, one that spans the globe and the centuries?
Maybe the first step to wisdom is to recognize that the church itself, even with all of our flaws and foibles and fallibilities, reveals the "manifold wisdom of God" (Eph 3:10), a wisdom so awesome that our Maker designed an entire universe embedded with likenesses of it?
Yes, our highways are gridlocked, but our churches are often more so. Maybe what we need isn't to sit through one more corporate leadership seminar. Maybe what we need is to stop the Wednesday business meeting and walk outside to turn over an anthill. "
What are the characteristics of God’s people? My Passion drives me, My purpose describes me. My Passion gives me Dynamic, My Purpose gives me direction, passion without purpose is aimless Purpose without passion is lifeless, but when there is passion and purpose there is POWER.
Acts 2, Day of Pentecost. Acts 2:42-47
We tend to revere rugged individualists, but there are no real-life Rambos or Lone Rangers who do things of great achievement on their own. “One is too small a number to achieve greatness.” All the significant accomplishments in the history of humankind have been achieved by teams of people. The truth can also be carried over to a personal level. Most of life’s great moments-the ones that resonate in our hearts and minds-involve other people. John Maxwell
Petersen writes of American Christianity, We are a society of individualists and we like it that way. The pages of our history books present a parade of people who with their own two hands fought wars, forged governments, built industries, and made fortunes. It’s “the American way.” Frank Sinatra was only half joking when he introduced his autobiographical song, “I Did it My Way,” as our national anthem. We carry this pride in individual achievement over into our response to God’s calling as well. When we hear the familiar command, “Go make disciples,” a Lone Ranger image comes up on our screen: riding out to evangelize and disciple, and then coming back in with our notch on his gun.
The church is vital to God for several reasons:
• Christ loved the church and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25 Matthew13:45,46). We are also to love the church.
• The primary purpose of God in this age is building the church (Matthew16:18 Acts 15:14). If we want to be involved with what God is doing we need to be involved in the Church.
• Paul considered it his greatest sin to have persecuted the church (1 Corinthians 5:9 Galatians 1:13)
• The church is the only institution established by the apostles. The church is the Divine plan of God and he founded the church, bought the church, builds the church dwells in the church, and loves the church.
• The Church will occupy a place of blessing and honor
• The Church will be united with Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:27; Revelation 19:7)
• The Church will reign with Christ (1Corinthians 6:2; 1 Revelation 1:6, 3:21, 20:4-6 22:5)
• The Church will be an eternal testimony (Ephesians 3:10,21)
Because God views his church as important, it must be important to the believer. Spiritual health, growth in Christ, inner strength, and a joyful sense of fulfillment are experienced at their best in participating in a Christ honouring church (Ephesians 4:12-16). Christians who bypasses the local church are disobedient to the Lord and deprive themselves of benefits that can be found nowhere else.
1. To Celebrate God’s Presence. MAGNIFY
“praising God, and having favor with all the people.” (Acts 2:47)
“Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” (Matt. 4:10)
Worship Fuels my service.
Worship shapes my life.
Worship prepares me for heaven.
2. To Incorporate God’s Family. MEMBERSHIP
“So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:41,42)
The early church was a mixture of many races, many status’ slave and free.. etc all brought together as a family.
What made them one was more than what made them different.
All bro’s and sisters in Christ.
Insurance companies say if you go to church on a regular basis some emotional benefits. Church members are twice as likely to say that their home is happy and their work contributes to society. They will reconcile 10 times more likely to say they have a sense of community.
Accidents take place ..20% of accidents are in cars, 17% of accidents occur at home, 16% of accidents occur on the street or the sidewalk.
16&% of accidents occur while we travel by air and water
.001% of all deaths were in a church service.
How to get into the church
Surrender your life to Jesus. Entry
Scriptural baptism .. Your identity in the church
Service Interaction in the church
Small group connection, your intimacy in the church.
An intimate walk with others begins here.
Sometimes a fire has been used to illustrate this reality. If you put a number of logs together they will burn brightly and for a good length of time. In contrast, if you only have a single log it will not burn nearly so brightly or as long.
You do not “join “ the church but are spiritually “born” into the church. You do not become a Christian by joining the church, but when you become a Christian, you are part of the Church. You cannot be a Christian without being a member of the church of Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:13) The church becomes what it should be as all members fulfil their personal responsibility. Church membership is fulfilling the responsibilities of being a member of the Body of Christ. “Anything less than active participation in the life of the assembly goes against Christ’s will for his church.” William Evans points out, “When a man became regenerate by believing in Jesus Christ he was thereby constituted a member of the church. There was no question as to whether he ought to join himself to the church or not; that was a fact taken for granted.” To be part of the universal church and yet to not want to identify with the local church is inconsistent with the theology of the church as well as with the reality of new life in Christ.
3. To Educate God’s People. MATURITY ESTABLISHING
“And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42)
They were committed to the truth of God’s Word.
Acts 17: 11 The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Consequently, many of them believed, including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men.
We exist to help people understand the truth of God’s Word. We have become biblically ignorant and theologically inept.
“Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press onto maturity…” (Hebrews 6:1)
“until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by the craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
The central theme in verses 13-16 is a commitment to walking in Maturity.
Marks Of A Mature Christian:
Growth with respect to biblical Instruction. “until we all attain to the unity of the faith”
Growth with respect to godly Intimacy. “and the knowledge of the Son of God”
Growth with respect to Christlike Imitation. “to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ”
Growth with respect to loving Implementation. “but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him”
Marks Of An Immature Christian:
A life of Inconsistency. “we are no longer to be children”
A life of Instability. “tossed here and there by waves”
A life of Ignorance. “carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by the craftiness in deceitful scheming”
4. To Demonstrate God’s Love. MINISTER
“And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.” (Acts 2:44-45)
Ministering to One Another.
They were not just committed to meeting their own needs but to one another’s needs.
They were embracing and serving one another. The greatest ministry we can have is encouraging one another. I wish someone would love me encourage me .
A young stay at home mother had a rough day her daughter in high chair, mum wept and 2 year old took her dummy out and stuck it in her mum’s mouth.
We minister as we care for one another.
Serving one another.
We need ministers.
Gifts and service. Its not about your gifts its about your service! Gene Getz.
Get involved in serving O.A.
Sadhu Singh and 2 men hiking over the mountains.. the enemy was the cold, he time, and the lack of strength.
Came cross one man sick and dying of the cold. One refused and walked on.
Singh carried him and their body warmth kept both alive.
5. To Communicate God’s Heart. MISSION EXPORTING
“And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47)
They grew at such a phenomenal rate because they were committed. Unless evangelism is the first priority, it will be your last priority.
Ask yourself how you are going with these 5 priorities of the church?
Maturity Mission magnifying the Lord. Are you that kind of Christian?
The Power of the Holy Spirit produces Passion + Purpose. And this passion and purpose produces fellowship together as the people of God.
Go to the ant. See how God works as we all work together. See the goals of community that He ahs for us.
In the May of 1940 the German army and air force trapped a third of a million British and French soldiers in a place called Dunkirk on the Belgian coast of the North Sea. The British navy estimated that only 45,000 soldiers could be rescued. Prime Minister Winston Churchill warned the British House of Commons to expect “hard and heavy tidings.” The German forces were clearly superior. British ships were sunk in the Dunkirk harbor. The German Luftwaffe was ferocious. It was a hopeless dilemma for the Allied troops. Then the people of England did something historic. They set sail across the English Channel and into the North Sea in every boat they could float—tug boats, fishing boats, pleasure craft, fire ships, private yachts, barges and even a paddle steamer. Over 700 vessels (many of which had never been to sea before) rescued 338,226 soldiers from capture and death. Churchill called it a miracle and the British press said it was “a disaster turned into triumph.” The evacuation of Dunkirk is the story of the British using everything they had to save lives and to save England.
The story of the church is about God using every member of the Body, His church, to save souls.
You may think of yourself as a speed boat, or a yacht, or a dinghy. It takes us all to do the job. Will you use what God has given you to save souls?