Time to GET in Shape
Define devoted- Being devoted to something means being focused on that particular thing almost exclusively. It is to give up or apply oneself or something with the seriousness or earnestness evoked by a formal vow.
I am devoted to Jesus, my husband and family and this church.
I am also devoted somewhat to getting in shape. I am devoted to fitness, eating right and exercising. I can even go overboard- Monday’s hike
Everyone wants to BE in shape, but not everyone is willing to do what it takes to GET in shape.
I hear this ALL the time, “we need to be an Acts church.” Well, here is what I say to you, everyone wants to BE an Acts church, they just don’t want to do what it takes to GET in the shape of an Acts church.
Acts 2:42-47 English Standard Version (ESV)
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe[a] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
The church did not begin on that day. It is incorrect to say the Day of Pentecost was the “birthday of the church”. The church as a people of God goes back some 4000 years to Abraham. What happened at Pentecost was that the remnant of God’s people became the Spirit-filled Body of Christ.
If we are going to experience the church, in the way that the first Spirit-filled Christians experienced church, then we are going to have to be DEVOTED to the same things that they were devoted to.
If you find yourself outside the church looking in, you will have to examine your life and see if you are devoted to the same things these Acts Christians were devoted to.
What did this first Spirit-filled church look like and what were they DEVOTED to?
- It was a learning church, “they devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching”
They sat to hear the Word, hungry to receive instruction, and they persevered.
The early believers were discipled and nourished in the word.
A Spirit-filled church submits and is DEVOTED to the authority of the Word of God.
It is important to understand that when Paul said, “ALL scripture”
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
He was referring to the OT and any writings/letters that he or another original apostle would write.
The apostles preached from the writings of the OT, as the NT was not yet written, or perhaps there were a few circulating letters to the churches.
All the wisdom of the world goes out the window when it has to stand up against the Word of God.
There is not one standard for you and another standard for another. There is ONE standard- the Word. Everything must be measured against the Word of God. Period.
EX: I had a friend who lived “off and on” with her boyfriend and she had convinced herself that she was not in sin, because she didn’t “sleep” around.
There is ONE standard for sexual immorality- the Word
Matthew 24:35 New King James Version (NKJV)
35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
The OT was not done away with. The principles and ways of God still stand and remain in tact.
The Spirit-filled church must be DEVOTED to the Word of God, above all else, and receive the instruction and authority of His preachers.
Romans 10:14-17 New King James Version (NKJV
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”[c]17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God
You must read and study the Word for yourself, yet also God has anointed others to preach the Word- 5 fold ministry- that God has given as gifts to minister to the Body.
- It was a loving church.
They DEVOTED themselves to the fellowship- koinonia from koinos, “common”,
bears witness to the common life of the church in two senses: it expresses what we share together.
First, we share in a common fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
1 John 1:3 (NKJV)3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 13:14 New King James Version (NKJV)14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Koinonia is an experience, wherein we have a common share with the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, it expresses what we share together., what we give as well as what we receive
Koinonia is the word that Paul used for the collection he was organizing among the Greek churches, and koinonikos is the word for generous- this is the word Luke is referring to here, because he goes on to describe the way in which these first Christians shared their possessions with each other.
Therefore, it was a generous giving and receiving fellowship that these first Spirit-filled Christians experienced.
A couple of things to note- This was voluntary- We will get into the sin of Ananias and Saphira later on in Acts, but their sin wasn’t that they didn’t give; it was that they lied about it
not everyone sold all their possessions, for they “broke bread in their homes”, so evidently some people still kept their homes.
The verb tense used here indicates the selling and giving were occasional, in response to particular needs. vs. 45 “they gave to men as they had need”
What does it mean to you?
Are you devoted to the koinonia of the Body? Are you devoted to taking care of your brothers and sisters in Christ? Are you generous? DO you give to those in the Body that have need?
1 John 3:17 New King James Version (NKJV)
17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
EX: Matt and I try to live this out in our lives. We have brought others into our house, a widow and her son and another young-Life girl. Because of her, we met Ps Jeremy others do the same, The Ford’s, the Alexander’s. We have given away vehicles, paid people’s mortgages, provided food, etc.
- It was a worshiping church.
Their DEVOTION was not only expressed in caring for each other, but in corporate worship too.
“The breaking of bread and prayers” referring to the common meal of the Lord’s supper and prayer services or meetings.
It was both formal and informal, it took place both in the temple courts and in their home- the Spirit-filled Acts church needs both.
EX: here in America there is a big push for the house church. But, honestly the people that I have seen want to be a part of this movement are of a rebellious nature. Usually, they refuse to submit to authority and/or don’t want to tithe. If you talk to anyone who is in a “home church’ outside the US, it is because they are a part of a persecuted under ground church. These people long for corporate meetings. I knew a missionary to China and they met in houses in the middle of the night.
Connie’s sister in Burma- the government has allowed militant Buddhist nationalism to develop into a movement that abuses, tortures and kidnaps Christians
Secondly, the church’s worship was both joyous and reverent.
- 46 describes them as having “gladness and singleness of heart, or sincerity of heart”
- 43 “fear came upon every soul”
Joy and awe- reverence and rejoicing go hand and hand- the Almighty God was in their midst, and they KNEW it.
John 4:23 New King James Version (NKJV)
23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
There is a rejoicing that takes place because we have been forgiven, God has come near and He dwells in our midst. BUT an awe, that GOD dwells in our midst!
Matthew 10:28 New King James Version (NKJV)
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
- It was an evangelical church
- 47 “the Lord added DAILY those who were being saved”
These first Christians were not so consumed with learning, sharing and worshiping that they forgot about witnessing. The HS is a missionary Spirit that created a missionary church.
They were so devoted to the Lord, His Word and His people; that their whole life was a witness of their DEVOTION to a lost world.
These are a people that gave up everything to be a part of the Lord’s church- their families, jobs, and yes, sometimes even their lives.
EX: study of the Revelation churches, Jesus is Lord or Caesar is lord
This was a time of intense Roman persecution, and the Romans were brutal.
We can learn three vital lessons about evangelism:
- The Lord added to the church- Jesus Himself does it. He is the head of the church. We can get haughty and self-confident, thinking we have done it, or that it is of us or because of us.
HE alone has the prerogative to admit people into His kingdom and to bestow salvation from His throne. We are humbly dependent on Him
The church does not belong to the people- it is not owned by the people nor does it exist for our benefit. The church belongs to JESUS and exists for His benefit. You need to get this fact down in your spirit.
- Jesus does two things together: He added to their number….those who were being saved- this is a present participle emphasizing that salvation is a progressive experience culminating in final glorification.
He did not add them to the church without saving them (no nominal, existing in name only Christianity) Nor did He save them without adding them to the church (no solitary Christianity) Salvation and church membership belong together, and still do
- The Lord added “daily”, it is imperfect tense, “kept adding” The early church’s evangelism was not occasional or sporadic. Just as worship was daily, their witness was daily.
Praise and proclamation are both a natural overflow of hearts full of the HS.