Saturday, January 10, 2015

P2 - Envisioning a more awesome church that is saturated with scripture

Acts 2:42 "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."

What is it about the Bible that sets it apart from all other books? For one thing, it was the source of the Apostle's doctrine that so captivated those early Christians. The word of God saturated the thinking of the early church because it saturated Jesus Himself Who had came to fulfill every word recorded in the Old Testament. Inasmuch as Acts 2 is about the coming and the arrival of the Holy Spirit to birth forth the church, it can be equally said that the Word of God was at the center of everyone's heart and mind. The events of Acts 2 and following demanded explanation. The events could only be explained by one source - the scriptures; and the only method deemed acceptable - preaching. The church was birthed by and centered around the Word of God. Their devotion to the Apostle's doctrine came as a result of their devotion to the Word of God. We began focusing yesterday on why should churches and Christians be characterized as those who know the Bible? We gave two answers: the Bible's contents and its power to change lives are reasons why it is a more awesome book. When scripture saturates the hearts and minds of God's people in the church - the result will be a more awesome church. Today we want to consider a third reason and some final thoughts and applications. The third reason a more awesome church must be saturated with scripture is because....

The Bible creates unity in the church
How can a book literally transform a body of different people into one, unified church? First and foremost, is such a reality possible? Consider Acts 2:44-46 "And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart." Not only in this key text, but other passages throughout the New Testament link the activity of the Holy Spirit through the Word as the reason for the unity of the church. (Acts 4:30-31; 17:11-12; Eph 4:12-13; Col 3:15-16; 1 Thess 1:6-7; Jude 1:3)

One of those scriptures, Ephesians 4:11-12 states - "for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ." God has given to the church a five-fold ministry connected to the Word of God that, when actively working, produces unity. Apostles for instance are those who lay the foundation for the Gospel wherever they go, corresponding today to missionaries who carry with themselves the Apostolic Gospel. These said apostles are not the specific Apostles of Christ that had accompanying signs and wonders, but are more so the "apostles of the church" sent and commissioned in the name of Jesus to spread the frontiers of the Kingdom. (see 2 Corinthians 8:23 KJV) Prophets are those who speak the Word of God to the church at large and have the ability to communicate God's big picture from the standpoint of God's Word bearing on a given situation. There are undoubtedly various preachers today who have been given an unusual anointing by God to have a platform that addresses and influences large segments of Christ's body and at times speak to the culture.

The remaining three offices: evangelist, pastor and teacher, have to do with the ministry of the Word on a more local level. Evangelists are awakeners of God sent to stir the sleeping church. Pastors serve local congregations to feed the church. Teachers within the churches serve to inspire and stretch the minds and hearts of God's people. All five of these offices are connected to the scriptures and when they are working - unity comes. The scripture of course is the catalyst used by the Holy Spirit. Such unity cannot be worked up in the flesh, programmed or manipulated. Such unity is the outcome of both preachers and members surrendering themselves under the yoke of Christ's Lordship as expressed by the Spirit through the Word of God. 

Closing thoughts:
So why does a more awesome church need to be saturated with the scriptures? The Bible's contents, changing power and ability to create unity comprise the reasons behind why any church, aspiring to be more awesome for Jesus' sake, needs to be saturated with the scriptures. 

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