God’s Body is GOSPEL Centered (Acts 2:42-47)

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MOTIVATE

  • We live in a complex world yet people crave simplicity.

“Simple is in.

Complexity is out. Out of style at least.

Ironically people are hungry for simple because the world has become much more complex. The amount of information accessible to us is continually increasing. The ability to interact with the entire world is now possible. Technology is consistently advancing at a rapid pace.

The result is a complicated world with complex and busy lives. And, in the midst of complexity, people want to find simplicity. They long for it, seek it, pay for it, even dream of it. Simple is in. Simple works. People respond to simple.

The simple revolution is in.”[1]

Examples of Simple:

  • Apple iPod is simple as it is one object that plays radio, dozens of downloaded cd’s, mp3, and even dvd
  • Google search engine simple and free of clutter compared to Yahoo or MSN with hundreds of words
  • Southwest Airlines is simple as it flies shortest distance between two points, no layovers
  • Chipotle is simple in that it only does burritos
    • Contrast restaurants with “American-Chinese-Italian Cuisine”

We live in a complex world and many come to church looking for simple only to find more complexity.

Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal writes:
“We have been through a hard 10 years. They were not, as some have argued, the worst ever, or even the worst of the past century. The ’30s started with the Great Depression, featured the rise of Hitler and Stalin, and ended with World War II. That’s a bad decade for you. In the ’60s we saw our leaders assassinated, our great cities hit by riots, a war tear our country apart.
But the ‘[20]00’s were hard, starting with a disputed presidential election, moving on to the shocked pain of 9/11, marked by an effort to absorb the fact that we had entered the age of terror, and ending with a historic, world-shaking economic crash.
Maybe the most worrying trend the past 10 years can be found in this phrase: “They forgot the mission.” So many great American institutions—institutions that every day help hold us together—acted as if they had forgotten their mission, forgotten what they were about, what their role and purpose was, what they existed to do. You, as you read, can probably think of an institution that has forgotten its reason for being. Maybe it’s the one you’re part of.”[2]

Noonan is writing about the loss of mission of Wall Street, the federal government, journalism and even the Catholic Church; yet I believe she’s hit the nail on the head for most organizations. Look at almost any organization and you can see a diminished or disappearing sense of vision and purpose.

Ideal Self vs. Perceived Self vs. Actual Self
Psychologists say we have multiples selves – the one we ideally want to be, the one that others perceive we are, and then the one we really are. In truth, our identity is not what we want others to think of us but is characterized what we actually believe and how we behave.

May SPBC be a church with an identity that our lives mirror with integrity how our lives are lived. May our vision and values be true of our actions.

EXAMINE   God’s Body is G.O.S.P.E.L.            (Acts 2:42-47)

“devoted” = single-minded in bringing about a certain course of action

“they” / “the fellowship” has definite article implying distinctive gatherings; à church membership matters

The early church had single-minded devotion to two elements that had several resulting actions.

Gospel Devotion (“apostles teaching”)

Significant for the early church was their devotion to the apostle’s teaching (2:42). The NT writers were viewed on par with OT Scriptures and carrying equal authority.[3] Luke further describes the importance of the Scriptures in the early church growth in the advancement of “the word”. This phrase is mentioned over 35X in the book with its purpose to spread the word to the ends of the earth.[4]

Acts 13:44-49 44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ “ 48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region.

The teaching of the early church centered on the word of the Lord, or in other terms – the gospel. The gospel was the core of their teaching. Likewise, the gospel word should be the heart of the teaching for believers today.

Unfortunately, the gospel is far from the core purpose of most churches. Contemporary culture wants to change the message of truth. This teaching revolves around feel good messages meeting felt needs; it is man centered rather than God centered.[5] This is not the gospel of the early church. If today’s church is to advance and grow as the early church it must return to a clear emphasis on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The gospel is not an appetizer that we can slice up in portions or a side attraction to put on display at our convenience. Many modern mainline churches do this to attract people to heaven or even God’s love but to the exclusion of holiness or God’s radical call to discipleship & obedience.

Instead, the gospel is the main course of a meal where every other meal course is complementary to or incorporated from its essential ingredients.

Gathering Devotion (“the fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers”)

These early believers enjoyed being with each other. The phrase “together” in reference to the believers is repeated throughout the book of Acts.[6] They were together after Jesus’ ascension (1:14) and at the beginning of Pentecost (2:1). They were devoted to spending time together (2:42, 44, 46) and the imperfect verb tense in this passage suggests a recurring pattern of gathering as it became a part of their lifestyle.

These early believers were so committed to one another that they could not help but take care and provide for needs as they arose. The measure of their togetherness was measured in their willingness to sacrifice and be generous. Luke says, they “sold their possessions and goods, giving to anyone as he had need”. They realized that all their possessions were only on loan to them by God and were to be used for the glory of God and spread of the gospel.

Contemporary Christianity (if it can be called such) is largely missing this described togetherness. We are often more concerned with passing the time than genuine engagement with one another. In biblical community we must intersect our lives where we “do life together” in sharing the highs and lows in every season of life; captured in a word it means: vulnerability (open exposure).

µ     The gospel demands vulnerability.

Christ was vulnerable in being born into humanity. He was vulnerable on the cross as his body lay bare, beaten and bruised. He was vulnerable to spitting of vile humans and the suffering of bloody wounds. Jesus was vulnerable as the Son of God died.

Our faith causes our vulnerability as we admit our weakness and desperation for a Savior. We are vulnerable when we confess our hideous idols and hopelessness apart from Christ, repenting from every horrible sin (known and unknown; intentional and unintentional).

Christians are vulnerable as we humble ourselves to pray because we cannot function on our own. We are vulnerable as we seek to serve and give generously to others. We are vulnerable when the world mocks our morality or when our enemies wrongfully profit from our unselfishness. Christians are vulnerable when we love as Christ loved and reflect the grace that He gave to every undeserving sinner.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and truth.” 1 John 3:16-18

To go a step further, Christians are called to a vulnerability of helping those who can never repay us in  worldly gain: James 1:27 “Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

ð     To what are you devoted (single-minded focus)? Are you using your time, talents and treasures for things that will last for eternity?

ð     To what is our church devoted?

The last section of this message will explore our “core values” as a church, intended to create an identity not just as an ideal or perception but of actuality.

APPLY/THINK

As pastor, I believe we have the opportunity of a lifetime. I believe this personally for myself as much as I do for us corporately. God has positioned us together in the surrounds of over 500K people in Anne Arundel county and not to mention the 3+million in Baltimore area; with approximately 30K in Severna Park. SP is positioned centrally in a triangle between 3 of the most influential cities of the world: Annapolis as capitol of MD and training of our nations future leaders in midshipmen; Baltimore is our nations 2nd  largest seaport in the Mid-Atlantic and is a hub for health & science with Johns Hopkins University & Hospital; and likewise our nations capitol Washington D.C. with host to world leaders and global influence.

In order for SPBC to have a kingdom impact it will take attention to our VISION & VALUES.

SPBC Vision: Growing Godly Generations

SPBC Mission Statement: SPBC will equip people to Love God, Love Others, Lead Generations

SPBC Core Values: G.O.S.P.E.L.

GOD: God and His Word are central to all of life; THEREFORE, worship is our heartbeat. (cf. Matthew 6:33; John 3:3; Acts 2:38)

–          Personal faith in the gospel

–          Corporate worship with God’s Body

Meaningful Membership: I will honor God through faithful personal and corporate worship with my church.

***Participate: Worship Gatherings; Corporate Prayer meetings; Personal Accountability

OTHERS: People matter both to God and us, THEREFORE, loving one another is our heartbeat. (cf. 1John 4:7-21)

–          Participation in Bible Group to know & be known; believe & belong

Meaningful Membership: I will honor God through faithful friendships, protecting unity in my church and participate in a small group Bible fellowship (SS or other).

***Participate in Bible Group; Consider spiritual growth & prayer partners out of that group

SPIRITUAL GROWTH: Discipleship and spiritual maturity are for all believers; THEREFORE, understanding and applying Scripture is our heartbeat. (Acts 2:42-47; 1 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 2:2)

–          Conversion (salvation), Character (sanctification), Convictions (doctrine), Competency (deeds)[7]

Meaningful Membership: I will honor God through faithful discipleship growth and service with my time, talents (spiritual gifts) and treasure (tithes and offerings).

***Spiritual Gifts define, develop & deploy; Giving (allow God’s grace to inform your giving)

PRAYER & PRAISE: Prayer and praise toward God is a lifestyle and a community experience; THEREFORE, seeking and treasuring Jesus in all things is our heartbeat (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:31; Psalm 100).

–          Thanking God for the good and Trusting God in the not so good

Meaningful Membership: I will honor God through faithful prayer and testimony of my church.

***Midweek Prayer times

EVANGELIZING: Glocal (local & global) evangelism and missions are a priority; THEREFORE, intentional relationships and strategic partners to make Jesus known is our heartbeat (cf. Luke 10:25-37; Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8)

–          Invest in relationships, Invite to know God and participate in church; Incarnate the gospel with others

Meaningful Membership: I will honor God through faithful living and sharing the gospel with others.

***High 5 Relationships (mine are neighbor 1, neighbor 2, KP, F, church guests)

LEADING GENERATIONS: Leaders in the home, church and community are essential to future spiritual legacy, THEREFORE, developing leaders in each of these areas is our heartbeat (cf. Deuteronomy 6; Psalm 78).

– Faith starts with individuals and leads out from the home, church and world.

Meaningful Membership: I will honor God through faithful investment of growing godly generations.

***Home Life; EQUIP Training


[1] Eric Geiger, SimpleChurch, page 8.

[3] See 1 Tim 5:18; 1 Peter 1:12; 2 Peter 3:15-16.

[4] Acts 2:41, 4:29, 4:31, 6:2, 6:4, 6:7, 8:4, 8:14, 8:25, 10:36, 11:1, 11:16, 11:19, 12:24, 13:5, 13:7, 13:44, 13:46, 13:48, 13:49, 14:3, 14:25, 15:7, 15:35, 15:36, 16:6, 16:32, 17:11, 17:13, 18:5, 18:11, 19:10, 19:20, 20:32, 20:38.

[5] The Bible is not a book about man searching for God but a record of God pursuing man. Man is not the seeker, God is.

[6] (cf. 1:14; 2:1; 4:24; 5:12; 15:25)

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