The Fellowship of Believers
Preacher: Matt Hardy
Four Devotions of the early church -
- They devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching
- They devoted themselves to fellowship
- They devoted themselves to breaking of bread
- They devoted themselves to prayer
Without the gospel, and the regeneration that it produces there is no possibility for true community to take root.
Everything else, the devotions and the results, are all keyed on this first, primary, and essential devotion to the teaching of Christ by the apostles.
When a people are gathered around a devotion to Christ the temporal differences begin to fall away. When Christ is at the center and we attain a new identity in him that new identity is all consuming.
Perhaps the issue though isn't that the public may not use the words glad and generous to describe the average Christian in America today. Perhaps the bigger problem is that they would not first use the word devoted to describe us….
It is one of the great kindnesses of God that he has chosen to align his Glory and our good together.
The Christian life is to be a life of constant repentance that we will repeat until we are dead to self or more likely just dead.
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
1 Timothy 4:13
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.
2 Timothy 4:2
preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.
If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.
Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.
The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and hwhen he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood."
So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?”
The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from fall your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
1 Corinthians 3:6-9
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building.
Community Group Questions
Read Acts 2:42-47. What stands out to you in this passage? For those of you who were in service on Sunday, what did you hear that you are grateful for or perhaps learned from?
On Sunday, Matt listed several things to which we can find ourselves devoted other than those listed in Acts 2:42-47. What things/people are you willing to name that might constitute an idolatrous or at least inordinate devotion?
In light of what we just confessed, in what ways can/do we preach the gospel to ourselves and/or one another such that the gospel reorients our devotion?
In what ways have we been called to share or bear witness to the apostles' teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers in our community and the unbelieving world? How does our participation in things as a church together effect our ability to share the gospel?