Monday 23 June 2008

The Importance of the Local Church (Part 3)

The Importance of the Local Church (part 3)
The plan: Biblical theology without leading people along a certain track.
Ac 2:40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!"
41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
42 ¶ And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
43 And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.
44 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 And 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,
47 praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

What happened to the 3000 converts?

Background and context of the new church in Jerusalem

Tense and hostile
Pioneering and feeling their way forward
Added to the church
Struggles with legalism, the law, Judaism, circumcision, the temple, feasts and the issue synagogue versus church, Jewish Sabbath versus The Lord’s day.
Primarily Jewish unlike Antioch with centuries of tradition and baggage.
The importance of the book of Hebrews

Verse 41, received Peter’s word, the gospel
Were baptised as adults
Added to the church, about 3000 + 120 = a large group in a small city by today’s standards. Population in Jerusalem was about 60,000 people therefore this was not done in a corner.
Verse 42, continually devoting themselves;
i. Apostles doctrine/teaching
ii. Fellowship (koinonia)
iii. Breaking of bread. This is used in two ways in the NT. Firstly as eating food (Luke 24: 30) as on the road to Emmaus and secondly as the Lord’s Supper as in Acts 20:7. It is likely that as Calvin suggests that in Acts 2: 42 that it refers to the Lord’s Supper and in verse 46 to eating meals together. Either way it is not explicitly stated so caution is needed.
iv. Prayer
Verse 43, a sense of awe (fear of God) and signs and wonders were done through the apostles.
What is an apostle?
i. A personal commission from Jesus (John 20: 21)
ii. Have seen the risen Christ to witness the resurrection (Acts 1: 21. 1 Cor. 9:1, 15: 8)
iii. Signs, wonders and mighty deeds (2 Cor. 12, 12).
Can there be apostles today? No, the apostles and prophets in Ephesians 2: 20 refers to the old and New Testament ministries fulfilled through Christ.

Verse 44, had all things in common= not a form of Christian communism living in community. Community is an over-used word in post-modern expressions of the church. Verse 45 sharing with those in need, selling possessions etc.
This diaconal ministry continued throughout the NT to help support the poor saints in Judea under occupation and persecution.
Verse 46 Temple and house: eating meals together.
V 46-47. Gladness, sincerity of heart, praising God, having favour with all the people (except the religious hierarchy)
V 47, the Lord was adding to their number daily!! This is the Sovereignty of God.

Is the Jerusalem Church an Ideal Model?

Yes or no?

Yes, because it is clear that this held a unique place as the home of the ‘apostles and elders’ as in Acts 15 and as a mother church for the Jewish and gentile world as new congregations were established and as a centre of doctrinal authority (Galatians 2: 1-10).

No, because the church in Acts chapter 2 is embryonic and is only a snapshot of early church life in Jerusalem. For a complete model we need the whole of the NT with all of the information pieced together. In church history the church in Geneva has become a valuable prototype for many movements since the sixteenth century and continues to be today in the twenty-first century.

What is the Apostles Doctrine?

C. H. Spurgeon states in 1855 upon reprinting the 1689 Baptist Confession.

This ancient document is the most excellent epitome of the things most surely believed among us. It is not issued as an authoritative rule or code of faith, whereby you may be fettered, but as a means of edification in righteousness. It is an excellent, though not inspired, expression of the teaching of those Holy Scriptures by which all confessions are to be measured. We hold to the humbling truths of God's sovereign grace in the salvation of lost sinners. Salvation is through Christ alone and by faith alone."
What is the apostles’ doctrine?

An interconnecting body of truth that is consistent, systematic (ordered) and faithful to the Bible. An understanding of this body of truth enables sound exegesis and is commonly known around the world as ‘reformed teaching’. The headings of the confessions include about 32 articles that relate to:

God and Creation
The Trinity
God’s decree, providence
The fall of man

God’s Covenant
Free will
Effectual calling
Saving Faith
Repentance, faith, good works
Perseverance of the saints
Assurance, the law of God and the gospel’s extent

Church, the fellowship of the saints
Baptism, the Lord’s supper
Civil Governement

The Future
Resurrection of the dead and the last judgment

A Summary for handling the scriptures:

C= Context
I= Intended meaning of the passage
A = Apostles’ doctrine

Let us close in prayer together.

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