May 26, 2015

"The apostles' teaching"

I began, last week, a series of articles on that marvelous blueprint for the church that is Acts 2:42:

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

And I said that it seems to me that here the Lord has given us a very simple set or priorities which will make for a healthy, growing church … if we will commit to them, and trim away any fat; any extraneous activities which may seem to some people like good ideas, but which do not actually fit the blueprint for a gospel church. A healthy, dynamic, spiritually-minded church is not a complex thing! If, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will simply take up the blueprint of Acts 2:42, surely we would be and become what God intends for the church to be!

And the first commitment in that blueprint is a continual devotion to “the apostles’ teaching” – to the words that the apostles preached and taught.

Now, of course, the church in Jerusalem (about whom Acts 2:42 was written) had the apostles with them every day, live and in the flesh. And so their devotion to the apostles’ teaching was, at the first, a devotion to the oral instruction they were receiving from them day-by-day. But we, of course (like every church from the second century on), do not have live access to the apostles. And yet we do still have their teaching! Because we have their writings, on the pages of the New Testament. And we also have the writings from which they did a good bit of their preaching – namely, the Old Testament. And so, in the 66 books of our Bibles, we have “the apostles’ teaching” indeed! And, what with all our modern literacy, and access to the printed page, and phone apps, and online preaching and teaching … we can hear the apostles’ teaching even more readily than the people in Jerusalem! Any time, day or night, we may hear what Paul, Peter, John, Isaiah, Moses, and Jesus said!

But are we devoted to the word of God like the church in Jerusalem? “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostle’s teaching” (emphasis added). Are we? Do we open our Bibles nearly as often as we should? Are we eager to hear the preaching and teaching of the word in our local church? And, beyond just intake, are we devoted to believing and doing something about what we read and hear? Praise God, some of us are! Others of us have been, in the past … but have lost our taste for divine things. The television, the smartphone apps, the hypnotic glow of the electronic screen have deceived us, and taken us away from that which is best. Indeed, I find myself convicted as I type.

And so, is it any wonder if we should not see the sort of dynamic fruit that the church in Jerusalem saw (Acts 2:43-47)? O, brothers and sisters, let us return to that which is most obvious of all – to study, meditation, obedience, and just plain enjoyment of the word of God! Haven’t you known times when, whether reading or listening, the word of God has come to you with pure delight? The more we give ourselves to it, the more often this will happen! And that is what makes for a spiritually dynamic church!

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