The Beginning

The day the New Covenant message was first proclaimed

Acts chapter 2 is undoubtedly one of the great mountain peaks of Scripture. What occurs in Acts 2 would have never been possible if everything had depended on human ability alone.

Peter says, “Men of Israel, listen to these words . . .” (v. 22). The words he then speaks were not his own. They are Christ’s words, imparted by the Holy Spirit (John 14:25-26; 16:12-13; 17:8, 18, 20).

As F. F. Bruce has written, “The apostolic teaching was authoritative because it was the teaching of the Lord communicated through the apostles. In due course this apostolic teaching took written shape in the New Testament scriptures” (Commentary on the Book of Acts, 79).

The day true grace was offered

Convicted by Peter’s words, the people cry out, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Imagine if Peter had replied, “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing you can do. God will never forgive you for killing His Son. There’s no hope for you. You are eternally doomed!”

Instead Peter said, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (vv. 37-38).

Now that’s good news! So it is possible to be reconciled to God.

The day the church was born

“So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls” (v. 41).

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

The apostles’ teaching (which was really the Lord’s teaching through the apostles) served as their common standard. The first church all believed and practiced the same thing. There was but one church—denominations had not yet come into being.

Here then is basis for true unity today, a unity based on divinely revealed truth, rather than on human traditions.

Years later, Peter referred to this remarkable day as “the beginning” (Acts 11:15).

If we believe what they believed, and if we do what they did, then we will be what they were—disciples of Jesus Christ, members of His one body.

Nothing more, nothing less.

sprout-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

Please share this post!

david_gibson6@yahoo.com

The Basis of Unity

Beautifully united

Of the infant church it is written that they were “continuing with one mind in the temple” (Acts 2:46).

How is this degree of unity possible? Was it their mutual love for Christ and for one another? No doubt love was a major factor in their unity. But that’s not all.

Four verses earlier it says, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42).

They were of “one mind” because they all believed the same thing. They all adhered to the apostles’ teaching.

This teaching was not something the apostles had originated—they had received it from Christ, who in turn had received it from God (John 15:13; 17:8). It was an authoritative message, a standard for all ages to come.

Common ground

Paul encouraged the church at Rome “to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6).

Note especially the phrase “according to Christ Jesus.” If Christian A and Christian B are both in accord with Christ, then Christian A and Christian B are in accord with each other. Christ links them together. He is their common denominator. He is the basis of their fellowship.

But how can we be in accord with Christ unless we adhere to His teachings (Matthew 7:24-27; 28:19; Luke 6:46; John 14:15)?

If Christian A or B were to drift away from Christ’s teaching, then the unity A and B had enjoyed with one another would be compromised.

The New Testament urges Christians to hold to the teaching they had received (Romans 16:17-18; Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Timothy 1:13).

Which doctrine?

It has been asserted, “Doctrine divides, but Christ unites.” Yes, Christ does unite, but doctrine simply means teaching. Christ gave us His teaching (doctrine). That true teaching does not divide. It is false doctrine that causes division.

Christ’s true doctrine as revealed in the New Testament can and should serve as common ground for all of us.

If Christ’s doctrine so beautifully unified believers in the first century, why not today?

unity-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

Please share this post!

david_gibson6@yahoo.com

Which Body?

Since Paul was Christ’s agent, what he wrote is God’s word (1 Corinthians 2:12-13; 14:37-38; Galatians 1:11-12; Ephesians 3:1-9; 2 Peter 3:15-16). That being true, let’s consider the following statement by Paul: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body . . .” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

What is this one body?

Three times in other passages Paul explains that this body is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18, 24). It is the body of Christ (Colossians 1:18). He is its head; the body is subject to Him (Ephesians 5:23-24). He is the founder; it is His church (Matthew 16:18).

How many bodies does Christ have?

Ten times Paul says there is one body (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 12:12-13, 20; Ephesians 2:16; 4:4; Colossians 3:15). Since Christ has one body, and the body is His church, how many churches does Christ have?

Do all who claim to belong to Christ belong to this one body?

He will recognize and accept only those who do His Father’s will (Matthew 7:21-23). He acknowledges as His own those who hear His voice and follow Him; it is these He will save (John 10:2, 3, 14, 27, 28; Hebrews 5:8-9).

Is religious division acceptable to Christ?

The night before He died He prayed that those who would believe in Him would be one (John 17:20-23). Why would He want it any other way? Division is contrary to God’s will (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).

Is it possible to be a member of Christ’s one body today?

In the New Testament all Christians were members of this one church (1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2:38, 41-42, 47). If we believe what they believed and do what they did, we will be what they were—Christians only, members of Christ’s one church, nothing more, nothing less.

Christ sillouette-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

Please share this post!

david_gibson6@yahoo.com

Common Faith, Common Salvation

Dramatic attitude shifts

Paul (Jewish) refers to Titus (Gentile) as “my true child in a common faith” (Titus 1:4).

Jude, Jesus’ brother, writing to Gentile Christians makes mention of “our common salvation” (Jude 3).

Years before, neither man would have addressed Gentiles in such brotherly terms.

At one time Jude did not even believe in Jesus (John 7:5). Paul violently persecuted the church.

Not only did both men become strong believers, but they also cleared another major hurdle: learning to accept Gentile disciples as fellow believers.

What can account for these dynamic changes?

In one word: Jesus.

Only He could bring two such alienated groups together, sharing a common faith, a common salvation (John 10:16; Ephesians 2:11-22).

Today Jesus is still bringing people together who at one time were miles apart, but who now share a common faith in Him (Galatians 3:28)..

Beautiful!

hands united-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

Please share this post!

david_gibson6@yahoo.com

Folks Like Me

Birds of a feather . . . .

People are attracted to churches made up of those of similar background—racially, socially, educationally, economically.

This is certainly natural and understandable.

However . . . .

mixed-racially-tagged

A different perspective

The first-century church included Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, even slaves and free, and God expected them all to be “one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 KJV; Colossians 3:11).

The better we get to know people unlike ourselves, the more we overcome our own prejudices, born from pride and ignorance.

We learn to love people who, though different from us, have been redeemed by Jesus’ blood, just as we have.

What an impact this can make on unbelievers as they observe Christians of varied backgrounds, worshiping and working together in harmony!

Only a very powerful dynamic could explain that!

Please share this post!

david_gibson6@yahoo.com

 

Anachronism

Out of order

As a boy, I asked my dad if he wore blue or gray in the Army.

That was long before I ever heard of anachronism: “the representation of someone as existing or something as happening in other than chronological, proper, or historical order” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com).

Asking, “What was the denominational affiliation of the apostle Peter?” is like wondering what kind of car he drove.

Jesus prayed that His disciples “may all be one . . . . perfected in unity” (John 17:21-23).

last-supper-tagged

Also out of order

Religious division runs counter to His prayer and to His plan (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).

If we would follow the same teaching as the first-century church, we would be what they were:

Simply Christians, nothing more, nothing less (Acts 2:42; 11:26).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

Please share this post!

david_gibson6@yahoo.com