Corporate Prayer and Fasting: Friday, March 15, 2019
Theme:“ The Distinctive Marks of an Effective & Biblical Congregation”
Scriptural Passage to Meditate: Acts 2:42-47
The popular passage in Acts 2:42-47 give us a clear picture of what the early Christians share in come and their devotion to their local congregation or assembly, and their commitment to one another. Below are the four central characteristics and practices of the early Christians:
- Devotion to the teaching of the Apostles.
- Devotion to the fellowship.
- Devotion to the breaking of bread.
- Devotion to a life of prayer.
Briefly, (1) Acts 2:42-47 summarizes four distinctive elements of the Early Church in Jerusalem; (2) Acts 4:32-35 emphasizes the theme of sharing and unity of heart, and the empowerment of the Holy to share the Gospel of the resurrection of Christ; and (3) Acts 5:12-16: emphasis on signs, healings, and wonders which the Apostles performed through the power of the Holy Spirit. These biblical passages inform us about the virtues of the Christian community and its positive public witness. In Acts 3:11-26, for example, we find an example of what they apostles taught the new believers in Jesus the Messiah. This teaching or sermon was led by Apostle Peter. In his second sermon, Peter takes the people back to the Scriptures (Old Testament) to remind them of God’s promise to the Patriarchs, and that through the Prophet He would send the Messiah whom Peter called “The Righteous One.” Peter goes on to remind his audience of the sufferings of Jesus, but accentuates that Jesus is the only Hope they have, and that they must “repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord and that He may send Jesus the Christ appointed for you” (3:19-20).
A second example of the teaching of the apostles as part of their discipleship making and devotion to Scripture is found in Acts 4:8-12: Peter addresses the religious authorities and argues that Jesus whom God raised from the dead was the one who healed the sick man. He also declares that Jesus is the only cosmic Savior, and that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men[a] by which we must be saved” (verse 12). This verse validates the teaching of Jesus, which he passed on to his disciples, that “He is the Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). We need emphasize that the word teaching is stressed here: “And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:1-2). Once more, in Acts 5:29-32, both Peter and other companion Apostles affirm their complete loyalty and allegiance to Jesus Christ, and they claim that individuals receive forgiveness for theirs sins through his name only. Also, they believe that they are witnesses of Jesus’ life and his resurrection.
To close today’s devotion, I would like to share with you ten distinctive marks of a healthy and biblical congregation:
- A church that teaches sound doctrine, that is the apostolic perspective on the cross and the gospel of Jesus Christ (v.42).
- A church continues to grow spiritually in the teachings and precepts of Christ (v.42)
- It is a church that prays consistently and fervently (v.42).
- It is a church that is empowered by and under the authority of the Holy Scripture (v. 43)
- A church that is missional and evangelistic, that is a church that focuses on the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to reach the lost, the unchurched, and sinners for Christ.
- A church whose members are actively engaged in social outreach by caring, helping, and supporting one another, and providing for the poor, the hungry, and the orphans (vv. 44-45)
- A church that is bonded in unity, love, and fellowship, organized with a common purpose and vision, a shared goal and objective; it is a safe place where its members are deliberate in expressing their interests and use their spiritual gifts for the edification of the body of Christ (v. 46).
- A church that has a positive public witness (v.47)
- A church that exalts the Triune God and is grounded in the infinite value of Jesus Christ (v.47).
- A church that grows spiritually numerically (v.47).
May God give you a heart like Jesus and the first disciples, and may he make you love and devote to his church, his body!