Fourfold embodiment of the gospel
Acts 2:41-47 (Pastor Heo)
2:41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Yes, we know a baby MUST grow up.
Imagine, in your home, 10 babies are born in ONE day. What does this mean to your home / family / parents? Maybe = full of joy! But also: lots of work! Positive troubles, difficulties: cleaning, feeding, changing, etc. You need many hands, and lots of money. Babies require lots of responsibility and lots of work.
Today, in this passage, 3000 (spiritual) babies were added to the family (church) in a single day.
Last time, we saw that Peter’s sermon in Acts is the first sermon after the coming of the HS. It is full of:
- The HS
- The Word of God
- Jesus Christ
His sermon is a good model for how a sermon SHOULD be.
Today we see the first community / church life after the coming of the HS. So, today’s passage also is a good model of what Christian community / church life should be like today.
Fourfold embodiment of the gospel (four pillars of the church / four characteristics of Christian individual life – check yourself individually)
- Teaching (Bible study)
Are these four pillars in your life? These four pillars must be done WITH Prayer (v. 42)
#1 Teaching (Bible study)
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…”
For growth, food is essential, and spiritual food is the Word of God.
1 Peter 2:2 “Like newborns crave pure spiritual milk that is the Word of God so that you may grow up in your salvation.”
At this time, there was no New Testament – it was in the process of being written – and was not written. So, the Old Testament was like a NT book. And the apostles were eyewitnesses of all that Jesus had done and said.
Jesus “The HS that the Father will send in my name will teach you and remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Filling with the HS and hunger for the Word of God go together hand in hand. If you are filled with the Spirit, you will love the Word of God.
- “Be filled with the Spirit.”
- Col “Let your hearts be filled with the Word of God.”
- The Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit.
Are you a Bible-reading / Bible-studying / Bible-believing / Bible-loving / Bible-living Christian?
The first essential pillar in Christian community is the study of the Word of God.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching **and to the fellowship**, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything **in common**. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,”
Family, home, community without fellowship is totally unthinkable. The church is the family and community of God – so fellowship is essential.
For a Christian community to BE a Christian community, there must be fellowship. But this is totally different from the world’s fellowship. In Greek: “koinonia” (means “togetherness“). In Christian community, this means sharing and giving and offering.
Christian fellowship is sharing in common and giving. This does not take place simply because we are sitting in the same building. Christian fellowship = giving. It COSTS something.
As we know, even today, many people just visit the church for their own needs and go home the same. There is no fellowship there.
If there is no fellowship, no love in a church, it means you are only hear to BE loved, not to love.
Our koinonia (“fellowship”) is with God and his Son and the HS.
- God is a fellowship God.
- God is a koinonia God.
“… The grace of Christ, the love of God, and the koinonia (fellowship) of the HS be with you forever…”
God is ONE – but three persons. In God himself, there is enough, perfect fellowship. Therefore, without fellowship with God, and without giving, there is no Christian fellowship.
Long ago, the people gave a fellowship offering (the middle of 5 offerings) for fellowship (also KJV = “peace offering”). In the early church, they sold their goods for fellowship. In the OT, they gave a fellowship offering. How about today? What are we doing for church fellowship? Tithe offering. So in a sense, this is our fellowship offering.
What is the biblical meaning of tithes? (There are 4 – at least.)
1. Tithes = Obedience to the Word of God
Malachi 3:8-9 – not giving tithe offerings is robbing / cheating God
“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse-the whole nation of you-because you are robbing me.”
Someone will say, “No, this is the OT, we are NT, so we are under grace, not Law.”
But Jesus says in Matt 23 “Woe to you – yes you give tithes, but you ignore more of the Law.” (i.e. giving tithes is basic – so don’t think you are obedient to the Law fully)
2. Tithes = Acknowledgment of our stewardship
We are not owners, but managers in this world.
1 Tim 6:7 “We brought nothing into this world and can take nothing out.”
People who want to get rich fall into temptation and traps that plunge men into ruin and destruction. The LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of evil.
We cannot serve God AND money, but we can serve God WITH money.
How many Masters do you serve? Money is BOTH a Test and a Trust from God. God is watching HOW we spend and use money to see how trustworthy we are.
Luke “If you are untrustworthy with money, then God will not trust you with spiritual things.”
3. Tithes = Investment and storage of our treasures in heaven
Matt 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moths and rust destroy… But store up your treasures in heaven… for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Malachi 3:10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
God encourages us to TEST him.
But the Bible always says, “Do not put the Lord your God to the TEST.”
But here, God challenges us to TEST him with our tithes. This is the ONLY area in which God allows us to test him.
This is storing our treasures in heaven.
4. Tithes = Contribution for church fellowship and ministry
A real Christian cannot possess TOO much when fellow Christians possess TOO little. Eating together is very important – whether spiritual or secular fellowship. Can you imagine fellowship without eating together? That’s why in his last fellowship with his disciples, Jesus ate the Last Supper with them.
Rev 3:20 “Here I am. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat and fellowship with him.”
Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.“
But practically, we need money to eat.
Koinonia = togetherness, sharing, and includes “money shared.”
#3 Worship (pillar)
Are you Christians?
They are the ones who praise God and receive praise from others with persecution.
Worship is our first responsibility and first privilege. We worship God by enjoying God. He wants our worship to be motivated by love and thanksgiving, joy, delight, gladness – but not duty.
Worship is more than praising, singing, praying to God. Worship is a lifestyle. When we use our lives for his glory, then EVERYTHING we do can become an act of worship.
Romans: “Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship.”
This means: worship is our lifestyle.
“And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Yes, the HS came and they were filled. This means, where the HS reigns:
- we relate to the Word of God (teaching),
- we relate to each other (fellowship),
- we relate to God (worship),
- we relate to the world (evangelism)
This passage does not say, “Peter’s preaching added to their number” nor “the community of believers” nor “the apostles’ wisdom” – no, it is GOD HIMSELF who saves those who are being saved.
1 Cor 3:6, Paul, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but GOD made it grow.”
Yes, we must plant the seed, we must water the planted seeds, but GOD makes it grow. So, we must have faith when we do this and great expectation that GOD will save.
All 4 of these things must be done together with PRAYER.
- Teaching with prayer
- Fellowship with prayer
- Worship with prayer
- Evangelism with prayer
The church is not OF the world, but it must remain IN the world for the purpose of evangelism. We are not OF this world, but IN this world for the mission of evangelism.
- Church is called the “house of God” –
- Church is the “house of prayer for all nations”
What does this mean? (2 meanings)
- The place widely open to anyone who wants to pray to God
- The place whose members must pray for the salvation of all nations
Are you praying for the salvation of somebody in your heart?
1 Cor “Don’t you know that you yourselves are a temple and God’s spirit lives in you… Don’t you know that God’s spirit lives in you and you are not your own? Worship God and honor God with your body.”
God bless you.
4 pillars of Christian life
- Teaching (Bible study)
- Fellowship (including tithes)
Without evangelism, we have no reason to stay in this world. If we finish our mission of evangelism, we should go to heaven.