Summary: Real community is derived from a real faith in a real Savior.
1. Webster defines authentic, (1) that which can be believed or accepted; trustworthy; reliable. (2) that is in fact as represented; genuine; real.
2. How does one determine an authentic community of faith? ...or genuine? ... or real?
a. We normally refer to a Church as a community of faith.
b. But how do we know if it is authentic? ... genuine? ... real?
c. Is it the building itself? ...its system of government? ...doctrines? ... core beliefs? ... rituals? ... sacraments? ...incorporated or non-incorporated?
d. The Mormons have a system of buildings, programs, doctrines, ministers, by-laws, government, etc., etc. And so do the Jehovah Witnesses, the Jews, the Buddhists, etc.
e. Maybe I’m asking the wrong question. Its not an authentic community that I’m looking for but rather an authentic faith. If people have an authentic faith then their community will be authentic.
Trans...Acts 2:37-47 is a genuine picture of an authentic faith community. It came about through the preaching of Peter, after receiving the promise of the Father (Holy Spirit), presents to them the life, death & resurrection of Jesus Christ. They were to put their faith (trust) in the real historical person of Jesus Christ and the work He accomplished upon the cross. Peter did not preach religion ... nor attempt to sell them on any particular program or system of government, but he preached the gospel of the Kingdom. Look first at their response ....
I. An Authentic Faith Community
A. Vs 37 ... “What shall we do?
1. “...they were pierced to the heart....” They were deeply troubled or an old fashioned term would be ‘convicted’.
2. What shall we do? Or how do I get rid of this guilt I feel? Or possibly, what I must I do to be saved?
3. Just the fact they were asking Peter what they should do would be considered a miracle in our culture.
4. Today we would tell God what we need. Such as, I need more wealth, a better job or different friends. Hardly does it ever come around to me and what needs to change about me.
5. Peter could have sent these people to the city counselors for help but instead he told them to repent. Meaning: (1) to have a thorough change of mind. (2) to amend with abhorrence one’s past sins.
6. To return to the practice of sin after having repented is as abhorrent as a dog who returns to its vomit!
7. The direction is never backwards but going forward. To repent is to change and become more like Christ Jesus. To that extent we are always changing in this life. We should not continue to have to start all over again after returning to the sins we used to commit. That is a life of defeatism instead of victory.
8. Not only are we to repent but we are to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Baptism was common in many religions and worship of false gods but Peter makes it clear they are to be baptized in Jesus name, which was a bold and very public profession to make. Only Christ Jesus can forgive sins and we must publicly acknowledge and then live out what in reality has taken place.