Summary: God tells the church to be as effective as it can be.
The Church: What Is Absolutely Essential? PT 1
It’s pop quiz! Clear your desk, take out a pen or pencil, and circle the answer or answers that correctly complete the sentence below. Top Priorities of a church should be:
o To gather together a large # of weekly attendees or participants.
o To build an impressive physical plant w/ a large campus and beautiful buildings and landscaping.
o To conform to the most popular style of worship
o To subscibe to a specific form of church government elder rule or congregational rule
o To make sure that @ 20% of the annual budget goes to mission.
o None of the above.
Which options did you circle? The only correct answer is “G” - None of the above. Some of the items above are important, and a couple of them are very important, but they’re not top priorities. So let’s turn to Acts 2:42-47 to see the top priorities of the church.
There are 4 essentials for the church; In all scripture this is probably the clearest statement of the church’s priorities. Acts 2 is where the church started. After Pentecost and Peter’s Sermon, which brought approximately 3000 people to faith in Christ, Luke tells us about the community of new believers.
The first thing we notice about these new believers is that they were “devoted” members of the church, despite the hate, ridicule, and persecution they suffered, they remained faithful.
“They were continually devoting themselves” (v42a)
The term “devoted” means a (steadfast and single mindness – to a certain action) In other words they gave themselves wholeheartedly (totally) to their new faith and their new church.
Priority #1 - Learning To the Apostles Teaching (v42b)
• First they were devoted (wholeheartedly) to the apostle’s teaching. Why do you suppose teaching is the first item listed in the order of activities, because no matter where believers are in their spiritual journey, they need nourishment to grow and keep growing. Babies need milk; adults need meat – the Bible supplied both. Peter tells us in
1 Pet 2:2 – “as newborn babes, desire (crave) the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby”. Furthermore, Peter tells us in 2 Pet 3:18 To grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
John the apostle in 1 John 5:20 tells us “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him, who is true. Paul greatest desire is that he may know Christ Phil 3:10.
• The apostles considered the ministry of God’s Word to be a top priority. In Acts 6 they elected deacons in order that they may (v4) devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.
They knew their primary task was that of feeding the flock.
• The reason why we preach and teach the Bible here @ Cornerstone;
1. It gives substance to our faith
2. It gives us stability in times of testing
3. It will equip us to handle the Word accurately
4. It equips us to spot and confront false teaching
5. It makes us confident in our walk
6. It calms our fears
• Just a word of caution: learning is only one of the church’s priorities. Here @ Cornerstone we are not committed to producing academic smugs. Paul in 1 Cor 8:1 tells us that knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.
• John MacArthur say’s The church today ignores the exposition and application of Scripture at its peril, as the warning of Hosea to Israel suggests: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6). The church cannot operate on truth it is not taught; believers cannot function on principles they have not learned. The most noble are still those who search the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11).
Priority #2 – Loving and to fellowship
• In our culture, community is not a strong emphasis, even in the church. We live in a very individualistic age - a group of rebels. The “Lone Ranger” mindset was not considered a virtue in the early church. They gathered not only to sing songs and listen to sermons, but to be with one another, to care for and share with one another. The Greek word for “fellowship” koinonia means a close relationship, everything in common.
• As believers in the N.T. we have responsibility with each other to;
1. Confess Your Sins to One Another - James 5:16 tells us “Confess your sins to one another,.” Confession of sins is one believer confessing to one other—not publicly before the whole church or the world. Christ commands us, “If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way, first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering” Matt. 5:23–24. You are not to pay homage to God until you have made everything right with other believers.