Summary: Church should understand God’s expectation from her.
“GOD’S EXPECTATIONS FROM THE CHURCH”
I was watching the Olympic events and very pleased on the performance of some the U.S. athletes. One of the coaches was asked about his opinion on expectations set by the Americans, and he responded by saying, “I am not worried by expectations set by others, it only shows that they are interested and have hopes on our potentials.” Sometimes we are scared when others set their expectations on us but let look at the other side of the coin and you will realize that they are interested and have hopes in our personal potentials.
As a church, God has expectations from us too. He did because He is interested on how we conduct our lives and express our potentials in doing His will. But what does God expect from churches? What does God expect from First Filipino Baptist Church as we exist? Please turn your Bibles to Acts 2:36-47 and let us find out God’s expectations for our church.
A. GOD EXPECTS US TO BE A LEARNING CONGREGATION (v. 42a)
Notice how the early converts “devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching.” The English dictionary defined the term “devote” as to set apart for a special use or service or to dedicate. It also means to give up oneself or one’s time, energy to some purpose, activity or person. Our text says that the early believers give up themselves to the study of God’s Word through the apostles. A growing church is a church where members are willing to give up a portion of their time and energy for the study of God’s word.
This behavior shows that the study of God’s Word and being a Christian cannot be separated. May it be public or private, personal or corporal, Christians will and should study the Word of God. The Spirit of God who lives within us is the Spirit of Truth. He will initiate the study of God’s Word and help us understand the truth. But why is it essential that we become a learning congregation?
These statements reveal two major reasons for becoming a learning congregation:
1. MATURITY (1 Peter 2:2)
One reason why we never make or choose the right decision is due to lack of knowledge or understanding. The Bible says that the inability to distinguish right from wrong is a sign of immaturity. As the believer understands the truth and practices them, then it will lead to personal growth. Changes will take place and character will be strengthened. If the church is filled with illiterate believers, then, they will easily stumble and give up. Immature behavior will destroy us. (Ephesians 4:4; 2 Peter 3:18)
Maturity is the ability to do a job whether supervised or not; finish it once started; carry money without spending it; and … bear an injustice without wanting to get even. —Fred Cook, quoted in Lloyd Cory, Quote Unquote
2. MINISTRY (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
The study of God’s Word will help us understand the work of God – how it is done and what are the resources available to us.
Equipped – to complete, fully furnished. It implies the provision of all the things requisite for a particular service, action (e.g. to furnish a house, a car equipped with overdrive).
• Teaching – concerning the things of God and the duties of man.
• Rebuking – reprove; to express disapproval of something done or said; in other words the Scriptures is our basis for approving or disapproving something done or said.
• Correcting – restoration to an upright or right state; correction, improvement of life or character. (E.g. straightening a deformed hand)
• Training – conveys the idea of the whole training and education of children, which relates to the cultivation of minds and morals.
If you have the Spirit without the Word of God, you blow up.
If you have the Word of God without the Spirit, you dry up.
If you have both the Spirit and the Word of God, you grow up.
B. GOD EXPECTS US TO BE A CARING CONGREGATION (v. 42, 46)
“They devoted themselves to the fellowship.”
Koinonia or fellowship connotes the idea of being partner, sharer, associate and participant. Because believers share in something or someone in this context God and blessings, we should be committed to each other. Despite of our differences and difficulties, our common bond should be the basis for staying together and overcoming barriers. (I John 1:3; 2 Cor. 13:14)
The early believers devoted themselves to fellowship. The term “devotes” literally means to continue steadfastly and wait on. Applying to fellowship, it means to adhere to one another, to be steadfastly attentive to one another, to persevere and not to faint in relating to each other. (Hebrews 10:25)
Commitment to the Messiah implied commitment to the Messianic community, that is, the church. This commitment to the Messianic community includes commitment to overcome difficulties and differences with one another. Whose responsibility is this? In verse 44, it says, “all the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” Here we can see that it is everyone’s business to address difficulties and differences and to meet a particular need.