Biblical Church 2019 (Biblical Learning)
Text: Acts 2:22-47
So, we’re continuing on with our series that we started last Sunday… We’re looking at how to be a Biblical Church. And if you remember, I said we’re going to look at five marks… or five elements of a Biblical Church. Last Sunday we looked at Biblical Conversion. We said, “If we’re going to be a Biblical Church, we have to have Biblical Christians.” You can’t have a Biblical Church if you don’t have Biblical Christians. Today; we’re looking at Biblical Learning. A Biblical Church is a Church that is learning.
So if you will, open up your Bibles to the Book of Acts 2:22-47 (READ TEXT).
Now what’s happened here is that we see Peter get up, preach an evangelistic sermon, and we see 3000 people get saved. But that’s not where their Christian experienced ended. That was just the beginning. Verse 42 says, “They DEVOTED themselves to the Apostles teaching, and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Now that word “devoted” is the Greek word “proskartereo” And it means to continue to do something, day in and day out, with intense effort. To persist in something, no matter how difficult it is. In other words, they were not only listening to what the Apostles were teaching; they were digging into it, they were wrestling with it, they were diligently studying it. You know when I was teaching the girls, I would have them exegete a text from Scripture. It might be one or two verses and they’d have to write full length papers on just what those one or two verses were saying. So we’d take something like verse 42 there and they’d have to write papers on it… They’d have to use the 5WH-S method… “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “why” “how” and “significance”… So let me give you an example. Verse 42 starts out by saying, “And they..” Who’s the “they” – the 3000 that were saved in the verse before this… so the 3000 new Christians… “they devoted” – what does devoted mean? It means they gave themselves to diligent, persistent, rigorous study… what did they devote - “THEMSELVES”… What did they devote themselves too? – “The Apostles Teaching”… What was the Apostles Teaching? And we’d go on and on doing that. They’d write papers on it, and then have to re-write them. Both of my girls have told me, “Dad, college is easy.” How did I come up with that model of education? Partially from this verse right here. From this idea of devoting yourself (“proskartereo”) to a certain teaching.
So let’s back up a little bit, so that we can see how this all came about. It started with Peter’s sermon. Peter starts out by referring back to the Old Testament Prophet Joel. The 120 disciples came out of the upper room, speaking in tongues, and people were confused, they were astonished… they knew something was happening. It caused a ruckus, and some people were accusing them of being drunk…
So Peter stood up, and started preaching, and like I said, he refers back to the prophet Joel… and he says, “What you’re seeing here is what Joel prophesied about.”
But then we get to verse 22 and look at what Peter does. He shifts gears. Basically Peter is saying, “What you’re seeing here is what was prophesied by the Old Testament prophet Joel… and here’s why it’s coming to pass. JESUS OF NAZARETH, a man attested to you by God, with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through Him in your midst…” So Peter takes that… and he goes, “All this that you’re seeing… this speaking in tongues… it’s all because of Jesus.” And I love how Peter starts that… verse 22, he says, “Men of Israel, HEAR THESE WORDS.” That’s Peter saying, “Listen up!” If you’re going to learn, you’ve got to pay attention. If you’re going to understand, you need to listen. The other day I was reading a blog post from a pastor in Australia, and he challenged his congregation to do something very interesting. For one month, when members of the congregation came in the front doors of the church, they handed their cell phones to a deacon, and were given a small notepad and pen. The first week, about 98% of the congregation refused to do it. The second week, about 75% refused. The third week, it was about 60% that refused, and the final week, 54% refused.
But something happened to those who did turn in their cell phones, or left them in the car or at home. They began to grow, and engage, and take an active interest in the church. That’s a novel idea… especially since studies are telling us how cellphones are re-wiring our brains and flooding them with dopamine, every time we turn it on, just like cocaine. Don’t believe me? Come with us to youth camp next summer and watch how the youth react when we take their phones away for the week…
So what authority does Peter have to stand up in the street and say, “Men of Israel… Listen to me. Pay attention to what I’m about to say!”? He’s just a fisherman. He’s not a Rabbi or a scholar… He’s not a government official, or even a Roman soldier. For all intents and purposes, he’s a nobody. Well… his authority comes from Christ calling him to be an Apostle… and it comes from the Word of God, as he rightly exposits it. So does Peter have authority to stand up and express his opinion? No… not really. And besides; you can get that on the entertainment news… just find the one you like… if you like Conservative point of view, watch One America News… if you like Liberal opinions, watch everything else. But I challenge you to read through Peter’s sermon later on today and see how Peter preaches it. Read through Paul’s sermons and see how he preaches them. Read through Jesus’ sermons. They never begin by addressing the “felt needs” of the people they’re talking to. They will occasionally talk about life issues in their writings, but never ‘felt needs’. And when they do address life issues… issues like, your job, your finances, your marriage, parenting, relationships… when they address those things, they ALWAYS take it to this higher level and point it to Christ. Husband, are you struggling in your marriage? Be like Christ – He loves His bride the Church, and gave Himself for her. Wife… are you struggling in your marriage. Be like the Bride of Christ – the Church, who submits to the authority of Christ. Christian are you struggling with your finances… Do not fear asking what shall we eat, or what shall we drink? Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. In other words: Seek Christ and His Kingdom FIRST. Seek Christ, and make knowing Him, and understanding Him, and His Word, and His will the number one priority in your life. Seek to serve Christ, alongside your spouse, in your marriage. Seek to glorify God in the raising of your kids. We get it so mixed up and backward. We think… Oh, I’ve got to have a good marriage and that will bring glory to God… I’ve got to raise my kids to glorify God. When actually the Bible says it’s the other way around. Seek to glorify God, and the issues in your marriage begin to work out. Seek to glorify God, and He’ll help you raise good kids. Seek to glorify God… seek to know Christ, and He’ll help you in life. Acknowledge Him in all your ways, and HE will direct your path. And understand… this isn’t working a system. It isn’t… to use a phrase that’s been in the news recently – “quid pro quo”… It’s not us saying, “God I’ll do this, if you do that.” In other words, this isn’t putting God in your favor or anything like that. It’s just that when we focus on God, and seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness… this is what comes about from that. It’s like the fruit that grows out of doing that. And to the world… that sounds counter-productive. To the world, this sounds crazy. But that’s exactly what the Bible says… “It’s foolishness to those who are perishing.” Here’s the thing… Christianity does not start with us. The Gospel does not start with us.
For a church to be Biblical, it has teaching and learning that starts with the objective, historical, Biblical truth about Jesus. It has teaching and learning that says, “This is who Jesus is. This is what Jesus did. This is how Jesus did that… and this is why that matters.”
I want to read you something from John Piper…
“When a pastor tries to preach the Bible in order to teach ‘God’s method’ of balancing your checkbook, or raising your kids, or having a great marriage, or principles of work, or you name it… or if he’s trying to teach fulfillment in human endeavors of any kind… HE’S MISSING THE POINT! It misses the main point of God’s self-disclosure, and it misses the main point of human need. As Christians we do not find fulfillment in our marriages, in our children, in our vocations, or callings, or recreation. OR IN ANYTHING ELSE!
We find it in God! Nothing else will satisfy us, and everything else that we need spiritual instruction for, we should be doing for the glory of God and the benefit of others, not ourselves. So… love God, die to your selfish wants in marriage. Love God, die to your selfish wants in parenting. Love God, die to your selfish wants in your job or career. In other words, all the ‘practical’ and ‘relevant’ counsel from the Scriptures should be advice on how to die to yourselves and die daily. Preaching should never be a ‘Dear Abby’, self-help lecture. God never promises to bless methodologies, marketing techniques, sermons about self-esteem, or 5 steps to be a better whatever; but He does promise to bless the preaching of His Word… and yes, even today, it still remains a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”
So look at our text. What’s the focus of Peter’s sermon? The literal, historical, fact of Christ’s death and resurrection. See how Peter says it? “Christ died” – Historical fact. That’s verse 23… “In accordance with the plan and foreknowledge of God.” – Theological focus on the sovereignty, eternity, and omniscience (all knowingness) of God. That’s also verse 23… And “He was raised from the dead” – Another Historical fact with a theological implication.
In other words, the sermon is this – Christ died, was buried, and raised up… According to the plan, purpose, and foreknowledge of God. That’s the point of his sermon. The people who hear the sermon then ask the question, “Brothers what should we do?” - Moral application, verse 37.
And what happens? 3000 people get saved. The New Testament Covenant Community that we call the Church is born. “And they devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and the prayers.”
Church, we still have the apostles teaching right here in the Bible… it’s exposited Sunday morning, and on Sunday and Wednesday evening. We still have fellowship… every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening. We still break bread… we do it two ways. We have our monthly church dinner, where we break brad together, and fellowship… and we take Communion, where we break bread in remembrance of Jesus. We still have prayer. We gather and pray as the Church on Wednesday night… and there’s Mom’s in Prayer every Monday night.
We can’t be a healthy, Biblical church unless we’re a learning church… and we can’t be a learning church unless we’re devoting ourselves… proskartereo ourselves to the teaching of the Bible…
There’s an old saying, “If you’re Bibles falling apart from use, there’s also a good chance that your life isn’t.” There’s a lot of truth in that saying. And that’s not to say that the tests and trials and hardships won’t come… They will regardless. It’s saying, when they do, you’ll be equipped and ready to deal with them. It's saying this is how you build upon the Rock... You know in that story, Jesus tells us there were two men. One built on the rock, the other built on the sand. But you notice, the storm came upon BOTH of them. They both had to endure the trials, and storms. But only the house that was built on the Rock withstood the storm.
It would be a good resolution for the upcoming year to devote yourself to learning, studying, reading, and rightly knowing the Bible…