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Summary: The Living Church" manifested: 1) Spiritual Life (Acts 2:42) & 2) Spiritual Attitudes (Acts 2:43-47a). The result was 3) Spiritual Impact (Acts 2:47b).

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A study presented Tuesday at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas noted a steady rise in the percentage of residents in Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland who claim no religious affiliation. The researchers explained how social factors could help push religion toward the dustbin of history. Richard Weiner, a University of Arizona researcher and one of the study’s authors, explained "There’ll be a continuing loss of membership among people that identify themselves as belonging to a religion. Over time, we could reach a time where society is dominated by people who claim religious non-affiliation".

The study attempted to link these countries’ religious identities with the social motives behind belonging to particular groups. Researchers said that as the masses who claim religious non-affiliation swell, it becomes more appealing to join the ranks of that group. The study said "the model predicts that for societies in which the perceived utility of not adhering is greater than the utility of adhering, religion will be driven toward extinction".

A 2006 Statistics Canada report noted that 16 per cent of Canadians reported no religious affiliation in 2001, up from four per cent 30 years earlier. However, young Canadians are even less religious, with close to half of 15-29 year olds claiming no religious identity in 2004. (http://www.canada.com/life/Canadians+losing+faith+religion+faces+extinction/4485943/story.html)

The early Church was based not on a "religion" but a relationship". It is a transforming relationship with Christ that results in genuine relationship with others. When we are in Christ, and Christ is in us, we have fellowship with Him and true fellowship with one another. This is "The Living Church" in and about the living Christ. This one relationship completely changes believers and will change the world.

For the early church, three distinguishing dimensions emerge that reveal them as "The Living Church". They manifested: 1) Spiritual Life (Acts 2:42) and 2) Spiritual Attitudes (Acts 2:43-47a). The result was 3) Spiritual Impact (Acts 2:47b).

1) Spiritual Life (Acts 2:42)

a) It Was a Saved Church (2:42a)

Acts 2:42a [42]And they were (continually) devoting themselves (2:42a)

A Living Church has its life completely defined by the devotion to those spiritual duties which make up the unique identity of the church. Nothing outside the living Lord, the Spirit, and the Word define life for the church. This church, though not having any cultural elements of success, no worldly strategies, was still endowed with every necessary component for accomplishing the purposes of its Lord. The church will still be effective in bringing sinners to Christ when it manifests the same key elements of spiritual duty that marked this first fellowship.

Please turn to 1 Thessalonians 1

The three thousand who confessed faith in Christ and were baptized in verse 41 are the they who showed the genuineness of their faith by continuing.


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