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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.

THE STRENGTH OF THE UNITING BOND in the new society is spiritual; not mere companionship, or social instinct, or common necessity, or political aim, but brotherly love springing out of faith—a faith showing itself in self-sacrifice and steadfastness (The Pulpit Commentary: Acts of the Apostles Vol. I. 2004 (H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.) (73). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.).

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 [1:1]Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. [2]We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, [3]remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. [4]For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, [5]because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. [6]And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, [7]so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. [8]For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. [9]For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, [10]and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (ESV)

• Paul described the people in the Thessalonian church as in the Father, Christ (v. 1), and the Holy Spirit (v. 5). He noted that they possessed the great triad of Christian virtues, faith, hope, and love (v. 3). He was confident of God’s choice of them for salvation (v. 4). They were imitators of Paul and Christ (v. 6), so much so that they were an example to the other believers in their region (vv. 7–9). Clearly it was a congregation of saved people.

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