A Challenge To Today’s Church
Those Who Were Devotedby Dr. Dan Stolebarger
So just what were our spiritual forefathers devoted to? They were devoted to the apostles’ teachings, the breaking of bread, the fellowship and prayer.
The Church is not a business; it is not a corporation; it is not of this world! The Church is not brick and mortar; it is not “programs and outings”; it is not high-def Dolby surround sound! The Church is not a concert hall.
The Church is the Body of Christ. The Church is people. The Church is made up of many parts and no two are alike. The Church is gifted with apostles, teachers, pastors, evangelists, encouragers, healers, prophets, and even those with the gift of administration!
The Church is a place where two or more are gathered in His Name. When the Church gathers, it becomes a place where His own can experience and enter into His rest.
When the Church meets, one will bring a psalm, and another a teaching. It becomes a place where people are edified. And it also is a place where the sick can ask for the elders to anoint them with oil and have the prayers of the saints intercede on their behalf. The Church is the place where the Scriptures are discussed, interpreted and preached. It is where koinonia takes place, where folks use their giftings to build one another up. Do you get the picture?
Is this the picture we see of today’s Church? Can we look back in time and see if we resemble those who were once known as The Way? Those who were devoted (that word in the original language is proskartere) (Acts 2:42). This word carries with it the following definitions:
As you can see this word denotes passion; it is not a synonym for being “somewhat casual”! So just what were our spiritual forefathers devoted to? They were devoted to the apostles’ teachings, the breaking of bread, the fellowship and prayer!
It’s important to remember that this evaluation is directed to you and me, because WE are the Church!
First, they were committed to the apostles’ teachings. I take this to mean that they were committed to the entire Word of God.
Much like the Bereans of their day, they were those who studied to make sure that what was taught, preached, and prophesied could be validated in Scripture. This was not something that was just given to the leaders to perform. They were devoted to the Word of God, studying to show themselves approved, workman rightly handling the Word of Truth; those who had the words, “It is written” on the tips of their tongues at all times! Those who, like Stephen, witnessed about Yeshua by using the Old Testament alone!
My friends, our forefathers hid the Word in their hearts; they made daily deposits of it so that when needed the Holy Spirit could swoop in and bring to mind the living words of Scripture. It was likened to a double-edged sword … that cut, divided and left no prisoners!
Question: Is our church devoted to the Word like that? If not, then let’s roll up our sleeves and get started! The time is short and the darkness is creeping in. We need the light of God’s Word to dispel this impending darkness!
Next we are told that they were devoted to koinonia (the fellowship). Do we need to be reminded of the “one anothers” listed in the Scriptures? The bottom line is that we are individually gifted in order that we might edify one another.
As we look back, we see a community that took it to the level of sharing all things in common—no one claiming to own anything but that all things were available for the community. As difficult as it may be for us today, we need to remind ourselves that this type of living is what the teaching of Jesus pointed to. Service and giving need to take precedence over ruling and obtaining! (Please don’t shoot the messenger!)
Question: Do our churches resemble the ones that are described in Acts 2? If not, why not? And … here it comes—remember we are the Church…It’s not “those guys”!
We then come to the subject of something that we all probably know something about and that subject is prayer. They were devoted to it.
I might mention that the text in Acts states clearly that for all these disciplines, the prescribed devotion was daily! When Jesus confronted the adversaries of His day concerning His Father’s House, He described it as being a House of Prayer.
Question: How central is prayer to our gatherings? I’m sure we all pray over our meals but truly is that it? Do we as Believers have a set time to boldly approach His Throne of Grace and bring both our own personal petitions and our prayers of intercession before Him? I know that you probably know all of this but the real question is not do you know it, it’s are you doing it? May we once again experience rooms shaking as we (the Church) recommit ourselves to becoming those who are devoted to prayer!
Finally we come to the subject of being devoted to the breaking of bread. I believe that this is a reference to communion. For me, there is something that is a bit unexplainable when it comes to the Lord’s Table. The Scriptures teach us that we are never to partake without proper preparation. We are to do it often in remembrance of Him.
As I hold the bread and the cup, I hold in my hands the proof of God’s amazing love! Truly these are the gifts of God for the people of God. I have heard it said that the closest one can ever come to touching God is by coming to the Table of the Lord and receiving the bread and the wine!
As we assemble ourselves as the Church, whether it be in homes or in buildings, let us be devoted to Communion. As I said before, those gifts are a bit mysterious; they seem to have the power to both energize and, according to Paul, if done haphazardly or in an unworthy manner, end one’s life!
The hope of the unsaved world today is that the Church would be what Yeshua intended; that those who name the Name would rise up, pick up their crosses and follow in the dust of their Rabbi. When it comes to the end may we all purpose in our hearts that we would be found faithful.
For more on this subject, see the briefing package Redesigning the Church for the Age to Come on the K-House Online Store.