Sunday, September 29
Culture of Renewal | Acts 2v40-47
At Gateway we believe there is no better word than renewal for what happens when people start embracing the earth-shattering power of the resurrection. Renewal is what happens when liars, loners, and misfits encounter the risen Christ, and submit to a gradual process of real transformation. Renewal is what happens when people begin to read the Bible and start living into the stories they read. Renewal is what happens when worship becomes a way of life, and prayer a way of being in the world with God. Renewal is what happens when people demonstrate the power and justice of God by demonstrating the Kingdom in their life together in the world.
At Gateway we believe in the power of the resurrection and we are committed to joining God in the Renewal of All Things.
We are a Resurrection Culture.
- Read Acts 2v40-47. What things are attractive to you about this community? What things frighten you or at least make you a little nervous? Why?
- Compare and contrast this type of community with the culture in your neighborhood, your office, or your classroom.
- What kind of impact could this kind of community have on the culture of Des Moines?
- vv.40-41. Peter tells them to save themselves from “this generation”. A “generation” is a whole culture. What does this statement imply about the church, and about becoming a Christian?
- vv.42-47. Make a list of the characteristics and functions of the early church which are evident in this passage. For now — just brainstorm together. Here are a series of insights...
- The church trained and educated its members. (”devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” v.42a).
- The church brought its members together constantly — “every day” (v.46)! They couldn’t stay away from each other.
- The church moved members into relationships of mutual support and fellowship (“they were together” v.44a; “the fellowship” v.42b).
- The church had both small group meetings (“they broke bread in their homes” v.46b) and large group meetings (“continued to meet together in the temple courts” v.46a).
- The church practiced the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper constantly. (vv. 42, 46)
- The church spent much time in group prayer (“devoted themselves… to prayer” v.42d).
- The church practiced radical generosity, economic sharing and “mercy ministry” at least within the community.
- There were deeds of power which accompanied and verified the truth of the apostles’ preaching (“many wonders and miraculoussigns were done by the apostles” v.43.)
- There was a general spirit of joy (“glad and sincere hearts” v.46) and praise (“praising God” v.47a) which permeated every meeting at every level.
- This community life was extraordinarily attractive to outsiders (“enjoying the favor of all the people” v.47).
- The church was evangelistically effective (“The Lord added… daily those who were being saved.” v.47)
- Conversions were not seen individualistically. When a person was saved, they were “added to their number” (v.47) — they were incorporated into a deep relationship to the church body, not just to the Lord.
- Five key components are evident in this passage. - vibrant worship, doctrinal teaching, devoted fellowship, bold evangelism, and compassionate social concern. Accompanied by prayer, these characteristics sustain the church as a living body, rather than just an organization.
- What do we learn about the early church’s worship?
- Consider your own small group. How can it better manifest these ‘vital signs’? Consider our church. How can it better manifest these ‘vital signs’? (Don’t let this become a gripe session. Use this outline to pray for the church and to consider ways to help grow up into the New Testament pattern).
If the Church is to be effective and advocate a new [kingdom]order… it must itself be a new social order… The local congregation… stands not primarily as the promoter of programs for social change (although it will be that) but primarily as itself the foretaste of a different social order. Its actions for justice and peace will be, and will be seen to be, the overflow of a life in Christ, where God’s justice and God’s peace are already an experienced treasure. – Lesslie Newbigin
- In what way is the church a restoration of what was broken and unraveling from the Fall? In what way is the church to be foretaste of the restoration that is to come?
- Take some time to read through the following two quotes carefully and discuss the implications for your life, our group, and our church.
The church is… made up of natural enemies. What binds us together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs, or anything else of that sort. Christians come together… because they have all been saved by Jesus Christ… They are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake. – D.A. Carson
The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. As love to God begins with listening to his Word, so the beginning of love for others is learning to listen to them. It can be greater service than speaking. There’s an impatient, inattentive listening that despises, only waiting for a chance to speak.
The second service is that of active helpfulness. This means, initially, simple assistance in trifling, external matters. We must allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks, as the priest passed the man who had fallen among thieves, perhaps reading the Bible.
We speak, third, of the service of bearing others. It is only in bearing with my brother that the great grace of God becomes wholly plain. To cherish no contempt for the sinner but rather to prize the privilege of bearing him means to be able to accept him, to preserve fellowship with him through forgiveness.
Where Christians live together the time must inevitably come when in some crisis one person will have to declare God’s Word to another. It is unchristian consciously to deprive another of the one decisive service we can render to him… We admonish one another to go the way that Christ bids us to go. We are gentle and severe…“Confess your faults to one another” (James 5:16.) He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone.
The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everyone must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship, living in lies and hypocrisy. But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that says: “You’re a sinner, a great desperate sinner. Now come, as the sinner that you are, to the God who loves you” …A man who confesses his sins in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer