As a next stop on our journey in defining biblical community, we’re closely examining the New Testament church. This week, we take a closer look at the first church in Acts 2 and what it means to be a community “devoted to the apostles’ teaching” and how we are continuing the practice at Restoration Church.
Gospel movements are sustained by everyday leaders. Our pastors, teachers, seminary professors all have an important place in teaching, equipping, and building up believers to participate in God’s redemptive plan for the world. But it’s the everyday leader – the peacemaker – who builds bridges and opens up opportunities for God to reveal Himself to others. Therefore, every believer is an everyday leader in gospel-movements. The following is a message given to the Village Church of Barrington (Barrington, IL) on October 13, 2019 by Pastor Matt.
The church as a community is designed to be a reflection of God’s most treasured creation and possession – humanity. From every tribe, language, people, and nation, the church glorifies God when it reflects the diversity of humanity. It’s the promise of the eternal Kingdom and the present reality we seek to create in Christ Jesus as adopted children of God who belong in His community – the church.
Community, like family, shapes our sense of belonging and identity. The story of God’s restorative work is through community that behaves as a tight-knit family: as the true family of God. So how do we learn to be an earthly family that inspires and shapes one another to find our belonging and identity in God’s eternal family? That’s the focus of this week’s podcast and part of our series, “Defining Community: Restoring Life with God and Others”.
This week on the podcast we’re answering the question: Why do I need a church community? And, is it possible to have a personal experience and relationship with God apart from others? As we’ll discover, community is rooted deep in God’s nature and is the means by which we experience the fullness of Him in our life. This is part of the series on “Defining Community: Restoring Life with God and Others”.
This week we’re starting a new series, “Defining Community: Restoring Life with God and Others”. We’re beginning by looking at what community is, how it’s practiced in our modern secular culture, and how the Bible offers an alternate story and vision for community life, bonded together in Jesus Christ.
Every person is the prized object and target of a spiritual war that we did not invite nor ask to be part of. The war is for the total worship and allegiance of every heart, mind and soul. As eternal Kingdom citizens (the restored body of Christ), our hearts, minds and souls have been rescued, purchased, and saved by Jesus Christ from sin, despair and death in the ways of the evil. But as Kingdom citizens, we’re reminded the war is not over. Instead we’re called to put on the armor of God, because armor is meant for active duty, not vacation.
Questions for Discussion:
Based on this week’s passage and teaching, what tactics do you believe the devil uses to infiltrate the Kingdom of God?
What prevents you from putting on the armor of God as a believer in Christ?
What does ‘active duty’ as Kingdom citizens (the restored body of Christ) look like?
The gospel brings dignity, worth, and purpose to everyone, starting with our closest relationships: our family and church community. To imitate God and walk in the example of Christ is to mutually serve and sacrifice for one another out of love.
Read Ephesians 5:21-6:9 through the lens of “mutual submission” that seeks to love and dignify others as valued children of God. What stands out to you in the passage?
By understanding this passage as a means of living out the gospel in your family, church, and as a witness of God’s grace to the world, what are the implications for you personally that you need to change in order to follow the ways of Jesus?
What can we learn by Paul’s approach to applying the gospel to his cultural context? How can we do the same? Provide a real-life example.
Imagine if the church saw its primary job to model, pass on, and point to Jesus Christ “in everything” it does. What might the church look like, do, and reproduce?
Our ultimate loyalties, core beliefs, and fundamental values are shaped by those who we respect, follow, and imitate in this life. So if the very heart of our “oneness” in God, the hope of our restored humanity, and the promise of new life and salvation is contingent on following Jesus, shouldn’t we as believers reflect our One example? The call of the Christian is this: When we follow the ways of Jesus, we reproduce Jesus.
Questions for Reflection:
Prayerfully evaluate your life based on Ephesians 4:17-5:20. What is needed to ensure that you are modeling your life after Jesus?
How should a vision of modeling, passing on, and reproducing the ways of Jesus transform Christian community and the church?
The church today continues to struggle with the concept and practice of true unity and oneness in Christ. Contextual distinctions aside, with our churches divided socially, racially, and theologically, how will the world know the true witness of Christ – the union of all things in Him for the glory of His name and the salvation of His people? As we learn in this message, the measure of our spiritual unity determines the true health and maturity of the church.
Questions for Reflection:
If you were to make a list of what determined a “healthy & mature” church, what would have been on that list?
How does “spiritual unity” change your understanding and role of the church?
Based on the list in Ephesians 4:11, what do you think your spiritual gift contribution might be in the body of Christ?