#642. DEVOTED TO THE APOSTLES’ TEACHING (7/9/22)
There is much good, bad and indifferent teaching and information that we can give our attention to. God wants us to have a vision for our lives and our church in which we are devoted to the apostle's teaching.
‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ (Acts 2:42-43)
‘Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.’ (Acts 17:11-12)
The Apostles’ teaching is the Old Testament as interpreted through the lens of Christ and the New Testament (including Jesus’ teaching), which teaches how we are to live in response to Jesus’ coming.
The Apostles’ teaching is all that we read in the New Testament. This is not to say that we now ignore the OT. As you read the New Testament you will see that it is built upon the teaching of the Old. Bruce Milne writes:
‘The apostles are particularly concerned to show the ways in which the life and mission of Jesus fulfils the OT hope of salvation. Thus his birth (Gal. 4:4; 2 Tim. 2:8), the circumstances and style of his ministry (Acts 3:22–26; Heb. 7:1–22), and supremely his death, resurrection and exaltation (1 Pet. 2:6–8, 22; Heb. 8:8–13; 10:5–22; Acts 2:25–36; 4:11, 25–27; 10:37–43; 13:26–37) were all anticipated in the prophetic Scriptures.’ (Know the Truth)
Many fall into trouble when they read the Old Testament without a suitable consideration of Jesus’ death and the advent of the New Covenant. Most, if not all, of those first converts at Pentecost, were Jews. They had to learn to live like Jews whose Messiah (Jesus) had come. How were they now to relate to the Old Testament and its laws and prophecies? These questions were worked out, not without dispute, by the Apostles in the decades after Jesus’ earthy ministry had ended. Here is an example of a new application of the Old Testament from the book of Hebrews:
‘The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship…Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.’ (Hebrews 10:1, 19-21)
Do you see how controversial it would have been to say that we no longer have to go to the temple to offer the sacrifices that God had commanded?! Do you see how divisive it would have been to say that every Christian can now enter the real ‘Holy Place’ and that the temple’s Holy Place, only accessible to the High Priest, was only a shadow?!
Circumcision is another example of how the Old Testament was applied in a new way by the apostles. In Genesis we read of the timeless command of circumcision:
‘This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: every male among you shall be circumcised.’ (Genesis 17:10)
In Galatians we read of how the apostles in there teaching continued but reapplied this truth in light of the gospel:
‘For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.’ (Galatians 5:6)
‘In Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ…’ (Colossians 2:10-11)
Now, these things may not seem very astounding to us who live in our time and culture. However, we have to apply the Apostles’ Teaching to the things of our time even if it risks making us look ridiculous or scandalous.
So, let me ask you a simple question: Are you seeking to apply the Apostles’ teaching in your life? Do you often feel out of step with your culture?
God wants us to be devoted to His Word. He wants us to have a vision of bringing ourselves, one another and our community to Him and His word.
Our application for this week is a very simple one - have an open Bible in a prominent place in your home - maybe in front of the TV! - as an inspiration to read it as a lifestyle.
TOGETHER IN SEPTEMBER
During September 2022, at CCP, we are having 'Together' meetings instead of our usual Community Groups. You are very welcome to attend these gatherings.
Please come to the church building at 7:30 pm - refreshments and a meal will be available.