Summary: God wants us to have a humble vision of ourselves in which we know that we learn by being in a local church community.
'What is one thing you can do to improve your intake of God’s Word? Unless providentially hindered, joining a group of like-minded believers to hear God’s Word preached each week should be a minimum.’ (Donald Whitney, Disciplines for the Godly Life).
“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)
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
These texts speak of a community that was learning together. Community is vital for growth in knowledge (More on this next week)
In Acts 2, we see a ‘crowd’ (2:14) becomes a Christian community that met together to learn. In 2:47, we read that they were ‘added’. They were added to this learning community. The ‘saved’ must be ‘added’ if they are to be disciples of Christ. John Hosier wrote,
‘Only in close proximity with other believers can we learn to overcome the challenges of selfishness, immaturity ungodliness.’ (Hosier, Radiant Church).
Community is God’s wisdom for our growth. This Early Church met in various ways. In Acts 5:42, we read:
“Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 5:42)
Whether it was in smaller groups in homes or in the larger setting of the temple, the focus of their teaching and preaching was what it meant for Jesus to be the Messiah. Paul urged Timothy,
‘Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.’ (1 Timothy 4:13-14)
Leaders were not to ‘neglect their gift’ of teaching. A church is not to neglect meeting so as to learn together from God’s word. Paul commanded the leaders at Ephesus - notice what he tells the elders to do and why he wants them to do it:
“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” (Acts 20:28-31)
Can you see the vital role that teaching plays in protecting the church? Do you understand that the promise of ‘savage wolves’ - false teachers - remains relevant to us? Do you see Paul’s example of the importance of teaching in the phrase: ‘for three years I never stopped...’?
Devotion to learning, for us (at CCP) means, at least, being devoted to our Sunday gatherings and a Community group where we teach and apply the Bible every week. We also produce this blog which you may want to use; this helps to unpack the theme of the Sunday message in more detail.
Can we say that you have been ‘added’ and are ‘devoted’ to learning with other Christians?
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.