In the book of Acts, how was the Church described? What did it do?
- Acts 8:1, 3 – It is persecuted
- Acts 9:31 – At times, it enjoys peace. It is being built up, believers are going on in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit
- Acts 11:26 – The church is taught by apostles
- Acts 12:1 – Again, it is persecuted
- Acts 12:5 – Believers are imprisoned and engaging in intercessory prayer
- Acts 13:1 – The Church contains people with spiritual gifts (specifically teachers and prophets)
- Acts 14:23 – It has elders appointed; Believers pray and fast together for guidance
- Acts 14:27 – They testify the deeds of God
- Acts 15:3 – It sends out apostles
- Acts 15:4 – It receives apostles
- Acts 20:28 – Overseers are appointed to shepherd the church
Does this reflect your experience of church? Does it reflect your faith?
The “instruction” given to the church has more to do with how you love each other than what happens in a “service”.
New definition of “church” – humanity ordered under Christ
- living the way humans were designed to live
- living in the Kingdom – out of darkness, into light
- sharing life together – can’t get through Acts and not see this
- walking with God – like in the beginning. Spirit returned.
- walking in the Spirit – not flesh
There is an aspect of coming together, of gathering. One of the most appropriate definitions of “church”, based on what ekklesia meant before Christ’s followers began using it, would be the assembly of the believers.
Scripture says that the believers were of “one mind” or “one accord”. That word is homothymadon, from homou meaning “together”, and thymos meaning “passion, angry, heat, glow, ardour, wine of passion”; also could mean “to rush along in unison”, as in music; or “one passion”. The same word is used to describe crowds reacting to the new church, usually in anger, but also in awe. It is used five times in the Book of Acts to describe the church meeting, praying, and praising together. This following verse gives some good context for the meaning of “homothymadon”:
Romans 15:5-6 “Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with ONE ACCORD you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We are to be of the same mind, according to Christ Jesus – as we are “transformed by the renewing of our minds”, we are united in this new life in Christ, this new understanding of God and ourselves. We become united in our newly transformed passions, motivations, and our experience of God and the Kingdom – we rush along together. This word homothymadon shows passion, movement, transformation, intentionality, purpose, unity in a vision, in the Gospel, in a community of Spirit-transformed people.
We quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Because we can.
What about the gathering of believers?
Love is costly.
The same verses that talk about gifts also talk about love. Look it up.
What does all this mean for you?
If a church is going to “change from within”, we provide a handy list of things they would have to cease doing in order to move toward a biblical design.
Song: Enter the Worship Circle – Bright and Beautiful, used by permission of Ben Pasley of Enter the Worship Circle http://www.entertheworshipcircle.com/
The live broadcast also contained the song “Wash Me Clean” by Page CXVI http://pagecxvi.com/
Other music: “All I Need” by Enter the Worship Circle (www.entertheworshipcircle.com), used by permission of Ben Pasley of Enter the Worship Circle
This episode originally broadcast live on April 24, 2015 on KXEN 1010AM in St. Louis, MO