I’m teaching through the Book of Acts this semester. I’m not teaching at Lander this Spring, but I am teaching a survey of sorts. I’m teaching it in 3 places: 1) College group at our house on Wednesday nights, 2) worship team practices on Wednesday nights, and 3) this blog. I will be sharing some insights here weekly.
I’m teaching on Acts for a few different reasons: 1) it’s a book of the Bible, 2) it’s really good, 3) we are tragically neglecting the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and 4) I have never known such a time as then when Christians were more confused concerning what the Church really is.
We are clueless to what the Church really is.
I pray we allow the Word to reshape our thoughts.
When Christ said, “Upon this rock, I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18), he was not talking about constructing a building. This “ecclesia” was a word that meant “group, assembly, gathering.” It was not a building. It was never intended a building. You may go to a church house, but you do not go to a church. We are the church. We can’t go to what we are. We were never called to go to church, we were called to be the church.
I got our students to get in groups and draw pictures of what their parents thought of when they heard the word “church,” and what their generation thought of when they heard the word “church.” Needless to say, the drawings were very interesting and very telling. No surprises, but it revealed reality – that we all think of a building and we think of a worship style. Fair representation of both generations, but o, how we are missing it.
We studied Acts 1 and here’s a few things to note:
- Don’t be so caught up with your kingdom that you miss God’s kingdom. The disciples were so concerned with their circumstances, they were missing the big picture of what Jesus was doing. They asked if they were going to get their land back (1:6). Were their lives going to get easier? They were concerned with their kingdom versus God’s kingdom. It’s easy for us to get consumed in getting our circumstances fixed, and yet Jesus is wanting us to fix our eyes on something else – the gospel.
- The gospel is needed both here and there. As Jesus ascends, he promises that the Holy Spirit will provide power for these witnesses. And they will be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. It was their hometown, then the surrounding area, then a neighboring area with people different then them, and eventually they would make it to the ends of the earth. In fact, he would use persecution and suffering to get them there. Don’t simply think missions to be overseas. The Great Commission is not only to be carried out on short-term trips. We are his witnesses today. If you can’t share Jesus here, you probably shouldn’t be allowed to go and do it over there.
- Don’t be so heavenly focused that you’re no earthly good. The disciples continued their gaze upward after Jesus ascended. While we are supposed to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we are not supposed to get a neck cramp. Jesus thought they were so misunderstood that he sent two angels back down after his ascension to tell them to stop standing around waiting for his return. Many people are so concerned with figuring out the details about Christ’s 2nd coming while many have never heard about his 1st. The angels instruct the disciples to stop waiting around. There is something in front of you to do. You can imagine them saying, “Don’t keep staring at the sky. We promise: when he comes back, you’ll know.”
- We are clueless without the Spirit of God. Since Judas had hung himself after betraying Jesus, the 12 disciples were now the 11 disciples. It just doesn’t have the same ring to it. So they decided to find a replacement, and how did they do it? They cast lots. They essentially rolled the dice. They picked two men, they couldn’t (or didn’t want to) pick between the two, they prayed, and then they left it up to “chance.” Before you jump to conclusions, I do believe that God controls even the roll of the dice. He can use any means he wants. I am glad that they prayed. But I firmly believe that is an intentionally, embarrassing story of the great church leaders picking a replacement this way right before the Spirit comes down in chapter 2 in order to reveal how lost they were without Jesus and how clueless they were until the Spirit of God came down and began directing their paths. This is a descriptive portion of Scripture and not a prescriptive one. This tells us what they did, not what we should do. God never promotes casting lots, laying out the fleece, or testing God with a formula of circumstances to align just right in order to make a decision. We need God dwelling within us. We need the Holy Spirit. We must depend on him for the simplest of tasks.
And He is about to change everything. See you next week for chapter 2.