Saturday, March 01, 2008

What are the Vital Signs of the Church

Mark Lauterbach @ deals with Acts 2:42 in describing four "vital signs" of a Spirit-filled church:

1. Commitment to the apostles’ teaching: Today the “apostles’ teaching” is preserved for us in the inspired writings of the New Testament. In 1 Timothy 3:15, Paul spoke of the church as “the pillar and foundation of the truth.” A Spirit-filled church is passionate about guarding and communicating the truth as revealed in the Bible.

2. Commitment to the fellowship: Generally speaking, fellowship has to do with sharing something in common. Specifically, it can mean sharing our financial resources with those in need. I think that is the meaning here, and that Acts 2:44-45 illustrates this fellowship. Thus “the fellowship” is our partnership with fellow-believers and responsibility to care for each other in practical and material ways. In a Spirit-filled church, believers sacrificially take care of one another.

3. Commitment to the breaking of bread: Some see this as just an ordinary meal, but I think it refers to the Lord’s Supper, which originally involved a full meal as well as the remembrance of Christ’s death. It implies the regular gathering of God’s people. These meetings are centered on the gospel (on Christ and the cross), and marked by joy and sincerity (cf. Acts 2:46). The Lord's Supper is prominent, not as a ritual, but as a God-ordained expression of cross-centered praise.

4. Commitment to the prayers: These are not private prayers but corporate prayers. When the early church met together, it wasn’t just to connect with one another. It was to connect with God. They were God-dependent; they were focused on God; they sought God. A Spirit-filled church is mobilized to pray together. It is ever mindful of the supernatural nature of the church. We exist for God’s glory and so we look to God to work in and through us.

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