Def. Responsibilities each agrees to in relation to one another and God.
I. Based on the Lordship of Christ which leads to joining others in the same relationship with Christ.
II. Requiring performance.
"37 ¶ Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 ¶ And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."
What actions are named?
Results (verses 46,47).
Together - help each other grow:
1. Steadfast study of the apostles' doctrine.
2. A strong bond of spiritual fellowship was part of it.
3. They regularly broke bread together.
4. They continuously prayed for the Lord's will in their own lives and the lives of others.
1. What does it do to train members in basic doctrines?
2. What things show fellowship here?
3. What things encourage growth in prayer?
III. Under the Lordship of Jesus there should be unity as servants under their master. Showing - meekness, long-suffering, forbearance, lowliness.
"Keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" - turn to God in prayer every time. Which is more important for us - to stay together, or for me to be right and have the last say?
IV. Our Calling - to be priests who share their faith to bring others to the Lord. We are to do everything to the glory of God and not ourselves.
We agree to join together for the purpose of fulfilling God's plan - that we would grow together toward the likeness of Christ.
V. Our covenant is to be a means that each member can be trained fully for the good works that God has for each of us to do. We are to support one another in this growth.
How important should the commitment to the church be? Our committing our lives to God is one to One - but in committing ourselves to the church we do so to a group and each individual in that group. All being under the Lordship of Christ.
Thoughts to ponder:
What do we see as the actual reality of commitment to God and His church today? What other things come first? What can be done in addition to prayer to positively change the situation?
To advance the church:
How can you measure the advancement of our church in growth in the Christian life?
"11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
Four tests of a growing church:
1. Development of gifts.
3. Stable doctrine.
4. Church growth in number.
All members have gifts that can be used in serving God and others. Different gifts may be used at different times. These should be developed. Unity, as it grows, shows the coming under the Lordship and a filling of the Spirit of Christ's love. Doctrine is continually emphasized here. Is there growth - active members compared with 10 years ago - 3 years ago?
The power to do these things is not found in human effort alone - but only through the mighty working of the Holy Spirit through God's people. The price - the giving of time, talents, and money. Christians should grow in the grace of giving.
Take the test. Grade our church on its growth in spirituality, knowledge of the Bible, and holiness of living average - below average or above average. Rate your own contribution to the advancement of the church in these areas.
Church discipline - on the positive side, it is training of the members in Christ-like living and service. On the negative side (Matthew 18:15-17) it directs the church on how to deal with a member who is bringing about shame to the name of Christ. What can others observe from our lives about our commitment to Christ?
Taste the fruit - developing these calls for a strong commitment to Christ. The Word of God is a guide for what is right. Abiding in Jesus and His Word produces this Christ-like fruit.
I Corinthians 4:1-2.
"1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."
Determine to be better. Begin today.
We are to grow in humility and self-control. Galatians 5:23 - "meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Are we often our own worst enemy?
VI. Humility, meekness -
One under God's control
One who seeks God's will
One who puts others before himself
Definition - the quality of properly relating yourself to God, to the will of God, and to others.
Self-control - temperance directed mostly inward. To be governed by your purposes and goals rather than impulses or fleshly desires.
The Holy Spirit will lead us into self-control, to become more Christ-like, to be a greater help to others, and to glorify God.
Questions to ponder:
What areas of everyday life test a Christian's self-control? How well are we doing? Have you set personal goals?
Beware of pride. Don't become proud of how humble you are. Christ-likeness is the guide and the goal.
This article was written by my father T.O.D. Johnston, who was licensed to preach the Gospel by Paran Baptist Church on May 26, 1979. He has been a student of Scripture since 1972. View more lessons at his Bible Study Lessons page.