Text: Acts 4 vs.32 – vs.37
Very occasionally something happens which can cause a truly radical change in the spiritual landscape of the Church as we know it. This teaching describes one such opportunity.
In prayer early Tuesday I sensed that the beautiful but very rare dynamic of the early church in Acts 4 was something the Lord wanted to repeat in our midst.
He was speaking to me about laying Perth Prayer (PP) , our non-denominational weekly prayer meeting in the CBD, at the feet of some leaders of the Church in our city. The background to this is important.
We weren’t requesting assistance to bolster our ministry, but believing that through the sharing of worship leaders, testimonies and pray-ers from across the city the life of (PP) could be fundamentally re-constituted.
From being an event in the city it would organically become an expression of the shared life of the whole Church in Perth. (Just as in the Trinity the life of each of the Persons is made up from their mutual sharing of everything without exception).1)See Biblical References John 17:21-22 ESV; Eph 4:4-6 ESV
Sadly, our overture for such a working together into oneness was not understood.
But this teaching isn’t about PP; God is already doing something extraordinary in our city far bigger than us.
It’s Already Happening
Later on Tuesday the city of Belmont pastors’ network met with a senior officer from the Salvation Army. The Salvo’s have a property in Rivervale (as in Subiaco) that they are offering, not for sale or rent, but as a gift to the churches in the city of Belmont as a hub for cooperative ventures to minister to the broken in our community.
The spiritual DNA in this offer is amazing; it really looks like Jesus and has the potential to revolutionise the life of the Australian Church and its image across the nation.
In effect the Salvo’s have come like Barnabas and laid their resources at the feet of the spiritual elders of the Church in Belmont (Subiaco) for them to use for the purposes of the kingdom of God.
The Holy Spirit testified in our pastors’ meeting that the Salvo officer was anointed for practical apostolic service; this is why the spiritual energy in the room as he shared was quite unlike anything I can recall in our network.
The Lord is revealing a kingdom DNA pattern (or fractal) which can catalyse a movement of prayer, unity and missions breaking down territorial boundaries between Christian groups in a way unprecedented in the history of the Australian Church.
The teaching of the scriptures is foundational for any such a move of God.
Everything in Common
Humanly speaking the sort of total sharing we see in Acts is impossible, but “all things are possible for God” (Matt 19:26 ESV) because he never holds back anything as if it were exclusively his own.
This is the power of the cross, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom 8:32 ESV).
Grace without limit means that when Father and Son jointly poured out their Spirit on the day of Pentecost2)See Biblical References Luke 3:16 ESV; Acts 1:4-5 ESV; Acts 2:33 ESV the early Church was immersed in the life of God.
They understood that through Jesus laying his own life down at the feet of the Father (Matt 26:39 ESV) they now had all things in common with the life of God.
As an overflow of this miracle they shared all they had with one another; “no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own”3)See Biblical References Acts 4:32 ESV; 2:42-47 ESV.
In such an atmosphere of selflessness the Lord Jesus manifested his resurrection power in proclamation and healing (Acts 4:33 ESV). In seeing his own generous likeness in the Church he was more than pleased to pour out signs and wonders.
So much for the testimony of the scriptures, but how can this be real amongst us today?
We need to embrace the promise of Jesus to all who follow him on the costly road of discipleship, vs.29 “there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, vs.30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30 ESV).
The common life of the people of God is the norm for every place and every age.
To foster this culture of mutuality we must trust that the Lord has appointed a spiritual oversight/eldership in every geographical area (Tit 1:5 ESV).
These are the men and women at whose feet the gifts God has given to his Body may be laid for the progress of his kingdom.
These overseers are not mini-popes sitting on thrones at the top of a hierarchy.
But they do share with Peter some of “the keys of the kingdom” given to build the Church (Matt 16:18-19 ESV). They are Spirit-filled ministers committed to serving the world in the widest possible way.
Like Jesus in his descent from heaven they possess an “inside out disposition”. You will not recognise them by the size of “their” churches but by their humble submission at the feet of the Master.
At the height of the Jesus Movement when prophetic musician Keith Green stopped running ticketed concerts and setting fees for his albums he provoked reactions of admiration, confusion and hostility amongst his peers.
Many were shamed by his gospel ethos4)See Biblical References Matt 10:8 ESV; 1 Cor 15:34 ESV.
As Jesus provoked like reactions by his grace-filled living we should expect the same from God’s people today when we start laying things down at the feet of today’s apostles.
Revolutionary generosity in the Church will be opposed by the Church.
But nothing less than genuinely offering something for nothing for the sake of a broken world can restore the reputation of Christ’s people in Australia.
Q: How much are we willing to lay down in order that the honour of the name of Jesus may become great in our land.5)See Biblical References Ezek 20:9, 14 ESV; Acts 17:7 ESV
Let’s rise up and confess that our current spiritual poverty cannot be healed by a business as usual approach in conferences, programmes and performance.
Only radical gospel giving can soften the hard heart of Australia, and praise God such giving is beginning to happen amongst us.
Q: What have you been given to lay at the feet of the servants of the Lord
MESSAGE DELIVERED: 5th. Oct, 2018 Location: St Marks
Author: Dr. John Yates
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References [ + ]
|1.||↑||See Biblical References John 17:21-22 ESV; Eph 4:4-6 ESV|
|2.||↑||See Biblical References Luke 3:16 ESV; Acts 1:4-5 ESV; Acts 2:33 ESV|
|3.||↑||See Biblical References Acts 4:32 ESV; 2:42-47 ESV|
|4.||↑||See Biblical References Matt 10:8 ESV; 1 Cor 15:34 ESV|
|5.||↑||See Biblical References Ezek 20:9, 14 ESV; Acts 17:7 ESV|