SPIRITUAL LIFE OF THE CHURCH
"They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved."
FIVE-FOLD SPIRITUAL LIFE OF THE ROCK CHURCH
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Worship is a continuous experience of oneness and love with the truth of GOD, which is also the presence of GOD; at times, and on purpose, worship happens with one another in the assembly. However, the majority of our life of worship is a daily life of love and obedience unto GOD. As a matter of practice and example: a husband’s dutiful service in the home is an act of worship unto GOD. As the wife, her service of worship includes her commitment to perfume the house with her warm, gentle, kind, and inviting spirit. In the home, a wife is able to set an atmosphere of comfort, love, intimate conversation, business, or whatever else. A wife that is loved and served by her husband, is a wife that glows, ages well, and is delightful. The children of a husband and a wife serve a tremendous purpose to the Kingdom of GOD. Children perpetuate the witness of Jesus Christ in the earth; parents, therefore have the charge of teaching the children the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Parents teach their children how to love GOD, and how to worship GOD, daily, when they teach their children how to obey their parents, daily.
Furthermore, as it relates to worshiping GOD when the people of GOD assemble: we worship the Lord during times of fellowship, small groups, rehearsals, meetings, family meal times, and even business meetings – the people of GOD worship Him, in everything. We must always give heed to the Word of GOD and the testimony of Jesus Christ. We are people of prayer. We are people that praise GOD. We are people that read Scripture and then eagerly wait for the proper explanation and understanding. Worship is a spectrum of Scripturally defined experiences that disciples engage, in order to further connect the minds and hearts with GOD.
Discipleship is the daily commitment to follow Jesus, Scripturally. So, discipleship, after salvation, begins with being a disciplined student, and therefore learner of Jesus Christ. As a student, one is committed to following the instructions, and the examples before them. Furthermore, given ALL of our respective paths to Oneness with GOD through Jesus Christ, we will have differences with one another. The Scripture tells us that offences will come. THE SOURCE OF OUR OFFENSES: First, our flesh (personality, emotions, desires, and thought patterns and worldview (outside of Scripture); secondly, the devil, he uses the culture, societal life, western worldviews, social media etc. – our flesh, and the influence of the devil, disrupts and seeks to divide the student follower of Jesus Christ. Therefore, every disciple must discipline themselves, or sometimes be disciplined by the church, for the sake of change. GOD wants our lives to be marked by kindness, patience, forgiveness, and hopefulness.
Relevant example: in school, if our child would have an issue with another student that is not violent or anything of extreme nature. Just a regular “I want” “No, I want” fussy battle between two six-year old’s. We would instruct them to practice kindness, patience, forgiveness, and hopefully, the other child would mature and grow, as well as our own child. We would NOT withdraw our child from the school and transfer them to another school, for such a minor difference. In matters of the church, many times, it is these minor issues that could be resolved that end up disrupting and dividing the people of GOD. But how, beloved? How could we have so great a Gospel, but allow such minor things to splinter our church family? Discipleship is the daily commitment to know the mind of Jesus, revealed in Scripture, and then practice the mind of Jesus. Which, inevitably, leads to kindness, patience, forgiveness, and a sustained hope and confidence that the each person in the church will grow and develop.
Evangelism is the ultimate mission of the church; in all four of the Gospel’s, and in the first chapter of Acts, Jesus is very clear about what He expects from His disciples, which is a faithful testimony of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To be very clear, according to Scripture, evangelism is the sharing of the Good News of Jesus; which is, that Jesus Christ saves people from the penalty, power, practice, and one day the presence of sin. Sadly, evangelism, or as some say, “sharing one’s faith”, is one of the most neglected commands that Christians fear. This fear is understood; but, we cannot allow our fear to cause us to sin, by neglecting the command to evangelize faithfully. One of the reasons that we fear evangelism is that we are in a world that values success; therefore, we assume that one has to receive Christ when we share the Gospel, in order for that moment to be successful. Or, we are afraid of questions that may arise while we share the Gospel, that we are not prepared to answer. Again, these fears are tied to a worldly definition of success. However, as Christians, success is never defined by our ability to convert someone to the faith, or our ability to answer theological questions that arise while we share the faith. For Christians, success is always defined by our faithful obedience to the Word of GOD; so, our success is sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ to those that are lost.
Fellowship is the familial bond and love that we share because of the hope, and the faith that we have in Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Eternal GOD that has descended from heaven, accomplished the work of Salvation, and then has ascended back to heaven, where He sits at the right hand of the Father. It is GOD, in Christ, who welcomes us into the Eternal Community of GOD the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, by faith. The faith that we have in Jesus is, without question, alive in the believer. Faith is one’s decision to trust GOD’s prescribed means of living towards Himself and others, and this prescribed means is revealed through the Scripture. As such: because of the great inheritance that we receive, being adopted as sons of GOD whereby we cry, as the Scripture says, “ABBA, ABBA,”; because we are the children of GOD, we must live, communally, as the children of GOD. The Scriptures are clear, the people of GOD worshipped GOD in the temple, but they also went from house to house. One of the beautiful and enduring hallmarks of the Christian Church is her commitment to love and service to one’s brother and sister in the household of faith. Be it resolved, beloved, we must love one another and cherish the relationships that GOD has given us as a church family, this resolve is the true essence and foundation on which we must be committed to fellowship, with one another.
Ministry literally means, service. As Christians, most people are really excited about the idea of serving in the house of GOD. We are prone to wanting to do something of value, meaning, and virtue; we are created in the image of GOD. However, our heart desire and ambition to want to do something, is what often times, perverts the desire and ambition. In other words, our hearts, another term for heart could be soul, (mind, will, and emotion), naturally and sinfully desire and seek things that satisfy self, first. We are prone to self-preservation, self-comfort, self-convenience, self-security, etc; we naturally and sinfully gravitate to these moments of, and commitments to “self”. So, there’s a dichotomy; on the one hand we are made in the image of GOD, and want to serve and do something meaningful for GOD. But, on the other hand, we were sinners that naturally and sinfully thinks of “Self” inappropriately and most faithfully. Why is this important? Saints, GOD has given us a charge to fulfill, and this charge requires our oneness: in belief, in confession, in life, in ministry etc. His charge for His people requires our commitment to service. Our service must be unto the Lord; meaning, the work that we do in the church is our spiritual act of worship, which is obedience, unto the Lord. What is a spiritual act of worship? Being spiritual means being led by, and then obeying the Spirit of GOD, which always leads us according to the Word of GOD, to do the works of GOD.
Christian service is first and foremost given to the household of faith. When visitors see us, they should see a passionate and unconditional love that we have for one another, in the various ways that we serve one another. Our love for one another, as Jesus commanded, is the love that captivates a lost world with the light that shines forth in the hearts of those that have been redeemed by Jesus. In other words, we are so in love with Jesus, that love with one another is inevitable.