Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The Scriptorium

The New Community

And what a beautiful community it is. Acts 2.37-47

The Beginning of the Last Days: Acts 2 (6)

Pray Psalm 48.1-3.

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised
In the city of our God,
In His holy mountain.
Beautiful in elevation,
The joy of the whole earth,
Is Mount Zion on the sides of the north,
The city of the great King.
God is in her palaces;
He is known as her refuge.

Sing Psalm 48.1-3.
(Cwm Rhonda: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah)
Great is God, now greatly praise Him in the city of the Lord.
Holy she, His lovely mountain, great and glorious by His Word!
God her King is great within her, He, her Stronghold ever sure!
He, her Stronghold ever sure!

Read Acts 2; meditate on verses 37-47.

Preparation

1. How did the people respond to Peter’s message?

2. How would you characterize the new community that was coming into being?

Meditation
A new era, a new Spirit, and a new life demand a new community to sustain and advance them. The writer of Hebrews tells us that faith involves “evidence” of the unseen things we have come to believe and in which we hope (11.1). Here is the evidence of the ongoing work of Christ: People joining together in fellowship, sharing their goods with one another as each has need, learning and praying together, rejoicing in the Lord, and having favor with all their neighbors. This was real. This was new. This was proof.  

Those who heard Peter were “cut to the heart” (v. 37), showing the power of God’s Word to burst through reasons, fears, doubts, priorities, predispositions, and every other defense of the soul, to begin the ongoing work of Christ in the lives of even the hardest of men (Heb. 4.12). Peter was clear that people must repent and publicly identify with Jesus as proof of the Spirit’s initial work in their lives. Peter also foreshadowed the further reach of the Gospel to the Gentiles, echoing Acts 1.8, by his mention of “all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (drawn from Joel 2.32). Ultimately, some three thousand souls declared their submission to Jesus. A glorious first harvest, indeed!

No wonder many more were being added daily as they saw what the Spirit was doing in the lives of their neighbors and friends. Let’s not misunderstand verse 45: The sense of the Greek here is that the people would sell their possessions and distribute the proceeds when a need became known. They did not do this all at once and give everything to the apostles. People who were being restored to the Lord were also being restored to one another as the Spirit expressed His ongoing work in their lives. A new community of restoration was fulfilling the promise of Micah 4.1-8, and the evidence of the reality of Jesus Christ being risen from the dead was increasing on every hand. The Gospel’s conquest of the world is a communal effort, and it brings the community of restoration to ever-increasing fullness as the Kingdom expands. And all this is happening from the inside-out, because of what we read in verses 42 and 43.

The Church is a sign that the Kingdom has arrived. It is also an outpost from which the Kingdom advances in the world. When we proclaim the Gospel in its fullness, using the Word of God skillfully and with love, God can use it to break down walls of defense and open hearts to His saving love.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Why is all of this happening?
What is the endgame?
Who is supposed to be doing this work?
Where are we going?
When are we empowered?

In a nutshell—the answers:
This is happening so that we will share the Good News with others (Acts 1.8).
So that we can live in community together now, rejoicing in the Kingdom, and (Acts 2.42-47), encouraging each other to good works so that others will join us (Eph. 2.8-10).
We are going into the Kingdom here and now, and there and then (Matt. 6.10, 13).
We are empowered to do this when we repent from our sins, (Acts 2.38; Rom.3.23), claim the forgiving death and resurrection of our wonderful Savior (Jn. 3.16; Rom. 6.23), and are then filled with the Holy Spirit’s power (Acts 2.38, 39; Jn. 16.13, 14).

This is the Good News we were saved by.
This is the Good News we are to share so others will be saved by it.
This is the Good News that guides our daily lives.
This is the Good News Community that we live in now.

When the people of God are living in this way, then the Church truly becomes “the joy of the whole earth” (Ps. 48.2).

“When we proclaim the Gospel in its fullness, using the Word of God skillfully and with love,  God can use it to break down walls of defense and open hearts to His saving love.”

For reflection
1. Why do you think many churches are failing in their witness in our day?

2. How important is it that we work as hard to be witnesses as to do witnessing?

3. What are the hallmarks of the New Community Jesus is building in His Church?

Above all, however, that heavenly Spirit produced mutual benevolence and concord in all he inspired. Certainly Jesus had bidden his disciples to be recognized by this special sign, that love for one another held them together. For all who had believed the gospel frequently-gathered together in one place and exhorted and comforted themselves by mutual discourse. Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536), Paraphrase of Acts 2:42-47.4

Pray Psalm 48.4-14.
Thank Jesus Christ, that He is building His Church, and the gates of hell will not be able to prevail against it. Pray for your church, the churches in your community, and churches around the world, that the Body of Christ may become a source of beauty, joy, and holiness throughout the earth.

Sing Psalm 48.4-14.
(Cwm Rhonda: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah)
Earthly kings, amazed and wond’ring, look upon the Church with fear.
See them flee in dread and anguish, knowing that the Lord is near.
For the city of the Savior God will keep forevermore!
God will keep forevermore!

For Your grace and lovingkindness we proclaim Your matchless worth!
As Your Name is, great and boundless, let Your praise fill all the earth.
Let Your people sing rejoicing for the judgment of Your truth;
for the judgment of Your truth.

Walk about the blessèd city, see her beauty, see her power.
Count her ramparts, filled with glory, look on ev’ry mighty tower.
Tell her glory to the nations: God will guide her evermore;
God will guide her evermore!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. For more about what Jesus is doing at the right hand of God, order a free copy of our book, What in Heaven Is Jesus Doing on Earth? (click here).

You can download any or all of the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

 

 

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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