Tuesday, January 10, 2017

the church as a gospel habitat

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
Acts 4:32-33

Gospel centered living leads to clear gospel centered giving. The early church emerged from an official religious "crackdown" instituted by the Jerusalem authorities against Christianity by convening in prayer for a bold witness, and then the church demonstrated the practical differences the gospel makes. The changes occurred first in their hearts and souls, then were evidenced in unselfish giving to one another. The gospel led them to this experience. Belief in Jesus led them to be like Jesus.

The results of this sort of gospel living were profound. First, and most importantly, the gospel advanced. With great power the apostles kept preaching the good news, bearing witness to the resurrection of the Lord. The gospel was at the center of the proclamation of the church as believers unified around the life-changing truths of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Secondly, God's grace was the distinguishing church experience. It wasn't about a production on Sunday or a process for getting people involved, but all about God's grace being known through the gospel and in relationship with other believers. The gospel made a grace-filled church. Everyone experienced it.

A final observation from Acts 4: The gospel + grace created generosity (See Acts 4:34-37). No person among them was needy. The church graciously shared the gospel, shared life together, and shared resources and possessions so that no one was starving or in economic danger among them. People were so full of God's grace toward one another that they naturally shared their most treasured resources with the church for the sake of the gospel.

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