Gospel Communities | Devoted Rightly 1.1 | "The Apostles' Teaching"
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” – Acts 2:42
Here is our second of four posts this week regarding GC reorientation.
Two additional preliminary notes: first, these aspects of devotion are not ranked in order of importance. Prayer is equally important to devotion to the Word of God, etc. A healthy community will find ways to keep these in balance among all members. Second, the purpose of all of these subsequent subjects of devotion is to help aid in proper devotion to God himself. If devotion simply for devotion’s sake has become the point of our gatherings, we are worse off than when we started. Devotion to these elements are the means to holy communion with the Lord, and our growing intimacy with and desire for him is the anticipated fruit.
To that end, the disciples were first devoted the apostle’s teaching. In the context of the early church, this content consisted of the Old Testament and the teaching of Jesus, while in our present day this refers to the whole canon of Scripture, the entire Spirit-inspired counsel of God. For Anthem, this means that Scripture is to play a prominent role in our weekly gatherings as gospel communities. This does not mean that we will be having a bible study every week, but our bibles should be brought to our gatherings and frequently open and referenced. Some weeks we will have formal teaching from a passage of Scripture, other weeks we may use the bible to reference the sermon from the previous Sunday, and other weeks we may use Scripture for other instructional or devotional purposes.
The point, the principle, is that we are to be people of the Word. God himself has spoken to us through this 66-book volume, and we would be fools to attempt to live the way he has called us without the sword in our hand and without his words of encouragement and love written on our hearts. Our prayer is that we no longer only use our time to look at the bible, agree together on what it says, and then leave unchanged, doing none of the prayerful or difficult work of asking the Lord and his Spirit to guide us towards faith-filled obedience. We do not want to be merely hearers of the word, but doers of what it says (James 1:22-25).
Study of Scripture is vitally important to our time together, but we are also praying that we are a people who do not depend solely on gospel community gatherings to be fed by the Word of God. We pray that helpful devotion to the Word will inspire personal devotion within each member, and that we will be inspired to study Scripture throughout the week, either personally or with a smaller group. Again, the principle is a consistent adherence and submission to the word of God, which can be worked out in a number of different ways depending on your group and context, in coordination with your gospel community leaders.
We pray that Anthem is a church that loves the word, but that it is also a church that loves the author of the book and strives to live as the author has called us. The word must be, and will be, a regular part of our rhythms as gospel communities, but only in ways that will build us up, challenge us, and lead us into deeper walks of obedience and gospel-driven joy. There is too much at stake to simply go through the motions – there is a county around us starving for the bread of life that we hold so regularly in our hands, and how will they feast upon this bread if we are not stirred to share it with each other and then with them (Romans 10:14-15)?
In summary, we are to be devoted to the words of God himself, and this adherence will take a variety of forms on any given week. We will continue study the word together, but this is not the sole purpose of our gospel communities. By God’s grace, each community will find the rhythm of hearing and doing the word, which we pray will lead to deeper personal and corporate devotion to the word of God, leading to lives of deeper obedience and deeper joy in our God.