"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

A STUDY in ACTS TWO :42 - FOUR FACETS in the FUNCTION of the CHURCH

*ACTS 2:42
42 “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
FOUR FACETS in the FUNCTION of the CHURCH
There are four functions or practices that the true church of the LORD Jesus Christ followed and still follows today as the basis of our spiritual life and health; these four functions in this series will be taught by the following:

1) The apostle’s doctrine (taught by James Fire)
2) Fellowship (taught by Josh Boubion)
3) The breaking of bread (taught by Kyle Peart)
4) Prayers (taught by Josh Boubion)

There is another practice that is recognized as something previous to these others, that being baptism, which is to occur upon conversion as a result of believing the Gospel and repentance from sin.

Today we are going to look at “the apostle’s doctrine”.
~*DOCTRINE and the DOING

What is doctrine? The Greek word used here in this second chapter of Acts (and much of the New Testament) is didache, meaning “instruction (the act or the matter of); teaching: that which is taught or the act of teaching. The other NT word used is related, and these are the two Greek words used everywhere where “doctrine” is mentioned. The other word is didaskalia and it means, “that which is taught, the information that is learned.” Didache is doctrine that is given in teaching, didaskalia is doctrine that is received from those who are taught (disciples).

The process of learning doctrine is not merely for understanding the teachings of the Bible, but with the intent of obeying such teachings that are understood. It’s not enough to demonstrate knowledge of doctrine, but to “do the doctrine”. Consider the first two letters of this word, DOctrine.

Recall the words of Luke in the very beginning of the book of Acts:

*ACTS 1: 1

”The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach”


From the book of James we have the following:

*JAMES 1: 21 - 22

21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.


Note that we are to receive the Word with “meekness” or ‘teachable-ness’ you might say, with a willingness not just to learn, but to obey God’s Word. “Engrafted” insinuates the idea that our hearts receive, obey and conducts itself in harmony with the Word, absorbing it as ‘vital nutrients’ for our spirit, so that we are fully persuaded and influenced by the Word.
Understanding the commandments of the LORD without obedience is not only unprofitable, but can lead to dangerous ruin:

*MATTHEW 7: 24 - 27

24 “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”

Just previously to this passage in Matthew the LORD speaks of that Day of Judgment when He will make this declaration to those who knew His Word, recognized His Lord-ship but were nonetheless disobedient to His commands:

*MATTHEW 7: 21 – 23

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (See also Luke 6:46).


One can easily equate “the will of the Father” which is Truth with “the Word of Life” – the Holy Scriptures of Truth as the inspired Word or doctrine in its general sense, and the LORD Jesus Christ as the Incarnate Word.
Obedience to the doctrines of the Word of God is not motivated by seeking self-improvement, reward or spiritual benefit and blessing (though these will undoubtedly be realized in the life of the believer, both in this world and in the next), but solely because of our love (1 Cor. 13) for the LORD Who loved us first (1 John 4:19) and proved it by purchasing us by His own blood (Acts 20:28):


The KEEPSAKES FROM CHRIST

*JOHN 14: 21, 23-24

21 “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
23 “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
24 “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.”

The words “keep” and “keepeth” are very interesting; it’s the same Greek word employed in the 1st Epistle of John:

*1 JOHN 2: 3-5

3 “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
4 “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”


The Greek word is tereo and it means “a watch, to watch over with care, to guard (from loss or injury), to keep in custody, to reserve, to observe, to preserve, to hold fast”. It’s the same word used for the salvation imparted to souls that have received Christ as LORD and Savior. This description reminds me of the Psalmists words that states he has hid (or kept one might say) the Word in his heart; such hiding or keeping produces a sanctifying effect (John 17:17):

*PSALM 119:11

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”


Holding fast very much conveys the same idea as “keeping” as found here:

*2 TIMOTHY 1:13

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.


ECU-UNITY or UNITY in the WORD? –

There is much about ecumenism today and the supposed need of creating unity, even at the expense of putting aside doctrinal differences; however when one considers that the only doctrine or teaching that we accept as the church is the teaching as given to us exclusively by God in His Word, to put such aside is NOT a viable option!

As we grow in the LORD, and come to understand His Word and obey it, we will find that “the unity of the faith [and] the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph. 4:13) expressed in the Scriptures needs no endorsements by any church organization: the truth stands on its own, and we owe our allegiance to the Word and its doctrine by which we have “one faith” (Eph. 4:5) and not to any ecumenical movement.
Is doctrine then important? Is it something that we can ‘lay aside’ with the intent of coming together with others for the sake of ‘unity’? What will be sacrificed if we ignore the doctrine of the Word in favor of the ecumenical endeavors of religions and religious groups that are intent on an amalgam of all religious persuasions? And to what end? Scripture speaks plainly of such things (Revelation 17).

Doctrine teaches us how to live as pleasing to the LORD; ecumenism teaches us how to live as pleasing religious authorities and philosophical ideologies, which the Word warns us against (Col. 2:8). Unity is expressed not only in the body of Christ, but also in the individual believer as not having divided loyalties or influences, but only to and by Christ Jesus alone, Who is LORD (Ps. 86:11).


AUTHORITY of ‘A’POSTLES or ‘B’POSTLES?

There are those that question the authenticity and authority of the apostle’s doctrine and likewise question those that follow their doctrine, suggesting that the teachings of Jesus are in some way different than that of His apostles. This is hardly the case however.
The apostles elaborated on and expanded upon the teachings of Jesus, but not by their own wisdom or understanding but by the Spirit of God Himself (2 Peter 1:19-21) being their teacher, and as authorized by the LORD Jesus Christ Himself.

This is precisely what the LORD told His disciples who later became apostles in John’s Gospel:

*JOHN 16: 12-14
12 “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
13 “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
14 “He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”


Earlier in chapter 14 we have the following:

*JOHN 14: 26
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.


It’s important then to realize that everything that the LORD Jesus Christ taught in the Gospels that is needful for the church, is elaborated on in the epistles and because these men were inspired by the very Spirit of Christ, these teachings are as authoritative as those by the LORD Himself.

By the same token, there are various movements today, such as the Manifest Sons of God and the New Apostolic Reformation that make claims of not only possessing such Inspired authority as the original apostles, but that their authority exceeds even theirs as well as the written Word of God! Yet the Word of God is authenticated by what is known as the test of canon – every Word given is verified by all preceding revelation and includes prophetic content that is likewise verifiable.

The GOSPEL and DISCIPLESHIP – TWO COMMANDS, ONE GREAT COMMISSION

Immediately prior to the Ascension of the LORD Jesus Christ, He gave commandments to His disciples, one of which was to preach the Gospel “to every creature” (Mark 16:15; Col. 1:23); the other was to teach all nations:

*MATTHEW 28: 18-20

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.


The Greek word for “preach” is kerusso and it means “to be a herald, to publish, to proclaim divine truth (of the gospel), to preach the Word but with special emphasis on the Gospel.
The Greek word for “teach” is matheteuo and it means “to introduce as a pupil, to disciple, enroll as a scholar, to instruct; Mt. 27:57 carries the sense of being the disciple of a person.

Of course the Gospel is required for salvation, but then upon that foundation which is Christ, one must build ‘the house of doctrine’ as it were, using only those materials that are found within the pages of Scripture. Any man-made materials will make such a sacred structure unsound and unsuitable for the Christian to dwell in.

MILK AND MEAT –

It would be pointless to teach someone as a disciple who first did not place faith in Christ and believe the Gospel, which was preached to all who believe; as they are without the Spirit of God prior to salvation, they couldn’t understand, much less obey the teachings of Scripture.
Yet, once the Gospel is received, and the Spirit of God as a result then comes the proper order of justification by faith and afterwards sanctification by faith, as one is discipled in the doctrine of the Word.

The Scriptures are replete with the teaching of doctrine and with the command to teach doctrine to saints. Doctrine is considered both “milk” and “meat” which is to say, some doctrines are for those who are spiritual infants and have need of milk; others are growing in spiritual maturity and require meat or “strong meat” (1 Cor. 3:1-2; Heb 5: 12-13). Both the simple truth of God's Word and the deep things of God are needed for our spiritual health.

*ISAIAH 28: 9-10

9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:


The words “precept” and “line” in the Hebrew connote construction terms; in Isaiah 28:16 the “precious cornerstone” is the LORD Jesus Christ. In typical architecture the cornerstone was chiseled and shaped to perfect angles from which the parameters of the prospective building has its walls measured from with an impeccable 90 degree angle.
Spiritually speaking these precepts and lines are truths revealed in the Word of God that speak of, and are derivative of the “chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6) which is the Word Incarnate, testified of by the Word Inspired (John 5:39). Any doctrine that contradicts the words as well as the nature of Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels is not in accord with the Cornerstone, and on this basis alone must be rejected.

DOCTRINAL DESTINATIONS and THEIR SOURCES

Depending on what one receives by way of teaching, one may arrive at different destinations. For those who receive only from God’s Word, they shall find the Kingdom of God and all that this entails. For those however who receive the words of human beings, they will be excluded from the Kingdom of God and find themselves in the opposing camp, the Kingdom of Darkness!

Compare the following two verses:

*MATTHEW 7:28-29

28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.


*MATTHEW 15:8-9

8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
(See also Matt. 16:12 regarding the leaven, or doctrine of the Pharisees.)

*EPHESIANS 4:14

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

Thus we see two different sources of doctrine, but there is actually a third which I believe is closely associated with “the commandments [or doctrines] of men”:


*1 TIMOTHY 4:1
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

*2 TIMOTHY 4: 2-3
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;



DISCERNMENT COMES FROM DOCTRINE –

Thus there is a need for discernment in order to differentiate between all of these sources (God, man, Satan), and this is something obtained by the child of God by both the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 12:10; 1 John 4:6) and by the constant study and application of the Word of God with increasing degrees of maturity (Heb. 4:12; 5:14). This is why there is such deception in the church today, because so-called Christians and even Christians are not continuing in the Word (the observing, understanding and practice of) as every true disciple of Christ does (John 8:31-32).


DELIVERANCE by DOCTRINE –

*ROMANS 6:16-18

16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.


If we were to lay aside doctrine and obedience to it, for the sake of ‘unity’ as ecumenists would have us do, then we could never be free from the bondage of sin and death and have the liberty experienced by the slaves of righteousness.
Obedience from the heart of the doctrine of God will bring liberty and freedom from sin and death. This is as true for the saint as it is for the sinner who first believes the Gospel. The saint can experience strongholds of sin that keep him from walking freely; obedience from the heart of the doctrine of God will liberate us from such strongholds.
We have the Word of God; we have the Spirit of God, let us obey God and know freedom! It’s the lie of the enemy that says “You will never be free; you will have this until your dying day!”


DISCIPLESHIP IN DOCTRINE

Recall what was spoken by the LORD, the Supreme and only Authority of the church which He purchased with His own blood:

*JOHN 8: 31-32
31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.


This word “continue” is not the same word used in Acts 2:42; the Greek word employed here is meno, and it means basically, “to abide, to dwell, to endure, to tarry.” To abide in God’s Word much as a tree abides by streams of flowing water and grows abundantly:

*PSALM 1: 2-3
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.


*ACTS 2: 42
42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Here, the word used is proskartereo, meaning “earnest towards, persevere, constantly diligent, to attend to [without ceasing], to adhere closely to, to wait upon” and this is in relation to the study of the Word and of prayer. This same word is used elsewhere:

*ACTS 1:14
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

*ACTS 2:46
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

*ROMANS 12:12
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

*COLOSSIANS 4: 2
2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

*ACTS 10:7
7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;

As a child of God, one of the indicators of true conversion, a character trait as it were of the Spirit that indwells believers and a fruit of His labor of love in us, is that we continue in this spiritual walk with the LORD (Gal. 5:22-23; note "faith" which will overcome eventually through Christ (alone!) the strongholds of sin). We may falter, we may stumble and fail, but the Spirit doesn't allow us to give up nor does He permit any child of God to continue in living a life of sin. 1 John 3:8-10 speaks on this and the how the child of God "cannot [continue in] sin" as a 'death-style'.
Just a few more things about doctrine that is the teachings of God’s Word, the truth that it is . . .

DIVISIONS by DOCTRINE

*ROMANS 16: 17 -18

17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.


In these extreme days of the apostasy which we are living in, we who love the truth of God’s Word, who point out error in the teachings of others, who refuse to remain silent while the masses in our churches swallow the ecumenically correct message from the lips of an illegitimate ecclesial priesthood that is beyond question and not accountable, that is anything but the true Gospel and truth of God’s Word are seen as divisive, judgmental, unloving, contentious, etc.

Yet here Paul admonishes the brethren to take not of those who CREATE DIVISION by CONTRARY TEACHINGS that OPPOSE GOD’S WORD – and Paul says to avoid them (See also 1 John 1:10)! He gave strict orders to Timothy that no other doctrine is allowed to be taught in the church (1 Tim. 1:3-4). There are thirteen references to the word “doctrine” in the 1st and 2nd epistles of Timothy. Doctrinal truth is not merely important, IT IS VITAL for the body of Christ, more so than vitamins for a human body!

So those who bring God’s Word of Truth in opposition to false teaching are not the ones creating division, it’s the ones that buy into any popular teaching for our “Best Life Now” nonsense or “Purpose Driven” drivel that cause this division.

And over all it’s the WORD of GOD that divides what is true and what is false, and this is what we need to discern, i.e. “to judge” what teaching is good and what is bad (John 7:24; Acts 17:11; Heb. 5:14). We are as loving as we possibly can be when we expose spiritual poison to others who would consume it! We are to contend for the faith without being contentious, but diligent and bold!

DISCOVERY by DOCTRINE

*1 TIMOTHY 6: 3-4
3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,


Doctrine of God’s Word is what we need in order to prosper, to have abundance in spiritual understanding and maturity, to be equipped for the work of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God, but only inasmuch that we continue in its study and its application (motivated by our LORD’s love for us, and our love for Him!) in our lives, by God’s grace and His Spirit. The Word tells us that if any aren’t consenting to the Holy Bible and the truth it teaches, that such a one is proud, spiritually ignorant and can offer nothing to us but bad fruit (“envy, strife” etc).

*2 TIMOTHY 3:15-17
15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.


The WORD is our sure and steadfast compass in this world prone to storms and 'navigationally impossible' climates, and its tenets will guide and teach us throughout this life and provide (2 Peter 1:3) those corrective aspects necessary should we begin to go astray.

In the above reference from 2 Timothy we see four doctrinal instruments that will lead us in the way everlasting, and keep us from error:

1) Doctrine – which tells us what is right and true.
2) Reproof – that which is not right and requires correction.
3) Correction – Instructs us on how to get right.
4) Instruction in Righteousness – How to keep right.

This concludes this ‘First Function’ for this series on ACTS 2:42. Next will be the ‘Second Function’ of the church, that is “fellowship” as taught by Josh Boubion.

MAY THE LORD BLESS HIS SAINTS IN THE CONTINUANCE OF STUDY AND OBEYING GOD'S MOST HOLY WORD and in the MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, ALIVE AND ACTIVE IN OUR LIVES TO CONFORM US INTO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST!

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