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<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - July 6, 2007

  • 2007 Jul 06
  • COMMENTS
 

The Power of OUR SHARED LIFE

Acts 5:20

 

 

 

 

We have gathered today to celebrate the power of endless life that we have as members of Christ. Life, endless life, abundant life, Christ's life lived out in and through us is what we celebrate this morning.

 

Please open with me to Acts 5:20 as we study this morning the power of our shared life. Before we read those verses, let me illustrate the powerful life we have in Christ by contrasting it with the power of death.

 

The most lethal weapon ever built on planet earth was made here in the USA.

 

It is 600 feet long and 42 feet wide, weighs over 18,750 tons, has more than 750,000 numbered parts, and is constantly on the move at almost 40 miles per hour--somewhere in the depths of the world’s oceans.

 

Of course I just described one of America’s 18 Trident subs.

 

Within this high tech titanium bullet are 24 missiles each holding 12 deadly independent delivery systems—each of which can completely destroy most human life in an average city.

 

That means this one sleek, black weapon can deliver to nearly any spot on the surface of the earth a superheated 30,000 degree cloud of fire that will melt, evaporate or crumble anything that man knows about in less than one second—and one sub can send that cloud of death out to 288 different cites all at once.

 

The latest report from the Pentagon is that each Trident sub is capable of inflicting 52 million casualties, with 49 million of those being deaths[1].

 

That means that just the Tridents could destroy the lives of one billion people. The immense death it could cause can only can be contrasted to the immense LIFE that Christ's church offers to this world.

 

For almost six years we as a family lived on the road where the Trident subs were built. Every morning thousands of cars rolled by into the sprawling General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard—at night that river of cars flowed back out of there.

 

One of the most amazing insights I ever had about the church was gleaned while studying God's Word and discipling workers at EB. Here is the lesson. A Trident submarine is made up of three-quarters of a million components.

 

Those components arrived from every corner of the country all pre-designed to fit into the whole plan of that submarine. For Tridents, every single piece has a number signed or etched into it. In fact, the critical machined parts have the actual employee identifier etched on them. Each critical piece can be traced the machinist who shaped that piece some where in the USA!

 

The absolute need for integrity of performance and the absolute interdependence that all the pieces have to the whole is acutely clear in a submarine. One small leak can cripple that 600 foot long high tech wonder when it is at its maximum (and classified) operating depth.

 

So all parts are shipped in and then tested to be sure that they exactly match the specifications. That process is part of why the Trident was the most expensive object ever built for its size, in its time.

 

Now think about Christ's church gathered this morning.

 

You and I are like components of the Trident—only we are built for life giving purposes and not death delivering purposes.

 

  • Not one of us is exactly like any other component of Christ's church.
  • We all are vital, there is a function within in His Body the church that only we can perform.
  • We also are signed by the very One who created us for His glory.
  • And we also are tested onsite to be sure we accomplish the purpose for which we were designed and built.

 

God's Word explains our purpose in life when we were saved. We also know that God will do everything and anything it takes to make us fit into His purposes. That is why at any given moment in the shipyard at EB there would be seen sparks flying as a certain part had to be ground down. It didn’t fit exactly as it was supposed to fit, so the diamond hard grinding wheel was applied, the surface of the part was ground, burned, and torn upon with immense heat and pressure—until that minute anomaly was removed.

 

Now this morning I ask you—are you accomplishing Christ's purposeful design for your life? If you have anxiety, frustration, anger, despair, and depression in your day to day life, you are not working according to specifications.

 

God’s plan for each of us is that we be a living walking dispenser of His Life.

 

Look again at Acts 5:20. Read. Pray.

 

Here at church we gather as the Trident, a highly engineered by God delivery system for life. God is the assembler, life is the factory. He is grinding, chafing, cutting, sawing, torching and hammering us into place.

 

The only difference with the Trident sub part is that we have choices to either hinder or advance the process (we can bend ourselves out of shape, we can corrode ourselves, un-calibrate ourselves and so on). Plus, unlike a sub part—we feel the grinding wheel and torch!

 

What about a vital part that jumps off the conveyor belt and doesn’t want to be a part of the submarine? That part was designed to work with all of the other pieces, to support the other parts, to complement them—and it forsakes the assembling together process.

 

What are the implications of a part that says I don’t want to do what I was made to do? Or a part that says I don’t like water (that is pretty serious if you are part of a submarine) and so on!

 

So God wants each of us serving, worshipping, reproducing in the unique way He designed. In any way we are not—out comes His grinder, saw and torch. He will do everything and anything to get us to fit into the Body and function.

 

This morning we have gathered to celebrate the power we share in Christ, who made us to have an infinite, endless, divinely procured life. Remember John 3:16?

 

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

 

He designed us to have an abundant life (John 10:10).

 

John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

 

And the writer of Hebrews tells us that we go through life in the power that came with this endless life we have been given.

 

Hebrews 7:16 who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life.

 

Peter says that when we were born again we became alive with the very life giving power of God.

 

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

 

So this morning, as we gather we gather in the life giving Name of Jesus, with His life within us, and His life flowing through us. Now turn to the early church. What was the message that they were to give out? Look at just one of the specific times that the Lord explained what they were to be doing.

 

Acts 5:20 “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.”

 

And that is what they did.

 

  • Jesus asked them to stay in Jerusalem until the Spirit of Life came upon them to dwell within and empower them—as in Acts 1-2 the upper room and day of Pentecost.
  • Everywhere they went they explained the new life Christ had given them—as in Acts 2 and Peter’s sermon.
  • In every situation they offered to individuals this new life—as in the lame man in Acts 3.
  • They gathered and celebrated that life and were energized even in persecution—as in the prayer meeting of Acts 4.
  • And then in Acts 5 we see after the time in jail, they are resent to keep on talking about “this life”! Are you part of the life giving ministry of Christ's church as we go out into a world of sin and death?

So how do we do it? How are we supposed to impact our world? By realizing that we are not alone, we are part of a Divinely constructed Body. The Church that Jesus Christ is building is the most powerful life giving force on this planet. And that is exactly what we see lived out in the book of Acts.

 

The Bible does not describe a believer’s life as ever being lived apart from other believers. All members of the universal church, the body of Christ, are to be actively and intimately involved in local assemblies.

 

Seven times in the book of Acts the early church is described by the same word. That word is most often translated “with one accord”. The Greek word that is used in Acts is an adverb (Strongs # 3661 homothumadon 12x) that means “together, unanimously, with (in) one mind, purpose, accord”.

 

o       As the church we have a Shared Life of Worship: 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 brothers. This was sharing worship, gathered as the Body of Christ.

o       As the church we have a Shared Life of Fellowship: Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. This was gathering and ministering to one another.

o       As the church we have a Shared Life of Fellowship: Acts 2:46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart. This was gathering and ministering to one another.

o       As the church we have a Shared Life of Ministry: Acts 4:24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them. This was a time of prayer of dependence for strength and courage to continue ministry as things became harder and harder because of persecution and threats.

o       As the church we have a Shared Life of Worship: Acts 5:12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. This was sharing worship, gathered as the Body of Christ.

o       As the church we have a Shared Life of Ministry: Acts 8:6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. This was sharing a desire to accomplish ministry by responding to God's Word as it was taught.

o       As the church we have a Shared Life of Ministry: Acts 15:25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul. This was sharing a desire to accomplish ministry by following biblical leaders.

 

The Bible does not describe a believer’s life as ever being lived apart from other believers. All members of the universal church, the body of Christ, are to be actively and intimately involved in local assemblies.

 

So the early church shared life as one in Christ's body. Their desires were simple--they wanted to share a life of worship, fellowship, and ministry. And all of us have been given the same spiritual duty as believers—we are to stimulate each other to holiness and faithfulness (Hebrews 10:24-25). The basic meaning of koinoµnia (fellowship) is “partnership,” or “sharing.” When we received Jesus Christ we became partners with Him and with all other believers (1 John 1:3). This partnership and fellowship is permanent, because our shared eternal life is forever. The joy associated with salvation may be lost through sinful neglect of our duties as believers.

 

So we could look at the list in the book of Acts as 7 key elements that monitor our fellowship. As we saw already, all these elements were the passions the early church held dear; so we should ask ourselves this morning if we also hold these actions as our shared passion.

 

1.      As they were in Acts 1:14, are you part of a partnership of praying with the fellow members of Christ's body?

2.      As they were in Acts 2:1, are you part of a partnership of wanting to be together with the fellow members of Christ's body?

3.      As they were in Acts 2:46, are you part of a partnership of worshiping with the fellow members of Christ's body?

4.      As they were in Acts 4:24, are you part of a partnership of waiting on God together with the fellow members of Christ's body?

5.      As they were in Acts 5:12, are you part of a partnership of identifying with the fellow members of Christ's body?

6.      As they were in Acts 8:6, are you part of a partnership of responding to God’s word with the fellow members of Christ's body?

7.      As they were in Acts 15:25, are you part of a partnership of following scriptural leadership with the fellow members of Christ's body?

 

 



[1] I learned this from a report recently produced by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) that, for the first time ever, has brought to the public a graphic analysis of the secret U.S. plan for nuclear war. As part of their "Nuclear War Simulation Project," the NRDC made a computer program that shows the effects of different likely nuclear war scenarios.

For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit  discoverthebook.org.

 

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