And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. – Acts 2:42-47
Living the Gospel Life is the name of a devotional magazine for which Diane and I both wrote for a couple of years. Published by Creative Communications for the Parish in St. Louis, MO, it never attained critical mass, however, and is no longer being published. Diane continues to write for it’s sister publication: Hopeful Living, a devotional publication especially for senior adults. We both enjoyed LTGL writing for it’s focus on the intentional missional living bent of the devotions. In other words, it was all about what is expressed in these verses from Acts 2.
First and foremost is the devotion to the Apostle’s teaching. The Word of God is essential to a well-founded faith. And that word tells us of God’s rich love, merciful forgiveness, and gracious gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Peter has brought God’s word to bear on the lives of the people in Jerusalem at Pentecost, and called them to repent and be baptized. They had received the Holy Spirit, the forgiveness of sins, and learning that this gift was/is for all people, young and old, far and near, whomever the Lord would call to himself. That is the gospel. Now they set about living the gospel life.
Peter’s sermon brought the Word of God to bear on the hearts of those early Jesus followers. Those who received it were baptized – 3000 of them! – and discovered a deep fellowship with one another. They had experienced the grace of God deep in their hearts. They had been saved. Such was their fellowship. Any true fellowship of God’s people today will be one based in the grace of God, the forgiveness of sins, and the eternal fortune of salvation. Such a fellowship sustains faith and is the seedbed of a life of missional grace.
The mission of God is his mission to which he invites us. He is adding to the number of believers daily, and we are privileged to participate in that grace. If we live together in love, fellowship, sharing each other’s needs, and favor, we will discover the mystery of God’s work among us. Jesus prayed that his followers would all be one, “so that the world would know” that the Father had sent him (cf. John 17:20-23). We see that happening here. God works through united people.
The saddest thing about life today in the Church (those who outwardly confess Jesus Christ as Lord throughout the world today) is the fractured unity that exists. If it was a matter of only denominational disunity that would be plenty bad enough. But the disunity shows up in congregations of the same denomination and even within local churches all too often (once in 2000 years is enough!). It’s a wonder the Christian church even exists at all today! But this is testimony of God’s work – adding to his church those who were/are being saved. What a privilege to live in the grace of God – the soil of his mission to which he also calls us!