The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Spirit Built Church has Passion

“And they continued steadfastly . . .” – Acts 2:42a

Acts chapter 2 is where the Spirit is poured out in power on 120 disciples including the apostles. At the end of that chapter the church is born. Acts 2:42-47 is an account of the growth and formation of the church. These verses give us God’s model for the Spirit built church.  As we look at these verses we should ask, Is this what my church looks like? It should be. Every church should be a Spirit built church. Every church should look like this. I believe the revival we need in the church and for our nation will come when we get back to this Spirit built model for the church.

The first thing we see here is that the Spirit built church is filled with people who  have a passion for God and ministry.”  It states, “And they continued steadfastly . . .” (Acts 2:42a). The phrase, “continued steadfastly” is translated from one Greek term proskartereo which occurs ten times in the New Testament being translated as “continue” four times, “continue instant” once, “continue steadfastly” once, “attend continually” once, “give (one’s) self continually” once, “wait on” once, and “wait on continually” once.” [1] The grammatical form of the word emphasizes an ongoing persistence. It means, “to be earnest toward, . . . to persevere, be constantly diligent, . . .  to adhere closely to. . . .” [2] These disciples were wholeheartedly committed to, passionately dedicated to, zeroed in on and focused upon the things mentioned about the church, which follow here.

Think of the focus people have at the critical time of a movie or a sports match. Think of how you would hang on every word of someone who was bringing information that was of particular interest to you. These people lived for their life in the Spirit and what God was doing. There was nothing else in their lives that came close to challenging their interest and dedication to the work of the Spirit in and through them and their brothers and sisters in Christ. When the Spirit spoke, they jumped to ready service.

This first aspect of the Spirit birthed church is essential. It is the energy that propels us and empowers us to fulfill what follows. When the Spirit comes He empowers. And that power will in part be evidenced by a passion for God and His work. Do you have a passion for God and His work? When you look at the people of God in Acts, do you see more similarities or more dissimilarities?

God’s plan for all people is that they become like Jesus (Rom. 8:28). This is the holy work of the Spirit in us. Jesus had a zeal and passion for the house of God (John 2:13-17). He had compassion for people (Mat. 9:36). We need the passion of Jesus. True repentance produces such passion (2 Cor. 7:9-11). Jesus finds lukewarmness detestable; it makes Him nauseous (Rev. 3:14-19). It is tremendously telling that today’s church and many “Christians” are so passionless for God and the things of God. We won’t escape if we neglect the great salvation of God in Christ (Heb. 2:1-3). Truly, if we claim to be Christians and live on unchanged in our sin, we are only fooling ourselves; we don’t fool God (Heb. 10:26-29). Anyone in Christ is a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). And the love of Christ should be compelling us (2 Cor. 5:14 f.). We are not our own, we have been bought with the precious blood of Jesus (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Does our life reflect that? Is there a heaven sent Spirit enflamed fire within us?

In Jesus’ Olivet Discourse He first mentions characteristics of the world that will be found in the Last Days before His 2nd Coming (Mat. 24). He said the love of many would grow cold (Mat. 24:12). Sadly, this seems to be true of some in the church. Jesus illustrates how we should be living in light of His imminent return (Mat. 25). The first of these illustrations speak of virgins awaiting the Groom, five ready for His return, five who aren’t ready. Those who are ready have oil in their lamps symbolic of the fullness of the Spirit (compare Zech. 4:1-8). The four who aren’t ready have lamps that have run out of oil. Lamps were lit with a wick of fire. Which group best describes you? On fire for the Lord and burning bright, ready for His return? Or is the light in your lamp gone out and you are groping in the darkness?

Jesus said He wouldn’t break a bruised reed or snuff out a smoldering wick (Mat. 12:20). If you are bruised and as a result smoldering instead of on fire with a passion for Jesus, He will fire up your passion if you open up and invite Him in for some personal one on one time. In fact, the Last Days Laodicean Lukewarm church was called to repent by Jesus (Rev. 3:14-19). He said He was knocking on the door of that church and if anyone opened and invited Him in, He would come in and dine with them (Rev. 3:20). That is the key to acquiring His fire. Spending time with Jesus is how we can be re-fired. Contact with Jesus kindles a holy passion in us. I encourage you to open your heart and invite Him in. I encourage you to encourage your churches to open the door to Jesus and invite Him in. It’s time to burn bright with His holy fire.

This focus and passion is something that is frequently missing in the church of our time. We have TVs, computers, the Internet, cell phones, hobbies, sports, careers, and a myriad of other things to distract us from the same kind of passion for the Spirit that these first century believers had. But it’s not too late and it’s not impossible to recapture that zeal. Jesus told the lukewarm Laodiceans that He was waiting and knocking on the door of their church and their heart. All that is needed is to open and invite Jesus in. Passion and zeal are kindled as the Spirit brings us into the presence of Christ. The Holy Spirit working in and through us can start the fire in us. Jesus wants to stoke and fire us up again, if we let Him. Jesus is knocking. Will you open your church and heart and invite Him in?

[1]Strong, J. 1996. Enhanced Strong's Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship: Ontario
[2]Strong, J. 1997, c1996. The new Strong's dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words (electronic ed.). Thomas Nelson: Nashville

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