When we use the phrase "being the church" at Mercy Hill the model for that "being" is discovered in Acts 2. It's that amazing story of the birth of the church following Pentecost and the description of the church's functioning moving forward. "They devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching...." is the first hint at where the church's head and heart was as it launched out as the front runner on mission for Christ.
As we said in the last blog the passage in Acts 2 provides insight into 5 essential functions of the church,
1. Devotion to sound doctrinal teaching. (v. 42a)
2. Deep communal fellowship (v. 42b, v. 46)
3. Generous giving and benelovance (v. 44, v. 45, v. 46b)
4. Powerful devotional experience (v.42c, v. 43, v. 47a)
5. Growth through evanglism (v. 47b)
As you can see the first essential function mentioned is a devotion to sound doctrinal teaching. That placement, the first among the five, I think gives indication that sound doctrine is the starting point for everything else the church does. That's not to say that it is the most important, I believe a healthy church is found in a healthy balance between all five, but it is to say that from sound doctrine comes the proper approach for all the others. The manner in which we fellowship, the way in which we give, understanding properly the approach to devotional experience and even the proper process of evangelism are all revealed in the sound doctrine taught through God's revelation to the apostles and handed down to us through His word. When we look through the New Testament epistles we find teaching on each of these elements. There is teaching on communal fellowship (I John 1), giving and benevolance (James 2), powerful devotional experiences (1 Corinthians 12) and evangelism (1 Corinthians 3) just to name a few.
The second truth that strikes me from this passage is "they" seems to indicate not simply leaders but also laity. In other words it wasnt simply the apostles and teachers that were devoted to the apostles teaching but the whole church. This is a particularly important point to visit in the church culture we currently find ourselves. It is common to hear church goers in American church clamoring for a church that isnt "too doctrinally deep" and far to common to hear pastors catering to this sentiment. A devotion to teaching sound doctrince is essential to produce a church that reflects, glorifies and honors God and when we as leaders and laity abandon this devotion we begin to create a church that lacks the image of God and the glory of the cross. We must be devoted to the apostles teaching and therefore striving to see that manifested in our local faith communities.
May this devotion to the apostles teaching at MHC help us produce not simply sound doctrine but also beautiful communal fellowship, a generous heart of giving, a powerful commitment to devotional disciplines and a move of the Spirit that moves hearts towards salvation and devotion to God.