"Works With Great Benefits (Pt. 3)"
TEXT: Acts 2:42-47
1. Upon salvation, believers are adopted into the family of God. Meaning, the Lord adds individuals to a community of local believers so that they are able to grow spiritually, serve the Lord using their giftings, and experience the love and fellowship of fellow believers. This reality implies that there is no such thing as a "stand-alone Christian." To be united to Christ is to also be united to His bride--the Church.
2. The Word of God mentions that a follower of Christ can be "delivered to Satan." The language used when speaking of this truth helps us understand the weight and seriousness that surrounds this topic. An unrepentive believer, who is in good standing and relationship with their local church, is delivered to Satan when the elders of that congregation discern it is not beneficial for that openly unrepentive believer to freely participate and attend their public worship celebration. In short, they are excluded from participating in and attending church services. Being excluded from public worship and the sacraments of the Church essentially stops God's protection and provision from flowing into one's life. The removal of this protection and provision opens up someone's life to more harshly experience the buffeting and destructive works of the powers of spiritual wickedness. While all this sounds quite harsh, it is actually a gracious, thoughtful, and loving act. Why? Being delivered to Satan is meant to produce repentance in a believer's heart and life.
3. If a local church is healthy and biblically sound, then the Lord is able to add to that congregation souls who need saved, cared for, and discipled (Acts 2:47).
4. While the Bible does steer each of God's children to wisely care for the poor and needy, the Church of Jesus Christ has not been formed and fitted together so that we can provide for the physical needs of the lost world around us. Additionally, the Bible teaches us that a struggling believer who belongs to a local church should be cared and provided for by their brothers and sisters in Christ. When we put these two biblical concepts together, we can see that Jesus is intending to teach humanity a powerful truth. When an unbeliever experiences the harsh and negative effects of mismanagement, sin, and just existing in a fallen world/culture, it should help them discern their need for Jesus while encouraging them to repent and belong to a local church. Why? If they trusted Christ and were a part of His family, they would be in a position to receive help and care from other believers. The Lord will not allow His people to think that they are responsible for ministering to the physical needs of people ahead of their spiritual needs. This is a rather complex and nuanced issue, but the truths stated above must be considered when trying to discern what to say and how to minister to broken individuals.
5. Much of the Christian life, especially the public and corporate aspect of our worship, has a serious and somber tone. The worship of God is holy and should be participated in with hearts that are full of intentionality, seriousness, and respect. But we cannot let that same tone dictate every part of our lives when outside of the Church. Meaning, Jesus intends for us to enjoy what He has made, to be thankful for it, and to receive most of it with joyful and glad hearts. When a believer approaches the worship of God in a wise and biblically-sound manner, it opens up their hearts and lives to enjoy their existence in a deeper way. Christian parents would be wise to remember this truth and to prayerfully consider how it should impact the rhythm and decisions associated with raising a family.
6. Every child of God faces the temptation of allowing their hearts to become filled with anger, bitterness, and resentment. It is overwhelmingly easy to let offenses build up in our hearts and minds. We can carry around thoughts and attitudes regarding others that are not beneficial to our souls and our personal spiritual growth. This is why every believer must be diligent about examining their heart before the Lord in their personal prayer time. We can boldly ask the Spirit of God to help keep our hearts pure and free from offenses.
TALK TO EACH OTHER:
1. What is a 'healthy' church? How would you determine if a local church is healthy or not?
2. How is delivering a believer to Satan a gracious act of love? In order to help us approach this issue with truth and wisdom, what other biblical truths should we remember and connect to the act of delivering one to Satan?
3. Why did the Lord set up charity and caring for the poor and needy in the way that He did (Truth Four)? What wisdom is the Lord trying to teach humanity through how He structured this to function in our churches and world?
4. Christians should enjoy life more than any other group of people. Why?
5. How can a believer discern if their heart is filled with the wrong attitudes regarding how they view and relate to other individuals? What desires, thoughts, and emotions will be present in a person who has a heart filled with bitterness towards an individual (or a group of people)?
TALK TO GOD:
Pray as you feel led concerning the following areas:
- Pure hearts that are free from bitterness and anger
- For us to live generously and with wisdom
- Hearts full of joy, peace, and love
- That Abundant Life would be a healthy church that Jesus can add to