Last week we began a series on Advent focused on looking at FIVE identities every church should have, because Jesus has them.
Why do we believe IDENTITY is important to the Christian life? Well it is not just something that is Christian, but flows throughout our current society. Modern counselors have stressed the importance of identity to health, vitality, productivity, and etc. Modern coaches will talk with their teams about believing they are winners if they are ever going to win. Each individual must embrace this corporate identity for the health and vitality of the team. Friends, this is the theological vision for us in the years to come. I strongly believe this is the lifeblood of every healthy Christian.
Now, where do we find these identities? They are found in Acts 2.42-47. So, let’s stand together and READ Acts 2.42-47.
Just like last week we will need to understand some background that led up to our current text.
1. Israel was formed to seek the LORD.
We were all made in the image of God. Being made in someone’s image does not mean you come into the world with infinite knowledge of your Creator. My children are formed in my image, but this does not mean they know me as well as my wife, my family, or even some of my friends. No, those people have had many years to learn who I am, my attributes, my values, and etc. Humanity was born into the world to know God and seek Him. Listen to what the apostle Paul says in Acts 17.26-28 [READ]:
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.—Acts 17.26-27a
We have children because we want them to know us. Anyone who does not have that basic value is a bad parent. God is NOT a bad Father. No, He wants to know Him because He knows there is joy, happiness, fulfillment, and so much to be found in Him.
Our first parents, God’s first children, rejected their Father. All sons and daughters of Adam do the same thing to this day.
Israel was rescued by God from slavery so they would SEEK God, and teach other nations how to seek the God of universe—our heavenly Father. During his final sermon to Israel Moses gives a warning to the nation of Israel before they enter the Promised Land. Turn with me to Deuteronomy 4—READ Deuteronomy 4.1-8, 25-31, and 39.
Israel was meant to seek the LORD, and the other nations would see their wisdom and understanding. Those nations would ask, “where did this come from?” Israel was meant to encourage all nations to come and taste the goodness of the One True God of the Universe—their Maker—their Heavenly Father. But Israel FAILED at this. So God promised He would send someone who would seek the LORD the way Israel was supposed to. That someone is Jesus Christ!
2. Jesus’ showed us what it is like to seek the LORD and learn from Him.
The FIRST thing we see in the incarnation of Christ is He learned from God. Look with at John 17—READ John 17.4, 7-8. How did Jesus glorify God and accomplish His work? Verses 7-8 are clarifying. He taught us what He was taught by His heavenly Father. WHOA! Stop and think about that. Jesus Christ, the God-Man, was TAUGHT by God. Only after He was taught by God did He then teach us. Some have debated whether or not Jesus only did this for the incarnation, but do not think so. As I mentioned before, if you are in a good life-giving relationship you will never cease to learn about each other. Paul writes about this idea in I Corinthians 2:
For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.—I Corinthians 2.10b-11
God the Father and God the Son are in an infinite relationship learning about each other through the Holy Spirit. This is what we are invited into through Jesus Christ. We are invited to learn about God the Father and God the Son through the Holy Spirit. Paul goes onto to say in I Corintians 2 this:
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.—I Corinthians 2.12
That is onl the FIRST thing, but the second thing we see is Jesus teaching God the Father things about us. The writer of Hebrews helps us understand this wonderful truth in Hebrews 2:
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things...Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God...For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.—Hebrews 2.14a, 17-18
Until Jesus came in the flesh God had never fully taken the form of humanity. We all the difference between having “knowledge” about something and experiencing something for ourselves. Someone could come to after a tough break up and say, “I have read a lot of counseling books on how to deal with break ups, so I think I can help.” While you are thankful for their desire to help, part of you is still going to say, “Have you ever gone through a tough break up?” In Jesus we have a God who is able to sympathize with our weakness. He has been tempted the SAME way. He is TRULY able to HELP.
He is not only to help us, but to help His heavenly Father as well. The priest stands between God and His people, and pleads on behalf of the people. Jesus is standing next to the Father right now helping our heavenly Father understand our struggles in the flesh. BLOWS MY MIND!
3. The Church’s role is seek God in Christ and learn from Him.
Our role in the economy of God’s kingdom is to be LEARNERS. This is an infinite task because we seek an infinite God. We will spend eternity getting to know the depths of God.
Where can we see this in our original passage? I think most clearly in one phrase in Acts 2.42, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching”. Jesus promised in John 16 that the act of learning from Him was not finished, but His disciples would need to learn more. So He promised He would send them a Helper—the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit came to guide the apostles into all truth and continued to declare to them more and more about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
The first disciples or students of Christ were heavily dependent on the Holy Spirit to continue to learn about God. The same is still true for use today. We are a City of LEARNER friends. We have been called by God into infinite relationship, therefore, we have been called to LEARN what they are learning.
But that is not only part of that joyous news. Our relationship with God is not the only relationship we will be involved with. No, we will spend eternity learning about more and more about our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s not forget that while Christ came to help understand God He also came to help us understand ourselves. John Calvin says, “You cannot know yourself without knowing God, but you also cannot know God without knowing yourself.” We have been called to LEARN about God, ourselves, each other, and our neighbors.
When look in Acts 2 we see the first church taking care of each others needs, and what would that require? KNOWING each other well. We need to LEARN about each other. It does not stop there, but makes its way outside these walls. We are also called to GO make disciples of Christ. We have been called to help even none Christians learn about God in the hopes they will come to treasure Him the way we do. That will require LEARNING about your neighbors.
So here are some questions to consider this week. What do I not understand about God? That will clue into what you might need to focus on studying in 2016. Who is someone in our church I do not know well? How might I am able to get to know them better? Lastly, What are the needs of those whom God has placed in my life who do not love Him? What do they not understand about God?
Think of these questions this week, discuss them with someone you trust, but who will also push you. Do not forget friends if we are City of Worshippers than this is a part of our regular disciplines of worship.