From Pastor Johnny

Does Your Church Have the Right Signature? Part 3 - Fellowship Communion

          ACTS 2:42, 46.  Next the Scripture explains that this first church “…continued steadfastly in the fellowship.” This is not a verb – they fellowshipped – but it is a noun.  This describes the group that was the church.  A fellowship (noun) will fellowship (verb).  However, just because a group comes together for fellowship may or may not mean they are A FELLOWSHIP of Christ.   

            EXAMPLE: You are my witnesses.  Christianity is about becoming a new identity before it is about a new activity.  Once we are settled on who we are in Christ, then the what we do is natural. The identity is always prior to the activity. If the identity is right, then the activity will be right.

            Part of the expression of this fellowship was  in the Acts 2:42 and 46, “…breaking of bread…” and “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple (large group worship), and breaking bread from house to house (small group gatherings), they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart..”

            The “breaking of bread” happening in the early church was both observing the Lord’s Supper (communion) and gathering for “love feasts” (Jude 1:12) where everyone brought something and all ate (a lot like our covered dish pot luck meals today).            

            The heart of the early church was in consistently gathering with the fellowship of believers. Quite frankly, the image today of believers who hit a church service here and there periodically, without any consistent attendance week in and week out, is a foreign concept to the first church.

Does Your Church Have the Right Signature? Part 2 - Teaching

            The signature of the Holy Spirit can be seen in a church body with Focused Instruction. Acts 2:42a recounts And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine

            The first characteristic of the Holy Spirit’s signature on a church is the consistent commitment to the accurate teaching of Scripture. This ministry of any local church is simply extending and continuing the ministry Jesus began while He was on earth. 

          Consider Luke 4:18-21, “And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah.  And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,

          Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,

          To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

          To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’  Then He closed the book and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’”

            Jesus himself acknowledged that his three-year ministry on earth was intended to be focused mainly on teaching the Scriptures. The current church is simply continuing the ministry Jesus began in those three years. If the Holy Spirit is controlling our local church, then Focused Instruction will be prominent.


Does Your Church Have The Right Signature? Part 1

          Louisville, Kentucky contains one of the great monuments to the history of baseball. It is the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum. One exhibit that has been posted there is called Safe at Home. It is an exhibit that showcases 32 historic baseball contracts signed by the game's greatest, including Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson.  These contracts are between the players and the Louisville Slugger Company.  Louisville Slugger, which is a 120-year-old company, was the first baseball bat company to have professional baseball players endorse their product – beginning with Honus Wagner in 1905.  From there, players would sign contracts, have their names put on bats, and endorse the bats to others for Louisville Slugger. 

            Bill Williams, the museum’s director, says this about the contracts.              “The contracts, were missing from Hillerich & Bradsby Co. for 15 years, and were discovered in 1999 with a noted East Coast baseball collector and historian. The documents are now safe at home in Louisville. Each of these documents is a piece of baseball history. Every page tells a story.  And the stories behind each contract are as individual as the signatures themselves.  "It's the real-life tale of an Oklahoma teen who was too young to sign his own contract, so his father, E.C. Mantle, signed on his behalf," explained Williams. "And, it's the story of a 27-year-old Negro League veteran, making an unprecedented leap to the all-white Major Leagues. Who would have thought that these players were making history when they signed these documents?"

             The value of this exhibit was not so much the contracts themselves, but the famous, original signatures on the contracts. The original signatures of baseball’s best turned the contracts from legal docs into collectors’ items. The right signature can completely change an item, organization, or institution. It is true for the church of Jesus Christ. In the same way that a signature transformed those simple legal contracts into valuable collector’s items, the Holy Spirit’s signature on the church makes it unique to all other institutions in the world.  When a local church is filled with the Holy Spirit, there is a clear signature of His power and presence.

            In Acts 2, after God sent back His Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter and the other eleven disciples stood.

          Peter preached, and at the end of his sermon over 3,000 people were saved.  Once these were saved the church began.  What did the church do and how did it look with all of these new converts and the signature of the Holy Spirit?

            Consider Acts 2:42 & 46,

            “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

            “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,

            Each piece of the first church that was part of glorifying God and discipling believers was done regularly. What may be the key that unlocked the rest of the spirit-filled components of that early church was the regularity with which each act was accomplished as Acts 2:42a recounts “And they continued steadfastly..” .

            The effectiveness of the early church – and of any church today – is not what happens one day, one week, or one month but what takes place over a long, consistent period of time.

            This is also true of each born-again believer. If you are depending on one Bible study, one week of church involvement, or one great, spiritual experience to grow you or keep you in intimacy with Christ, you will be sorely disappointed. Consistency, in a daily walk with Christ and in fellowship in a local body is the key

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