"Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: 'Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say [...] God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.'
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.'"
Acts 2:14, 36-41
The Church is the community of people who believe and live as if everything has been changed by Jesus of Nazareth. We believe the whole world is different because in Jesus' life, death and resurrection, God has begun to reconcile the whole world to Himself. "The one we crucified, God made the Lord of all creation."
The Gospel, or the "Good News" is the announcement of Jesus' radical disruption. It is the message that the church lives and breathes. It proclaims the change that's taken place in Jesus and it celebrates the new life of His Kingdom.
The next few posts titled "Disciples Together" is a collection of posts culled from a sermon series here at AEC titled "Disciples Together." In these coming posts, we'll explore the contours of this Gospel and the life the church has been called into because of it.
This first post, looks at the above text from Acts 2 as an introduction to the series. We're taking a look at the dynamics of this Gospel that has born us to new life and the Community we call the Church in which the life of this Gospel is fleshed out.
THE GOSPEL BIRTHS DISCIPLES
In Acts 2, we have a description of the way the community of Jesus we call the church took off in the 1st Century. It began with a group of disciples who were moved by the Spirit of God to share a story. They announced that, because of Jesus' resurrection, God had made this crucified Jewish man from Nazareth the Lord (King) of the whole world.
This proclamation about Jesus bears disciples. The announcement that Jesus is Lord invites investigation, questioning and response. It is by this Gospel that disciples are born and it is in this Gospel that disciples are grown. It produces a following.
DISCIPLES MATURE IN A COMMUNITY OF OTHER DISCIPLES PRACTICING LIFE TOGETHER
The life of this Gospel however, is not concluded in a decision, rather it is lived out in the dynamics of life. Disciples grow in the living out of this Good News, as they do life with others. If you notice the follow up to the scene described above in Acts 2, there is a record of the earliest Christians leaning into the change they believe has taken place in Jesus Christ ...
"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
So the Gospel, is embraced by an individual but lived out in the community of disciples we have come to call the Church. We grow in this Gospel by practicing the new way of King Jesus together. The way we set down deep roots in this Gospel is through life in a community.
THE SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GOSPEL AND COMMUNITY
So, we have this dynamic back and forth between Church and Gospel. The relationship is symbiotic. Each feeds off one another.
The Gospel requires a community that embodies and lives out its message in the world, but that community doesn’t exist without the Gospel that creates disciples. The Gospel takes root in a community but the community doesn’t exist without the Gospel.
So we have this sort of dance the church is always doing between proclamation and practice -- between Word and deed. We're always in need of hearing and rehearing the Gospel that calls us into being so that our life together is life under King Jesus and no other! That's why the church regularly meets every Sunday, because our faithfulness and allegiance is always in need of being tuned towards the Kingdom of God.
The Gospel and community feed of one another and set down deep discipleship roots.
This Gospel has made us disciples together and as followers of King Jesus we gather to embody the life of His Way. This is the Church. Our scene from Acts 2, names and gives meaning to our life together. Our aim is to set down deep roots in the Gospel and these roots grow deeper and deeper as we practice the life of the Gospel together in community!
In the coming posts, we'll look at some of the contours of the Gospel that call for our attention and invite us into the practice of God's Good News.