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What does a Spirit-Filled Church look like?

3 months ago

In this week's ReSource blog, Revd Eleanor Jeans explores the question of what a a Spirit-Filled Church looks like.

What does a Spirit-Filled Church look like?

Acts 2:42-47

I often wonder what it must have been like to be part of the early church in the days after God moved so powerfully in Jerusalem at Pentecost. To have seen 3000 people coming to faith in Jesus in one day, to witness the sights and sounds of the Spirit of God propelling his disciples out onto the streets, to then keep going and ask ‘what next’.

The first thing we read after Peter’s sermon that day, is a description of what ‘what next’ looked like.  This is a description of a Spirit-filled church;  a church characterised by devotion.

I want to draw out four ways this Spirit-filled church is devoted in these verses and what that might say to us today, where times are different, but Jesus is the same!

The Word

This Spirit-filled church were devoted to the word, to the apostles’ teaching, as it is described in this passage.  The apostles would have been teaching the words of Jesus, in the power of the Spirit to those who gathered together. Later generations would have the New Testament scriptures written down.  They were devoted to the apostles’ teaching - they gave their all to it. 
I have to admit that I read these words at times and feel embarrassed by my lack of devotion. I find myself playing ‘Wordle’ instead being devoted to ‘The Word’. How many in our churches read God’s Word frequently? How many never read the Bible outside a church service. Let’s pray that there is a growth in passion and devotion to God’s Word amongst his people.

Alongside teaching, however, we are told in this passage that the apostles also performed many signs and wonders (vs 43).  This is a reminder that Word and Spirit go hand in hand. To be devoted to the Word is also to be filled with awe at the work of the Spirit. The work of the Spirit points us to the Word.

Wouldn’t that be a wonderful reality for us all?

Secondly, this Spirit-filled church were devoted to 

One another

They were devoted to fellowship, to the common life. They had everything in common and were together (vs 44). They met together every day!  There was a practical part to this Spirit-filled church.

Fellowship can be a bit of a churchy word.  I sometimes hear the word fellowship and my mind is taken to turquoise china cups and quiche! But when we look at the word translated here as fellowship elsewhere in scripture, we find it translated as sharing, participation, contribution. It is about generosity and in the light of these verses in Acts 2, it is alive, it is active, it is beautiful!  It is about being part of the body of Christ to such an extent that it impacts every aspect of our lives. 

During the Pandemic, the church was scattered and we found many ways to devote ourselves to fellowship, but we found it so hard not to be physically with one another. Some are still in that place.  How might your church show this devotion to one another. Remember that they ALL devoted themselves. It wasn’t just a select few!

Thirdly, this Spirit-filled church were devoted to

Worship

It wasn’t that they just sang a couple of songs together! They devoted themselves, they met daily in the temple courts, the very place of worship. They met in their homes and broke bread together, being thankful for all that Jesus had done for them.  They devoted themselves to prayer,  they praised God and were filled with awe.

I love worship, but so often I squash it into one aspect of what it means to worship. I give my all as I sing songs with others, but do I devote myself to worship in other ways?  Do I see worship as too much of an individual expression? There is a place for that of course, but is it not also clear in this passage that worship is corporate? It is about being with others, building each other up, praying together, eating together, sharing lives. 

Maybe it would be better rather than to separate worship and one another, to see worship and fellowship as part of the same thing? I’ve just started a new job and one of my areas of responsibility is ‘worship’. I wonder how that might look in a Spirit-filled church like the Acts 2 church?

Finally, this Spirit-filled church were devoted to 

Witness

They didn’t keep Jesus to themselves! The LORD added to their number each day. Each day - imagine if that were the case in your church?

They enjoyed the favour of all the people!  The Message puts it like this: ‘people in general liked what they saw’ . I wonder do people like what they see in us?  Do they like what they see in our churches? 

Remember, however, it was the LORD who did it!   They didn’t have specialist evangelists, they weren’t leaving it to a few people, although there will have been those who had the Spiritual gift of evangelism of course – the Lord added to their number daily. How much did their devotion impact that?

A Spirit-filled church is devoted, to word, one another, worship and witness.

I believe there is a call for all of us, whoever we are, to become more devoted to God and to one another, to worship, to the word, to witness.

Because, after all, God is totally devoted to us – to you!  He is completely devoted to you.

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