Church in all its Fullness

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Jesus said: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NIV)

During our “Life in all its fullness” series we learnt that being a Christian doesn’t mean that we’re moved out of the messiness of life and instead placed in some kind of religious bubble where nothing can ever hurt us. We move around in the world and the messiness sticks to us, just as readily as it does to anyone else. The Coronavirus pandemic is a stark reminder of that – it’s affected everyone without exception.
Yet, I do hope that we have also learnt that knowing “life in all its fullness” will enable us to live fully as God intended as we integrate everything with His ways. We can do that because when we know Jesus, we are transformed into a renewed life. Yes, still affected by many challenges, but now living with hope as we keep moving around in the world as witnesses of Jesus.
Notice that… “living with hope as we keep moving around in the world as witness of Jesus”! That’s what “being church” means. We are strengthened, empowered, supported, and encouraged by our BELONGING together, not in the sense of a protective “religious bubble”, but called to be GROWING together in Christlikeness, faith, and unity. We are then “Church in all its fullness” as we go about SERVING the Lord as His witnesses to all people, in all places.
What do we actually mean by that, and how does it compare today with what Jesus had in mind when He first called the church to be His “witnesses, to the ends of the earth”?
We need to be careful as we make comparisons because we live in a vastly different world to that of the early church who we read about in the book of Acts. The differences in cultural norms and expectations; the vast array of advances in technology, access to information and the ability to travel; social, political, religious, and economic structures – all of these things are so different in 2020 compared to the first century world of the early church.
BUT… there are fundamental building blocks that the early church was established and built on that need to inform and challenge our 21st century ways of doing and being church.
I heard it said recently that, “When we are in a stiller place, we have an opportunity to hear the voice of God more readily and more clearly, unhindered by other routines. The noise is toned down so we can hear, but what happens when the noise goes back up?”
Perhaps our current lockdown circumstances give us that “still place” to hear God more readily and clearly, so that as His church we can be best placed and ready for all that will be needed when the “noise goes back up” post-lockdown.
We’re going to do that over the coming weeks as we notice again the fundamental building blocks of the early church in Acts? We need to notice how a full embrace and total focus on those things will enabled us to be “church in all its fullness” in the way that the Lord needs us to be as we go about our purpose of “Offering the transforming love of Jesus Christ in the realities of life”.
As we do that together, we must guard ourselves against seeing this as an opportunity to negatively highlight the weaknesses of the church – our teaching series needs to be affirming and encouraging, whilst we approach it in a way that opens our hearts and minds to grow further into the fullness of the Lord’s plans and purposes for His church today.

A New Purpose.

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Acts 1:8, Acts 9:1-31; 1 Corinthians 12. We describe our purpose as Bromsgrove Baptist Church like this: “Offering the transforming love of Jesus Christ in the realities of life”. For that to be possible, we ourselves first need to be renewed and transformed, and then as we come together in unity we can live out […]

Called to be generous and giving.

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Acts 2:42-47; 4:23-37; Isaiah 58:1-14. The place of generous giving in the early church is one that we focus on so readily! One preacher (Paul Scanlon) describes the first three words of Acts 2:42 as “the three most powerful words ever written about the early church; at the same time they are perhaps the 3 […]

Called to enable belonging.

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Acts 1:37-41; 9; 1 Cor. 3, 5, 12:12-31 As the church in Acts began to move outwards, those who were convinced by their message wanted to know how they could belong. They listened to what the church said to them, accepted their words, believed, and were baptised. Huge numbers were added to the church and […]

Called to be present.

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Acts 5:12-39; Acts 8:1-8; Acts 17; Acts 25 We are called to be the presence of Jesus in the world around us, to serve the poor, the broken, the vulnerable and the lost (Acts 25). Whilst our Covid-19 lockdown has perhaps taught us new ways of staying connected with people, we also need to be […]

Established in power.

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Acts 2:1-41, Acts 4, 8, 10, 16. The scene in Acts 2 is one of a church that was growing and developing through the power of the Holy Spirit. That was completely intertwined for the early church with purpose, authority and prayer. The Holy Spirit holds everything together and the church is powerless without this […]

Rooted in prayer.

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Acts 1:12-26. We can’t ignore or fail to notice the central place of prayer in the early church – it’s mentioned in almost all of the 28 chapters in Acts! Justin Welby once stated that “When we are retuned in prayer we are transformed so that we can transform the world”. That’s the purpose and […]

Given a place and purpose.

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Acts 1:1-11, Acts 3-6, 8-10, 15, 28. Acts 1 and Acts 28 are like book ends for the whole theology of Acts. We need to notice that there were times of retreating to safety away from the threat of the world and times of house arrest (sounds like what we’re experiencing during lockdown!). Yet, God’s […]

Hope.

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2 Corinthians 4: Isaiah 58. We are moving from a series that we have been doing, “Life in all its Fullness”, where we had a look at John’s gospel and particularly about our own personal salvation and relationship with God and then beyond this week we will be looking at “Church in all its Fullness”, […]