Lighting Up Your World
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
So far in our study of Scripture we see that God desires a relationship with people, that we need that relationship and that sin separates us from God. God takes the initiative to reestablish the relationship broken by sin, but people must agree with God about what is right and good and pursue the renovation of their thinking and desiring to match God’s will and ways. Jesus is the great reconciler with God. Jesus is the great light that shows us the way to live, the truth about life and God and as we follow His teachings, we find life and that more abundantly. The point of all of the Bible is to get people to follow Jesus Christ. This is not to say that Jesus abolishes the Old Testament, He does not, He fulfills it and He shows us the true purpose of the law is not to deserve righteousness, but to avoid death!
In the New Testament, we have the four gospels, then the book of Acts. They are all historical in nature. Then we have many different shorter letters, thirteen from the Apostle Paul, some from John, Peter, Jude and James and one that is uncertain as to authorship. Finally we have the Book of Revelation, a highly symbolic and stylized message of encouragement to the people of God who suffer while serving God in His kingdom. Today I want us to consider the book of Acts. And I want us to think about it as a response to the Death, Resurrection and teachings of Jesus Christ. We just finished looking at Jesus’ teachings, what next?
John says: 1 John 1: 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
Jesus came to be light and give light and life. John 1:4-5 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Jesus said in John 8:12 12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Light is understanding. Understanding about what? Understanding about life. Jesus tells us how we can have life! In a very real way Jesus came to give light to people so they would BECOME light!
Jesus said in Matthew 5: 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
We are the light of the world. Look around you today. You are the light of the world that you encounter. Your good works shine before others and they give glory to God in heaven. Just as Jesus’ did!
This is the transition to the rest of the New Testament in our study of the entire Bible. The followers of Jesus bring the light of God to the ends of the earth! This is why it was better that Jesus go and the Holy Spirit come!
Well, how does this work? How do we discover what works are the good works that God has prepared beforehand?
Read the passage
Let’s consider the birthing of the church. It happened on the day of Pentecost. What did the Holy Spirit prompt people to do that He filled with His power?
- Reflecting the Light of God
- Take on this responsibility
This is the same as being called a kingdom of priests! This is the same thing as saying we are helping people to follow Jesus Christ!
- We impact our efficiency to reflect light
Cleaning solar panels
Cleaning a mirror
Get aimed properly
- What are the tools for greater clarity?
Clear eyes, this is the goal. Matt 6! If your eyes are clear then you will see life from God’s perspective naturally. I think this is God’s will for us. We can ask God for special revelation, or we can just know. I think His general plan for us is to know His Word and His character through His word and then just do what He would want us to do.
- New Testament Disciplines that Sharpen Light
These are all things that the church did that would work to give us clear eyes to use the Matthew 6 analogy. The lamp of the body is the eye. If the eye is clear then the whole body will be full of light. God is shining on us, what helps us to reflect His light?
- The Apostles teaching
This is our New Testament. They were devoted to knowing what Jesus taught about life and light. They were devoted to building their lives on what Jesus taught. Jesus did not abolish the law and the prophets. Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. All can come to God through Him, and no one may come to God in any other way, because Jesus is God.
Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
- Devotion to the fellowship
This is a recognition of the corporate responsibility that we all share for one another. We are being hit really hard in this area, but we have choices that we can make. We can call one another. We can write to one another. We can show that it matters to us that we are connected to each other. And when we talk, we share the love of God and the Word of God with each other.
- Communion and corporate worship
The breaking of bread. This isn’t fellowship, although there is the element of fellowship with God that is shared corporately. This is the Bride of Christ together rehearsing the foundational elements of the gospel. Jesus has given Himself as a sacrifice to God for our sins. And this direction of His life in submissive sacrifice to God for others is our pathway to life as well. God inhabits the praises of His people. There is great encouragement in corporate worship.
- Devotion to prayer
Prayer for the purpose of communicating with God.
Prayer for the purpose of reflecting the image of God and the fruit of the Spirit instead of the fruit of the flesh.
Jesus prayed when He chose the 12, when John the Baptist was killed and when He was going to the cross. In each of these instances He prayed all night.
III. New Testament Service to Others
- Care for one another’s needs
Galatians 5: 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 6:6 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.
I Tim 5:3-16 discussion of widows. The individual is responsible to help themselves first. Then family is responsible to help family first. But if a person has no help then the church is to step in.
And the character of the person has an impact on whether or not the church helps them. The development of character will give a person life skills and relationships that will help one in a crisis!
II Thes 3:6-10
6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. 9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
- Corporate identity and responsibility
They sold their property to care for each other’s needs.
Interestingly enough Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for lying about this.
But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”
Old Testament practice of not gleaning the corners, not picking up what you drop, not harvesting 1/7th of the vineyards and orchards and not going back and getting the late fruit. All of this combines these two qualities of personal and corporate responsibility.
- Individual, familial and corporate responsibility reflect God
All of these together show how God works. But they have to work together.
8 He has shown you O man what is good and what the Lord requires of you, to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Do justly: personal responsibility
Love mercy: bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ
Walk humbly with God: Serve others because of God’s service to you. Extend mercy to others because God has extended mercy to you.