Is the church described in Acts 2:42-47 a “pie in the sky” version of the church that cannot happen in the world today? Please explain your answer.
My answer to discussion question #1 on Part 18a
It is possible today for the following reasons: (1) We have today the same resources that the early Christians had. The Holy Spirit also dwells in us. We also have the “apostles’ teaching.” (2) Both they lived and we live in a pagan world. All that is necessary is for us to also be devoted to the “apostles’ teaching,” “fellowship,” “prayer,’ and giving to each other in love. If we follow their pattern, we also will mature in our faith and in our walk with God as they did.
Discussion question #2 on The Silent War in the Church Part 18b
What can we do today so that we will have a church that is like the one described in Acts 2:42-47?
My answer to discussion question Part 18a
The early church met in large groups and small groups. Many today do not meet in small groups. Also, our modern church members are often not devoted to learning the bible, to Christian fellowship, to praying together, and to giving to each other in sacrificial love to the same degree the church of Acts 2:42-47 was devoted to these practices. This can change, but it requires that we wholeheartedly develop the same type of devotion that this early church had. We need to do some heart-searching to determine what needs to change in us so that we also will have their type of devotion to seeking God and his ways.
How do you believe critical issues that have the potential of dividing the church should be resolved?
My answer to question #1 Part 17
The church should seek God’s will on the matter by having the leadership lead the congregation toward discovering God’s will on the issue. Otherwise, it can become a power play as people unite on one side of the other, or the most politically powerful person or persons make the decision for the whole church.
Discussion question #2 on The Silent War in the Church Part 17
When is the issue fully resolved?
My answer to question #2 Part 17
The issue is resolved when the church as a whole are in agreement about what is God’s will on the matter. Certainly, not every single person in the early church in Jerusalem agreed the Gentiles did not need to be circumcised to be saved. But there was a church consensus that it was God’s will that they be saved by faith in God’s grace through Jesus’s death for them (Acts 15:22-35). So, we can seek to gain church consensus on what is God’s will on important controversial issues.
What are some issues through the years that caused divisions that godly Christians caused, where they were right in taking their stands?
My answer to discussion question Part 16
The following issues were the result of godly people taking a stand: salvation by grace, the inspiration of the Bible, the nature of God–the Trinity, Jesus being fully God and fully man, the virgin birth, the miracles in the Bible, an allegorical interpretation of the Bible, and more.
Can genuinely godly people divide from each other? Please explain your answer.
My answer to discussion question #1 Part 15
Paul and Barnabas were godly Christian leaders who had a sharp disagreement with each other. If they divided from each other (see Acts 15:36-39), godly Christians today can also divide from each other.
Discussion question #2 on The Silent War in the Church Part 15
When godly Christians divide from each other, what should they do about it?
My answer to discussion question #2 Part 15
Every attempt should be made to reconcile with each other. Paul and Barnabas divided from each other over whether or not Mark would be useful in the ministry after he abandoned them on their first missionary journal. In Paul’s last letter, II Timothy, Paul says these words: “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful in my ministry.” (II Tim. 4:11). It was also the same Mark who wrote the Gospel of Mark. So, God also found him useful in the ministry.
Discussion question #3 on The Silent War in the Church Part 15
What is it that godly people can divide over?
My answer discussion question #3 Part 15
In our vision of God’s work, we can be so focused on what is our area of ministry or on what is our area of spiritual-giftedness that we do not clearly see others’ vision of ministry or their area of spiritual-giftedness as being valid. And, so, godly Christians, like Paul and Barnabas, can also have sharp disagreements with each other. They should later, however, recognize their tunnel vision and accept others’ vision of ministry as also being valuable.
Why is it that everyone who seeks to live a godly life will be persecuted?
My answer to discussion question #1 Part 14
The person who wholeheartedly seeks to live a godly life will be a threat to the majority of people who are seeking some type of selfish goals. Eventually, there will be a clash. Paul had these clashes. Why do we think that it will be any different for us?
Discussion question #2 on The Silent War in the Church Part 14
If we know that it will always lead to persecution, why should we want to live a godly life?
My answer to discussion question #2 Part 14
There are basically two directions we can choose to focus on in our lives: on some type of ungodliness or on godliness. Godliness leads to a closer walk with God and to eternal rewards; and ungodliness leads away from God and to a loss of rewards as well as to God’s judgment. The choice is clearly and completely in favor of choosing godliness, though it will not be easy.
What is the evidence or evidences that a church is truly successful?
My answer to discussion question #2 Part 13
The first evidence that a church is truly successful is when there is growth in loving relationships as a result of that church’s ministry–growth in loving relationships with each other, growth in love toward those outside of the church, and growth in a loving relationship with God. The second evidence that a church is truly successful is that there will be growth in personal holiness in the people in the church.
When is a church truly successful?
My answer to discussion question #1 Part 13
A church’s success is not determined by growth in attendance, but by growth in the number of disciples and the presence of spiritual growth in their lives. Dynamic men can build church attendance, but only a dependence on God can build spiritual empowerment in people’s lives.
What are we to do when it is likely that there are non-Christians in the church who have different goals for the church and churches than are described in the Bible?
My answer to discussion question #3 Part 12
We need to realize that it is likely that there will be opposition to God’s goals for the church, so we need to persevere in God’s way as we pursue after His goals for His church–even as we encounter strong opposition (II Tim 4:2-5).
Do non-Christians have a similar effect on churches today?
My answer to discussion question #2 Part 12
If non-Christians created divisions in the early church, we can be certain they are causing divisions in the church today. Certainly, they are behind divisions in the church called cults, liberal churches; Roman Catholicism; emerging churches; and other divisions in the evangelical church and churches today.
According to the apostles Paul, Peter, and John, how significant a part do non-Christians have on creating divisions in the church or in churches?
My answer to question #1 Part 12
They can “cause divisions” (Rom. 16:17-18); they may start cults (I Jn. 2:18-19); and they can “distort the truth” (Acts 20:29-31)