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THE SILENT WAR IN THE CHURCH

A Winnable War We Must Not Ignore.

by Larry Cory

 

THE SILENT WAR IN THE CHURCH
PART 18a
WHEN THE CHURCH IS WINNING
(ACTS 2:42-47)

What does it look like when the church and a local church is winning
in this silent war?

     Certainly, we can expect that the Bible provides us with the answer to this question.  Though the whole New Testament could be used to answer this question, I will limit myself primarily to two sections of the New Testament: Acts 2:42-47 and Ephesians 3:14-4:16.
     What is described in these two sections can be viewed as a "pie in the sky" and a fantasy view of the church—something that can never be accomplished.  A perfect marriage can also be a goal that no one can experience.  But should we who are married not make it our goal?  As God has given us a picture in Ephesians of what a perfect marriage will be like (see Eph. 5:22-33); so he also has given us a description in 3:14-4:16 of what a perfect church will look like.  We may never experience a perfect marriage, but it should be our goal.  So, we will never experience a perfect church on earth, but it should be our goal.  And, if we are growing and becoming more like what is described in Acts 2:42-47 and Ephesians 3:14-4:16, we will be winning the silent war!

The church Jesus' disciples started (Acts 2:42-47):

     The church described in these verses is the product of Jesus' discipleship effort with His closest disciples.  It is not surprising, then, that our churches fall short of the church that Jesus Himself built.  But, it can provide us with the standard by which each local church and the church at large can measure itself by.  Let's look at what this earliest church was like.  And, from this church, we will discover what we should also strive to be like.
     "They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he 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." (Acts 2:42-47)
     First of all, we learn that they were "devoted" "to the apostles' teaching."  What would that look like in our modern-day churches?  Those who are fully convinced that the greatest treasure in life is to get to know God, are also those who diligently and enthusiastically seek after that treasure above all.  They will be wholehearted in their pursuit of being more fully united with God and His kingdom.  And a primary way they can get to know God is by wholeheartedly seeking to understanding the Bible.  Jesus used the parable of the hidden treasure and the parable of the pearl to illustrate what this wholehearted pursuit of His kingdom looks like.  Just like the two men in these two parables saw that the treasure and the pearl were of such great value that they sold all to buy them, so when we see Jesus' kingdom as being the greatest treasure we can attain in this life, we also will be willing to sell all to be a part of it. (see Matthew 13:44-46)  We will forsake all of our worldly pursuits so we can fully gain His kingdom.  This early church that Jesus' disciples started knew that this was true, and they were continually devoted to the "apostles' teaching."  From my days in the military, we would say that they were totally gung ho about learning the Bible.
     It has been my observation over the years, that there are some who are highly and obviously motivated to understand the Bible.  They eagerly read Christian books that will give them a better understanding of God, His ways, and His wisdom.  For example, I lent out books by the box load to one young man.  A young lady college student who had just become a Christian was visibly eager to know God as she enthusiastically asked me questions in a Sunday School class.  Recently, a young man wrote down the titles of books that I mentioned, to add to his reading list.  And that has not just been true of young people.  I have met many older Christians who have an insatiable hunger to understand the Bible better.  An older Christian friend who is now with the Lord read through the Bible every year for decades.  This early church was filled with Christians with this type of hunger for the Bible.
     Can the church ever be what God wants it to be if we in the church are lukewarm toward the Bible?  The Greek word translated "devoted" is in the present tense and means that they were continually "devoted" to seeking to understand the "apostles' teaching."  We would say that they were wholehearted and deeply hungry to understand God's word.
     Next, we learn that they were "devoted" "to the fellowship."  "Fellowship" is the Greek word koinonia.  The meaning of this Greek word tells us that they were continually coming together because of what they had in common.  Football fans share enthusiastically what they have in common when they fill the football stadiums where their favorite team is playing.  They also share enthusiastically about what happened at the last game when they spend time with each other.  Christians who recognize that they share the most important commonality of all with other Christians, love to be with them.  And they love to share with each other what is taking place in their walk with God.  They seek out this type of fellowship as a very high priority in their lives.
     Both their "devotion" to the "apostles' teaching" and their "devotion" "to the fellowship" were not half-hearted, but wholehearted.  This church was wholeheartedly enthusiastic about learning God's word and about being together with their fellow Christians.  Is there any reason why we should be any less enthusiastic today?
     They were also "devoted" "to the breaking of bread."  This "breaking of bread" may refer to eating together or to sharing the Lord's Supper together.  Also, it may refer to a meal that included both eating together and sharing the Lord's Supper at that meal—a love feast.  They were, then, "devoted" to a type of fellowship that centered in eating together and sharing the Lord' Supper with each other.  The Lord's Supper symbolizes Jesus' death that paid the penalty for our sins.  The focus of their united faith was on what Jesus did for each of them on the cross.
     Finally, they "devoted" themselves "to prayer."  When we see the word "devoted," it pictures something we do as Christians that requires a concerted and continual choice to make it a high priority in our lives.  We will not get around to praying unless we make a concerted and continued choice to set apart times to pray—both individually and with a group.  "Devoted" also describes a love-motivated type of discipline.  They loved to gather together in prayer.   
     The book of Acts records that the early church did have a pattern of being "devoted" to praying together in this way:

So, we are winning in the silent war when there is a continual devotion to Christian-based fellowship and when the church is continually devoted to prayer.
     Another characteristic of the Acts 2 church was that there was a voluntary and love-based sharing of property and possessions.  This early church took care of those in need who were a part of the church in Jerusalem.
     Then we learn that they met in both a large group "in the temple courts" and in small groups in "homes."  They met in a large group which served to encourage them that they were not alone in their faith in Jesus Christ.  They were not alone in their faith in Jesus because each week they joined together with thousands of His devoted followers.  They also met in small groups in homes where they got to know each other individually and developed close personal relationships.  Certainly, this pattern of meeting in both large groups and small groups is a pattern that we should follow today.  Though in some parts of the world, due to persecution, they can only meet in small groups.
     Because of the genuineness of their walk with God, God and others favored them and the church in Jerusalem grew daily.  "And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."  God also blessed them with miracles.
     This first church of Jerusalem provides us with a goal for what we should want our modern-day church and churches to be like.  Our churches should be devoted and enthusiastic in the areas where the early church was devoted and enthusiastic.  We should be devoted to understanding the Bible.  Today, we have many more avenues open to us to learn the Bible—Sunday morning services where the Bible is taught; Sunday school classes, Bible studies, one-on-one discipling, and Bible studies are available on the internet.  We are to seek to be devoted to fellowship: in small groups, in one-on-one relationships, and in many other ways.  The modern-day church can emphasize the large group meeting and look on the small group meetings and relationships as extra credit.  The early church, though, emphasized small groups and relationships.  So we also should emphasize groups that develop relationships.  They were devoted to prayer.  Their prayer meetings were not the smallest meeting in the church.  Do we want God's will done as much as they did?  Then we will also emphasize prayer.

The Silent War In The Church

Table of Contents and Brief Intro Table of Contents
Introduction Introduction
The Silent War Inside our Churches - Part 1 Part 1a
The Silent War Inside our Churches - Part 2 Part 1b
The Silent War between Churches Part 2
The Silent War with Satan and his Demons Part 3
The Silent War can be Won by God's Love in us Part 4
The Silent War can be like the Wars in the World Part 5
The Silent War between a False and Coerced Unity and a True Unity Part 6
An Essential Requirement Needed for Ending the Silent War Between Christians Part 7
The Silent War Caused by Turning the Church into the Kingdom of Man and not the Kingdom of God Part 8
The Silent War inside of Each Christian Part 9
The Silent War in the Church with the World Part 10
The Silent War Over Divisive Issues Part 11
The Silent War caused by a Mysterious Invading Army Part 12
The Silent War Caused by Seeking Worldly Success Part 13
The Silent War Always Results in Persecution Part 14
The Silent War Caused when Godly People Divide Part 15
The Silent War Caused when Godly People Cause Divisions Part 16
The Silent War Caused by the Church or a Church Dividing over an Important Issue Part 17
When the Church is Winning - Part 1 Part 18a
When the Church is Winning - Part 2 Part 18a
The Bible's Description of Victorious Soldiers in the Silent War Part 19
How Victory in the Silent War can Lead to Revival in the Church Part 20
Conclusion Conclusion
Addendum: The Silent War caused by "the onlys" "The Onlys"
Addendum: A Pastor's Authority by Ray Stedman A Pastor's Authority
Addendum: Galatians 6:1-3 (my commentary on these verses) Galatians 6:1-3
Addendum: John Wesley's sermon at George Whitefield's funeral George Whitefield