An Acts 2 Church - Commitment
An Acts 2 Church - Commitment "You, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead ... because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him." Jesus died on the cross bearing our sin. He then rose again to bring us life with God. We receive forgiveness and eternal life by grace through faith in Jesus. Having received this grace, this unearned favor, what does Jesus now expect of us? Jesus expects our commitment to Him as His disciples. Jesus called for this commitment before the cross. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus called to Peter and Andrew, "Come, follow me, ... and I will make you fishers of men." He was asking for a total life change, a new purpose in life, a new lifestyle, and a new identity. Jesus called them to follow Him. They could either obey or reject His call. In Matthew 16:24-26, Jesus clarified what He was requiring. "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" To follow Jesus you must deny self, repudiate living for self. And you must take up your cross, dying to self and to this world. Jesus gives us only two options. One is to try to save your life as it is and lose it all. The other is to lose your own life by trusting in Jesus and find your real life in Him. We are to be disciples, but what is a disciple? A disciple is both a learner and a follower of a master. It is not enough to be a student collecting facts and ideas. One must be a follower committed to the master, a loyal imitator of the master in attitude, behavior, and lifestyle, and ardent supporter and defender of the master and his teachings. Disciples of Jesus are to make more disciples of Jesus. According to Matthew 28:19-20, we do this by baptizing them, requiring a public act of commitment to His authority, and then teaching them everything Jesus has commanded us and to obey Him in all things, not just to know His teachings. Jesus continued to call for commitment after His resurrection. In Acts 1, He told His followers to wait until they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Commitment to Jesus always calls for obedience to Jesus. They obeyed their Master. They returned to Jerusalem and waited ten days, persisting in prayer. When Pentecost came, they were together, ready to receive the gift. Only then did they go out to be His witnesses. After the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on Pentecost, Jesus continued to call for commitment by His followers. Once Peter had completed his prophetic message, we read in Acts 2:37-38, "When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you.'" Jesus calls for repentance, to make the decision to turn from self to Christ, to choose to deny self and follow Jesus, to choose to fully commit to Him as Lord of all. He then calls each person to be baptized, to act in response to the authority of Jesus, to declare publicly that Jesus has forgiven one's sins, to declare publicly one's commitment to follow Jesus. There is a cost to this commitment. Listen to Acts 2:42: "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." They devoted themselves. This verb means to "adhere firmly to, persist in, remain devoted to" (CBL). The idea is to persevere in something over time. The Acts 2 church was characterized by a persistent commitment to follow Jesus. Four aspects of this are emphasized. They were committed to the apostles teaching, knowing and obeying the word of God, to the fellowship, meeting with His church with active participation, to the breaking of bread, participating at the Lord's table and in worship of Jesus, and to prayer, consistently spending time with God in prayer. Have you counted the cost of following Jesus? Dying to self and to this world to follow Jesus in all things Persevering in Bible study, prayer, fellowship, and worship Receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit and living as His witness Jesus left the glories of heaven, became human like us, and bore our sin to the cross. He paid the price to bring us eternal life in fellowship with the Father, free from guilt. He gives us salvation by grace, without our earning or deserving it. Have you received His salvation? Does your life show all the commitment Jesus now desires from you?