Acts The Church and Ministerial Training

Kaitiaki's picture

Basically this is just a "what do we learn about the Church from Acts?" thread. As we watch Paul and Barnabas and then Paul and Silas building the Church in Acts, what can we learn about their concept of the Church as a whole? Robert suggested my original plan was too cumbersome so asked me to create new threads.

Thread Moderator: Kaitiaki

There are two aspects to this thread: the training of the local congregation (for the work of ministry - as in Ephesians) and the theological training of ministers (or pastors).

Acts shows us local congregations that trained young men (and women) for every appropriate aspect of Church work. That included the work of ministry and missions. Discuss this statement. Do you think it is valid? What implications (if any) are there for the present system in almost every denomination of sending young men to a seminary to be trained? How does your Church seek to apply those implications in the way they train ministers and missionaries?

CLARK E. WADE's picture

Taking our bible studies to greater heights through prayer

Dear sister Connie,

I appreciate your replies and your love of the bible. I too love the scriptures. They are a living oracle of our living Lord, as Jesus said, "the Words I speak to you are spirit and they are life." Jesus also cried out to the Pharisees saying:

"You search the scriptures for IN THEM you think you have eternal life and you won't come to me for that life."
What I was trying to point out is that much of our bible studies are merely academic if they don't lead us to Jesus, to fellowship and communion with HIM.

We have made the bible into a human-centered book. It's all about us and our needs. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus opened the scriptures and showed them all things "concerning Himself."

One of my favorite passages regarding the church is found in Ephesians 3:10, which says this:

"[God's Eternal Purpose is] that through the church the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere."

Many of us in the evangelical-Protestant community seem to have a failure of imagination when it comes to this infinite variety in expressing the many-sided wisdom of God. And this holds true for many of our bible studies as well. Typically, there is one individual who is in charge and through whom most of the study comes through. We will often open it by prayer and then close it by prayer. Pretty rote stuff. So, how can we go beyond, or higher than the typical bible study? I think a key passage to the way we are to handle the Word of God in a living, vibrant way can be found in Ephesians 6:16-18:

"...above all, having taken up the shield of the faith, in which ye shall be able all the fiery darts of the evil one to quench, and the helmet of the salvation receive, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the saying of God, THROUGH ALL PRAYER AND SUPPLICATION PRAYING AT ALL TIMES IN THE SPIRIT, and in regard to this same, watching in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints --"

Another translation says we are to receive the Sword of the Spirit "by the means of or through the instrument of prayer."

The scriptures are alive, breathing, and living. Through the scriptures, our Lord seeks dialogue and communion with us. If we merely read the scriptures in an academic way, we lose out on fellowship with Him in the community of the saints.

So, how can we do this in a living way that can express the multi-splendored wisdom of God that goes beyond bible study?
This is just one suggestion how we can handle the scripture through prayer.

We first must know that our Lord seeks our communion with Him through His Words. If we are reading His Word with a group of saints and if each saint responds to those Words with His spirit, the inner-man, through prayer and communion with Christ, I guarantee you that you will see the manifold wisdom of God being expressed in its infinite variety and you will simply marvel and glory in the goodness of our God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Throughout scripture, if we slow down in our reading, we will notice many invitations to enter into fellowship with Christ through our reading. Oh the opportunities that we often miss in not responding as the scriptures admonish us to. There are so many, but here are a few:
Hebrews 10:19-22:

"Therefore, brethren, since we have full freedom and confidence to enter into the Holy of Holies in the blood of Jesus, by this fresh and living way which He initiated and dedicated and opened for us through the separating curtain, that is, through His flesh, And since we have [such] a great and wonderful and noble Priest [Who rules] over the house of God, LET US ALL COME FORWARD AND DRAW NEAR with true (honest and sincere) hearts..."

Do you see the invitation? Now if each brother or sister goes around the room and prays this passage about "entering in-to the Holy of Holies in the blood of Jesus" this becomes a living dialogue with the scriptures that is higher than taking in information about entering in. We actually enter in by the exercise of our spirits in communion with the scriptures, His word to us to enter in.
If you read this entire passage in Hebrews, you will find several more phrases that begin with "let us."

"Let us all come forward and draw near" v. 22

"Let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering" v.23

"And let us consider and give attentive care to be watching over one another" v. 24

Each one is an invitation to respond to the Word, to handle the Word, as Ephesians tells us to, through the instrumentality of prayer.

Acts 21:20 says this:
"And upon hearing it, they adored and exalted and praised and thanked God..."

Each time we come to the Word and we hear something wonderful, we are invited to respond by prayer, adoration, exaltation, praises, and thanksgiving.

Romans 5:2:
"Let us rejoice and exult in hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God!"

Another invitation. If this is read with a group of believers, then we can pause in our reading, weigh what is being said and respond to the invitation to "rejoice and exult in hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God."

Romans 5:10-11:
"While enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, we rejoice and exultingly glory in God through Whom we have now received and enjoy our reconciliation."
Imagine the joy and exuberant rejoicing that can be expressed through reading this passage in a living way with the saints as each one expresses their gratitude to being reconciled to God as one's called to enjoy that reconciliation together with the saints.

There's another passage that's real interesting in I Cor. 14:16 that says this:

"...otherwise, if you bless and render thanks, can others say Amen!"

The Corinthians church was hung-up on speaking in tongues and Paul is talking about the importance of "blessing and rendering thanks" in the congregation so that it could be understood. I think if we are handling scripture through prayer, through this living way, there will be much blessing and rendering thanks to which the other saints can say "Amen!" This seemed to be a dominant characteristic of the early church, one that we would do well to emulate in our own gatherings together.

Ephesians 5:19-20 says this:
"Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, at all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father."

Again, another invitation, and really a charge, to handle scripture, in this case Psalms,and hymns and spiritual songs" in a living, prayerful way "offering praise with thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father."

Another passage that is similar is this one in Colossians 3:15-16:

"Be thankful, appreciative, giving praises to God always. Let the word, Christ, have its home in your hearts and dwelling in you in all its richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs making melody to God with His grace in your hearts."

So we see here the scriptures, and the living Word, Jesus Christ, being handled in a living way through prayer and thanksgiving as we "teach and admonish and train one another in all insight..."

Colossians 3:17:
"Whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in His name--giving praises to God the Father through Christ..."

One of the subjects we are studying here in this group is how Paul equipped the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:12)

"...His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ's body (the church)..."

This is God intention for the church, that the saints do the work of the ministry toward building up Christ's body..."

Connie, I do not accept the division of clergy and laity. All of us are like ministers in the body of Christ, called and charged by God to build up His body in face-to-face meetings, each with our own place and function. Some of the passages I cited here are "equipping" passages given to the saints to learn how to build up the body as ministers of Christ and co-partners, co-participants with Christ. My passion is taking these passages VERY literally as God's intention for His church, and something we need to be practicing together as His saints, called to build up HIs body through "the manifestation of the Spirit given to each one of us..."

Blessings to you and all the saints here,

In Christ's love,