Missions and Acts - the Message

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

As we study Acts is seems there is a clear difference between the way many Churches today preach the Gospel and the way it was done in Acts. Is this a reality we might ask or is it only an impression? Then too there is a difference in the content of Paul's sermon in Acts 17 when compared with Peter's in Acts 2. We look at the message preached in Acts and its implications for preaching today.

Does the preaching of Acts Chapter 2 (Peter's sermon at Pentecost) provide us with an example of the approach we should be taking with those who have a Judeo/Christian heritage (ie those who know and accept the Bible framework but who don't accept Jesus as the Messiah)? On this view, Acts 17 (Paul on Mars Hill) would provide us with an example of the approach to non-Christians who do not accept the Bible world-life view (and that includes the majority of today's society - those who accept the evolutionary view). What part, if any, do you think the Creation - Evolution debate has to play in Home missions work?

Yoshua Kostreba's picture

Development of the message

Hi Tom and whoever will read this
I have watched this conversation only from a distance and did not get involved because I run on a different group. Tom’s expressions of concern stirred up a need for a response which I hope might be helpful.
I think as evangelicals we have a tendency to view our approach to the New and Old Testaments as unique and in a way better than that of the catholic church. The difficulty we have, however, is that the New Testament scriptures have to be regarded as a selection of texts pretty much codified by the very same catholic church that we tend to distance ourselves from in one way or another. The fact that there seems to be a difference in progression and emphasis between the 4 (5; incl Acts) Gospels and the letters ascribed to mainly Paul, Peter and John, does raise the question if what we are confronted with is a more or less intentional selection process, undertaken by the early catholic church coloured by their need at the time and even today to have a resource that supports a certain understanding of Church.
Because this is not a new concern there have been extensive discussions even among protestants about the Codex for hundreds of years. Some more critical and recent scholars have even gone so far as to declare the whole of the New Testament a construct of the Early Church and the catholic church to justify their existence.
When we read the Evangelia and the Epistles we are without fail challenged to examine our faith as well as our intellect in order to find a way through this difficulty to engage with Jesus’ message and the message of Jesus. We are called upon to engage through prayer with the Holy Spirit as the ultimate Counsellor, while we have to humbly admit that when we are spoken to by the Spirit we find ourselves more often than not hard of hearing and selective about that which we take to heart.
I wonder, if putting “the message” (irrespective if presented as of or from Jesus) on a quasi equal footing as “the sermon”, is not just as problematic as emphasising institutional structures. The Jews fell into the trap of worshiping the Law rather than God, the catholic church seem to have fallen into the trap of worshiping tradition, and the protestants may well have fallen into the trap of worshiping the “word”. All three seem to have been viewed by the respective groups as something static. Yet throughout the Old Testament and also the New Testament we can see progression. Even in the life of Jesus we can detect progression in the way in which He understood his mission and destiny.
Perhaps there is a possibility to actually find a deeper understanding of the meaning of that progression, perhaps to the extent that it is more reflective of human nature and God’s way with us, than of some ultimate definition toward that which progression might lead us and which we so desperately wish to call the truth. We know by faith that Jesus is the truth, the life and the way. Everything else, including that which we have inherited as the Scriptures are mere descriptions of that truth, expressions of life and pointers to the way. If the sermon were to be the starting point of a wider exploration of the local church in word and deed, all the better. But it seems to me that sermons usually don’t work in that way. So I wonder if it is really all that fitting for the protestant church to emphasise it.
I hope this is helpful.