Friday, January 20, 2017
This past week during our Bible Study, a short excerpt came up from Anne Ortland's book, Discipling One Another. I've often talked about what I call the four pillars of discipleship, those four things that I think every Christian ought to be doing. Anne has summed them up well...
What kind of life did those first Christians live? When they were together, they devoted themselves to four things. John Calvin wrote in his Institutes: “We must endeavor to keep and preserve this order, if we will be judged faithful to the church before God and the angels.”First, they gave themselves to “the apostles’ teaching.” That was everything the apostles had seen Jesus do and heard him say. Eventually they got it all written down; now we call it the New Testament. Our equivalent today of the “apostles’ teaching” would be Bible study.Second, they devoted themselves to the fellowship. That was simply being together for the joy of being together. Why draw your stimuli for life, they must have been thinking, from non-Christians who have nothing to contribute, when you could be absorbing more and more of the life of Christ from within your Christian friends? This was no deliberate cut-off from worldlings to be exclusive. Their fellowship was the strong base from which they reached out to others. But there was far more power for evangelism in this close-knit community than we find today—we, whose spirits are diluted by so much exposure to the world—even though we may say it’s to win them for Christ!Third, they devoted themselves to breaking bread together. I’m sure this meant Communion, but I think it meant other meals, too…Number four ingredient in their new life together: “the prayers.” That’s right, the Greek has the article the in front of it, and it’s the same word as in Acts 3:1: “One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of the prayers.” In other words, “the prayers” were the stated times for worship at the temple, and all believers went together…No doubt a lot of former activities had to go, for the early Christians. They “eliminated” and they “concentrated” to these four things.Friends, let’s check our lifestyles. Have we eliminated a lot of clutter from our lives so that we, and the ones around us who want to go hard after God, can give ourselves to Bible study, to fellowship, to eating together, and to the regular services of the church?
(from Discipling One Another
By Anne Ortland)