Hugh Otter B. Devoted

Please read Acts 2:42-47.
(The “Otter” series – Part One)
Acts 2:42 THEY DEVOTED THEMSELVES TO THE APOSTLE’S TEACHING AND TO THE FELLOWSHIP, TO THE BREAKING OF BREAD AND TO PRAYER.
Thesis: You ought to be devoted to the truth.

TOP TEN WAYS YOU KNOW YOU’RE NOT IN THE RIGHT CHURCH
10. The church bus has gun racks.
9. The church staff consists of Senior Pastor, Associate Pastor and Socio-pastor.
8. The Bible they use is the “Dr. Seuss Version.”
7. There’s an ATM in the lobby.
6. The choir wears leather robes.
5. Worship services are B.Y.O.S.: “Bring Your Own Snake.”
4. No cover charge, but communion is a two-drink minimum.
3. Karaoke Worship Time.
2. Ushers ask, “Smoking or Non-smoking?”
1. The only song the organist knows is “Que Sera, Sera.”
(SOURCE: http://www.MikeysFunnies.com.)

What does it mean to be devoted?
It means to be excited – a fan – someone who invests time & emotion i/t object of their love. To be single-minded – focused on a solitary course. In the Greek language the writer Luke used, it is a word-picture of standing by a person’s side.
A better translation of the word is “steadfast;” the virtue of not quitting in the face of problems. This word is used on two other occasions in the book of Acts. In 1:14, as they awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit, the disciples were steadfast in prayer. In 6:4, instead of waiting tables, the Apostles declared their purpose to be focused on preaching the word and prayer.
Hebrews 12:2 does not use this word, but offers Jesus as an example of the One who showed us how it works; LET US FIX OUR EYES ON JESUS, THE AUTHOR AND PERFECTER OF OUR FAITH, WHO FOR THE JOY SET BEFORE HIM ENDURED THE CROSS, SCORNING ITS SHAME, AND SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE THRONE OF GOD.
To be devoted means to receive, retain, and react to the word of God.

Who were the Apostles?
Initially, this word referred to the Twelve; the twelve guys Jesus picked to train Himself (as directed by the Father). He trained them to carry His teachings to the world. This was entirely appropriate to the word’s meaning: “messengers; delegates; ambassadors.” Those are all positions of influence, but the authority rests on who sent them. Paul later joined the ranks of the Twelve because he met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9).
Later, the term designated church leaders. The qualifications for that title included being an eyewitnesses t/t life and resurrection of Jesus Christ; holding to doctrine consistent with the Twelve; evidencing the Spiritual Gifts of “Apostle” and “Miraculous Powers.”
The functions of the apostles in the First (century) Church included itinerant evangelism, servant leadership, founding new churches, and exercising discipline of false teaching and immorality. In Galatians 2:9 they are called “the pillars of the church;” in Ephesians 2:20,“the foundations of the church”

What did the Apostles teach?
They were primarily concerned about the words and deeds of Jesus. Their secondary concern was to show Him as the Messiah, the fulfillment of OT prophecy. They didn’t start out to create a systematic theology, but the need for an authoritative, standardized description of the truth emerged as false teachers began to threaten churches.
The teaching of the Apostles started out as an oral tradition. It was committed to writing in response to the following conditions: the leadership of the Holy Spirit; the circulation of copies of their letters (real and false) among the churches; the original Twelve began to die; the need for an objective and reproducible standard of truth; the Church grew in number and in geography; the need to establish a common identity; to provide a moral compass for daily life.
In summary, the historical process was that Jesus taught the Twelve and delegated His authority to them. The Twelve taught their churches what Jesus had taught them and delegated their authority to local leaders.
The local leaders were responsible to teach in line with the teaching they’d received, upholding the standard of truth. This sometimes required disciplining falsehood and failing faith. When claims to truth competed with the Apostle’s selected leaders, a written, objective instrument was needed to divide between truth and falsehood.
Voluntary submission to leadership is one bit of evidence of true conversion. That’s why they were devoted to the apostle’s teaching. This is important for us in our situation because our culture has completely individualized truth. Reality itself is up for grabs – the assumption is that each of us defines our own reality – that our individual perceptions have complete influence.
Rejection of authority and institutions is also part of this view. When it is applied to matters of faith, it runs directly opposite the view we’ve just described. Instead of receiving a faith that you inherit from preceding generations, people are encouraged to make up their own. Submission or conformity to external standards is seen as archaic, or worse, impinging on personal freedom.
This approach is appealing because it relieves the individual of responsibilities and excuses self-centeredness. There are at least three problems with this notion. One, it is FALSE. There is no reality or divine truth present in it. Two, it is WORTHLESS in the day of trouble; it provides little or no comfort for the troubles of this life, especially when one is dying. Three, it provides no salvation – death is the last word – there is no hope.
In a Turning Point daily devotional, David Jeremiah wrote: “According to the Guinness Book of Records, the smallest New Testament in the world can fit on your fingertip. It can be read with a powerful magnifying glass and is designed to be worn as a pendant or lapel pin.
“It’s all right to have verses at our fingertips, and there are great ways to display our love for Scripture; but remember, the best place for the Word of God is in our hearts and minds. It’s not about a ritual but a relationship.”
North America is the only continent on earth where Christianity is not growing.
* Only 17.5% of the population of the US attends church on a regular Sunday.
* 85% of churches in America are plateaued or declining.
* Only 12% of children raised in Bible Believing churches stay in the church after age 18.
* With our large population of unchurched individuals, we are the 4th largest mission field.
If this is all true, what can we do about it? For starters, we must devote ourselves to the apostle’s teaching.
(From a sermon by Davon Huss, “7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1,” 6/7/2010, retrieved from
http://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/sermon-illustration-sermon-central-staff-statistics-churchgrowth-76661.asp on July 3, 2014.)

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