May/June 2011 - Vol. 50

..The Holy Spirit and a New Society
By Jerry Munk

Before He returned to heaven, Jesus Christ made a promise to His followers. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This promise was fulfilled shortly after his ascension: 
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled the house where they were sitting…and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). 
The lives of Christ’s disciples were transformed when they received the Holy Spirit. God gave them a new life and formed them into a new society. God’s people became a visible and united family of believers. They lived a common life: a life devoted to Jesus Christ. Because of their love for one another, the first Christians were able to convince others of the reality of the new life they had found in Jesus Christ. 
All who believed were together and had all things in common. They sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. Day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number those who were being saved (Acts 2:44-47).
Contemporary society
We have seen many societal changes in recent decades. Unfortunately, much of this change is in opposition to the way of life the Bible teaches Christians to live. Crime, dishonesty, abortion, broken marriages, drug abuse, the breakdown of neighborhoods, sexual promiscuity, and materialism have increased at an alarming rate. There is no way to measure the emotional, psychological, and spiritual damage that is being done. Many people lack purpose and have few lasting, supportive relationships – they especially lack relationships that will help them love Jesus Christ and live fully for him. 

Our modern society has placed tremendous pressure on the churches. Fewer and fewer Christians are able to stand firmly in the face of these challenges. Many simply adopt the values of the secular society in which they live. Vision for and experience of a full Christian life lived in the context of a tangible, loving community of God’s people have, for the most part, been lost by today’s Christians. 

Building Christian community
The Lord is actively working among Christians to restore among them the life He came to give. He is looking for men and women to be His disciples, to proclaim His Gospel, and to build His kingdom. Through the Holy Spirit, men and women can have a personal experience of God. They can receive power to dedicate themselves to Him and to live a life that glorifies Him. Only through the Holy Spirit can Christians respond fully to the commandment of Jesus Christ: "that you love one another as I have loved yo" (John 13:34). One result of this renewing work of the Holy Spirit is the building of Christian community. 

You are God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God’s people (1 Peter 2:9-10).
What is Christian community?
Christian community is created when people who have committed their lives to Jesus Christ agree to live for him and serve him together. In Christian community, God’s people share their whole lives with one another in an environment of love and mutual support: a new society – a new family – in which men, women, and children live for Jesus Christ and experience the abundant life that he came to give. People in community share their talents, their resources, and their day-to-day lives. They make a stable, long-term commitment (a commitment that is often life-long) to love and serve one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. They agree to work together in the mission God has given them to do. Single people, couples, and families find in Christian community an environment that helps them to grow in Jesus Christ and to live faithfully for him.

What Christian relationships ought to be
The Bible contains many instructions about how Christians ought to relate to one another. By looking at passages that contain the phrase “one another” we can begin to see what “normal” Christianity was intended to be. 

  • Serve one another (Galatians 5:13).
  • Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
  • Speak the truth in love to one another (Ephesians 4:15).
  • Teach one another (Colossians 3:16).
  • Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32).
  • Admonish one another (Romans 15:14).
  • Comfort and edify (build up) one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
  • Exhort one another (Hebrews 3:13).
  • Stir up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24).
  • Confess your trespasses to and pray for one another (James 5:16).
  • Be hospitable with one another (1 Peter 4:9).
  • Minister to one another the spiritual gifts you have received (1 Peter 4:10).
While these instructions are given to all Christians, very few Christians today have a tangible experience of this kind of personal, committed, and Christ-centered relationships. By living in community, members of The Sword of the Spirit are not trying to do something extraordinary, they are simply trying to live “normal Christianity:” a Biblical way of life.
(c) copyright 2011  The Sword of the Spirit
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