I have been reading Acts recently and asked our dear friend John Beaumont about this statement in Acts 2.
Q: In Acts 2:42 …they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching… Would you say this statement relates more to the devotion of walking inwhat they heard as opposed to actually sitting and listening to the apostles teaching? Some would use this verse to justify meeting centred church life and more and more preaching!!!
The apostle’s teaching was unique in that these men were able to share the Lord’s heart and mind having experienced life with/in Him first hand as no one has since. I have no doubt that in the early church people devoted themselves to living out what the apostles taught. Jesus’ teaching was ‘teaching to do’ as shown in “He who does these sayings of Mine.” So should teaching today! Meeting centred church life makes it very difficult indeed – if not impossible – for today’s believers to devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching.
I have no doubt whatever that if an early church leader met some of today’s bunch, and heard their theoretical, cerebral, humanistic, and yet humanly impressive ‘teaching’ they’d be absolutely flabbergasted. Just maybe they’d even tell them that their style of teaching fitted better into a Greek temple than a gathering of believers! Without doubt alarm bells would ring in the spirits of these men from back then as they realized that today’s teaching undermines the simplicity that there is in Christ, detracts from the simple, clear, holy, God-glorifying path Christ has called us to walk, and tragically turns multitudes away from the life of trust in God that leads to eternal life.
I strongly believe that last statement and am convinced that cold analytical, theoretical teaching from leaders who are not walking the Calvary Road in very truth, discourages ever so many precious believers, turns many away from a beautifully simply walk with the Lord and causing some to abandon and make shipwreck of their faith – and this even though the teaching may be considered biblical, evangelical and orthodox! “Surely this kind of teaching can be described as ‘the letter of the law’ that kills.” In such a case, who deserves the greater condemnation?
This morning I read a quote from Jonathan Edwards:
“Once I rode out into the woods for my health. Having alighted from my horse in a retired place as my manner commonly had been, to walk for divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view – that was for me extraordinary- of the glory of the Son of God. As near as I can judge, this continued about an hour; and kept me the greater part of the time in a flood of tears and weeping aloud. I felt an ardency of soul to be – what I know not otherwise how to express – emptied and annihilated; to love Him with a holy and pure love; to serve and follow Him; to be perfectly sanctified, and made pure with a divine and heavenly purity.”
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been at a hospital clinic several times. I notice some folk in places like that get a bit ‘testy’ and unhappy with delays and so on – possibly heightened by apprehension of some medical procedure or other. A part of my living in God’s peace enables me to say something like, “I’ll fit in with whatever you want. I’m a nobody. If it would be easier for you if I came back at a different time I’m happy with that.” It’s fun to see a medic’s reaction to that! Maybe it’s the kind of attitude that a Christian leader should express to the Lord from time to time, as long as they are thoroughly sincere about it and not simply honing their skills of hypocrisy.
The glory of God is at stake, isn’t it, and He is brought into disrepute, wherever and whenever Scriptural truth is taught and proclaimed in a theoretical manner by teachers and leaders with proud, unsanctified hearts.