The 2 Great Assumptions | Spirit Filled Community, pt. 1
We are going to explore the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives and Church. This material is from years of study of the Holy Ghost.
- 1st study: Wind, Fire, & Tongues: Elements of the Introduction to the Holy Spirit
- 2nd study: Catch the Spirit
Both of these studies outlined the role of the Holy Spirit (H.S.) in the life of the Believer.
However, I have grown in my understanding of the Spirit. I no longer just think of Him in terms of what He does in the life of a Believer. I also think of Him in terms of what He does in a Community of Faith – Spirit-Filled Community.
the 2 great assumptions
In the last few years, I have come to believe Two Great Assumptions about the Early Church.
The Early Church is Pentecostal. They enjoy the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. They know the Spirit well.
The Early Church is a Community of Faith rather than a collection of individual Believers. In our Western culture it is difficult to think in terms of community, because we are used to individualism and independence. Eastern cultures and the culture of the Early Church operate in terms of connection and interdependence. All were members of the joint Body of Christ.
The two great assumptions are supported by Romans 14.17: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. The whole idea of Christianity is summarized here by the group rather than the individual with the use of the term Kingdom of God. All the activity of the Kingdom of God is accomplished by the Church’s position in the H.S.
New Testament truths
I believe that the entire New Testament (N.T.) is written with these 2 truths/assumptions in mind, that they are givens.
The N.T. is written to Communities of Faith rather than to individuals. In other words, I am to take the promises of God and apply them to “we”, more than to “me.”
The N.T. is written to those who experienced the Baptism in the H.S. The readers would know who the H.S. is, and know Him well; both personally and as the Leader of the Church.
We follow the N.T. story, how the H.S. is introduced to the Disciples, the Church, and the World.
According to Romans 14.17
Paul wraps the words RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE and JOY in two important concepts, two laws or givens, two great assumptions:
I. THE CHURCH IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD
II. THE CHURCH IS PENTECOSTAL
I. THE CHURCH IS A VITAL PART OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD
the church is a community of faith, the active, earthly arm of – The Kingdom of God
Jesus and John the Baptist start preaching – Kingdom of God – something new and mysterious.
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 3.1-2)
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4.17)
Paul does not use the phrase Kingdom of God very often – he is intentional.
“Paul has very little to say about the kingdom of God in his epistles, probably because the kingdom (rule, reign) of God is active in this age primarily through the Holy Spirit. But the work of the Spirit in preparing for the coming age and in bringing in the coming age is very much in view.”
But what does the Kingdom of God mean? Kingdom, basileia (Greek): royal power, kingship, dominion, rule; not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom.
the Kingdom of God has little to do with land and more to do with the royal people
We see some hints of this in the prophecy of Jeremiah 31.33: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. Despite this, Israel seeks for the return of the physical kingdom. We do too, but Christ came to establish the Kingdom in the right place first. The Kingdom of God, the Law of God, is now written on our hearts. The world is changed, not from the outside in, but from the inside out. The Kingdom isn’t only a physical land but a group of people. Something, or rather Someone, is guiding them internally.
We see hints of this in Christ’s choice of words in Matthew 16.18: And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Church is the Greek term ekklesia. This is not a term that originates with Christ or the N.T. Ekklesia is a term firmly embedded in Greek language and culture. It means “gathering,” from root words meaning “called out.”
“The concept of ekklesia was especially prevalent in the capital city of Athens, where the political leaders were called together as a constitutional assembly as often as forty times a year.”
In Athens, the ekklesia is a gathering of voting citizens. Their function is to take the will of the Emperor and implement it.
Jesus calls the Church His ekklesia
This is His gathering, His called out ones. They function to implement the will of the King and Kingdom on Earth.
We see it as Paul is addressing community in Romans 14.17. This verse is set in the context of a communal debate over dietary issues.
“The point of the verse, however, is related Paul’s concern that we show love toward the weaker brother who might be caused to stumble by our freedom to eat or drink things he feels he cannot.”
The issue is the freedom I exercise in community.
Christians are a group rather than individuals, a powerful arm of the Kingdom of God: Romans 14.17.
This is the first of the two great assumptions.
II. THE CHURCH IS PENTECOSTAL
the Kingdom of God is in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14.17)
The Kingdom is significant because it operates under the direct influence of the H.S.
What does it mean to walk in the Spirit or to walk in the flesh? What does it mean to be Spirit-led and Spirit-controlled? These are terms many of us are familiar with. It doesn’t take much to imagine what they mean.
Can we really imagine what it means to live together in a Spirit-filled community?
“The Holy Spirit provided the warmth, the dynamic, and the joy that characterized the whole movement of the gospel in the first century. Every part of the daily life of the believers, including their work and worship, was dedicated to Christ Jesus as Lord and was under the direction of the Holy Spirit.”
What does it mean for an entire body of people to be Spirit led? The Early Church (E.C.) experiences, not just Spirit-led individuals, but whole communities.
the Spirit-filled community is a crucial part of the Kingdom of God
The E.C. is Pentecostal, enjoying the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The N.T. is written to those who have experienced the Baptism in the Holy Ghost. “The baptism in the Holy Spirit was the normal experience of all believers in New Testament times.”
The E.C. knows the H.S., both personally and as the Leader of the Church.
a prime example is Acts 15
The old Jews want the new Christians to adopt their ways, their laws, their religion. The headquarters Church of Jerusalem debates the issue. They put away the religion of the Jews and just enforce some basic guidelines.
For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; (Acts 15.28)
What does this mean? The H.S. Himself was directing their business meeting! Imagine?! Somewhere in the ethical decision-making process, they recognized the hand of the Holy Spirit and set principles in motion that affect us to this day.
They know the H.S. as a Person, a Guide in difficulties, and as the Leader of the Church.
“As a people they had decided to live under the direct rulership of the Spirit. They had rejected both human totalitarianism and anarchy . . . even rejected democracy, that is, majority rule. They had dared to live on the basis Spirit-rule; no fifty-one percent vote, no compromises, but Spirit-directed unity. And it worked.”
This is His Church!
the two great assumptions have to do with Pentecost and community
All activity of the Kingdom of God is accomplished by the E.C.’s position in the Holy Ghost. Righteousness, and peace, and joy are only found in a Church that is found in the Holy Ghost.
The Kingdom of God is truly a Spirit-Filled Community!
pic credit: jaefrench | 01.03.17 | pixabay
For more writings on the Kingdom of God CLICK
- Stanley M. Horton, What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit, Rev. ed. (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 2005), 194.
- Michael L. Dusing, “The New Testament Church,” in ed. Stanley M. Horton, Systematic Theology (Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 2002), 526.
- Horton, 195.
- Ibid., 11.
- Ibid., 239.
- Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (New York: HarperCollins, 1998), 178-179.