We are Devoted
As a kid who grew up 15 minutes from Norman and a huge fan of sports, I've always been interested in the University of Oklahoma sports teams (especially football and basketball). I'm one of those fans who loves more than watching the games. I like to keep up with every aspect of the program I can. One part of my fandom is keeping up with recruiting.
Recruiting is a major part of the success you have in collegiate sports. If you're going to win, you need talent. There's a direct correlation in collegiate sports between winning and the level of talent you bring in. What I find fascinating about recruiting is all of these grown men and colleges that are depending upon teenagers to be successful.
Trying to get a 17-year-old to make a commitment or a decision can be difficult. Trying to get that teenager to make a major life changing commitment is even harder.
Brent Venables is the current head coach of the OU football team, and he would tell you firsthand how difficult it can be to get a 17-year-old kid to commit to your program in a world where they have hundreds of people trying to persuade them. Coach Venables does something interesting in his recruiting efforts.
When recruits go own visits to the school, he gives all of the recruits they offer a poker chip. Inscribed on this poker chip are the words, "all in." He tells them to take their visits to other schools, talk to other coaches, enjoy the recruiting process. Don't commit to OU until you've done all of that and truly going to be committed. If the kid commits to OU, he turns in his "all in" poker chip.
When we immerse ourselves in Christ, we are essentially giving Him our all all in poker chip. Who we are entirely, we push it to the center of the table and go "all in" on being a disciple of Jesus.
Following Jesus is an "all-in" commitment.
Starting in Acts 2:42 we see the 3000 who obeyed the gospel go all in on Jesus and the life of being His disciple.
Notice the beginning statement of this passage; "And they devoted themselves…"
The idea is they were given over to Jesus and the life He called them to live. All of their life was given over to Jesus. We see this in how they used their time, resources, and energy in the rest of the passage.Their commitment to Jesus was a commitment to be the called-out people He desired them to be. A commitment to be the image bearers of Jesus.
In Acts 2:42 we are told of 4 actions the early church was devoted to: The Apostles teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayers.
We will speak of our "all in" devotion to some of these subjects in the next 3 lessons. As for today we will focus on the first subject in the list, the Apostles teaching.
Transition: As discuss why we are devoted/all in on the Apostles teaching, I thought it would be helpful to first explain what the apostles teaching is. So before we get into the way this morning, let's understand what the Apostles teaching is referring to.
The Apostles Teaching are the words of Jesus
Clearly, the Apostles were the ones teaching in this moment in time. They were in Jerusalem, preached the gospel to this group who became christians, and now are strengthening them as they are young in this new faith. There is no New Testament yet, so these Christians couldn't go read the life of Jesus or the writings to the church that we have yet. However, this is more than saying who is teaching, this is also a comment on what is being taught.
When it comes to the apostles teaching, are need go back to some of what Jesus said to them in the upper room in John.
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works (John 14:10).
25"These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
- John 14:25-26
The words the Apostles speak are not their own. The Holy Spirit was their helper to remember the words Jesus spoke to them (which we read how the Helper came at the beginning of Acts 2). The words Jesus spoke to them were of his Father's authority. The Apostles teaching are the words of Jesus.
Some try to make the apostles teaching less than the words of Jesus, or even try to make them be in opposition to each other. This neglects the words of Jesus. When we say they were devoted to the Apostles teaching, we are saying they were devoted to the words of Jesus. We are devoted to the New Testament teaching, because whether we are reading the apostles or Jesus himself, it is all the word of God.
The Apostles teaching is sound doctrine
8Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
- I Timothy 1:8-11
I want you to notice the phrase "sound doctrine." Paul spoke to Timothy throughout these letters about doctrine. Doctrine is a church word that simply means teaching. Sound means healthy. Paul is speaking to Timothy about those who do not live according to healthy teaching. He mentioned this idea of teaching earlier in the beginning of this letter.
As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.
- I Timothy 1:3
He starts by reminding Timothy of this charge he was to give to certain individuals to not teach any different doctrine. Apparently, there were individuals who were teaching things that were different from the teaching of the Apostles and Jesus.
2aTeach and urge these things. 3If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
- I Timothy 6:2a-5
Paul had specific teaching he wanted Timothy to share. Paul wanted Timothy to only share healthy teaching. There are a few important truths we can learn from these statements Paul made to Timothy.
1. There is a standard of teaching God has for His people.
- We aren't a people who make it up as we go.
- We aren't a people who follow our individual feelings on every matter.
- We aren't a people who get together and choose our own standards.
The church should be all about following the teaching that was delivered to us. Paul wrote so that you may know how to behave in the household of God. There is a standard and you can know it.
2. Teaching can be correct or incorrect.
The New Testament spends a substantial amount speaking on the problem of false teaching (incorrect) and even more so false teachers (individuals with impure motives who twist and distort the gospel for their own gain).
1I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
- II Timothy 4:1-3
The problem of false teaching and false teachers is not limited to the first century. False teaching is all around us and isn't always occurring in the way we think. There is more teaching in our world available to us than there has ever been. It is a wonderful blessing for the teachings of Jesus are shared more today than ever.
However, that also means false teaching and teachers are all around us. We hear it on our shows, in our music, and on the videos we watch on YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook. It's in the stories we read online and in books. It has crept it way everywhere. We hear false teaching about our marriages, sexual behaviors, our feelings, our homes and more likely every day.
We need to be reminded that there are teachings that are not good for us. Not only are they built on lies but when we fall victim to them and live them they hurt us.
3. The correct set of teaching is "the sounds words of our Lord Jesus Christ."
If we ever need to determine whether a teaching is correct, we can always go back to the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ to find the answer.
- What did God say?
- Is there a clear command in scripture?
- Do we see this lived out in the life of Jesus? Does it match the life of Jesus?
4. Healthy teaching produces healthy Christians.
Notice how these different doctrines create and promote characteristics of individuals that do not match who Christ is and who He called us to be (I Timothy 6:2-5).
Jesus said you'll know them by their fruits. Sometimes you can know a teaching is bad by its fruits too.
The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
- I Timothy 1:5
Healthy teaching should bear fruit in the lives of those who hear and follow it. Healthy teaching comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith and it creates those very same things too.
What does it look like to be devoted/all-in to the Apostles teachings?
A. We should emphasize reading, listening, and studying the word of God.
As a church reading, discussing, teaching, preaching shouldn't be the only thing we are about, but it needs to be a major part of who we are. Without the words of God, we cannot know who we should become. If God has given us His word for us to know Him and His will, we should spend a substantial amount of time in it together. If it is our guide in this life and as a church, we should prioritize it as a church.
The early church was eager to meet and hear the words of Jesus. They came together to sit at the feet of the Apostles and hear God's message. We need a similar attitude. I know people love short (shorter) sermons and even classes. Some of you might be wishing for a shorter sermon right now. I want to respect your time and I also understand not every subject and setting needs a long lesson.
But if doctors say we need 20 minutes of exercise a day (moderate intensity) and they suggest even more activity than that, why do we think 20/40/40 minutes a week of God's word is good enough for us? The church we are trying to be emphasized the word of God and we should too.
B. We should ask a lot of questions.
Later in the book of Acts we read of the Bereans who were called noble minded because they searched the Scriptures daily to see of the words, they received from Paul were so.
- They were eager to receive the words of God…but notice they asked a lot of questions.
- They asked questions because they wanted to confirm what they had heard.
- They asked questions to see whether the were right or wrong.
- They asked questions because they were sincerely interested in following God's will and plan.
We should ask a lot of questions. We care about God and His word, so we ask questions. We want to know Him more. Because we know we don't always get it right. I'm afraid sometimes as members of the church we have an attitude of, "everyone else has it wrong, but us." That shouldn't describe us.
The Bible speaks of a group of people who others thought they knew the Law well, yet Jesus told them they had so much wrong. We ask a lot of questions because we have humility. We know the word of God is perfect, but we aren't. And our understanding or application of it might not be either.
So we ask questions and examine the word of God to see off we are understand and practicing what God desires of us.
C. We should be willing to change when we don't match up.
Being devoted to the apostles teaching is about more than the amount of time and emphasis you put on the Bible as a church. Being devoted to the apostles teaching means you're willing to go where it leads you.
If I spend hours of my time in the Bible, but I'm not willing to change to match what I read…can I really say I'm committed to the words of God?
As a church, we can read, study, teach, and preach as much as we possibly can, but if we aren't willing to change when we don't match up to what we are reading, we can't say we are all in on the Bible.
Church, let's emphasize the Bible. Let's ask a lot of questions as we strive to learn and grow. Lets keep an attitude of humility and remember we might not always match what God calls us to be, and change where we need too.
The next few weeks, we will see a few other areas that we are all in/devoted too as we continue to look at this is us. When we are all in on the apostles teaching, it will motivate and move us to be all in in the other areas we will discuss in the weeks to come.
Remember, this is us because of Jesus. We are all in these areas, because we are all in on Jesus.
Are you ready to go all in?