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Partakers Prayers

10 October 2021

G'day! Welcome to Partakers! In this podcast we pray together some prayers of one of the Church Fathers, John Chrysostom. Come and pray!

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Partakers Bible Thought

31 May 2021

Forward in Unity

In our previous podcast, we saw together a new problem arising for the early Church and looking at how it was dealt with. Today, we see together James, delivering the final blow to that problem, with a direct appeal to what God had already said on the matter! What was is that God had spoken concerning it? Download and listen to the podcast to find out!

12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up.
‘Brothers,’ he said, ‘listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:
16 ‘“After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent.
Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it,
17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
even all the Gentiles who bear my name,
says the Lord, who does these things” – 18 things known from long ago.

19 ‘It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.’
22 Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers. 23 With them they sent the following letter:
The apostles and elders, your brothers,
To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:
24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorisation and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul – 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.
30 So the men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. 31 The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. 32 Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. 33 After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them. 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord. (Acts 15:12-35)

 

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Partakers Bible Thought

30 May 2021

A New Problem Arises

1 Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: ‘Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.’ 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they travelled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.
5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, ‘The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.’
6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: ‘Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles should hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.’(Acts 15:1-11)

 

The very early church at the time of this event, does not seem to have had any very formal authority structure. Elders don’t appear until Acts 11:30; also the ‘deacons’ of Acts 6:2 were probably not carrying out anything except the specific function of ‘waiting on tables’ or administering the available charity. In Acts 12:17 Peter sends a message to James and the other brothers and sisters, not James and the elders; in Acts 13:1-3 the whole church seem to be acting together, not the leadership.

However they organised themselves discipline was exercised, in which members who had fallen into sin and remained unrepentant were excluded from the church. The church was never individualistic: that is to say, people did not suddenly decide to 'join' or 'leave' the church, as is too often the case in modern churches. The church was a corporate entity, in which pastoral oversight and spiritual authority were exercised by the leadership or somebody. They had a leadership raised up by the Lord and set apart according to a church policy mediated by the divinely inspired guidance of the apostles. This did not mean that there was neither controversy nor the threat of disunity.

From the beginning, problems arose which needed to be resolved with pastoral, spiritual and judicial authority. It is therefore no surprise to find early on in Church history, a question arising about the nature of membership in the church and to see the matter being dealt with through the collective leadership of the church, the apostles and elders, who met together in a deliberative assembly (Acts 15:6) but who also reported back to the whole church (Acts 15:4, 22).

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Click or tap here to visit our Amazon site and purchase our book on the early Church - paperback and Kindle.

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