Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cairns 3: to the Jew First

“That Christ was the foundation rather than the founder of the church is evident in his use of the future tense in Matthew 16:18, in the statement, “Upon this rock I will build my church” (Cairns, 55).

It’s good to note that the rock was not Peter but what he said: that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God.  Jesus is the foundation of our whole church, and those who preach have the keys to open and shut heaven when they correctly preach the word, rightly administer the sacraments, and exercise church discipline. 

1. The Founding of the Church in Jerusalem
“In fact, the foci of the book of Acts are the resurrection of Christ, as the subject of apostolic preaching, and the Holy Spirit as the empowerer and guide of the Christian community from the day of Pentecost” (Cairns 56).

The Church began with Christ’s resurrection, then was born in Pentecost when God poured his Holy Spirit on all believers, Peter opened heaven’s gate by preaching the greatest sermon ever, and five thousand people got baptized.

Soon, persecution started.  Stephen was martyred, James son of Zebedee put to the sword, and this scattered the Jerusalem church so that they had to move other places and spread the Gospel to other areas of the world.  Stephen’s death even had an impact on Saul who was holding the coats of his stoners.  Later, Jesus saved him and made him the Apostle Paul.

Ananias and Sapphira received the first church discipline when they only gave a partial offering to the church and said it was the whole thing.  Some hypothesized that at this point the Church practiced communism as they shared with each other and had all things in common.  However, the people gave voluntarily.  Nobody forced them to give their offerings, and even Ananias and Sapphira did not have to give their property.  They were disciplined because they did not give everything that they had promised.

The Church did bring social change.  They appointed deacons to feed the Grecian widows while the elders still taught in the church.  Dorcas began to make clothes for the poor people in her town, and the church had the offices of apostle, elder, and deacon so that all these jobs could be cared for at one time.

Soon, Jerusalem decreased in status as the center of the church.  Some people were trying to make Gentile converts follow the kosher laws, and Peter and Paul had to have a counsel to say, no, you don’t have to follow rituals to be saved.  Cairns calls this the “emancipation of the Gentiles from Jewish control” (Cairns, 58).  Jerusalem truly lost its status when the temple was destroyed in 70, causing the leaders to gather in Antioch. 

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