Devotional Guide – Habits of the Heart of Gospel People
The church is called to teach people how to talk, how to act, how to fight, how to love, how to see the world in a peculiar way – a Christlike way.
“The role of the church is to cultivate a people who can risk being peaceful in a violent world, risk being kind in a competitive society, risk being faithful in an age of cynicism, risk being gentle among those who admire the tough, risk love when it may not be returned because we have the confidence that in Christ we have been reborn into a new reality.” (Stanley Hauerwas, Against the Nations: War and Survival in a Liberal Society, p. 118).
What are the distinctive habits of the heart of gospel people?
A. A radical God-centeredness with a keen sense of His divine orchestration of events (14:27).
What are some of the ways that these first missionaries experienced define guidance and protection?
“All that God had done through them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles” (14:27). Paul actively trusted the Holy Spirit to care for God’s people.
Hindrance: a pervasive self-sufficiency and self-righteousness.
B. The centrality of the church in God’s plan (vv. 23, 27). What were some of the things that Paul and Barnabas did to make sure that the churches they left behind had a solid foundation on which to grow? (13:43; 49; 14:21-23)
Hindrance: a prevalent individualistic approach to the Christian life. Privatized faith syndrome.
C. A commitment to a centrist’s approach to communicating biblical truth (Acts 14:22 – remain true to the faith)
The gospel is “the word of His grace” (v.3). Jude 3 – “Contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.”
Signs and wonders (v.3). “God hardly ever allows them to be detached from his Word. Their true use is the establishing of the Gospel in its full and genuine authority.” (John Calvin).
The relentless and fearless proclamation of the gospel (v.7). They continuing to proclaim the good news (v.7).
Missionaries must distinguish between the traditum (what we have in fact received) and the tradendum (The essentials which must be passed on).
Here it is called “the faith.” The tradition, the deposit, the teaching, the truth. It includes the doctrines of the living God, the Creator of all things, of Jesus Christ His Son, who died for our sins and was raised according to the Scriptures, now reigns and will return, of the Holy Spirit who indwells the believer and animates the church, of the salvation of God, of the new community of Jesus and the high standards of holiness and love he expects from his people, of the sufferings which are the path to glory, and of the strong hope laid up for us in heaven. (Stott, pp. 235-236).
Hindrance? Doctrinal compromise – Heresy
D. A willingness to suffer for the gospel’s progress (vv.19-22). What might hinder us in this? Moral compromise. Tribulations that cause us to shrink back from taking risks (v.22). Insults, humiliation, slander, violence. Paul’s steadfastness of character was neither upset by flattery nor by opposition” (Stott, p. 233).
Hindrance? Our nightmare emotions (fear, anxiety, etc) and the gravitational pull of our idolatrous hearts (vv.8-18).
E. A willingness to share leadership and the responsibility of spiritual nurture with others (appointed elders for them in each local congregation).
Hindrance: Leadership vacuum. Lack of spiritual friendship, oversight, and care (v.22).