“They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as a guide for those who arrested Jesus – he was among our number and shared in this ministry.””
This week we are celebrating the 146th Anniversary of our Church here in Brampton. It is appropriate that we do so with an examination of Acts 1:12-26. There are several themes which run through these verses but I want to focus on just one in this devotional study. This is that the New Testament Church portrayed in these early chapters of the Acts is an Apostolic Church. This means that it lives under the apostolic authority and follows the apostolic method in its life and outreach. This devotional will reflect upon this briefly. There is much more that could be said about these verses, perhaps we will explore some more of this in the future, but I believe that there are certain truths that it is vital for us to reflect upon here today.
First, it almost seems self evident, but it must be said, the church in Acts is an Apostolic Church because it had apostolic leadership. The leaders in Jerusalem were Apostles or those closely associated with the Apostles. Luke gives us the guidelines which were used to determine who could be considered an Apostle.
- They were those who had been with Jesus from His baptism until His ascension. These gentlemen had witnessed every part of the ministry of the LORD Jesus Christ.
- They were those who had witnessed the resurrection of the LORD Jesus Christ. They could speak about this tremendous new reality because they had personally witnessed it.
- They were also those who had been called by the LORD Jesus Christ personally into this responsibility.
Luke outlines how Judas had fallen from his calling as one of the twelve Apostles to the Jews. He needed to be replaced and a means was put forward which allowed Matthias to be chosen, and which incidentally also gives us some insight into the nature of the Apostolic Church. Under the leadership of Peter the whole church began to do two things which led to a solution to the crisis they were facing. They joined together in prayer constantly and they began to search the Scriptures for guidance which they eventually received from two Psalms. These were Psalm 69:25, and psalm 109:8. This then introduces the second apostolic feature of their response. They began to search the Scriptures. The LORD had told the disciples that they would receive help from the Holy Spirit so that they would recall what He had taught them. At its heart this teaching from Jesus was based upon a right interpretation of the Old Testament Scriptures. It is interesting that in the time of transition between the ministry of the LORD in person and His continuing ministry through the Holy Spirit that the disciples turned to the Word of God and to prayer. They then received guidance which established principles for the ongoing life of the Church.
The Nature of the apostolic ministry was that it would only be for the first generation of the Church. Beyond that generation no one would fulfill the Biblical qualifications for this ministry. Even in the calling of Paul as an Apostle to the Gentiles we see these qualifications being worked out. His own teaching, as well as the threefold repetition of his conversion story, tells us that he was a witness of the resurrected Christ. His teaching in Galatians 1:11ff, 18ff, and 2:7-8 tell us that he was commissioned by the LORD Jesus Christ and that commissioning was recognised by the other Apostles. They recognised that he was the Apostle to the Gentiles, just as Peter was the Apostle to the Jews.
What is of vital importance for us is that we as an Apostolic Church today continue to live under the authority of the apostolic teaching, which is found in the New Testament. We also continue to live by the apostolic example which is to devote ourselves to prayer and to the Word of God. When we neglect this then the Church suffers. When we recapture this then revival usually comes as well. What these Apostles recognised was that their “success” was dependent upon maintaining a personal and living relationship with the LORD.
There is much else which could be said about this passage. This is sufficient for now. Luke is calling us to recognise that the authority under which we live and minister is in fact that of the Living Christ. val u