The book of Acts in many ways is a story of identity. It starts out with a small group of people, mostly from a Jewish background, who lived in Galilee. But this small group saw themselves as followers of a Teacher, who they were sure was the long-awaited Messiah, the Son of God.
After His return to Heaven, this small band stayed on in Jerusalem, as He’d instructed. Galilean, together with Judean followers, these followers did have some sense of common identity, but it wasn’t until after the Holy Spirit arrived on the day of the Pentecost that they really began to have a presence in the community as a distinct group.... read more
They are immediately forced to deal with the reality of being a minority group within a larger unbelieving and increasingly hostile community. As they continued to think about their new identity, God continued to reveal Truth and unfold His Story for them. As Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit was with each of them, and with them as a Group, a Church.
Just as the writings of Moses and the prophets defined God’s people under the Old Covenant, access to the Apostles teaching, defined the Church at its beginning. God, through the Apostles teaching, made very specific declarations to these believers about who they are.
We’ll discuss this more during our upcoming workshop, but Identity is strongly linked to Purpose. The purpose of living and working in partnership with His Son, Jesus Christ. To the Ephesians, the Apostle writes that they are members of the Body of Christ with the goal of reaching maturity (Ephesians 4:13-16).
As we saw yesterday, the early churches are told they are God’s temple, a place for His Spirit to live on earth. The Church is a living letter from God through which He communicates to the community. They are witnesses, light, salt, living sacrifices. There’s also a future part to their identity and purpose as well. They are the Bride of God’s Son, made to be His perfect companion, to give glory to their Redeemer and Lord for all eternity.