It Takes a Community
The beginning of the book of Acts describes the vibrant life of the first Church in Jerusalem. This new life was the result of hearing the full, unadulterated good news through Peter and the other apostles on the day of Pentecost:
And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation. (Acts 2:40)
Peter spoke these many other words in obedience to Yahshua’s parting command to the apostles to “teach them to obey all I commanded you” in Matthew 28:19-20. So the many other words consisted of Yahshua’s commands to forsake family, possessions, and even your own selfish life, in order to receive the new life that He came to establish on the earth. The result of hearing and believing the message Peter preached that day was that “all those who believed were together and had all things in common.”[fn]Acts 2:44[/fn]
Obedience to the comprehensive gospel will always produce a community where disciples are happy living together – laying down their own lives daily to meet the needs of their brothers and sisters, because all are obeying the Master of their new lives. In fact, there is no possibility of obeying Yahshua’s commands outside of community life, where all things are shared in common and you actually dwell together in peace and harmony.[fn]1 Peter 2:9-12; Psalms 133[/fn] That is why the angel commanded Peter in Acts 5:20 to go stand in the temple and speak “the whole message of this new life,” in order that others could be added to those who were already gathered.
The people in Jerusalem knew that something miraculous was happening among these people who were coming together with great joy and enthusiastically sharing all they had to care for one another. It was necessary for them to hear the whole message of this new life in order for them to understand what was happening in their midst. The new life, apart from the whole message, was incomprehensible. Likewise the message, apart from the transcending life of community, had no authority or credibility.
What message would modern Christians preach today? What life would they point to as the fruit of Christ’s teachings and His sacrifice? Let’s be honest here. There really is no discernable difference between the lifestyle of today’s Christians and other good people in secular society. How could they call others into a new life, when the life they live is the same?
Yahshua did not condemn the people of the nations for seeking after food and clothing, but called those who followed Him to live by a higher standard – that they would seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and absolutely trust Him to meet all of their needs.[fn]Matthew 6:31-33[/fn] People have varied opinions about what this means, but the blueprint of the life His disciples went on to live is there for all to see.
Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. (Acts 4:32)
It is recorded twice in the book of Acts so we can understand that there is no other way the Church can be than a community, which is the witness that will cause the world to believe in Yahshua.
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)
I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. (John 17:23)
The Way, the Truth and the Life
Jesus [Yahshua] said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)
Yahshua is truly the way, the truth and the life. But how do you get to Yahshua? Who can show us the way to the Way?
When Yahshua knocked Paul off of his high horse, He had a question for him: “Why are you persecuting Me?” Who was Paul persecuting except His Body on the earth?[fn]Acts 9:1-5[/fn] Yahshua had gone to be with the Father and left them as His ambassadors, reconciling men to the Father through Him.[fn]2 Corinthians 5:18-20[/fn] In the book of Acts it’s recorded that the early believers were often referred to as: The Way. Those who “discerned the Body,”[fn]1 Corinthians 11:29[/fn] recognized Yahshua in His people, who carried on His ministry with the greater works He had given them to do on His behalf.[fn]John 14:12; Ephesians 2:10; 4:16[/fn]
Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice. (John 18:37)
Those who are of the truth will hear His voice and join themselves to Him, becoming part of His Body, through which He continues to bear witness of the truth. Like Yahshua, it is the very purpose they were born for. Yahshua spoke in John 18:37 from His humanity (“I was born”) and from the Divinity (the Word) who dwelled in Him (“I have come into the world”). For the uncreated can never be born, but the Man Yahshua was born for the very Word of God to dwell in.[fn]1 Timothy 2:5; John 1:1,2,14[/fn]
The Spirit and the Bride
In the same way now, His Spirit dwells in His Body, otherwise known as the Bride.[fn]Revelation 19:7,8; 21:9[/fn] In Him was life – the light of men;[fn]John 1:4[/fn] but now the life of the Spirit is in her – His people. So it is “the Spirit and the Bride” who now say “come, drink of the Water of Life,”[fn]Revelation 22:17[/fn] which is the Holy Spirit. Yahshua continues to be the Way, the Truth and the Life – in His people who He dwells in by His Spirit.
So the invitation in Revelation 22:17 is for all who are thirsty to “come drink the water of life freely.” The word freely there, in the original Greek, means without cause – without any other cause (wealth, family ties, personal goals, etc.) that would keep one from drinking the water of life. The rich young ruler had a higher cause in his heart than following Yahshua. But Peter understood that all who truly follow Him, will forsake every other cause to drink the water of life.[fn]Matthew 19:27[/fn]
Remember, He said you will know them by their fruit.[fn]Matthew 7:20[/fn] There is no other way the Way can be, than the way the Way was when it was the Way. It takes a Community!