With the passage of time things change. Change is inevitable. Some of those changes are good. I’m thrilled that those who attend church on Sunday morning are now parking their cars instead of tying their horses to a hitching post out in front of the church, tu no? I’m also glad that we’ve evolved from no air conditioning to central air conditioning. With the summer we have endured, I think we would all say that central air conditioning has been a great change that has come about.

Some of the changes that have taken place are viewed by some people as “good” while some other folks see them as “bad.” I visited one of our shut-ins this past week and the topic of computers came up. Ella dijo, “I hate computers. I wish I had a good manual typewriter.” She doesn’t see anything good that has come about with the advent of computers, but the vast majority of folks see the transition from a manual typewriter to computers as a really good thing.

There have been changes that have come to every aspect of life as we know it. There have been technological changes like the ones I’ve describe for you. There have been sociological and societal changes that have taken place. There have been medical advancements, or changes, that have taken place. The list goes on and on concerning the changes that have transpired during our lifetimes and I am sure that change will continue.

I could go on and on describing the changes that have come about in our lifetimes and then try to assess whether the changes have been “good” or “bad,” but I really want to focus our time this morning on one specific change that has taken place in the life of the Church, el Cuerpo de Cristo. This morning we are going to take a look at the word, “fellowship," and how the understanding of that word has dramatically changed since the time of the early Church. When we talk about “fellowship,” in the context of church life today, we immediately think about the fellowship hall. In the church that Connie and I came from, and in most older churches today, there’s a fellowship hall. For years and years fellowship halls have been used for fellowship dinners and other activities sponsored by the Fellowship Committee. We don’t’ have a fellowship hall, we have a gym, but we do have a wonderful Fellowship Committee that plans opportunities throughout the year for us to get together. For most of the followers of Jesus today, “fellowship,” means sharing time together, having social interaction with others, but for the early Church it entailed much, mucho más.

I’ve read through Acts 1-4 several times this past week. As I’ve read those chapters it has struck me how different things were compared to the way things are in the Church today when it comes to the understanding of “fellowship.” Let me bring us to Acts 4 by describing what took place in the first three chapters.

En Hechos 1, Lucas, the author of Acts, tells us about the time when Jesus told His followers to go to Jerusalem and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. En vss. 12-14 leemos,

12 Entonces volvieron a Jerusalén desde el monte llamado Monte de los olivos, Paseo de un día de reposo de la ciudad. 13 Cuando llegaron, se fueron arriba a la habitación donde se alojaban. Los presentes fueron Pedro, Juan, Santiago (Jacobo) y Andres; Felipe y Tomas, Bartolomé y Mateo; Santiago (Jacobo) hijo de Alfeo y Simon el Zelote, y Judas de Santiago (Jacobo). 14 Todos ellos se unieron constantemente en oración, junto con las mujeres y María la madre de Jesús, y con sus hermanos. (Hechos 1:12-14 NIV)

The followers of Jesus were there, juntos, praying and waiting on God to act. While they waited they also chose Matthias to take Judas’ place in the inner-circle.

En Hechos 2:1, leemos, 1 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.” (Hechos 2:1 NIV) There were Jews from all of the surrounding nations who had come to Jerusalem for the Pentecost celebration. It was during Pentecost that the Holy Spirit came and people began to speak in tongues that were understood by all of the people from different nations, who spoke different languages. Peter preached an amazing sermon and about 3,000 people accepted Jesus as Lord of their life and were baptized on that day. Luego leemos, at the end of Acts 2,

42 Acudían asiduamente a los apóstoles’ enseñanza y a la comunidad, a la fracción del pan y en las oraciones. 43 Todo el mundo estaba lleno de temor, y muchas maravillas y señales milagrosas fueron hechas por los apóstoles. 44 Todos los creyentes vivían unidos y tenían todo en común. 45 Vender sus posesiones y bienes, dieron a nadie como él tenía necesidad de. 46 Todos los días se dejaban de reunirse en el templo. Y partiendo el pan en las casas, comían juntos con alegría y sencillez de corazón, 47 alabando a Dios y teniendo favor con todo el pueblo. Y el Señor añadía cada día a los que habían de ser salvos. (Hechos 2:42-47 NIV)

By the time we come to Acts 3, the followers of Jesus were moving out and making an impact on the lives of those around them. The Holy Spirit was empowering the followers of Jesus at every turn. A man who had been “crippled from birth” was healed. All of the onlookers were “filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” (Hechos 3:10 NIV) Peter saw an opportunity to preach. He told the people that the man had been healed by the power of God, el Dios de Abraham, Isaac, y Jacob, the God who had glorified His servant Jesus. He let them know that Jesus was the long awaited Promised One of God.

When we come to Acts 4, we find out that not all of the onlookers were filled with wonder and amazement. The religious leaders were upset at Peter and John for doing what they were doing. Let’s read Acts 4 and find out what happened.

1 Los sacerdotes y el capitán de la Guardia del templo y los saduceos se acercó a Pedro y Juan mientras estaban hablando a la gente. 2 Estaban grandemente perturbados porque los apóstoles estaban enseñando a la gente y proclamar en Jesús la resurrección de los muertos. 3 Agarraron a Pedro y Juan, y ya era tarde, pusieron en la cárcel hasta el día siguiente. 4 Pero muchos de los que escucharon el mensaje cree, y el número de hombres llegó a unos 5 mil. 5 Al día siguiente los gobernantes, ancianos y maestros de la ley se reunieron en Jerusalén. 6 Anás, que el sumo sacerdote estaba allí, y Caiaphas, Juan, Alejandro y los otros hombres de la familia del sumo sacerdote. 7 Que tuvieron Peter y Juan ante ellos y comenzaron a cuestionarlos: «Por lo que la energía o lo que para ello?» 8 Entonces Peter, llenos del Espíritu Santo, les dijo:: «Gobernantes y ancianos del pueblo! 9 Si están siendo llamados a cuenta hoy para un acto de bondad que se muestra a un lisiado y se pregunta cómo él fue sanado, 10 luego lo saben, tú y todo el pueblo de Israel: Es por el nombre de Jesucristo de Nazaret, quien crucificaron pero a quien Dios resucitó de entre los muertos, que este hombre está parado antes de usted sanado. 11 Él es » ' las piedra constructores rechazados, which has become the capstone. ‘ 12 Salvación se encuentra en nadie más, porque no hay otro nombre bajo cielo dado a los hombres en que podamos ser salvos.» 13 Cuando vieron la valentía de Pedro y Juan y se dio cuenta de que estaban sin escolarizar, hombres ordinarios, se asombraron y tomó nota de que estos hombres habían estado con Jesús. 14 Pero ya podía ver al hombre que había sido sanado allí de pie con ellos, no había nada que podrían decir. 15 Entonces les ordenaron retirarse del sanedrín y entonces atribuidas a. 16 «Qué vamos a hacer con estos hombres?» Ellos preguntaron. «Todo el mundo viviendo en Jerusalén sabe que han hecho un milagro excepcional, y no podemos negarlo. 17 Pero para parar esta cosa se extienda más entre la gente, debemos advertir a estos hombres para hablar ya no con cualquier persona en este nombre.» 18 Entonces los llamaron de nuevo y les ordenaron no hablar ni enseñar en el nombre de Jesús. 19 Mas Pedro y Juan respondieron, «Juzgad si es justo delante de Dios obedecer a vosotros antes que a Dios. 20 Porque no podemos dejar de decir lo que hemos visto y oído.» 21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old. 23 En su lanzamiento, Pedro y Juan volvieron a su propio pueblo y divulga todo lo que los sumos sacerdotes y ancianos habían les dijo. 24 Cuando oyeron esto, ellos levantaron sus voces en oración a Dios. «Soberano Señor,» dijeron, «hiciste el cielo y la tierra y el mar, y todo en ellos. 25 Habló por el Espíritu Santo a través de la boca de tu siervo, nuestro padre David:» ' Por qué la ira de las Naciones y los pueblos parcela en vano? 26 Los reyes de la tierra toman su posición y los gobernantes se reúnen juntos contra el Señor y contra su ungido.’ 27 De hecho Herodes y Pontius Pilate se reunieron junto con los Gentiles y el pueblo de Israel en esta ciudad para conspirar contra tu santo siervo Jesús, a quien ungiste. 28 Ellos hicieron lo que su poder y voluntad habían determinado que sucediera. 29 Ahora, Señor, tener en cuenta sus amenazas y permitir a tus siervos hablar su palabra con gran denuedo. 30 Extiende tu mano para sanar y hacer señales y prodigios mediante el nombre de tu santo siervo Jesús.» 31 Después oraron, el lugar donde estaban reunidos fue sacudido. Y fueron todos llenos del Espíritu Santo y hablaban con denuedo la palabra de Dios. 32 Todos los creyentes eran uno en corazón y mente. Nadie afirmó que ninguna de sus posesiones era su propio, pero todo lo que tenía compartían. 33 Con gran poder los apóstoles continúan dan testimonio de la resurrección del Señor Jesús, y mucha gracia era sobre todos ellos. 34 No había ningún necesitado entre ellos. Para de vez en cuando aquellos que poseían tierras o casas vendió, trajo el dinero de las ventas 35 y puso a los apóstoles’ pies, y se distribuyó a nadie como él tenía necesidad de. (Hechos 4:1-35 NIV)

What an amazing picture of “Church!” I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want to be part of a church like we just read do you? Did you notice that when opposition came, the followers of Jesus didn’t shrink back? When those in authority told Peter and John that they needed to “cease and desist,"ellos dijeron,

19 ...»Juzgad si es justo delante de Dios obedecer a vosotros antes que a Dios. 20 Porque no podemos dejar de decir lo que hemos visto y oído.» (Hechos 4:19-20 NIV)

“We can’t help it!” It wasn’t that Peter and John were some kind of social activists who were organizing a boycott if the authorities didn’t give in to their demands. They just simply couldn’t stop telling people about what they had seen and heard—they couldn’t stop telling people about Jesus. If there were consequences that came about because of that, then so be it, but they just couldn’t keep it to themselves.

Did you notice what Peter and John did once they were released by the authorities? Hechos 4:23 tells us that they “went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.” They shared with the other followers of Jesus what had happened. And what did the whole group do once they heard the story? Lucas nos dice, “When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God…” They told the crowd of Jesus’ followers what had happened and the crowd responded by crying out to God in prayer. What did they ask God as they went to Him in prayer? Did they ask the Lord to protect them? ¡No. Did they ask the Lord to silence their critics? ¡No. Did they pray that the Lord would lead them to those who might be more “open” to their message? Están bromeando!? Listen to their prayer.

29 Ahora, Señor, tener en cuenta sus amenazas y permitir a tus siervos hablar su palabra con gran denuedo. 30 Extiende tu mano para sanar y hacer señales y prodigios mediante el nombre de tu santo siervo Jesús.» (Hechos 4:29-30 NIV)

They prayed for the Lord to pour it on! "Señor, in light of their threats, we are asking You to stretch out Your hand and do even more miracles through the name of Jesus!"

As you read the first four chapters of Acts you have to stop and ask yourself, “Where did they come up with such boldness? How did they respond to opposition and persecution with prayers for God to do even greater things?” There is no question that the coming of the Holy Spirit enabled them to be bold, but is that the only factor that strengthened the followers of Jesus? No lo creo. I think they were emboldened by the Holy Spirit and the community of brothers and sisters who surrounded them—the fellowship of their brothers and sisters in Christ who were with them. Let me give you some evidence of what I am talking about. A su vez a los actos 4:31-35 venga conmigo y leamos juntos.

31 Después oraron, el lugar donde estaban reunidos fue sacudido. Y fueron todos llenos del Espíritu Santo y hablaban con denuedo la palabra de Dios. 32 Todos los creyentes eran uno en corazón y mente. Nadie afirmó que ninguna de sus posesiones era su propio, pero todo lo que tenía compartían. 33 Con gran poder los apóstoles continúan dan testimonio de la resurrección del Señor Jesús, y mucha gracia era sobre todos ellos. 34No había ningún necesitado entre ellos. Para de vez en cuando aquellos que poseían tierras o casas vendió, trajo el dinero de las ventas 35 y puso a los apóstoles’ pies, y se distribuyó a nadie como él tenía necesidad de. (Hechos 4:31-35 NIV)

If you will notice the last phrase of Acts 4:32, “but they shared everything they had.” This phrase translates the Greek word, "??????" (koinos), que significa, “common.” El Diccionario Teológico del Nuevo Testamento says of the word, “This life in community is not based on economic theory, legal socialization, or philosophical imitation of nature, but expresses the loving fellowship which renounces ownership in order to help others.” Where does this type of community come from, how did the early Church become so unified, so dedicated to one another? Esa es una gran pregunta. For the answer, all we have to do is find other places in the New Testament where the word for “fellowship,” or “????????" (Koinonía) se encuentra.

The uniqueness of the “fellowship,” or shared common life, that is intended by God for the followers of Jesus is made possible because of something much deeper than our friendship. Venga conmigo a 1 Corintios 1:4-9 y déjame mostrarte lo que estoy hablando.

4 I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every wayin all your speaking and in all your knowledge– 6 because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 Dios, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. (1 Corintios 1:4-9 NIV)

God has called us into fellowship with His Son, Jesús Cristo, nuestro Señor. All fellowship that is shared by people is shared because of something they have in common. We congregate at football games because we love the team or we love football. We go to concerts because we like the band that is headlining the night. Folks gather at bars because they like to drink or they like the other patrons who hang out at the local establishment. All fellowship revolves around common interests. Our fellowship is different. Somos brought together por Dios. He has called us into fellowship with His Son. He is the One who has united us.

En segundo lugar, our fellowship is solidified by the Holy Spirit. I told you that folks gather for fellowship because of common interests, but interests change, relationships fracture and fall apart, but our fellowship is established and maintained by the Spirit of Almighty God. Venga conmigo a 2 Corintios 13:14.

14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corintios 13:14 NIV)

Now you and I both know that what we see happen in the world with relationships, specifically the disintegration of relationships, happens as well with the followers of Jesus, but this is an aberration, an abnormality—it should never be. We serve the reconciling God who has spanned the divide between us and Him. For us to do any less for one another is an affront to God.

One final Scripture that highlights the point I am trying to hammer home with all of us. If you would turn to 1 Juan 1:3-7 dice. In this passage we will see that our fellowship begins with God and His Son, Jesús Cristo, not with ourselves. Leamos juntos.

3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesús Cristo. 4 We write this to make our joy complete. 5 Este es el mensaje que han oído de él y os declaro: Dios es luz; en él no hay oscuridad. 6 Si afirmamos que tenemos comunión con él, pero caminar en la oscuridad, mentimos y no vivir por la verdad. 7 Pero si andamos en la luz, como él está en la luz, tenemos comunión unos con otros, y la sangre de Jesús, su Hijo, nos purifica de todo pecado. (1 Juan 1:3-7 NIV)

We have so much in common regardless of how different we are my friends. Look around this room. We are different in so many ways. Different races, different economic brackets, different professions, different schools, different political persuasions, y la lista sigue y sigue y sigue. Aun así, there is a commonality that transcends the most deeply seeded differences and it is the fact that God has called us into fellowship with Himself through His Son, Jesús. Because God has opened the door for me to fellowship with Him, the precedent has been set for me as I relate to each of you.

We read that the believers had everything in common. We’ve come to understand that they were willing to even sell some of their property to help out brothers and sisters who were in need. We need to understand that the foundation for all that we’ve witnessed taking place in the early Church happened because of what God had first done in their lives. They took it to heart. God’s grace spilled over into their relationships with one another. God’s generosity spilled over into rich generosity shared with their brothers and sisters. The intimate fellowship that God established with each of them was translated into a deep intimacy that they shared with one another.

Nothing can happen with us as a church until something first happens in us by God. When we come into relationship with Him, by His grace, then we are compelled to connect with one another in a deeper way than can ever be achieved by some common interest shared by people in this life. Qué hay de usted? God has spanned the divide that separates you from Him, but have you reached back to Him? Have you accepted the gift of His Son that has been offered to you? Sino, then why won’t you do that this very morning?

Mike Hays
Britton Christian Church
Agosto 21, 2011

Compañerismo
Hechos 4