Establishing Kingdom Community: Continuing
© 2021 Philip M Spence
For the original church, things were very different from much of what we see of the church today. Continuing was so foundational and important to their Kingdom Community that their account of the characteristics of that community begins with this feature. The original church continued to adhere to certain principles and practices (Acts 2:42-47).
Continuing implies that there will be no end to what has begun. The Kingdom of Heaven is an eternal Kingdom that will never stop increasing and expanding (Isaiah 9:7). If this is the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven on Planet Earth, then it must be manifested through Kingdom people, because the Kingdom is within them.
Continuing also implies that once we begin, we will not waver from our course no matter what threats come against us, what obstacles stand before us, and what distractions might be sent to seduce us. One of the most powerful truths regarding continuing is that we can stand, fully equipped and immoveable, no matter what might come against us as Kingdom people (Ephesians 6:10-18).
The word that is translated ‘continued’ in our key passage of scripture should be translated ‘they were continuing’. The tense of the original writing carries this ongoing action within it, so continuing means always looking forward and not looking back. It means always proceeding in the direction we started, keeping the end in mind, and never taking an off ramp.
The original church was continuing in community. They resisted sectarianism and remained one Kingdom under one King. They were not focused on institutions; they were zealous about relationships and Kingdom influence. They were not just academically inclined but relied on being led by the Holy Spirit based on the Word of God. Their spiritual insights were deeply profound, but they didn’t come from the genius of man; they came from supernatural encounters with the living God.
The people of the New Testament church didn’t continue for just a while. It was their ongoing and unending bias and position. At any given time, and in all situations, they were continuing.
The Apostle Paul spoke of running his marathon to the finish line, and of fighting the good fight until the end. He also declared that he had kept the faith throughout all the years and trials of his ministry. He also said that because he continued or endured to the end, he was to be rewarded, as would all those who continued through perseverance and faith. His example became one which the original church followed (1 Timothy 4:7-8).
There was much encouragement to the churches in the first century to continue. They were exhorted that deliverance and liberty was the outcome for those who endured to the end (Matthew 10:22, Mark 13:13). They were also taught that overcoming is the key to everything in the Kingdom of God, and that continuing to adhere to the principles of the Kingdom is the key to overcoming (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26, and 3:5, 12, and 21).
From the description of the early church in the second chapter of the book of Acts, we find several principles to which we as Kingdom people are to be committed. In this book we will investigate how each of these characteristics is essential to Kingdom Community. There are four keys to continuing in Kingdom Community.
They Continued Earnestly
The word translated ‘continuing’ in the early church account literally means that they were earnest towards their King, His Kingdom, its principles, and its advancement. The people of the original church continued earnestly in the things that Jesus had introduced during His time on earth in human form (Acts 2:42).
To be earnest means to be serious and genuine about something. The people of the original church were sincere in their commitment to life in the Kingdom of God, and it was a whole of life commitment.
They were passionate about the Kingdom. It consumed them and revolutionised their lives. Their passion for the King and His Kingdom transformed their lifestyles, relationships, priorities, and decision-making. In fact, they became different people from who they had been before entering the Kingdom.
They were zealous for the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. This zeal is more than excitement; it is the passionate, unswerving commitment that caused them to advance the Kingdom of God across the earth against great odds and at a great price. Their zeal made them an unstoppable force regardless of threats, persecution and even death.
They Continued Unanimously
The Old Testament Prophet Amos asked a simple but profound question; how can people go forward together if they haven’t become a unit? (Amos 3:3). Jesus also talked about the power of agreeing with one another (Matthew 18:19). The record of how the original church functioned tells us that all of them were together continuing with the same passionate mindset (Acts 1:14).
They were of one mind
Based on their earnestness, they established a place of unity in the spirit and in Kingdom purpose because they were united in following through with what Jesus had commanded them to do. They were continuing unanimously and harmoniously in the thing they were earnest about.
They were in one place
Some years ago, I preached a message about being planted, not potted. When a plant is in a pot, the pot can be moved around the garden, to the other end of the property, or even off the property to another location. When a plant is rooted in a garden alongside other plants, it can’t be so easily moved at someone’s whim. And so it was with the original church; they remained planted together in the purposes of God.
They Continued Steadfastly
The word translated ‘steadfastly’ in many translations of the Bible means to be strong towards your purpose and its supportive activities. It means to be immoveable and unswerving (Acts 2:42).
It means to persevere and endure
Steadfastness is not evident when everything is going smoothly. We know whether we are steadfast when trials and testings come our way. In those times we have a choice to continue or not continue; to stand or not to stand. Those who are steadfast continue regardless of what comes their way and do so with joy.
It also means to be constantly diligent
Steadfast people are constantly diligent in the things they are continuing in. They don’t waver in their desire, passion, or commitment to the cause. Steadfast people don’t allow their earnestness to wane. They do not allow anything or anyone to rob them of their unity in Kingdom endeavours.
The word ‘steadfast’ also means to adhere closely
This is the key to maintaining steadfastness: To adhere to the one who has called us into the Kingdom, the mandate He has given us, and the people with whom we are doing this journey. When we stick together, we receive His strength to remain steadfast, and we also have the encouragement of those around us.
They Continued Daily
They were continuing daily as an earnest, united, steadfast Kingdom Community (Acts 2:46-47). How they continually lived became the hallmark of the original church and produced some amazing outcomes.
Being earnest, united and steadfast became a lifestyle that was observable. They were seen to be a people filled with joy and gladness. They were overflowing with praise toward God, love for one another, and meeting every need.
Their daily continuance was relational. They spent time together in worship, learning the ways of the Kingdom and expressing the joy of Kingdom living to the world around them. They did this in large gatherings and in smaller house groups.
They continued daily with their habits or disciplines. Their lifestyle was the same in the temple, in their homes and in the marketplace. They genuinely represented Christ every day in every situation because they continually upheld their godly values and Christlikeness.
They continued in Christlikeness in such a way that people saw the difference between the people of ‘The Way’ and the rest of society. They continually manifested Christlike character, speech, conduct, relationships, and decision-making. They were continually, earnestly, unanimously, steadfastly, and daily multiplying Kingdom culture. This is what defines a Kingdom Community.
The above is an excerpt from the book Establishing Kingdom Community. To download your copy, go to Amazon.com or click the button below: