Let me make this very clear, I am not into numerology. I do not think there is a Bible code to be deciphered that when fully understood and applied releases hidden power or reveals dates and times of future events hidden in the scriptures. I do however, believe there is a mathematical equation that, when understood, reveals formulas for the creation of church the way God intended church to be.
Holy Spirit + Obedient Christ Follower = Gospel Preached
The history of the church contained in the book of Acts can be distilled into this simple formula. This formula can be applied to any interaction between a Christ follower and anyone they encounter. The gospel, although often seen as the instructions for salvation is far more. The gospel message is about living out the life of a Christ follower. It is not a single act of placing one’s faith but rather a continuing lifestyle lived in faith. This expands the formula’s application from the Christ follower/non-Christ follower interactions to all interactions in which the Holy Spirit inspires the words of the Christ follower to introduce a better way of living for those who have yet to embrace following Christ and those who are fully committed to Christ and anyone in between. We are on a journey that starts out with our acceptance of the redemption offered through the blood of Christ and continues throughout our life as we surrender more and more of our lives at the nudging of the Holy Spirit often through words presented by the obedient Christ follower.
Gospel preached + Christ following = Transformed life
The book of Acts follows the growth of the church in Bible times. Those who heard and followed, pursued Christ-like living through the teaching of the apostles and church leaders. The letters contained in the New Testament revealed the Spirit inspired direction for living out the depths of the gospel. Each letter and each gathering of believers served to encourage, correct and instruct Christ followers on living out the gospel. The foundation of following Christ was a transformed life that continued to be transformed.
Transformed life + Transformed life + Transformed life = Community
The book of Acts introduces us to the idea that Christ followers live in community. We know that they shared all they had. We are told that their commitment to following Christ created a community of believers dedicated to growing together. Central to this new movement called The Way, was community. Central to the community was those who had committed to the transforming gospel message and continued to seek to be transformed.
Community ≠ Transformed life + Transformed life + Transformed life
Here’s where Bible math and real math do not work the same. I am not good at math, okay let me put it a little more bluntly, I stink at math. I do however, remember that turning a formula around does not change the formula. I can place the answer at the end or beginning of the formula and it will still work. 2+2+2=6 or 6=2+2+2 are both correct. Bible math doesn’t work this way. I would even go as far as to say that it is mathematical ignorance when it comes to the way the Bible defines the body of believers that has led to the sorry state of the church today.
Church is supposed to be a community of those who embrace the gospel message of transformation and are seeking to be continually transformed. Church has become a community of people who expect that the existence of community will lead to people embracing the gospel message of transformation and seeking to be continually transformed. In my transitional pastor work the common theme in churches that have lost a sense of purpose is that they have become a community with the expectation that community will lead to transformation. The flaw in this thinking is the assumption that the community creates transformed lives rather than transformed lives seeking to be transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit creates community.
People rally around a common goal – is your goal community or transformation?
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)