Called to Live 

A series in the Book of Acts
House Group Leaders Notes
Intro to the series:
With a new chapter soon to begin in the life of the church we’re going to spend some time looking at a short section of the Book of Acts.  In particular we’re going to look at some of the ways in which the early church lived out their calling to a life of radical missional discipleship. 
As we read and pray through the passages we’ll take some time to stop and ask the question:
‘As someone with the same calling, how does the experience and way of life of the early church relate to and inspire my call to live as a radical missionary disciple?’
Week 3:  Living the Kingdom.  Acts 3:1-10, Matthew 13:44-52

Housegroup leaders notes for this series will not involve a lengthy commentary on the passage.  Instead i’ll give a short outline commentary and then offer a number of questions that might work well as discussion starters.
I’d encourage housegroup leaders to keep the question above in mind and attempt to centre the bible-study around it.  Additionally I’d recommend spending some time in each session praying for members of the group, particularly with regard working out what it means to live as a radical missional disciple in their particular context and with the challenges and opportunities that they face. 

Commentary on the passage

Let's look at Matthew 13:44ff to begin with
The Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
What do we see here in these parables of the kingdom:

The rich man, who has significant amounts of cash and assets, liquidates everything, in order to buy the field that the treasure is hidden in and consequently the rights to the treasure.
The same is true for the pearl – everything goes.  He must have the pearl.  It's so beautiful, it's so valuable.
This is how the Kingdom of God is described.

Two points to make about the kingdom of heaven:

1 - The kingdom of heaven something so valuable that everything else, no matter how valuable it may be, can be let go of in order to obtain it
2 – The value of the kingdom of heaven redefines the value of other things in relation to it. Everything else has its value reappraised, and the new measure of its value is only that which it can contribute towards the obtaining of the kingdom.

Let's look at Acts 3:1-10 now:

We see Peter and John offering what they have to this unfortunate individual. 
They don’t have lots of gold or treasure – in the words of the parable they have sold everything / got rid of everything so that they can obtain the kingdom.  But they do have the kingdom – the infinitely valuable kingdom of heaven which they are able to offer to this man in his poverty and brokenness and marginalisation.  They’ve got this treasure this priceless pearl, and so this is what they offer him. 

The man who sits there thinks he’s going to be given some small amount of cash to tide him over one more day, to keep him alive for another 24hours – it’s as far as his vision can see – and who can blame him – when one is worried about getting through the next 24hours one can be forgiven for not taking a longer term view of things, or for hot having broad and expansive horizons. Needs must.  But Peter and John can only give from what they have got and this is what they do as they give the kingdom invitation.
The means of delivery in this particular case is miraculous.  They heal the man.   So far so good.

There’s a danger here, both for him, and for us, of locating value in the wrong place here, or of missing the thing that has the true value.

The thing of true value is the invitation to enter the kingdom life and the subsequent reception of the kingdom life.  The healing, interpreted in light of the parables of the kingdom, doesn’t have a great deal of value in and of its self – the measure of its value is that which it can contribute to the crippled man obtaining the priceless pearl – the kingdom of heaven.
It’s not the healing isn’t important – it is:   It’s a sign of the kingdom.  A way of God saying ‘look, life in my kingdom is a bit like this’ It’s a present blessing.  A life changing outworking of God’s grace in healing that would have transformed the man’s life.  But on its own it would have been similar to a large handful of cash, it would have changed things for a while, but not enough, and not for long, and the fundamental need would have been ignored.

The healing is a parallel of one of those things which the wise man sold in order to realise its value so that he could obtain the treasure or the pearl.  The kingdom life into which we are invited is the thing of greatest value, and everything else has value in so far as it helps us to take hold of this life, here and now, in sure hope that it will one day be known in full.  Sometimes we miss the thing of greatest value because we're overawed by something of lesser value.   Let me be clear, i'm not saying the healing is un-important, it is wonderful, and it's also entirely 'normal' in the outworking of Gods redemptive purposes - he heals as and when he desires.  It's just not the most valuable thing that the disabled man is given...

Some questions to start us off…

What do we learn about radical missionary discipleship from this passage in Acts?
To what degree are we conscious of living in the daily reality of the Kingdom of God each day?
If we give from what we have received, what does our answer to the question above say about what we can give?
How do we demonstrate this 'most valuable of all things' The kingdom life to others and invite others to receive it in the name of Jesus?
Do we hold the 'treasure' of the Kingdom as the most valuable of all things, or do we find that the things which only have value in so far as they help us to take hold of the Kingdom seem more valuable than the kingdom itself?

Some prayer prompts:  

Pray for each member of the group, that our daily lives might be lived in the light of the reality of the Kingdom of God
Pray for those who are trying to find ways to manifest the reality of the Kingdom at home, work, school, on the sports field, and elsewhere
Pray that we might keep in sight that which is truly valuable


Simon Butler, 29/06/2015