We are in a series for the summer based out of the book of Acts. We are looking to following the history of the Holy Spirit and His effect on the church and the individual followers of Christ. After Peter’s historic sermon on the day of Pentecost this is what we read.
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 NLT
At the conclusion of Peter’s sermon as recorded in Acts 2 we read that “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”
This first sermon preached under the anointing of the Holy Spirit was really the first public demonstration of the work and power of God’s promised Spirit. Jesus had taught His followers to wait for this promise before trying to fulfill the mission He gave them to do. They had waited for nearly ten days in one room. 120 committed followers of Christ gathered and waited. As they waited they became unified. All the jealousy and petty bickering they were known for was laid aside as they became one in unity and purpose.
These ten days truly were the calm before the storm. Now they had three thousand new followers on their hands to teach and train. They were like new babies and new babies are a lot of work. They need to be taught how to live, how to walk and talk.
The Holy Spirit was reigning and with His rule vast responsibilities descended upon the apostles. They would need to look to the Holy Spirit for guidance time after time in the ensuing days. The reign of the Spirit in the lives of the people and the disciples led to some practices that continue to this day to be identifying marks of a healthy Spirit-filled church.
Today I want to share these things with you and talk about our church in our time together.
The early church was:
1. Devoted to teaching:
“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. . .”
The will to prepare to win is far more important then the will to win. – Bobby Knight Commencement at Trine University
Historically there have been basketball players known for their ability to shoot free throws or foul shots. Larry Bird is known as one of the most successful free throw shooters in the history of the NBA. It was not just natural talent. Even in high school he would get up at 6:00 a.m. to shoot foul shots. Morning after morning, thousands and thousands of shots over the years and in the end of his career he averaged .886. Several years he was over 90%. All of this can be attributed to his will to prepare.
According to this passage of scripture these 3000 baby Christians were continually devoting themselves to God’s Word as it came from the 12 apostles. I can’t even imagine what they must have been going through. In the context of our church we are large on crowd and slim on the number of people that are mature enough in their faith and willing to teach others.
Right now we have major openings in some of the most exciting teaching and disciple making opportunities you would find in any church and I am at a loss to know where to turn. I am sure the first disciples felt this same overwhelmed feeling.
New Christians are always hungry for the Word of God and to learn. These new believers apparently couldn’t get enough. There was no New Testament so they taught from the Old Testament and from Jesus Sermon on the Mount.
Being filled with the Spirit and being filled with God’s word always go together.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:16-17 NLT
In Ephesians 5:18-20 we read essentially the same thing:
Do not get drunk with wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Where the Holy Spirit reigns a hunger for God’s word reigns. The backbone of a healthy Christian life is teaching. Peter wrote, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” (1 Peter 2:2)
Be teachable: All of us should desire to know as much as we possibly can about Jesus Christ and His word. We develop a personal commitment to be students of the word of God.
Be a self feeder: Do not rely on others to feed you from the word of God. Figure out how to study the Bible and feed yourself with the help of the Holy Spirit. The ability to self-feed is one of the greatest problems in the church today.
Let me go back again to the phrase from this passage of scripture: “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. . .”
The apostles teaching was simply the word of God. Are you devoted to knowing His Word?
What does this mean in our church? Discipleship 2010/Bible Studies etc.
2. Distinguished by Fellowship
“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship. . .”
The Greek word for fellowship here was never used in the Gospels. It did not apply until the Holy Spirit descended in Acts 2. The word is koinonia and the root idea is simply “commonness” or “commonality.” Every time it is used in the New Testament it is used to denote some kind of sharing.
“And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.”
Contrary to what some have taught through the years, these early believers did not sell everything. They still had houses because Acts 2:46 suggests that they “broke bread together in their homes.”
Kent Hughes writes, “Fellowship is not just a sentimental felling of oneness. It is not punch and cookies. It does not take place simply because we are in the church (fellowship) hall. Fellowship comes through giving. True fellowship costs! So many people never know the joys of Christina fellowship because they have never learned to give themselves away. They visit a church or small group with an eye only for their own needs (hardly aware of others) and go away saying, “There is no fellowship there.” The truth is, we will have fellowship only when we make it a practice to reach out to others and give something of ourselves.”
Church consumerism is one of the glaring examples of immaturity. The mature Christfollower will realize that Sunday’s and going to church are not about being spiritual coinsures and critics but opportunities to serve and fellowship with others.
Let me remind you once again that we like to suggest that you talk to somebody you don’t know after or before church for at least the first ten minutes before you circle up with your group of best friends.
“The difference between spiritual and unspiritual community is not whether conflict exists, but is rather in our attitude toward it and our approach to handling it. When conflict is seen as an opportunity to draw more fully on spiritual resources, we have the makings of spiritual community.”
IF you want to have fellowship you must be a giver!
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14 NLT
We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3 NLT
What does this mean in our church? Serving, Small groups, Outreach events
This Is My Church
It is composed of people just like me.
It will be friendly if I am.
It will do a great work if I work.
It will make generous gifts to many causes if I am generous.
It will bring others into its fellowship if I bring them.
Its seats will be filled if I fill them.
It will be a church of loyalty and love, of faith and service.
If I who make it what it is, am filled with these,
Therefore, with God’s help, I dedicate myself to the task of being
All these things I want my Church to be.
3. Drawn to Worship
42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders.
46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people.
Notice that their worship consisted of two things: “the breaking of bread and prayer.” The breaking of bread refers to the Lord’s Supper or communion. You see the phrase “breaking of bread" comes between two religiously loaded terms in verse 42 – “fellowship” and “prayers.” In versed 46 the phrases “broke bread” and “ate together” are purposely separated. After their principal meal they would take the remaining bread and wine and engage in the elevating remembrance of Christ’s death. Remember in verse 42 we come to understand that they devoted themselves to this.
They worshipped through prayer. When the spirit reigns, the hearts of God’s people move up toward Him and their relationship intensifies. When you are a worshipper of God those around you will know you by the fact that you have been with Jesus. Your time, your priorities, your interests will all be centered around Christ and worshipping Him with your life.
Did you ever stop to think, about the legacy that you will leave once this life is over? Will you be remembered for the things you did or the things that you owned?
I was asked that question the other day and the asker simply asked me to name, in ten words or less, the one thing that I would be most remembered for. It really didn’t take me long to figure that one out. Seeing as I am one of the few people around these parts that travels around daily (and have done so for years) in an old Corvair, I felt compelled to make that my answer. Once I am long with the Lord there will be, no doubt, someone, somewhere, who remembers me by that label. “He drove a Corvair, didn’t he? You know--that car with the engine in the back?”
He drove a Corvair! You know, that didn’t sound so bad to me at the moment. I could have been remembered for my temper or my lack of finishing things. I suppose there could be a lot of things worse than owning a Corvair that one could be remembered for. Right?
Perhaps! But, the more I thought about it, the more it bothered me that this was my answer. This was something I owned, not something I did. Ultimately, wouldn’t being remembered for our deeds be more important than our possessions? What I can put in my life, cars, houses, collections of this and that, are all testimony to what I have acquired in life and say little about the things that matter most, the things that we do, not the things that “do” us.
I remember reading sometime back about a robbery that took place in London. Armed gunmen broke into the deposit boxes in a London bank and stole valuables worth more than $7 million. One lady, whose jewelry was appraised at $500,000, wailed, “Everything I had was in there. My whole life was in that box.” What a sad commentary on her values! (Our Daily Bread.)
The Bible tells us that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Owning things is not a bad thing. Getting enjoyment out of a car, a home or even a hobby are not bad in and of themselves. But, when our lives become so focused on “what” we own as opposed to “what” we do, we are guilty of idol worship. When our lives revolve around what we can put in a box, whether that box be a safety deposit box or a garage, our values can be suspect. Life was never meant to be lived in a box. Seeking fulfillment in our obedience to God is really living “outside” of the box.
What does this mean in our church? Public and Personal/ Strengthfinders Class
(teaching, fellowship, and worship)
4. Driven by Evangelism
And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
Sometimes I am afraid that we forget that this is really why we exist as a church or the body of Christ. I love the fact that we are a church that believes in outreach and that we do it with “no strings attached” but sometimes it is easy to lose sight of our calling to see people eventually become followers of Christ.
Every effort we engage in as a church and as individuals should be with an focus that those around us will benefit and be blessed by coming to know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is very hard to find the balance of serving this mission and serving others.
Churches generally fall into two camps. They are socially conscious and believe in social justice or they are evangelistic and seem to care less about the needs of those less fortunate or those suffering from poverty and the effects of what is often a misguided life. The idea is to stay focused on both and do what Jesus called us to do.
Recently Nancy Pelosi angered people in both political extremes after telling the Catholic Community Conference on Capitol Hill that she pursues public policies "in keeping with the values" of Jesus Christ, "the Word made Flesh." Conservatives erupted in anger, saying the California Democrat's support for abortion is a violation of the Catholic principles she claims to uphold. Some liberal commentators just don't like the fact that she is mixing politics with religion. Regardless, the fact is that often as the body of Christ and individual Christfollowers we can become cynical and jaded to the point that we forget that we should be living our lives in keeping with the values of Jesus Christ, “the Word made Flesh.”
When we focus our efforts on living our lives “in keeping with the values of Jesus Christ,” you will find that He puts a high priority on seeing people come to know Him.
What does this mean in our church? Missions Initiative: Croatia and Philadelphia
What we have done today is look briefly at the Holy Spirit filled church in the book of Acts and brought four things to your attention that we believe should be modeled and lived out by our church and by all of us individually.
42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
Because of these values and focus the Lord allowed them to participate in evangelism. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
One month ago we ask you to come prepared today to give to two efforts that we are engaging in as a church toward evangelism. We are sending 65 people to Philadelphia for a week. They are going to be the practical hands and feet of Christ as they work in the inner city in a multi-cultural setting. While our approach is not to beat people over the head with our Bibles we do believe that showing God’s love by working with our hands gives us the opportunity to share the message of Good News or God’s love.
Also we are partnering with people from around this country in enabling 5 recent college students including one of our own to go to Croatia and live for at least a year in this country. They will try to get jobs and live in community with people interested in planting a church in their Country. This calling and invitation came from within the country of Croatia and is a great opportunity to partner with fellow Christfollowers outside of the United States.
So now we give you a chance to respond to this opportunity for our church.
In a seminary missions class, Herbert Jackson told how, as a new missionary, he was assigned a car that would not start without a push. After pondering his problem, he devised a plan. He went to the school near his home, got permission to take some children out of class, and had them push his car off. As he made his rounds, he would either park on a hill or leave the engine running. He used this ingenious procedure for two years.
Ill health forced the Jackson family to leave, and a new missionary came to that station. When Jackson proudly began to explain his arrangement for getting the car started, the new man began looking under the hood. Before the explanation was complete, the new missionary interrupted, "Why, Dr. Jackson, I believe the only trouble is this loose cable." He gave the cable a twist, stepped into the car, pushed the switch, and to Jackson’s astonishment, the engine roared to life. For two years needless trouble had become routine. The power was there all the time. Only a loose connection kept Jackson from putting that power to work.
J.B. Phillips paraphrases Ephesians l:19-20, "How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God." When we make firm our connection with God, his life and power flow through us.