Bible Passage: Acts 2:42-47
These verses describe the life of the early Jerusalem church that formed in the days following Pentecost. It is a historical description, but also is included to serve as a blueprint for what the church could and should be in every place and time (it is one of two such blueprints given in Acts – the other is the church in Antioch). The idea of this sermon is to dig in to the life of the church and think about what these things could look like in our churches today.
Devotion: The first thing that is pointed out about this church is that they were devoted. The devotion to Jesus shown by this early church took the form of prioritising four particular things. Firstly the apostles’ teaching – for them this would have taken the form of listening to them teach verbally, whereas we have the written record of their teaching in our New Testament that we can show this same devotion to. Secondly fellowship – spending time with one another was a priority for them. Sometimes we can act like time with other believers is a ‘nice to have’ but the real business of the Christian life is a solitary walk with God, but this is not how it was for the early church, nor how it should be for us. Thirdly, they were devoted to the breaking of bread as they remembered Christ’s broken body and shed blood for them. Finally they were devoted to praying with one another.
Supernatural: The life of this Jerusalem church was obviously marked by supernatural power. There was a sense of awe and miracles were being done by the apostles. The blueprint for church life is not simply copying certain practices, but it is a church where the presence of God is clearly manifest and he is working in power. This is not something we can stir up in our own power, but it is something we can go after in prayer.
Community: The early church were together. They spent time with one another. They shared their possessions with one another as any had need. They worshipped together in the temple courts. They ate together in their homes and they did so with glad hearts (the original language carrying a sense more like ‘great joy’, suggesting a lot of laughter). All of these ingredients are part of the antidote to the loneliness that many feel. The blueprint for church life is a community where all can belong and contribute.
Growth: The church was not static but was growing in number. Every day people were being saved and added to their number. This was doubtless due to the evangelistic efforts of the believers, but the existence of such a compelling model community that people would want to belong to is also part of it. Being saved and added go together, and we should be giving thought both to how we share the gospel with people and how we invite people into our community – for some people believing happens before belonging whereas for others it is the other way around.
- Invite people to think about the four things that the early church were devoted to and consider where there devotion level is to those things. Is there one of them that particular challenges them?
- You could organise some time to pray and fast together as a church to ask God for more of his powerful presence to be manifest through signs and wonders in your midst.
- Challenge people to think about those God has put around them. What does it look like to be community towards those people and come alongside them in the ways described in this passage?
- Invite people to think who they could invite into the church community as part of sharing Jesus with them.