Summary: This sermon explains three reasons why every believer needs the church

* The church doesn’t need us in order to be the church nearly as much as we need the church in order to be the person God created us to be.

* The importance of the church is based upon its mission

* Wrong question: "What can the church do for me?" // Right question: "What can I do for the church?"

* The example of the early church reveals to us why we need the church and why we need to be connected to her...

1. You need the church because of what you can do (v. 42)

* Membership and participation in the church allows you to fulfill certain spiritual duties better than you could without the church

- You can belong to God’s kingdom without the church, but you can’t be a true Christ-follower without the church, the bride of Christ.

* "THEY devoted themselves..." = the "they" is from verse 41: those who professed Christ and were baptized

* What can we do best within the context of the church?

A. We can become more obedient to Scripture ("the apostles’ teaching")

B. We can partner with others in Christ ("the fellowship")

- 1 John 1:3

- "There is nothing more unchristian than a solitary Christian." (John Wesley)

- Hebrews 10:24-25

C. We can put Christ at the center of our lives ("the breaking of bread")

- Communion acknowledges the work of Christ on the cross and is an example of the unity of believers: when we make such an acknowledgement and set such an example, Crist becomes the center of our lives

- 1 Cor. 11:26, 28

D. We can become devoted to prayer ("and to prayer")

- "Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscle of the omnipotent." (John MacArthur)

- Matt. 21:13

* All of these spiritual duties/responsibilities can occur without being connected to a church, but they can’t occur as powerfully

2. You need the church because of what you can become (v. 43-47a)

* Verse 42 describes their responsibilities; verses 43-47a describes the kind of people the early church became because of what they did

* What we become when we have the right relationship with Christ through the church:

A. We become agents of awe (v. 43a)

- "awe" = phobos: fear related to the sense of divine presence; the attitude of reverence

- a person is in spiritual awe when he realizes God is at hand

- God awed the early church, not building, programs, budgets, etc.

B. We become conduits of miracles (v. 43b)

- Difference between miracles then and now...

- God still performs miracles today when his people (the church) fulfills their spiritual responsibilities

C. We become examples of selflessness (v. 44-46a)

- They met needs

- 1 John 3:16-18

D. We become people of joy (v. 46b-47a)

- What produced this joy: gladness (to rejoice); sincerity; praising God (to recite his wonderful works and attributes)

3. You need the church because of the impact you can have (v. 47b)

A. The church became attractive to others ("enjoying the favor of all the people")

- John 13:35

B. The church begins to grow through conversion ("And the Lord added to their number")

- Ultimate impact was effective evangelism

- Their mission (Acts 1:8) was being accomplished because of what they did and who they were

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