Summary: A short talk encouraging devotion to the apostles' teaching, fellowship, and worship.
‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer’ (2:42).
The life of the early church was marked by devotion. The early believers loved to hear and put into practice the apostles’ teaching. They were utterly committed to one another. They ate meals together regularly, and they prayed together every day; and all of this was done out of loving devotion ‘with glad and sincere hearts’ (2:46).
The apostles’ teaching was not their own. They preached Jesus (2:36-39). Their message was the same message that Jesus Himself preached. They added nothing to the message of Jesus, and they took nothing away from the message of Jesus. They simply preached Jesus and so must we. The apostles taught and lived the Gospel and so must we.
Devotion to the apostles’ teaching in Billericay today is not just possible. It is what we are called to. For God loved the world so much; God is devoted to the world that he made, and the people who have rejected his love. God is so devoted to us that he came and lived amongst us in Jesus. He loves us so much that he gave himself up for us on the cross so that whoever believes and trusts in him will not perish when this mortal life ends; but will have everlasting life in God’s kingdom (John 3:16 paraphrase).
Through the years some preachers have sought to add to that message. In today’s church there are some who take away from that message. We must be careful to preach and live the message of Jesus, to be true to the apostles’ teaching.
The first Christians were devoted to one another; and it’s no wonder they were because the message of Jesus taught them to ‘love one another’ (John 15:12).
The apostles’ handed on the teaching of Jesus, and they lived it out. They loved each other by giving up their lives, their resources and their abilities for their fellow believers. No wonder they ‘[enjoyed] the favour of all the people’ (2:47). Their devotion to the teachings of Jesus, preached faithfully by the apostles, was lived out day by day.
Are we Billericay Christians truly devoted to one another? What needs to change for our life together to stir up the favour of the people of our town? On Sunday I appealed for someone to help a member of my congregation with her garden and was encouraged by the positive response from 2 people I didn’t know 6 months ago; and although I wasn’t there myself I was very encouraged by the Royal wedding feast hosted by Emmanuel recently. I was also encouraged by the 50 people who gathered for breakfast at Christ Church last Sunday. I believe we’re called to be devoted to one another.
The first Christians ‘gave to anyone as he had need’ (2:45). Specifically, the believers looked out for each other, and used their resources to meet needs. The first believers were devoted ‘to the breaking of bread and to prayer’. They ate together and they worshipped God together. Believers didn’t shut themselves away home alone. They met regularly with other believers – every day in the temple courts (2:46), where the coffee shops and live chat rooms of the day were to be found.
I’m aware that this verse is sometimes read, interpreted and acted upon to produce a very inward-looking church that loves itself deeply, but forgets the world in which it lives. That’s not what we’re about because the apostles taught the message of Jesus and he was very clear when he said “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). I want us to be devoted to the apostles teaching, to fellowship, to breaking of bread and to prayer, without exception.