Summary: Believers are called to come together as a worshipping community.
As we have been looking to Acts 2:42-47, we have been talking about how we as Christians are called to live in community with other believers as a community of faith. In doing so, we have recognized key elements which contribute to a local body of believers living together as a community of faith.
First, we said, we are called to learn. We should come together as a community of believers around a common conviction regarding the inspiration and preservation of the Bible and a common commitment to the application of the Bible. As a body of believers, we should encourage one another to hear, read, study, memorize, and mediate on the Scriptures so that we might be able to apply the truth of God’s Word to our daily lives.
Secondly, we said that we need to also understand that we are called to care. If our church is to come together as a community of faith, then each of us must devote ourselves to the fellowship just as did the early believers. This means that we need to devote ourselves to "koinonia," to sharing in and participating in the life of the church. We do this by devoting the time required to truly share our lives with our brothers and sisters in Christ; by devoting our talents to serving along side our fellow believers, and by devoting our treasure to the work of God through our local church family.
Now today, we want to think together about yet another key element associated with our being united as a community of faith. As a community of faith, we are called to worship together.
The early church worshipped together in large gatherings at the temple courts, as well as in smaller gatherings in their homes. We note that three elements associated with their worship together are mentioned in our passage. They praised God together (v. 47), they prayed together (v. 42), and they observed the Lord’s Supper together (v. 42).
Most scholars believe the use of the article, "the" indicates that what is described in verse 42 is the Lord Supper, while the breaking of bread mentioned in verse 46 more likely refers to sharing a meal together. (You always knew these early believers were Baptists, didn’t you?)
All kidding aside, I want us to think of these three things we are told about the worship of the early church to learn what should always be part of our gathering together for worship as a community of believers.
1. We gather together to reflect on the grace of God.
This is the whole purpose of the Lord’s Supper observance. When we partake of the elements of the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded of God’s grace whereby we are saved - God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense!
There are three benefits of grace that are illustrated by our observance of the Lord’s Supper. Indeed, they are three benefits of God’s grace that we will always find ourselves reflecting on anytime we gather to worship with the local family of faith. Whenever we worship together, we are caused to reflect on the fact that . . .
A. By grace, we have experienced God’s forgiveness.
God’s forgiveness is free, but it isn’t cheap. It cost Him the life of His Son, whose body was broken and whose blood was shed so that we might be forgiven!
He who lives came to die, so that we, who were dying might come to live!
B. By grace, we have been received into God’s family.
As we worship together as God’s people, we are caused to think about how, by God’s grace, we are part of the family of God; which is made up of all kinds of people, from all walks of life, with all kinds of histories, and every kind of story imaginable. Yet, we are bound together by this one common experience - we have all been saved by the power of God’s grace by virtue of the sacrifice of the cross!
C. By grace, we will be with God forever.
Jesus emphasized this when He instituted the observance of the Lord’s Supper and said that He would not partake again of the fruit of the vine until that day when He would drink it anew with you and me in His Father’s kingdom (Matthew 26:29).
Whenever we gather together with God’s people for worship, we are reminded of the journey we are on together and the common destination we all have. As the hymn puts it, "’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home."
2. We gather together to respond to the goodness of God.
Another element associated with the worship of the early believers was prayer. When we pray, we acknowledge that our God is one who loves us and cares for us. Part of the purpose of our gathering together is to remind ourselves of this wonderful truth - our God is a good God!