Summary: 3rd Part of our Action in Acts series: Being part of the Action of God means being a true part of the fellowship. To hear this or other sermon audio's go to our website www.spbf.ca under sermons
The steadfast fellowship
Last week we went into a passage that looked at how God was forming a new people, a new kingdom, and he worked through Pentecost, following the lines of the calling out of Israel from slavery in Egypt, defeating pharaoh and then setting a new call on a motley crew of people, in the same way, freeing a people that we are a part of from slavery, defeating sin and death, and at Pentecost laying his presence on his people.
Acts bigger pictures: But there was so much within that section that I had to skip introducing some major ideas and themes within Acts: Why is this important? We often forget, I think, the bigger story and the context as we work through different parts of the bible, and that context helps put parameters on how we can understand a text, and we get a better idea of what is actually going on (kind of like when the news takes a sound bite out of context from someone speaking, making it sound crazy)
Acts is actually part of a series, Luke-Acts, written (most believe) by a doctor named Luke. He is painting a specific portrait of how things went, so that his readers would be sure to understand the importance of what Jesus had done and what God was continuing to do.
Within Acts, every now and then, Luke puts in a summary statement, as he works through what is going on, bringing it out of the anecdotes and smaller stories to a bigger picture, sort of going up for the aerial view before dropping back into the thick of the action again. As you read through the book of Acts, you should get the feel almost of being on this thing moving forward, kind of like a runaway freight train.
Luke is very keen on showing the development of the church, from the calling of the disciples and the life of Jesus in Acts, and then moving from these first few followers waiting for the promised power of the spirit all the way to a movement that keeps growing and makes it all the way to Rome.
One of the things that we will look at more on another Sunday is a theme that Luke highlights this comparison between an empire built on strength and riches and the community of God built on sacrifice, service and the poor.
One of the other big things that Luke is doing is what many translations use different wording to say “the word of God” or the “word of the lord”, and Luke is very careful in when it is used.
In the gospel of Luke, only Jesus is connected with this “word of god, but in the book of Acts, after Pentecost, Luke opens up the gates for the use of “the word of God”, and after the holy spirit comes down, the followers of Christ are recorded as speaking it, and the church is moving forward in it, and interesting enough, this word of God even is shown to grow, in other texts it multiplies, spreads...this is more than just talking about the Bible. It is associated with conversion but also is shown to be a part of the action with those who have already come to follow Christ growing in the word of God, so the main idea with this usage is a combination of the teaching of the apostles and the work and life of the community of this new kingdom people.
The passage for today, Acts 2:42-43 is a short passage that deals with this very theme, and we are going to look at it today, partly because of the passage itself, but also partly to get into this overarching theme.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
Wouldn’t be nice if the whole book was like this, without the persecution, the martyrdoms, the trials and difficulties...but that isn’t the promise that God gives, and that is not the purpose that we have as a people of God. Instead this is more of just a pause within the total journey. There is, unfortunately, the idea many Christians develop that when you become a Christian life will all be good, that there is nothing major that will stop you, no major hardships should come your way, that as long as you are following God nothing will be a problem...but the truth of the whole picture is important, because getting it wrong can lead to some very dangerous ground that can land you in bitterness and frustration and all sorts of false promises. The promise of the book of Acts is not that there will be no opposition, and not even that we will overcome the opposition, but that the word of God will overcome it and that is a world of difference.