Summary: The early church provides a stirring example of life among the followers of Jesus Christ.
“A Consecrated Life: Life as It’s Meant to Be”
A Federal office in California sent the following letter to a Social Security recipient: “We want to talk to you about a notification in our office that you are deceased. Please let us know if you are.” Now that’s a pretty grave letter! But it prompts a good question – “What does it mean to be alive?” What is life really meant to be like? A related question is, “What does a live church look like?” Even more to the point, what is the Christian life meant to be like? The previous verses in Acts, Chapter 2 have described the awe, wonder, and excitement of Pentecost – the coming with power of the Holy Spirit. 3,000 people had given their lives to Christ. Beginning in verse 42 we discover what the disciples did when the excitement of the day had ended – we catch a glimpse of what their life was like.
The first component the consecrated life is that the Christian needs to be ADDICTED TO LEARNING. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…” They continued steadfast in their learning. The Holy Spirit had opened up a school with 3,000 kindergartners! But we cannot dismiss learning as something only for new Christians – the Bible is unequivocal about learning and growth. We are always to learn and grow. Learning is not a one time event or something that we do only in phase one of the Christian life. Learning is a continuous journey. We must keep our minds fresh and pliable. So the believers came together to study the apostles’ teachings about Jesus Christ. They did it daily. Continual education is not an elective; it is essential. IF WE DO NOT LEARN, WE DO NOT GROW. IF WE DO NOT GROW, WE STAGNATE. On July 5, 1926, President Calvin Coolidge spoke at an occasion observing the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. At one point he said, “A spring will cease to flow if its source be dried up: a tree will whither if its roots be destroyed … we cannot continue to enjoy the result if we abandon and neglect the cause.” We can never learn all there is to learn of Christ. HE IS NOT A BODY OF TRUTH TO BE MASTERED; RATHER HE IS THE TRUTH THAT MASTERS US.
Listen to Jesus (John 15:5-8): "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, (does not continue to learn and grow) he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you (continue to learn and grow), ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” As proverbs 19:27 puts it: “Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.” WE MUST CONTINUE STEADFAST IN OUR LEARNING. Corot was a famous painter. At age 70, he said, “If God spares me for another ten years I think I may learn how to paint.” You know what most professional golfers do after completing a round in a tournament? They go and practice; it’s a constant part of their life. They know they have never arrived. Too often we Christians feel we have arrived – that there is no need to study anymore, to attend Adult Sunday School, as if we know all there is to know of Jesus. Yet Paul speaks of the un-searchable riches of Christ; if we learned for a thousand years we would never know all there is to know. Drink deeply of Jesus. Pursue a life of learning and study. Develop an addiction to learning.
The second component to life as its meant to be is that it is BUILT ON SHARING. Verse 42: “They devoted themselves …to the fellowship.” And 44-45: “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” A common theme throughout Acts is stated often by Luke; “And they were all together in one place…” THEY WERE OPEN AND IN TUNE WITH EACH OTHER BECAUSE THEY WERE OPEN AND IN TUNE WITH JESUS. He was the center of their lives, their conversations, their activities. As John wrote in his first letter (1:3) “We proclaim to you what ewe have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” When we recited the Apostle’s Creed a few moments ago, we said we believed in the holy Christian Church. Listen to how the Heidelberg Catechism defines that belief (Q & A 54): “I believe that the Son of God, through his Spirit and Word, out of the entire human race, from the beginning of the world to its end, gathers, protects, and preserves for himself a community chosen for eternal life and united in true faith. And of this community I am and always will be a living member.” We share with our brothers and sisters because of who God shared with us – His Son Jesus Christ. We do not choose each other – we are given to each other by God. What this means is that EVERYONE WHO BELONGS TO CHRIST BELONGS TO EVERYONE WHO BELONGS TO CHRIST. Our lives and possessions are not out own. Acts 4:31-35: “There were no needy persons among them. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had…There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” The needs of others had priority over their own personal wants; personal ‘rights’ were relinquished for the common good.