Summary: The church grows when we devote ourselves to living out the truth of God’s Word, to sharing our lives together in genuine fellowship, and to joyful worship.
A few years ago, some wag told his friends he wasn’t going to any more ball games. Why? Well he said…
a. Whenever I go to a game, they ask for money.
b. The other fans don’t care about me.
c. The seats are too hard.
d. Coach never visits me.
e. The referee makes calls I don’t agree with.
f. Some of the games go into overtime and make me late for dinner.
g. The band plays songs I don’t know.
h. I have other things to do at game time.
i. My parents took me to too many games when I was growing up.
j. I know more than the coaches do anyway.
k. I can be just as good a fan at the lake.
l. I won’t take my kids to a game either. They must choose for themselves which teams to follow. (Mike and Amy Nappa, A Heart Like His, Barbour, 1999, pp.182-183; www.Preaching Today.com)
It’s silly, isn’t it? But no more silly than the excuses I’ve heard from people for not participating the in the services of the church. So why do people use them? Is it because we have different expectations for church than we do for ball games? Sure we do, but are they the right expectations? People want soft seats, a visit from the “coach” every once in a while, and familiar music. But is that really what church is all about fundamentally? When we cut through all the extraneous stuff, what should be our fundamental commitments as a church? What should be our priorities? To what should we devote ourselves primarily if we want to be all that God has called us to be?
Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (NIV)
There you have it, in a nutshell – How the early church came to be all that God called it to be. They devoted themselves to three (3) things – the little word, “and,” being the dividing point. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching AND to the fellowship, which included the breaking of bread, AND to prayer. That’s what we need to do, if we’re going to be all that God has called us to be.
First, we need to devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching, which is our New Testament. In other words, we need to
DEVOTE OURSELVES TO GOD’S WORD.
We must dedicate ourselves to learning and applying the principles found in the Bible. We must commit ourselves to living in obedience to God’s Word. That’s what the first church did.
Acts 2:43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. (NIV)
The apostles taught and performed miracles to back up their teaching. That was the reason for the “signs and wonders.” In 2 Corinthians 12:12, the apostle Paul writes to a group of people who doubt the authority of his message, and he says to them, “The things that mark an apostle—signs, wonders and miracles—were done among you.” Hebrews 2:3-4 says, “How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him (i.e., by the apostles). God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” God confirmed the apostle’s teaching with signs and wonders.
The miracles proved that their message came from God, and “everyone was filled with awe,” verse 43 says. Literally, they were filled with fear, with respect for God’s Word. Now, I’m not going to perform miracles for you today, but even so, we need no less a respect for God’s Word than what they had in the first church.
They DEVOTED themselves to the “apostles teaching,” and that’s what we must do, if we’re going to accomplish the mission before us.
When Beth Moore and her husband, Keith, spent time in war-torn Angola, she said, “I learned something in one of the rural villages that will mark my teaching and response to the Word of God.” They were trying to absorb the sights and smells of living death, when their new friend, Isak Pretorius, told them, ‘One of the most frustrating things is that in villages where they received seed, they often eat the seed rather than planting it and bringing forth the harvest.’
Beth Moore says, “I couldn’t get the statement out of my mind and suddenly had an answer to the question I most often ask God: Why do some people see the results of the Word and others don’t?” For example, she says, “Why have many of us read books on forgiving people, known the teachings were true and right, cried over them, marked them up with highlighters, yet remain in our bitterness? Because we ate the seed instead of sowing it.” (Beth Moore, Stepping Up: A Journey Through the Psalms of Ascent, LifeWay Press, 2007; www.PreachingToday.com)