Summary: The strength of the Church in its observance of the Apostol’s doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer.
The New Testament Church; Its Strengths Acts 2:42
INTRO.: The Church at Jerusalem, whose beginning is recorded in Acts 2, is often thought of as a model church because it was the first congregation of the Body of Christ ever established. I believe God intends that church to serve as an example for the Church in ages to come.
It was a congregation begun with a nucleus of 3,000 members and it grew very rapidly. One can imagine how hard it would be to hold such a group together. In addition, they had no facilities of their own so there was no central point of focus. By the nature of the case, most of them were strangers to one another. The Jewish leaders and much of the population were hostile toward them.
It was necessary for the Apostles of Jesus to immediately identify and maximize the resources available to them. Make no mistake, it was a crisis of enormous magnitude. This was a large congregation, but a very weak and fragile one.
With God’s help, the Apostles were equal to the task. They put into motion a program that would quickly strengthen the Church and provide for its further growth. The program (although I’m sure they didn’t think of it as such) is described in very succinct terms in our test. It consists of four elements.
The expression "devoted themselves" translates literally from the Greek to "were strong toward." These four elements were the strength of that early church. They are still the strength of any true church. The stronger we are toward these things, the more God will bless us with growth and strength. And, please note; you don’t need three thousand people to be a strong church. Nor does a large attendance necessarily make a strong church.
We may say more about these four elements individually later. The only point I want to make in this message is this; the stronger we are in the practice of the apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer the stronger we will be as a congregation and the more the Lord will bless our efforts to serve Him.
Let’s examine these four elements to see how they provide strength to the Church.
I. The members of the Church were strong toward the apostles’ teaching:
A. This means they were hungry for truth and came together to hear the apostles of Jesus teach and preach.
1. One translation (TEV) says, "they spent their time in learning from the apostles."
2. I doubt they settled for someone else’s interpretation of what the apostle said. Went directly to the source of proper teaching.
3. The teaching of the apostles of Jesus is available to us today only in the pages of the New Testament. We should test the words of every teacher and preacher against them.
B. How important is it to learn the teachings of Jesus and His apostles?
1. Paul reminded the Romans of their former slavery to sin and declared that they were freed from it by the teaching they had received. These teachings help save us from sin.
2. No one ever truly received Christ a Savior or came to Him for salvation without first hearing someone teach about Him publicly or privately.
3. Some very large churches have disappeared because their focus was primarily on meeting the needs of others or meeting their own needs rather than on the teachings of the Gospel.
4. I Tim. 4:16; "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers."
II. They were strong toward the fellowship:
A. In simplest terms, the word "fellowship," (Koinonia" means sharing.
1. It means sharing in the religious privileges we have in common with other Christians. Being part of the family of God.
2. We are "fellows" in Christ. Fellow citizens of His Kingdom. Ep. 2:19 Fellow workers with God.
3. In II Cor. 8:4, the same Greek word is used to refer to sharing financial resources.
4. Fellowship is when God’s people come together to share in the good things God has given us, whether it be food, finances, joy, encouragement, friendship. Prayer
B. This is important because we find great encouragement in fellowship. Heb. 10:25.
1. We all need encouragement at times.
2. Acts 2:44-47 describes the fellowship of the Jerusalem Church in more detail. They shared everything with one another.
3. Christians love to be together because of they common bond they have to Jesus and the joy that He gives us.
III. They were strong toward the breaking of bread:
A. In its most basic sense, breaking bread means eating together.
1. The church was in the habit of meeting daily in the temple courts. Of course, not all of them could be together at one time. They met in groups.