Summary: Have we been doing church wrong? To answer that question we must look at the biblical pattern for church.
May 15, 2011
Text: Acts 2:42-47
Subject: The Early Church Pattern
Title: What Church Is Meant To Be
How many of you spend time thinking back on earlier days and wish that it could be like it was back then? I remember the simpler life when I was a child. No video games, cell phones, computers… How in the world did we survive? Here is how I survived. When we moved out of St. Louis County to the country in St. Charles County – that sounds funny now because St. Charles County has been one of the fastest growing areas in the US for many years – anyhow, it was country back then, and when we moved there I spent most of my spare time outside. Summer or winter, spring or fall, it didn’t matter. I was outside enjoying nature and stretching my imagination by connecting myself to the settlers and Native Americans who must have walked the woods before me. And I still remember those times of my life and how simple it was as well as how pleasurable it was. Many of you can relate to what I just talked about. Our younger generation is looking at me right now and thinking, “How boring!” I’m pretty confident that in thirty to forty years our young people will be longing for the simplicity of their childhood life too.
Now, Let’s go beyond our personal lives. Let’s talk about church. How many of us spend time thinking about the good old days of church? I remember when people used to stand outside and look in the windows to see what “Holy Rollers” did. I remember that one time when the Holy Spirit fell so suddenly that all people could do was fall to their knees and weep. I remember when we used to tarry around the altars until we received something from the LORD. I remember that morning when Carolyn Bremmer was baptized in the Holy Spirit. Too often we look back and wonder, “Why can’t it be like that again?” The truth is that in the same way that my childhood experiences are different than the experiences of our youth today, so are our church experiences. You cannot rest on the experiences that you had with God in the past. Your children cannot have a relationship with Jesus based on your past experiences. The question arises, “Do you have difficulty getting to where you want to be with the Lord because of the way we do church?” Is the music too loud? Is it the wrong style? Are there too many old people? Are there too many young people? Are we using the wrong translation of the bible? Those are all questions that churches everywhere are trying to answer in the attempt to be the perfect church.
In reality, if we really want to be consistent in our church experience, it is a personal decision that each of us has to make. Do we really want to get back to having the kind of experiences that stirred us in the past? If so, then maybe what we need to do is not look back to past experiences, but to go all the way back to the early church to see what it looked like, and then pattern our church after the biblical model. The desire to experience God is still your choice. But know this, we can move forward by going all the way back to Acts 2:42-47.
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. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Lord, open my eyes to see and my ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
I. The Pattern for Having Church (v 42) 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer… Let’s break this down. 1) They… who is that? The church. It is talking about the three thousand that were saved on the Day of Pentecost. Keep this in mind – According to Acts 2:9-10, those who were saved were visitors to Jerusalem from fifteen different areas of the Roman Empire. Apparently, after they were saved they didn’t go home. They stayed in Jerusalem. 2) What did “they” do? They devoted themselves… In order to have church the way it is meant to be you need to be devoted. The KJV says it this way – They continued steadfast… This devotion was not just a one-time event, but was an ongoing process. 3) What did they devote themselves to? To the Temple in Jerusalem… no that’s not it. To the Law of Moses… I don’t read that anywhere. To the Jewish leaders… Nope – not there. But there is a list of four things that they devoted themselves to.