Summary: Discover the elements of community practiced in the early church and challenge the people to experience this in small groups.
Building Authentic Biblical Community: Community:
What Happens in an Authentic Biblical Community
5 October 2003
SUBJECT: What Happens in an Authentic Biblical Community
RESPONSE: Discover the elements of community practiced in the early church and challenge the people to experience this in small groups.
HOW TO/HOW LONG: Sign up for a small group this week.
We started our discussion on authentic biblical community with the fact that God exists in community—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is the first community, the first small group, the first team. When we participate in community, we are reflecting the image of God.
We’ve seen that being part of a small group, a Life Group, was important and primary in Jesus’ life and ministry. He called a number to come to him, walk with him, talk with him, learn from him, and carry on his kingdom work. Jesus did speak to large crowds. He probably taught in the synagogue weekly, but most of his time was spent with his Small Group.
Last week we learned that as we experience unity in community, we are actually an answer to Christ’s high priestly prayer.
I would trust, that after these three weeks, by now, most of you are convinced that being part of one of our Small Groups is not only a good thing to do, but also a biblical thing to do. After all, being in a group will help us be conformed to the image of God, participate in something that Jesus thought was primary, and being involved in something that will be an answer to Christ’s prayer.
But by now, you should have a good question: What will we be doing in these Small Groups? Excellent question!
What better place to go to answer that question then to the very first church with the very first Small Groups? Let’s read together from Acts 2:42-47.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 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, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Did you catch it? This very first church was committed to Small Groups! This church itself was born in the same Upper Room where Jesus met with and prayed for his Small Group. Fifty days after his resurrection, on the Day of Pentecost (kind of like our American Thanksgiving) the very first church was born as the Holy Spirit came down upon the congregation of 120 that were crowded into that Upper Room. The apostle Peter preached his sermon and we learn that 3,000 people repented, were baptized, and added to the church.
What did this church do? We read the answer to this question in Acts 2. Did you notice they met together corporately—in the temple courts? But they also met together in homes. These home groups, these small groups, these Life Groups were places where God’s people, these new believers cared for each other, learned from each other, prayed with each other, and encouraged each other.
What happens in an authentic biblical community? What do we pray happens in our Small Groups?
First, we must devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching. First and primary, we must be in the Book—God’s Word! Do you know what the apostles’ teaching is? For us, it is the Scriptures. Peter, when he preached, only had the Old Testament available to him. But we are so blessed in 2003. We have the teachings of Peter, John, Paul, and Matthew, to name a few. The apostles taught from the Old Testament and we include their writings. What happens in an authentic biblical community? People study the Scriptures, they live by the Scriptures, they’re held accountable to the Scriptures. Many of our Small Groups will be sermon-based groups. What does that mean? These groups will be discussing the Sunday morning sermon in more depth. Questions will be asked and answered. Small Group members will challenge each other to live by God’s Word. Now, can this also happen as you sit in our corporate meetings here? Probably, to some extent. But when you’re in community, you will have people to gather around you, and you will gather around others in order to live by the Book!
Speaking of community, that’s the second thing that happens in an authentic biblical community. The early church also devoted themselves to the fellowship. The word translated “fellowship” is the Greek word koinonia. That word means community, partnership, household. Brothers and sisters, 3,000 people can’t be in community. Luke must be telling us that this church very quickly formed Small Groups—house churches. He confirms it later on when he informs us they broke bread in homes. No one should be left out. No one should feel disconnected here at CBC. People shouldn’t come for months and months and have not one person know their names! We need fellowship—communities— Small Groups!