Summary: This is the first look at the early church. And these verses show us the traits that characterized the daily lives of believers.
As we travel along through the Book of Acts, we come to verse 41-47 in chapter 2. This is the first look at the early church. And these verses show us the traits that characterized the daily lives of believers. Here they are in a nutshell and then we will look at them a little closer.
1. A people who received the Word gladly (v. 41).
2. A people who were devoted (v.42).
3. A people who stirred everyone with a godly fear (v.43).
4. A people who were together—sharing in ministry (v.44-45).
5. A people who were unified (v.46).
6. A people who worshipped and praised God daily (v.46-47).
If SEBC were all that, we could stop right here, have a prayer and go home. But we’re not. So let’s look now at what God is trying to tell us.
When it’s functioning properly, the Church is the hope of the world. It’s the only organization that has ever existed that is capable of healing broken lives, pointing people to God, and fulfilling the deepest longings of our souls. It’s in the Church that the rejected find acceptance, the sinners receive forgiveness, and the lonely experience love.
1. It is in the Church that we discover and live out our true life-purpose. (Worship)
2. It is in the Church that we receive teaching and training for how we can be the people that God has called us to be. (Discipleship)
3. When the Church of Jesus Christ is functioning properly, each member is using his or her God-given gifts and talents and abilities to serve one another and the world beyond. (Ministry)
4. And there is community and fellowship, withing the Church of Christ, that fulfills our longing for friendship and intimacy with others (Fellowship)
5. When the Church is functioning properly, the lost—those without a relationship with Jesus—have the Gospel preached to them, and receive the opportunity to accept Christ as their Savior and come within the folds of the Church and experience everything we just talked about. (Evangelism)
When it is functioning properly, the Church of Jesus Christ is the hope of the world.
And so, let’s spend some time talking about the type of church that God wants SEBC to be. It’s not enough that we come to this building on Sundays, if we fail to be the Church God wants us to be. It’s not enough that we sing the songs, it’s not enough that we take communion, it’s not enough that we give our offerings, it’s not enough that we sit through the sermon—it’s not enough that we come to church, if we fail to be the church.
In Acts chapter 2, this is the account of the very first church. The Holy Spirit had come upon Peter and the other apostles, and they preached the Word of Christ in Jerusalem with great success. Many were converted to faith, and a church was born. And the account of that first church demonstrates for us the characteristics that God wants in the New Testament Church. READ v. 41-47.
This church had some characteristics that God wants in churches everywhere, for all time. Let’s look at these tonight.
I. The New Testament Church Grows Warmer Through Fellowship. That’s what the church we read about was doing. Look at verse 42 READ. And verses 44-46:
They were devoted to fellowship. They were sharing their lives with each other. They were becoming a family.
We live in a world where families are fragmenting and disintegrating. We all know that divorce is an ever-present reality. But it’s not just divorce that causes families to splinter. We live in a mobile society. Kids grow up and move away. People move in and move out of neighborhoods and homes because of job transfers and new opportunities. While many of you have lived in this area all of your lives, there are many other people living in the area today who did not grow up here.
We live in a world, because of our mobility and our failed marriages, where “family” is no longer a constant; no longer something we can count on. And all around us there are people who feel disconnected, who long for closeness with other people, but they don’t know where to find it.
Do you remember watching The Waltons? Do you remember how everyone lived together — Grandma, and mom and dad, and the kids? And every member of the family was able to rely upon every other member of the family? Why was that? Because they were family. And most of us wish our families were a little more like the Waltons. We long for a simpler time when families stuck together and took care of one another. Some of us may have families like that, but a whole bunch of us don’t.