July 3, 2022
The church is a people, lots and lots of messy people who come together to know and worship Jesus—not iChurch but WeChurch. That’s what we see in Acts. Messy people come together to know and worship Christ Jesus. And over the last several weeks we have been asking the question What does it mean to do church together? If an iChurch is about me and my preferences then WeChurch is about Christ and His preferences. He’s given us an example of what He’d like to see in Acts 2:42. So far we have talked about 3 of the essentials that we can’t grow without. Just this past week Mary Beth talked about the Apostles Teaching.
So to recap first. WE GATHER AROUND GOD’S WORD. We opened Acts chapter two with Pentecost; then we hear Peter preach and 3,000 people repent and believe in Jesus in the middle of Acts 2. Now here, those who stay behind in Jerusalem and don’t return to their homes in the countryside, they form the first church. It’s like they almost naturally come together to do what they’re supposed to do to be a church, and it starts with gathering around God’s Word.
Acts 2:42a, 43 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…
The Apostles (the 12 disciples) would have spent time talking about Jesus, reminding them of His teachings, and showing how the Tanakh points to Jesus as the Christ (the Messiah), just like Peter did in his sermon. Then they perform miracles just like Jesus to authenticate that what they’re saying is true.
When we gather around God’s Word, you could say we’re gathering around Christ and the gospel. We’re coming to learn about Him, to see how the Scriptures point to Him, to confess our sins to Him, to receive His grace in our lives, to remember His sacrifice on the cross, to celebrate His resurrection and ascension, to be in relationship with Him, to know Him. There is someone who unites us despite our different backgrounds and movie and food and exercise preferences. We gather around Jesus and His Word.
But Christianity is not just a Bible study, it’s a lifestyle. So second WE DO LIFE TOGETHER.
Acts 2:42b, 44-46a They devoted themselves… to fellowship… 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. The church is not a building or a place but a fellowship — people doing life together. We learned that this word for “fellowship” in verse 42 is the Greek word “koinonia.” It most commonly means “fellowship, communion, participation, sharing.”
In the 12th century an English monk named Aelred called doing life together “spiritual friendship.” We are to spend time with each other, care for each other, be willing to sacrifice for each other, give generously to each other, and share a common life, all in response to Jesus doing those things for us.
In Acts 2:45-46 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.
The Bible says little of independence and does everything for community. Service instead of Serve us.
And There’s a deeper component to this. The root of the Greek word for fellowship, koinonia, is koinos, which means “common” or “profane, impure.” Although there is something rich and meaningful and loving about church fellowship, life together has wonderful times of encouragement and joy but also bruises and frustrations, but we stick it out because we love Jesus and each other. Life is just messy. If you are looking for put together people you probably aren’t going to find many at church. The church is a hospital for sinners. Not a museum for the saints.
So, we 1. We gather around God’s Word. 2. We do life together. And going out of order in the text, Third. WE PRAY TOGETHER.
Acts 2:42d They devoted themselves… to prayer… 47 praising God…In Acts we find the early church praying together and worshipping God. “A church that prays together stays together.” A quote from Gene Getz in the book Old Paths, New Power was really powerful to me:
The hallmark of Western civilization has been rugged individualism. Because of our philosophy of life, we are used to the personal pronouns “I” and “my” and “me.” We have not been taught to think in terms of “we” and “our” and “us.” Consequently, we individualize many references to corporate experience in the New Testament, thus often emphasizing personal prayer. The facts are that more is said in the Book of Acts and the Epistles about corporate prayer, corporate learning of biblical truth, corporate evangelism, and corporate Christian maturity and growth than about the personal aspects of these Christian disciplines…. Don’t misunderstand. Both are intricately related. But the personal dimensions of Christianity are difficult to maintain and practice consistently unless they grow out of a proper corporate experience on a regular basis. –
An iChurch prays alone or not at all. A WeChurch prays together.
First it is essential that 1. We gather around God’s Word. 2. We do life together. 3. We pray together and now we complete the 4th with WE BREAK BREAD TOGETHER IN TWO WAYS.
First: the Lord’s Supper
Acts 2:42c, 46b They devoted themselves… to the breaking of bread…We all have a problem with remembering. We really do have short memories. I know I do. That is why I take so many pictures to remember the moments and trigger my complete memory. We have made memorials in Washington, DC and other places so that we would not forget. But think about how time and distance cause us to no longer care about significant events in world history. Pearl Harbor was a day that would live in infamy. The assassination of JFK. The explosion of the Challenger? Even 9/11/2001 no longer carries the pain, weight, and significance that it did in past years. It shows how easy it is to forget. It is really easy to forget things that are commemorated on an annual basis. We are simply a forgetful people and our Lord knew this.
So Jesus wanted us to be devoted to the Lord’s Supper so that we would remember Him. The most important event in world history is the arrival, death, and resurrection of Jesus. There is nothing more important that has ever happened. It is an event that must not be forgotten. It is an event that cannot be quickly passed by. Jesus said to take the bread and take the cup to remember Him. The Lord’s Supper can never turn into something that we just do as an act of worship simply fit in. This is the one thing Jesus said to do to remember Him. The only reason for its institution was so that we would stop and focus on Jesus and what he did for us.
And The Lord’s Supper is an act that is to unify us together as God’s family and intimately join us to Christ. In fact, there is another name that is often given to the Lord’s Supper: communion. You see the word “union” in the word “communion.” There is union that is occurring when we take the Lord’s Supper.
There is a union we are to have with each other when we take the Lord’s Supper. When you read Paul’s directions for the Lord’s Supper to the Corinthians, Paul repeatedly notes that this is not an individual act, 1 Corinthians 11:17 but something that we do together as God’s people (1 Corinthians11: 20). Three times Paul notes that this is something we do together. In fact, Paul tells these Christians to wait for each other to partake (11:33). If the Lord’s Supper is something we do as individuals and do alone, then why do we come together for it and why do we wait for each other? The Lord’s Supper is not something that you do by yourself even if you have to be at home. The Lord’s Supper is an act that is done together because it is a communion action. Listen to how Paul pictures this: The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16) And, we need to see the union that is happening with Christ when we take the Lord’s Supper.
Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Do you hear how we are together in the Lord’s Supper? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body. How are we one body? We all partake of the one bread. Our sharing in the Lord’s Supper shows we are one body who is joined together in Christ. As we eat and drink together, we are saying that we are one. This makes sense of the text in Acts 2:42.The 3000 did not devote themselves to the Lord’s Supper in isolation. They are gathering for this.
In 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 we see that we are participating with Jesus when we eat. We are signifying our togetherness with each other as the people of God. Also, when we eat and drink, we are signifying our connection and sharing with Jesus. Jesus said this Himself to His disciples when He instituted the Lord’s Supper. Notice what Jesus said: I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29)
We are sharing with Jesus when we take the Lord’s Supper. Perhaps we can get no closer to Jesus than in the moments when we receive.
Second: food itself is a big deal in the first church and in every church.
And this bread they broke was not only in act of Communion. 46 …They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, They did this and found it to be essential because their leader and Lord had done this with them. Luke 24:30 When He was at table with them, He took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And Jesus spoke about Himself as bread and the importance of that bread in John 6: John 6:33 “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life… John 6:51 “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” John 6:53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.”
Jesus Himself had shown him and us how to break bread together: And He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19 The early church would eat together and celebrate the Lord’s Supper as part of their meals and remember the story of redemption once again (1 Cor 11:23-26) like we do each time. It was a continued time of fellowship, focused around Christ, anchored by food and eating together. I know the Jesus only gave us two sacraments, baptism and communion, but I’m pretty sure he meant to add “church potluck” as the third.
”What are the essentials that we do as Christians and church together? …
1. We gather around God’s Word together.
2. We do life together.
3. We pray together and
4. We break bread together.
So, what’s the fruit of all this? What’s the outcome? THE RESULT? WE GROW. The last verses of Acts 2:42-47 that we will be looking at over the next 3 weeks ends like this. Acts 2: 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Verse 47 says they enjoyed favor, which is the same word for grace. People were amazed and favorable towards them. But the best result of all? Faith. Every day more and more people are coming to faith in Christ and joining the church family.
The result of this church family and our Nolensville First family studying the Scriptures together, doing life together, sharing meals and communion together, and praying together is there’s something so unique, distinct, and wonderful about them that others can’t help come to faith in Christ. It’s not that they don’t evangelize and witness. They do; but how they live positively influences their witness. One Pastor who said, “Our with-ness aids our witness.”