Church Family Acts 2 42-47
Reading- Acts 2:42-47
Rapport- It is honor today to bring you a message from the word of God. Not only is it an honor to stand here in this pulpit and preach as the youth pastor, but it also an honor to preach in this pulpit after being one who sat in these seats as a child, teenager and now as an adult. I have watched as Ellendale Baptist church grew from a small community church to the wonderful neighborhood church it is today.
It reminds me of a story of a small town had experienced rapid growth, and the local church congregation had outgrown their building. The members formed a committee to plan and build a new church. The committee told the minister to take care of the flock and they would handle the details of church construction. The minister complied with the request and kept his distance.
As the new building was nearing completion, the committee chairman invited the minister to view their new house of worship. Entering through the main doors, the minister noted only the last row of pews had been installed.
“Since people always fill the last row of pews first, we had a special feature installed,” the chairman said. He pressed a button on the wall and the pew moved forward and another popped up. The minister was impressed.
The big day finally arrived for the first service in the new church. The minister peeked out as the pews filled from the back and then moved forward. He was ecstatic.
When the time came for the sermon, the mister was so filled with joy and goodwill, he delivered his prepared message and then some.
At 12 o’clock, he was still sharing the good word when the church bells began to ring...when suddenly a hole opened up in the floor and the pulpit and the minister slowly descended out of sight.
Review- Let us begin today with a little background information about our passage in Acts 2:42-47. The book of Acts was written by Luke to Theophilus as a sequel to the gospel of Luke. The book has been titled as “Acts of the Apostles” but some see the “Acts of the Holy Spirit in the church” as a better fit. For it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that the New Testament church was able to grow. Luke records the events of Acts starting with the 1.) The promise of the Holy Spirit and the Commissioning of the Apostles; 2.) The ascension of Jesus Christ; 3.)The choice of Matthias to replace Judas; 4.) The Coming of the Holy Spirit; 5.) The Gospel shared by Peter;
Relevance- Today, I want us to look at the next major event in the book of Acts which is the activity of the First Christian Church. The church was new and very green, but they were a family. They had their leadership in place, they were empowered by the Holy Spirit and they were ready to make an impact on the world that is still evident today. So now over 2000 years later, we at Ellendale Baptist church need to open the word of God and see his model of a healthy Christian church. He has provided the mold and we are the dough, ready to shaped by his word. From these passages, I would like to focus on the qualities of a healthy church family.
QUALITIES OF A HEALTHY CHURCH FAMILY
1. THE CHURCH RECIEVES NEW MEMBERS
Acts 2:40-42- These people were convicted of their sin, they received the word and were baptized.
HIS ROLLS- If you have not made Christ your Lord and Savior, you cannot be a part of the church. You may have your names on our membership rolls, but your name is not in His membership roll called the Book of Life.
YOU ARE THE CHURCH-You may fill our church seats and attend our classes, but only a repentant person willing to surrender all to Christ is a part of the church family. The church is not this building. We could all walk outside, down the street, into an open field, praise and worship our God and still be the church. You can’t really be at church; you have to be the church.
DON’T WAIT- If you need to surrender your life today, don’t wait. You don’t even have to wait for me to stop preaching, if God is calling you right now to salvation, come forward and a pastor will take you by the hand.
YOUR CHURCH FAMILY-But when you receive Christ, you enter into a new family- your church family. Just like God graciously adds to our earthly families as children are born, so God adds to our heavenly family as well. The second quality of the church family is…
2. THE CHURCH IS DEVOTED TO SPIRITUAL PRACTICES
DEVOTED Vs. 42- “they were devoted.” Most of your translation say “devoted” but I would like to consider more descriptive translation
One NT Greek scholar translates, “
· to persevere,
· to give constant attention to a thing,
· to be devoted or constant to one,
· to be steadfastly attentive to,
· to give unremitting care to,
· to wait on continually, \
· to be in constant readiness for one.”
These new believers were constant in their commitment to the church because it was their family. They were constant in their commitment because they were born again and nothing else seemed to matter.
D. Martin Lloyd-Jones says, “These men and women in Acts 2 were born again, and they manifested it by continuing “steadfastly.” You did not have to round them up or keep watch on them and say accusingly, “You were not here last meeting.” The Jerusalem Christians were there “steadfastly,” day by day, constantly; you could not keep them away.” Why is that? What so passionately grabbed their hearts that they wanted to continue with such dedication to the church? It was Christ. May Christ grab hold of us with such a force that we cannot deny but to serve him with constant commitment or devotion.
HERNANDO CORTEZ-When the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez landed at Vera Cruz, Mexico in 1519 he was intent on conquest. To assure the devotion of his men, Cortez set fire to his fleet of eleven ships! With no means of retreat Cortez’s army had only one direction to move, into the Mexican interior. Cortez understood the price of commitment—and he paid it.
Let’s look at what the church is devoted to :
TEACHING-The 3,000 saved at Pentecost were new creations in Christ and they needed to grow. How do we grow as believers? Paul says, “like new born infants, long for the pure spiritual milk that you may grow up in your salvation.” Paul is reminding us that we are babes in Christ and we cannot survive without being fed. One means by which we can grow as Christians is by being taught the Word of God. The Word of God is like an onion. It has so many layers and as be dive deeper into those layers, we learn more about our God who loves us.
Matthew 28:19-20, “teaching them to observe all things”- Jesus command to his disciples was to make disciples of all nations. Many people interpret that passage as a call to “go” but the command by our Lord is the command to “make disciples” as you go. And Jesus even tells us how to make those disciples, by teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. We as a church family have to make disciples by teaching the others the Word of God.
2 Timothy 2:2, “things which you heard from me…entrust them to faithful men…who will teach others.”
GOD WORD IS NOT A SECRET-So the church family should be devoted to hearing the teaching of the Word and teaching others the Word. This life changing, God-breathed testament of God was not designed to kept a secret; It is to be shared with the others. Jesus shared the word with his disciples and countless others, Paul shared it with Timothy and countless others, who are you sharing it with today?
The second devotion of the church was to…
Vs. 42 “devoted to teaching and fellowship”
GREEK WORD KOINONIA-One of the great Greek words of the bible you should know is “koinonia.” It is a classic word that means partnership, fellowship, and co-operation with the ones whom you love and have commonality with. It actually comes from the root word “koinos” which means common.
JEWS WANTED NEW COMMUNITY-These Acts 2 Jews had just embarked on a radical journey in their lives by accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Since God made us all to desire relational connection, they wanted to fellowship and share this experience with those who have the same common commitments to the Lord. They wanted community to share the Christian life with. We all want fellowship with people in our lives who are like us.
KEVIN WANTED COMMUNITY-I love to tell the testimony story of our former youth pastor, Kevin Carroll, who was saved as a teenager from a rough lifestyle of sin. As he was out in the woods camping with some friends, an innocent girl walked up on their group and shared Jesus with them. As Kevin accepted Christ, he knew his life had changed and he was a new creation. Kevin shares in the following days, he walked into a Christian bookstore to quench his desire to learn more and he asked a clerk there, “where are all the Christians at?” He desired to fellowship with those like himself.
THERE IS NO CHRISTIAN SOLITUDE-No one who is truly a converted individual can convince me that they enjoy their solitude as a Christian more than the fellowship of believers. I would simply tell them that God did not design it that way. We are told in Hebrews 10:25 that we should not forsake assembling together as the church family because God designed us to assemble, relate, encourage and build up every one in our church family.
The third devotion of the church was to…
BAPTISM- We can see immediately that ordinances were established in the church. The first ordinance that was observed after the Pentecost revival was baptism.
BAPTISM IN ACTS- Acts 2:41- “those who received his words were baptized.” Baptism is often referred to as that outward act of inward obedience. If you search the book of Acts alone, there were 11 different events were new believers in Christ were baptized and let me remind you that the NT baptism always followed salvation. But it was obvious that the new Christian church was devoted to baptism.
Romans 6:3-4 gives us clear indication of what baptism represents. It represents us dying to our sinful nature; being buried with Christ as we go under the water; and being resurrected into a new life as we are raised from the water. If a person has not truly surrendered their life to Christ, then standing before the church for baptism is a flat out lie because the spiritual renewal you are representing has not occurred.
WHO NEEDS BAPTISM? There may be many here today that need to be baptized. Some people fear because of being in front of the church, some fear because you were truly converted later in life, but regardless I challenge you to come today and obey your Lord by being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
BREAKING THE BREAD -The second ordinance was the breaking of bread. This section of this passage is equally debated among the evangelical commentators.
John Polhill writes in the New American Commentary, “the meaning of the third element, “the breaking of bread,” … would likely carry the cultic sense of sharing a meal with the Lord, participating in the Lord’s Supper. It probably also involved as well their participation in a main agapē (love) meal together.”
John Macarthur says, “Their fellowship was symbolized by obedience to the spiritual duty of the breaking of bread, a reference to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, or Communion.
A MEAL AND COMMUNION- After studying the text, it is mentioned below in Acts 2:46 “and day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.” So this breaking of bread could have contained a fellowship meal. But the purpose of that time had to focus on the remembrance of the Lord’s death on the cross.
The last devotion of the church was the constant commitment to…
PRAYER -it is an obvious statement that the church family has to be a praying family. Paul tells the Philippian church, “in everything by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known to God.” We see Jesus here on earth teaching his disciples to pray and modeling prayer in his own life as we went away to pray many times.
PRAYER IN CHURCH- We can see here in Acts that immediately after Jesus’ ascension up to heaven, the disciples gathered together and prayed. When faced with finding an apostle to replace the betrayer Judas, they prayed for God to lead them. Where the Bible teaches that individual prayer is essential to the growth of believers, so we see here that corporate prayer with believers is necessary for the success of a church family.
WHATS THE DIFFERENCE?
|A Church That Prays||A Church Devoted to Prayer|
|· Prays about what it does.||· Does things by prayer.|
|Prays at its convenience.||· Prays at God’s command.|
|· Prays when there are problems.||· Prays when there are opportunities.|
|· Has guilt—knowing it should pray more.||· Has joy—desiring to pray more.|
|· Asks God to bless what it’s doing.||· Asks God to enable it to do what He is blessing.|
|· Thinks it is too busy to pray.||· Knows it is too busy not to pray.|
|· Fits prayer in somewhere.||· Gives priority to prayer.|
|· Uses God.||· Is used by God.|
The third quality of a church family is…
3. THE CHURCH SEES GOD AT WORK
NOT EVERYONE; EVERY SOUL-Vs. 43- “everyone felt sense of awe(fear).” The author Luke does something very interesting here in the text. In verse 41-42, Luke is clearly talking about the conversion of new Christians and the practices they committed to as the church family. But then he switches gears in verse 43. Your translation of the bible may not emphasize like it needs to be emphasized but Luke says in the Greek, “and fear came upon every soul.” I think that the translation “every soul” captures the change in Luke’s subject matter better than the term “everyone” because all souls whether lost or saved, witnessed the power of God through the signs and wonders that the apostles did.
GREEK WORD PHOBOS- then Luke uses the Greek word “phobos” which translates into fear, terror, or reverent fear. This same word is why our fears today are called phobias.
PHOBIAS- for students those that always were poor in math- arthimaphobia (fear of numbers). There are those suffering from ca-top-tro-phobia (fear of mirrors) and from cacophobia (fear of ugliness). I know some of you suffer from cyberphobia (fear of computers) and dentophobia (fear of dentists). I suffer from coultrophobia (fear of clowns) and claustraphobia (fear of tight spaces). I pray that you never suffer from homilophobia (fear of sermons) or ecclesiaphobia (fear of church).
FEAR AND AWE-But the people that Luke was referring to included both the new converts and the unconverted. Translating phobos to “fear” or “awe” both fit the context. As the new Christians witnessed the signs and miracles, their faith in Christ was affirmed and they were in awe of the Lord’s power that was given to these men. But those without Christ who witnesses these signs and wonders, must have had the terror of their sin and the fear of God’s Holy wrath come upon them. And if we fast forward to the end of this text, we can see those who feared for their soul could have been added to the church upon receiving Christ.
the fourth quality of a church family is…
4. THE CHURCH MEETS NEEDS
Vs. 44-45, “they had all things in common…gathered possessions, shared with any who had need.”
UNITY AND GENEROSITY- These verses point to the unity of the church and their generosity as they tried to provide for the needs of others in demonstration of their new found faith. They were accustomed to accommodating Jews in Jerusalem who came from afar to celebrate Passover and it propelled them even further now that wanted to model Christ to the world.
INWARD AND OUTWARD- The church family has a dying world around them. We have to be careful that we are not inwardly focused ONLY but we must focus on the outside world and meet their need as well.
SEMINARY PROFESSOR- a seminary professor had a unique assignment for his class of 15 students one day. He sent 5 students across campus to a destination with only 15 minutes to get there. The next five students were sent to the same destination with a 45 minute time limit to arrive. The last group was afforded 5 hours to arrive that this destination.
The professor had placed in the path of each team some obvious opportunities to meet someone’s need by using drama majors to act as though they had desperate needs. A couple actors acted like they were homeless, while others sat crying loudly. It turns out that none in group one stopped to offer help, only two from group two and all five in group three.
IS THE CHURCH TOO BUSY? The church has got to be the central hub to meeting needs in our world. It is obvious the lessons Jesus taught as He traveled tirelessly from town to town, meeting the needs of the poor and needy people. He fed the hungry. He healed the sick and lame. He resurrected the dead to life. . The question we should constantly ask ourselves is, “how is EBC meeting the needs in our world?”
The fifth quality of a church family is…
5. THE CHURCH SHARES CHRIST WITH THE WORLD
It can be missed if we are careful, but notice how these new Christian went back to the temple daily for prayer and to witness. Jesus claimed the temple as His Father’s house so they were inclined to go.
Acts 5 After the apostles are imprisoned because of the jealousy of the Sadduccees, an angel broke them out of prison and told them to go back and preach in the temple. They went back and were again arrested and told not to preach in Jesus name. But nothing would keep these apostles from doing God’s work, so in Acts 5:42, it says, “and every day in the temple and from house to house, they kept on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
One commentator writes, “the Christian presence in the temple testifies not only to remaining faithful to their Jewish heritage but also evidences their zeal for witness. In Jerusalem the temple was the primary place where crowds would be found, and there the Christians went to bear their witness.”
THEY WENT TO THE TEMPLE-NOT VISE VERSA. Notice how these new Christians went to the temple daily. They went preaching and teaching Jesus. They did not wait for the unbelievers to come to them. They went out seeking those who were lost and they were diligent about it.
There is much debate today about the church contextualizing itself with the world in order to reach the lost world. One side of the argument stands against this “vulgarization of the church” as one author writes, ”Worldly preachers seem to go out of their way to put their carnal expertise on display—even in their sermons. In the name of connecting with “the culture” they want their people to know they have seen all the latest programs on MTV; familiarized themselves with all the key themes of “South Park”; learned the lyrics to countless tracks of gangsta rap and heavy metal music; and watched who-knows-how-many R-rated movies. They seem to know every fad top to bottom, back to front, and inside out. They’ve adopted both the style and the language of the world—including lavish use of language that used to be deemed inappropriate in polite society, much less in the pulpit. They want to fit right in with the world, and they seem to be making themselves quite comfortable there.” This side focuses on the purity of the church, the holiness of its parishioners and the isolation from the world’s ideals.
The opposite side of the debate focuses on reaching the world for Christ by being relevant to the culture that is trying to be reached. Those who support this side of the argument claim relevancy as a missional focus of Christ and the apostles.
In response to this debate, I would say that we do not need to become like the world to reach the world. We just need to go to the world to reach the world. It is God’s desire for Christians to go into the world, tell others about Christ and bring back new Christians to the churches and their new family. As I said earlier, churches are places of commonality and non-believers have nothing in common with believers.
But in the last two decades, Christians have changed from soul-winners to pied pipers. It is as if we say, “As long as we can lead them to the church, the church will share Christ with them.” But that is opposite of our command to “go and make disciples of all nations.” And I am guilty of this as a pastor as well. I have caught myself telling students to bring their lost students to church instead of equipping those students to lead their friend to church first. By saying that, I am equipping my students to be lazy and I am robbing them of the spiritual experience of leading their friends to Christ. We are called as the church to share Christ with the world individually.
The last quality of the church family is…
6. THE CHURCH PRAISES GOD
Vs. 47- “praising God”- the Greek word ”aineo” is translated as “the joyful praise of God expressed in doxology, hymn or prayer, whether by individuals (Lk. 2:20; Ac. 3:8 f.), the group of disciples (Lk. 19:37), the community (Ac. 2:47; Rev. 19:5) or the angels (Lk. 2:13).”
Luke spoke many times of the “aineo” or the noun form “ainos” in reference to the praise of God. He used in twice in Luke 2 as the angels and the lowly shepherds praised God at the birth of the baby Jesus. He uses it in Luke 19 at the triumphal entry of Jesus as he rides into town on a donkey and the crowds praise God for the mighty works Jesus had done.
The psalmists declare the praise of God:
i. (9) I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
ii. (18) I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.
iii. (21) Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.
iv. (22) You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
v. (30) Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
vi. (40) He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.
vii. (47) Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
This text today illustrates for us the qualities that must be present here at Ellendale Baptist Church. We must use this snapshot of the early Christian church and line our own practices, beliefs and events up with the Word of God. We are a part of the family of God. We who are in Christ and a part of His church should be compelled to receive new members. We should be devoted to the teaching of the Word, to fellowship, to ordinances, and to prayer. We should be seeing God at work within our church. We should be meeting the needs of our world. When we meet those needs, we should be sharing Christ with those in need. Most importantly, we should be praising God always. Let’s pray!