THE EARLY CHURCH

Scripture Reading:  Acts 2:42-47

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.”  (Acts 2:42-43)

How I long for the church today to experience what the people in the early church experienced.  Three thousand people were converted on the Day of Pentecost.  They were filled with awe at what God had done for them.  They met together in homes and had times of worship and prayer.  God was working among them in powerful ways.

These new believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.  They were committed to learn.  But what they learned was not just head knowledge; what they learned transformed their lives.  There is a big difference between education and transformation.  If what we learn doesn’t change our lives, we are not growing to maturity in Christ; we are only filling our minds with more information.

These early believers devoted themselves to fellowship.  The Greek word is koinonia, which means “a sharing in common.”  These new followers of Christ spent time together and freely shared what they had with one another:  “And all who believed were together and had all things in common.  And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need” (vs. 44,45).  There is no question in my mind that the most effective spiritual growth comes in the context of community, in deep relationships with other believers.  It is in community that we learn how to work out the implications of the gospel, where we can be open and honest with one another.

The early Christians also committed themselves to worship, “to the breaking of bread.”  Most biblical scholars believe that this phrase is a reference to the Lord’s Supper.  Participation in worship, which includes partaking of the Sacraments together, is critical for our growth.  “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people” (vs. 46,47a).

And finally, we see how these early believers devoted themselves to prayer.  The early church was birthed in prayer and as it grew, prayer was considered essential.  As you read through the Book of Acts you will see how important prayer was for the development of the church and for the spiritual growth of believers.

People were being drawn to these early Christians:  “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (v. 47b).  Unbelievers were being attracted to these early Christians because they saw how believers were filled with hope and joy, and how they loved one another.  Unbelievers desired to have what these early believers had:  faith, hope and love.

What will it take to get our churches today back to the excitement, commitment and growth of the early church?  I believe it will take a discovery and a rediscovery of the wonder of the gospel.  So many today have been steeped in religion.  They are filled with self-righteousness and pride.  They have become conditioned to religious tradition.  They need to discover the gospel!  Others in our churches have forgotten the basics of the gospel.  We have become side-tracked by other things.  They have lost their awe of God and their appreciation of the cross.  Let’s pray for a genuine fresh movement of the Holy Spirit!

Lord Jesus, please revive Your church today.  Let us experience what the early church experienced.  Forgive us for our foolish ways that turn off unbelievers rather than attract them to Your church.  Let this work of renewal begin in me today.

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