ACTS – The Body of Christ
“Because the story of Jesus is so impressive–God among us! God speaking a language we can understand! God acting in ways that heal and help and save us!–there is a danger that we will be impressed, but only impressed.” Eugene Peterson
As the spectacular dimensions of this story slowly (or suddenly) dawn on us, we could easily become enthusiastic spectators, and then let it go at that–become admirers of Jesus, generous with our oohs and ahs, and in our better moments inspired to imitate him.
Dr. Luke, writer of Acts, tries to prevent that, to prevent us from becoming mere spectators to Jesus, fans of the Message. Of the original quartet of writers on Jesus, Luke alone continues to tell the story as the apostles and disciples LIVE IT into the next generation. The remarkable thing is that it continues to be essentially the same story. Luke continues his narration with hardly a break, a pause,perhaps to dip his pen in the inkwell, writing in the same style, using the same vocabulary.
The story of Jesus doesn’t end with Jesus. It continues in the lives of those who believe in Him. The supernatural does not stop with Jesus. Luke makes it clear that these Christians he wrote about were no more spectators of Jesus than Jesus was a spectator of God–they were IN on the action of God, God acting IN them, God living IN them. Which also means, of course, IN us.
What a glorious thought! God with us! Christ in me! His Holy Spirit guiding me to fulfill God’s purpose and plan for me!
In Acts, chapter one, we recount the last visit of Jesus on earth, His witnessed ascension back to heaven and then the disciples and other followers back to their “meeting room”.
I love this verse, “They agreed they were in this for good, completely together in prayer, the women included. Also Jesus’ mother, Mary, and his brothers.” Acts 1:14 The Message Some of Jesus’ brothers did not believe he was the Son of God, Savior, until after the crucifixion and resurrection.
AGREEMENT. What a beautiful, cherished thought, to be in unity and agreement with each other, with God’s plan forming, as you help others find and follow Jesus.
We move along from agreement in Jesus’ church to the forming of purpose and mission. This passage, one of my other favorites, shows us what Jesus intended for the Body of Christ. It is simple really, but over the ages of time, has been filled with traditions and man made laws of behavior. (Mm, just like the Pharisees did). He sends, as promised, His Holy Spirit to come in power, giving believers power with gifts to speak the message of Jesus clearly, so clearly in fact that the people gathered (thousands) are convicted and asked, “What shall we do?”
Peter, (assigned by Jesus to be “the rock” upon which Jesus will build his church), gives the answer. This former fisherman, now filled with God’s Holy Spirit, stands and speaks with authority and passionate clarity with his new gift of powerful persuasion for Christ. (Wow! Wrap your head around that! This is the same man who denied Jesus three times, out of fear, when Jesus was arrested!)
“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.’” Acts 2:38-39, NIV
Peter goes to say…“With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Acts 2:40-41, NIV
Did you get that? THREE THOUSAND clamored to be saved by Jesus–some of the same people who shouted, “Crucify Him” a few weeks before.
Now a gathering, a crowd, who believes in Jesus, is forming. What is next? Luke tells us exactly what happened. This is how the “church” began to take shape, driven by the leading of His Holy Spirit. Luke strips it all down to the basics. This is what the church, the Body of believers with Jesus Christ as the Head of the Body, believes AND this is how the Body of Christ behaves…
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who 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.” Acts 42-47, NIV
Do you see the four purposes of the church? (Acts 2:42)
1. Devoted to the teaching by those who have been called.
2. Devoted to fellowship.
3. Devoted to remembering, The Bread of communion.
4. Devoted to prayer.
Teaching, Fellowship, Communion, Prayer–the basic tenants of the church of believers in Christ.
These fabulous four, I call them, are fleshed out in the succeeding verses. Here are descriptors that stand out to me…
“Filled with awe”, “together with everything in common”, “give to anyone in need”, “continued to meet”, “broke bread and ate together”, “glad and sincere hearts”…
AND the Lord honored this new church by adding to their numbers…DAILY…those who were being saved!
Can this still happen today! YES! A million times YES!
God honors hearts who are sincere and glad to be with Him and with others who believe. God loves it when His children love each other! I love it when my kids get along and love each other, so I get it!
God honors those who understand that all they have is God’s in the first place! We do not have anything that God has not provided for us. All things belong to God! We, who are made in His image, are mere managers of God’s stuff. We do not covet the stuff of others, we gladly share what we have because we do not think like the world thinks. To give a person leg up in troubled times is a good thing. Even better is to teach how to work alongside you and others. (“Common”) We are in this together indeed.
God’s Holy Spirit gives us skills and abilities beyond our own talents to serve others in unique ways to help them find and follow Jesus, too! Faith boils down to what Jesus said are the greatest of all the commandments: Love God. Love Others.
Don’t love your goods, love and seek God. (Matthew 6)
All of us labor and work, for God worked. We are to be compassionate and generous in giving others the opportunities to work and give as well. “They all worked together” for the common good.
I could talk for days about this passage, but we will close with a further explanation of Acts 2:42 by Warren Wiersbe, one of my favorite commentators;
The Church Walking in the Spirit (2:42–47)
“The believers continued to use the temple for their place of assembly and ministry, but they also met in various homes. The three thousand new converts needed instruction in the Word and fellowship with God’s people if they were to grow and become effective witnesses. The early church did more than make converts; they also made disciples (Matt. 28:19–20).”
“Two phrases in Acts 2:42 may need explanation. “Breaking of bread” probably refers to their regular meals, but at the close of each meal, they probably paused to remember the Lord by observing what we call “the Lord’s Supper.” Bread and wine were the common fare at a Jewish table.”
“The word fellowship means much more than “being together.” It means “having in common” and probably refers to the sharing of material goods that was practiced in the early church. This was certainly not a form of modern communism, for the program was totally voluntary, temporary (Acts 11:27–30), and motivated by love.” (Wiersbe)
Do you attend an Acts 2:42 church?
How do you know it covers all the basics of Acts 2:42?
What gifts do you feel the Holy Spirit has given to you for contributing to the mission of helping people find and follow Jesus?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank for stirring my heart this morning with this powerful passage, telling about the beginnings of your church. Help us to know You, know each other better, love you and love each other like you love us. Help us to encourage each other. Help us to truly be more Christ-like in our fellowship with each other. Help us to behave like we say we believe.
In Jesus Name, Amen