An Acts 2 Church
There are three parts to growing the church.
- There’s the work that God does,
- the work the individual Christian does, and
- the work the church does.
First, God’s work. It’s easy to either put nothing on God or everything on Him. Sometimes we forget about God’s role in everything because we get excited about our role. This quickly leads to discouragement when we get rejected. On the other hand, we might be inclined to take a passive role and “let God handle things.” This will surely be ineffective as well. Clearly, God has given us the task of carrying the gospel to the lost.
Second, we see our individual responsibilities. We’ll discuss this more another day, but the tasks of studying with someone, baptizing them, encouraging them, etc. are all one-on-one jobs. They can only be performed by an individual person—you!
Third—and the focus of our lesson this morning—there’s the work of the church as a community. The example I want to share with you today comes from Acts 2:42–47.
“And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.
And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.
And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were dividing them up with all, as anyone might have need.
And daily devoting themselves with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.
And the Lord was adding to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)
There at the end is the culmination of God’s work: He adds former unbelievers to the church. People obey the gospel and He saves them from their sins. Notice however, that God’s work is a response to the obedience of the people, which in turn is a response to the efforts of the apostles and first church members.
That’s exactly what we want to happen here in Hondo.
We want an Acts 2 kind of revival in this city and in this county. We could sit around and try to come up with some fancy method, but we have a recipe book right here in this passage. If we want this kind of growth, we have to be the kind of church described at the end of Acts 2.
How did this happen? I would like to show you how the church’s role is to show people what God is like. Her purpose is never to exalt herself, but to exalt God in everything. When we do this, not only as individuals, but as the body of Christ, He will cause us to grow.
We demonstrate God’s unity.
The church cannot have any effect so long as we act apart from one another. This text shows us a unified body of believers who act as a single party for a singular purpose. Look at some of the phrases used in this short passage:
- “fear came upon every soul” (43)
- “all those who believed” (44)
- “all things in common” (44)
- “dividing them up with all” (45)
- “with one accord“(46)
This is not a church with factions.
Paul frequently battled disunity in the congregations he ministered with. He sharply warned the Corinthians about falling into various parties:
“Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor 1:10–13)
Besides this admonition, Paul wrote entire letters centered on establishing unity in the congregations he wrote to; Romans, Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon all primarily deal with internal conflicts that have come up or will soon.
As long as a congregation has “sides” that develop, it will not grow, at least not in any healthy way. But tearing down the divisions is still not enough.
This is a church that acts cohesively.
A dull, passive agreeance among ourselves will still accomplish nothing. While I do not look out today and see deep-set infighting among you all, I also do not see a hard-working, unified church. I know many of you are hard workers who want to make a difference. What are you waiting for?
The church in Acts two didn’t sit around and smile at each other daily. They didn’t devote themselves to smalltalk after the worship service. We don’t see them showing up for one hour a week and then disappearing for seven days. They really worked together—all of them—all the time—to the same goal.
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Eph 2:19–22)
This language of unity comes from the fact that God Himself is One. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit all commune together to build and establish the church. In the same way, we glorify God by our imitation of Him (Eph 5:1) so that we will be “fitted together”!
This church will grow when she learns to show the world the unity of our God.
We demonstrate God’s power.
Verse 43 speaks of this “fear” or “sense of awe” that fills the people. Luke, the author of Acts, then explains why this is: “many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.”
These wonders and signs included such things as the healing of the lame man in the next chapter, raising the dead like in chapter 9, casting out demons like in chapter 16, etc. These miracles, wonders, and signs cast fear and awe on those who saw them because they knew they were seeing the power of the Almighty God.
When people witness the power of God, they come to believe. If people do not respond to God’s omnipotence with fear and obedience, their hearts must be stone-hard.
Unfortunately, neither you nor I can cure a man with congenital impairment of the lower limbs. We definitely can’t raise the dead. I wouldn’t even know where to begin with casting out a demon. That’s not how we expose the world to the power of God.
Share the Gospel.
The power of God is contained in the Gospel.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Rom 1:16)
Even here in Acts 2, notice that the conviction in verse 37 doesn’t come from seeing them speak in tongues, but from hearing the news of the resurrection of Jesus.
We might not be able to conduct amazing miracles of healing, but that’s because we don’t need to. God’s power has been condensed into the message of the Gospel and the resurrection of Jesus. When we share the good news, we make it clear that God is alive and working, even today.
While the Gospel is full of God’s power and not man’s, He has chosen for humble people to carry it forth. Listen to what Paul says about the ministry of the Gospel:
“Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.” (2 Cor 4:7 CSB)
By taking away the showiness, God ensures that only He is credited with the glory of His power.
The message of the Gospel was not shared by only a handful of people, but was proclaimed equally by all the early church. The church grew because they worked together in the process of spreading the news.
Share your transformation.
I know there are differing opinions on sharing your testimony. Perhaps that wording isn’t found in Scripture, but the principle is.
Peter and John had the unique privilege of witnessing Christ’s life, death, and resurrection personally. Paul, on the other hand, only claimed to have witnessed the resurrected Jesus (Gal 1). When Paul preached the Gospel, he often alluded not only to the Damascus road, but he emphasized the change that occurred within him.
We can show the power of God in our own lives by telling people who we once were and showing them what God has accomplished in us.
“Having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” (Col 2:12–15)
Here, Paul reminds us what God has done for us through the power of the Cross in baptism. This metamorphosis exalts God. Only His power can cause the wicked to become holy.
Show people what God has done through the cross, and how that has changed your own life.
We demonstrate God’s love.
In verses 44–45, we see the extreme kindness and fellowship these Christians have for one another. Again, this stems out of the unity and closeness they have for each other. This word common (“they had all things in common“) is very closely related to the word fellowship we see often in Scripture. These Christians have fellowship with each other, and notice that it’s more than eating together.
This kind of fellowship involves seeing each other’s needs and making sacrifices to fix them. It involves more than a business relationship or even friendship. These sacrifices are a proof of their deep love for one another.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34–35)
Imagine the impact it had on unbelievers to see this love demonstrated. This communion doesn’t occur in pagan religions. Cults involve showing respect to and making sacrifices for a single person. Jesus teaches us that our self-sacrifice will point others’ eyes upward.
“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:22–23)
God’s love and unity are best shown when we ourselves bear them out.
We demonstrate God’s majesty.
Notice how they choose to spend their time together: not just having fun or in social activities, but in the Temple and in worship. They broke bread together and praised God. It’s hard to say whether this use of “breaking bread” refers to the Lord’s Supper, but “praising God” is certainly worshipful.
Worship that elevates God and lifts Him up will cause others to do the same. We proclaim God’s majesty when we worship Him and when we serve Him the way He has instructed.
We lift God up before people by acting like Christ really is Lord over our lives
“Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” (1 Cor 8:6)
We can be the church in Acts 2.
I don’t know if you noticed, but verse 42 is actually a summary of everything we’ve covered. This was a church…
- “devoting themselves” — they were unified and active.
- “to the apostles teaching” — they shared the Gospel and everything that included.
- “to the fellowship” — they fulfilled one another’s needs both physically and spiritually.
- “to the breaking of bread and to prayers” — they worshiped and glorified God together.
We can do all of those things ourselves here in Hondo. There’s nothing stopping us. If we do these things, we will grow. Will we be an Acts 2 church?