Amplified Article: Pentecost

Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.  45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.  46 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, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

In Acts 2, we are given the description of the beginning of the Church.  Here in Acts 2, we are given the ultimate example to shoot for in our church. Th Church was founded on the Day of Pentecost when 120 believers received the Holy Spirit and spoke the wonders of God in other tongues.  That pouring out of His Spirit is described at the beginning of Acts 2.  It was then that Peter preached his great sermon to a large crowd of people who were wondering about the miracles they were observing.  As Peter preached, 3000 people in the crowd were cut to the heart, convicted, and converted to Christianity.  They were subsequently baptized in water so that they also might receive the Holy Spirit. These new Christians and the 120 disciples were bonded together into one community in which they lived out their faith in Jesus.  The church was growing. 

What priorities made up this early church?

PRIORITY ONE: DEVOTION TO THE WORD

The first thing we notice is that the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachings, meaning this was an apostolic church—the apostles led the church.  The distinguishing characteristic of this church was that the members devoted themselves to studying and practicing the apostles’ doctrine.  The Apostles were commanded by Jesus to preach the gospel to people, to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and to teach them to obey all that Jesus had commanded them to do.  This is what they were doing.  In their efforts to reach out, they taught the same things Jesus had taught them.   

They started with immersing themselves in the teachings of Christ because all of the life of the church flows from the fixed, authoritative, infallible Gospel teaching. The apostles were authorized by the Lord to preach the gospel and they did! 

Where do we find such teaching today?  How can we devote ourselves as they did? 

We find the teachings of Jesus in the Bible.  We have the very words of Jesus at our fingertips.  So, a modern apostolic church is a church that teaches the truth of the New Testament as well as the Old Testament; with conviction and urgency and with diligence.  So then, one basic way that we can devote ourselves to the Word, if we want to follow the example in Acts, is to commit ourselves to diligent study of God’s Word. 

If we are members of a Spirit-filled church we will study the Scriptures regularly.  We study the Bible on a regular basis so that we may get to know God better, love Him, and please God by living out what He has to say to us.

Regular Bible study means we will grow in our knowledge of God, in our acquaintance with God, and in our love for God. It means we will become mature rather than remaining as infants.  We must study the Bible seriously. We must engage in the intellectual exercise of Scripture study.  We must be an explorer of the Bible and not a tourist. A tourist travels quickly, stopping only to observe the highly noticeable or publicized points of interest. The explorer, on the other hand, takes his time to search out all that they can find. Too many of us read the Bible like a tourist and then complain that our devotional times are fruitless. It is necessary that we take time to explore the Bible. We need to be committed explorers of the Bible. 

What priorities made up this early church? 

PRIORITY TWO: DEVOTION TO FELLOWSHIP

The second characteristic of a Spirit-filled active moving-forward church is fellowship.  A Spirit-filled Christian is one who is delivered from self-centeredness and is one who is focused on fellowship with God and purposeful fellowship with others.

What kinds of things become important? 

Worship: The picture we get from the Book of Acts is that believers gathered often to worship together.  They met on the first day of the week which is Sunday.  Some gathered every day.  The purpose of their time together was to focus on God and worship Him with song, hearing from the Apostles, and communion.

Spiritual disciplines:  We trust in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior and trust in His grace to save us.  That grace calls us to a life of holiness.  The early church got together and encouraged each other in things like meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance, and giving.

Discipleship: The entire purpose of the church is to make and train disciples.  The passing on of the faith from one believer to another is discipleship.  Learning to be more like Jesus is discipleship.  Each week as the believers gathered they would encourage one another further along in their faith journey. 

Fellowship:  Family eats together.  Family plays together.  Family travels together.  Family supports one another.  Family does projects together.  Family struggles together.   The early church was connected to each other as a community and it strengthened their faith to know there was a whole fellowship of believers beside them.

Service:  The early church was not self-centered.  The early church was Jesus-centered which produced in them the desire to think of others in their community.  Service for others is a key part of love and sharing the Gospel with people who do not know Jesus.  They shared Jesus by serving others because that is what He did.  We find Jesus constantly reaching out to those around Him and His followers did the same after He went back to Heaven.

Evangelism: Evangelism is the on-purpose sharing of the Good News of Jesus with words with someone who does not know.  Evangelism is one of the most basic parts of the Christian faith.  Nevertheless, the early church was clearly sharing their faith on a regular basis.  This was the only way Christianity could spread… one believer telling a nonbeliever about Jesus Christ.

What priorities made up this early church? 

PRIORITY THREE: THE BREAKING OF BREAD

The third characteristic of a church is the breaking of bread. This phrase, “breaking of bread,” refers to the observance of Communion and emphasizing Jesus Christ in all that we do.  Jesus Christ had been crucified and buried, but on the third day He rose from the dead and appeared to many of His disciples over a period of forty days before He ascended into Heaven. Now seated at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven, Jesus Christ has been appointed both Lord and Christ, the Sovereign Lord of the Universe.  While Jesus was on earth, He instituted the Lord’s Supper as a sign of the new covenant between us and God.  It is a time of reflection of the heart, a focusing of the Spirit.

The early church regularly and frequently celebrated Communion as a way of remembering their Lord. On the night before He died, Jesus told His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:24-25).  Whenever the early disciples ate the bread and drank the cup, they were remembering Jesus Christ and His great love for them. Jesus’, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of God the Father was all done because He loves each and every one of us. Every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we are reminded of this great truth that Jesus Christ loves us and desires a relationship with us.

Communion is a time to remember Christ and focus your heart on Him, but as God’s people, our hearts should always be turned to Him and focusing upon Jesus.  Jesus is the motivator of our hearts.  Communion is that time when we focus our hearts on Him in the areas of:

Atonement

Blood

Confession

Deliverance

Eternal Life

Forgiveness

Grace

Hope

Sacrifice

Love

Messiah

What priorities made up this early church?

PRIORITY FOUR: PRAYER

The fourth characteristic of the church in Acts 2 is that the members of the church spent their time in prayer. The early disciples were constantly praying. In Acts 2, we read that they were praying in the upper room before they were baptized in the Holy Spirit, and they continued to pray together daily afterwards.  Why?  Because prayer is a means by which believers keep in touch with God. These disciples were connecting not only with one another but also with God.

Throughout the book of Acts we read about the apostles praying:

Acts 4:23-24 says, “On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.  24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God.” In verse 31 we read, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.”

In Acts 12, we read that the Apostle Peter was put into prison by King Herod.  Herod had already killed the Apostle James and he was planning to kill Peter.  In Acts 12:5 we read, “So Peter was kept in prison but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” God heard the prayers of the church, sent an angel to release Peter, and in verse 13 we see Peter knocking on the door of the house where the people were praying for his release. The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer fetched the angel. 

In Acts 13, we read that the church in Antioch fasted and prayed for divine direction. As they were praying, God directed the church to send out Paul and Barnabas on what became their first missionary journey.

In Acts 16, we find Paul and Silas in Philippi. After they were severely beaten, they were put into prison. In verses 25-26 we read, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken and everybody’s chains came loose.” The jailer rushed in, crying, “What must I do to be saved?” and the Bible tells us that the jailer and his family believed in Christ and were baptized that very night.

Great things happen when God’s people pray!

Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.  45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.  46 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, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

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