“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the 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. 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. 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. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47
The early church lived in the atmosphere of the empowering presence of the crucified, resurrected, and ascended Jesus. The reality of that is manifested in the historical overview found in this passage.
1. The Attitude of Awe (Reverence, Respect, Worship)
“Leading a ______________ without the presence of the Lord filling the eyes of your heart is dangerous for any leader or leadership community. It is impossible to look at creation and not see the glory and presence of the one who created it. Awe controls it to this very day. It is also possible to look at your ______________ and forget that every good thing is the work of hands greater than your own.” Paul David Tripp, Lead, p. 212
ANSWER KEY: ministry, ministry
Practices Lived Out by the Early Church
• They were devoted to the apostles' teaching.
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
• They were devoted to fellowship (vv.42, 44).
They were devoted to the breaking of bread.
The community of believers were all part of the family of faith.
• They were devoted to prayer.
Prayer was both anticipatory and a pushing against the status quo.
Q: What is prayer? A:
Prayer is pouring out our hearts to God in praise, petition, confession of sin, and thanksgiving. New City Catechism
, Question 38
Two Essential Attitudes: Glad and Generous/Sincere Hearts (v.46)
Glad equals extreme joy. (Luke 1:14, Hebrews 1:9, Jude 24). Sincerity equals simplicity, humility of life.
“At present it is January with me, both within and without. The outward sun shines and looks pleasant; but his beams are faint, and too feeble to dissolve the frost. So it is in my heart: I have many bright and pleasant beams of truth in my view but cold dominates my frost-bound spirit, and they have little power to warm me. I could tell a stranger something about Jesus that would perhaps astonish him: such a glorious person he is….I know these things so well, and yet I am not presently affected with them! Indeed. I have reason to be on ill terms with myself! It is strange that pride should ever find anything in my experience to feed upon; but this completes my character for falling, violence and inconsistence, that I am not only poor, but proud: and though I am convinced I am a wretch, and nothing before the Lord, I am prone to go forth among my fellow creatures as though I am wise and good.” John Newton, Combined Works, Volume 2, p. 232-233
“And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president, in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in word takes care of all who are in ended.” Justin Martyre, 1 Apology, 67 (c.155 A.D.)