Acts 2:43-47

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 13 , 1997

Introduction

Last week we saw a little bit about what the early church kept themselves busy with.

We saw that they continued (stuck to doing these things consistently) Ė

1) The Word of God (the apostleís doctrine)

2) Fellowship

3) Communion (breaking of bread)

4) Prayer

The more I study this passage, the more it seems that the next few verses are a portrait of what happened in the church because they chose to hold fast to these basic areas. As they continued in the basics, there were some great continuing results.

We could translate the next few verses this way:

43 And fear was continually coming upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were continually being done by the apostles. 44 And all that were believing were continually together, and were continually having all things in common; 45 And were continually selling their possessions and goods, and were continually dividing them to all men, as any person had a need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and continually breaking bread from house to house, did continually eat their food with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 Continually praising God, and continually having favor with al the people. And the Lord was continually adding to the church daily, those who were continually being saved.

Portrait of a Continuing Church

:43 And fear came upon every soul

fear - phobos - fear, dread, terror

This was a time of incredible things happening, and the people were seeing God at work.

Lesson:

Continuing fear

Fear is not always a bad thing.

Because Iím afraid of getting burnt, Iím afraid of fire.

It seems that whenever God works in a powerful way, one of the results is a good, healthy fear, a sense of total awe at Godís presence.

When Jesus told Peter to let his nets down for a catch of fish, and his nets were suddenly full of fish Ö

Lu 5:8 When Simon Peter saw [it], he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

Thereís something that happens inside of us when we realize that our God is right here, Heís watching, and He cares about how we live our lives.

And that healthy kind of fear affects our behavior:

(Prov 8:13 NNAS) "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate.

When I have a healthy respect for who God is, Iíll pay attention to staying away from the things that God doesnít like.

:43 and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

We havenít seen any miracles (other than tongues) yet, but theyíre going to start rolling in.

Blind and lame people will be healed.

The dead will be raised.

Demons will be cast out.

Hypocritical liars will drop dead.

Lesson:

Continuing in power.

We donít want to put an undue emphasis on miracles and such, but the truth is, God is powerful, and when weíre walking close to Him, weíre going to be seeing His work in our midst.

We donít serve a God who is just a bunch of words, but one who can do great works in our midst.

:44 And all that believed were together

together Ė the Greek in this phrase is not a typical way to express the word "together" (usually the preposition "sun").

Instead, itís a phrase that literally means "upon the same thing", as in having the same goal as another person.

In the early Christian church, this phrase seems to be one thatís used to describe the unity within the body. (see Acts 1:15; 2:1; 1Co 11:20; 14:23)

Lesson:

Continuing together Ö or Ö Join the team.

Iím curious to see what peopleís ideas are about the church.

Some see the church as something like a "self-help" seminar, where you live your normal life during the week, then come in for a "pep-talk", then go away and continue to live your life.

Some see the church as a good way to meet "clean" upstanding people. Itís a nice kind of a club.

But God sees the church as the physical body of His Son here on earth.

And when each of us came trust in Jesus as our Savior, God fitted us into a spot in the Body.

As parts of the body, we all need to be integrated with each other, working towards the same goals.

Problems develop when some parts of the body somehow donít realize how important they are.

Jim Stevens is having all kinds of health problems because various parts of his body (kidney, liver) donít want to do their part.

Christianity is a team sport, but many people donít know how to play as a team.

Some want to take the ball and hog it all the time.

Some people just want to sit in the stands and let others play.

Some donít think they play very well, and when the coach says to take the ball and run, they take the ball and sit on the bench.

If this sounds like a pitch for "church membership", it is.

I know that the concept of "church membership" is not one thatís often talked about in Calvary Chapels.

But Iím not talking about signing some kind of financial pledge card or something.

Iím talking about making a stand, committing to one church body, and start playing with the team. Whether itís our church body or another church body.

Too many Christians today are bouncing around from church to church, and all thatís really happening is that theyíre just going from visitorís stand to visitorís stand, and never getting into the real game.

Some of you are running from the problems in the church youíre supposed to be in (and itís not this one), and youíre hiding out here. You need to go back and be a team player.

Some of you need to make a commitment here, roll up your sleeves, and get to work.

:44 and had all things common;

common Ė koinos Ė common

This is the root word for "koinonia", the word for "fellowship".

The early church took the idea of "fellowship", or "sharing-ness" so literally, that they actually ended up forming a type of commune, and shared everything.

This was a voluntary thing, no one was forced to give all their possessions to the church.

There have been various times in church history where the church has attempted this.

Even in the early days of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, Pastor Chuck had set up a couple of houses for the hippies to live in, with overseers, and they called them the "Shiloh" houses with names like "Mansion Messiah".

We need to keep in mind that this isnít some kind of universal pattern weíre supposed to follow.

In fact, it doesnít appear that any of the other churches in the book of Acts follow this same pattern of living in a commune.

As weíre going to see, the most important thing is that they did it in order to meet the needs of the people.

:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men

This apparently didnít happen because the apostles told everybody to do it, it happened voluntarily (weíll see this later in Acts 4-5).

Lesson:

Continual stewardship.

These people realized that all their possessions were simply things that God had entrusted to them, to be used as God wanted them used.

Illustration

Imagine a wealthy man setting up a foundation to help the poor and needy.

He puts a large portion of money into a trust fund, then hires a manager to keep track of the money and give it to those in need.

The manager does a good job in managing the money, investing it wisely and all, but starts to take such pride in his investing work, that he starts to feel as if itís his money.

When a needy person comes into his office, he decides to turn them down, because he doesnít want to spend his money on them.

But itís not his money to begin with.

Itís important to realize that all we have has been entrusted to us by God.

Iím not here to tell you how to spend your money, thatís Godís job.

The real issue is, if God asked you to pull out your wallet to help someone, would you?

Or would you respond, "Hey, itís my money!"

The truth is, itís really Godís money, and Heís just been loaning it to you.

(Deu 8:18 KJV) But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

:45 as every man had need.

Lesson:

Continually meeting needs.

We need to help take care of each other.

(Phil 2:3-4 NLT) Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. {4} Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing.

This is the way it ought to work in marriage as well.

Too often in a marriage, each partner is so concerned about getting their own needs met, that they neglect the needs of their spouse.

And then one selfish act leads to another.

Donít worry about trying to figure out how to scratch your own back, just find someone elseís back to scratch.

:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple

Keep in mind, at this point, the church is composed completely of Jews who have realized that Jesus is their Messiah.

And so one of the places they regularly gather at is the most logical for a Jew at that time, they meet at the temple.

It seems that a favorite place for the church to meet at the temple was a place known as "Solomonís porch" (Acts 3:11; 5:12), this was thought to be one of the locations in the outer court of the Gentiles.

Lesson:

Continual, Daily Fellowship

The Christians in the book of Acts were not "once a week church goers".

They went to church every day.

For some of you, this sounds like a bit much.

You may be thinking, "I think once a week is just fine for me."

I think youíre selling yourself short.

Illustration

My sons have the video game Mario 64. On one of the levels, you make the little guy swim through a pool of water.

Every time you dive under the water, a little timer starts ticking, telling you how much time until you run out of air and die.

If you stay on top of the water, where itís safe, you have nothing to worry about.

But all the treasures are underneath the water, at the bottom.

And thatís quite a commitment, until you realize that each time you pick up a treasure, it makes you stronger and replenishes your air.

Go deeper. Go for the treasures.

Iím not saying that I think we all ought to be in church every day of the week (or am I?).

But I think that too often we settle for a shallow Christianity, when the treasures are a little further under the surface than weíve been swimming.

:46 and breaking bread from house to house

Not only did the church meet at the temple, but they met in homes as well.

I have a dream that some of you stronger Christians would clone yourselves a little by opening up your homes to others to come and learn how itís done.

:46 did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

meat Ė food, nourishment

singleness - other translations say "simplicity", "sincerity".

Lesson:

Continual Joy

I think that the overall flavor of our times together ought to be happy, joyful times.

If itís always a bummer to be with your Christian friends, then somethingís wrong.

Perhaps you need to reevaluate what kinds of things youíre "continuing stedfastly" in.

:47 Praising God

aineo - to praise, extol, to sing praises in honour to God

Lesson:

Continual worship.

When we continue stoking the fires of our faith with the right fuel, weíll find ourselves worshipping and praising God.

Jon Coursonís train illustration:

Our walk with the Lord is like keeping a steam train running.

You can stop shoveling fuel into the burner if you want, and the train will run fine for a while.

But eventually is slows down and stops.

We need to keep shoveling the fuel into the fire Ė Godís Word, fellowship, communion, and prayer!

If we do, weíll see the fires of worship stay hot!

:47 and having favour with all the people.

favour - charis Ė grace; sweetness, charm, loveliness; good will, favour.

Lu 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

This doesnít mean that there werenít people who didnít like the church.

Weíre going to see some persecution come from the religious leaders real soon.

But the overall, average, guy-on-the-street looked at the church and was blessed by what they were doing.

The community didnít see the church as a bunch of stuck-up, obnoxious people.

Lesson:

Continually earning favor.

As I see it, there are basically two ways that we can earn peopleís favor.

1) Being a "man-pleaser"

This is where a person is always trying to make others happy, and does whatever they want, just so theyíll be liked.

2) Being a "God-pleaser"

This is where a person is more concerned about pleasing God, and doing things Godís way.

Occasionally this means going against the flow of the world.

But when people see you are a person of integrity, even though they may give you a hard time, deep down, they respect you for standing up for whatís right.

They may mock you in front of their friends, but theyíll come to you in secret and ask for your advice or for your prayers.

Paul wrote:

(Col 3:22-24 NNAS) Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. {23} Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, {24} knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

:47 And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

such as should be saved Ė might be better translated "those who were being saved" (present passive participle)

The idea is that every day people were being saved, and every day they were being added to the church, and it was all being done by the Lord.

Lesson:

Continual growth Ö or Ö How to grow a church.

Iíve finally figured out the secret to church growth! Here is it Ė

Hire the best church-growth consultant and put Him in charge of the church.

And after extensive research on this matter, Iíve come to the conclusion that the best church-growth consultant is Ö the Lord!

If we continue to cling to the basics, the Lord will take care of growing His church.