“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
Morning guys, and good morning to you guys online as well. I didn’t forget about. Um, no, I’m, I’m not up here to lead us in an impromptu worship song for those of you who don’t know me. Uh, my name is pastor Joe and on the young adults pastor here at fellowship, as well as helping out with the, uh, yeah, as well as helping out with the worship ministry.
Um, I’ll tell you though, it is a little bit weird being up here without a guitar. I’m so tempted to just walk back there and grab it and have it in front of me. It’s a bit of a comfort blanket for me at this point, but I thought it’d be a little weird to have a guitar while I preach. So I decided not to not to leave it there in all seriousness, though.
It is, it’s such a great joy to be able to open up this incredible book and continue our journey through acts the spirits work to the ends of the earth. The passage is morning that we’re going to be focusing on is the very end of acts chapter two in verses 42 through 47. I’m going to read it this morning and they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the.
To the breaking of bread and the prayers, and all 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 in the temple together and breaking bread in their homes.
They received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the favor of all the people and the Lord added to their number day by day. Those who were being saved. This is God’s word. Let’s pray. Holy father, your name is above every other. Majestic and powerful transcendent and eternal Lord, your plans always work in your ways are always good from the beginning.
Lord, you have declared to us just how much you love us through so many ways. And in so many words, Lord, but in no greater way than this, that you sent your only beloved and perfect son to die for all of us.
Lord, I pray this morning. As we read of how your holy spirit turned an unruly crowd into a devoted community of love that we would have our hearts stand at attention receiving from this story, whatever your holy spirit wills lead us this morning. Lord guide us into your truth in Jesus name. We pray.
Amen. I’m going to touch that mic a couple of times. I know it. So keep my hands free from that. So I have a quick story for you about my process. As I was preparing for the sermon a few weeks ago, I went on to check the pre-K preaching schedule and to my surprise, I saw my name and it was next to this passage.
Now, my first reaction when I saw that was actually, yes, mark. Didn’t give me a controversial passage to preach on. And I love this past. I read it, I got really fired up. I started thinking of all the ways I could teach from it. I was excited. I was energized. And then somewhere along the way, I think later that day I came into the office and I saw mark in there.
And I mentioned to him kind of jokingly mark, thanks for the layout. This is, this is a great sermon. And he, you know, he rolled with me. He laughed a little bit and as I was leaving, maybe cause he sent my dangerous over. He mentioned to me, you know, Joe, sometimes it’s those easy passages that are the hardest to preach from and I’m going, I’m like, okay, thanks.
And as I’m going, I’m starting to picture myself missing wide, open laps or jump shots in basketball. Now, a little, a little bit of a backstory on that. I love basketball and my love for it though. Isn’t matched by my skill. So I have a lot of experience missing wide open shots and the feeling in the pit of your stomach.
When you go to make a lab it’s wide open and clang right out the front of the rim. And it’s just, oh, I started thinking about man, is that going to be me with this lesson? I really don’t want that to be the case. This is a straight forward layup. There’s so much in here. And if I just get out of the way of the passage and let the passage preach this morning, I think we’ll be okay.
But that was a funny story along the way before we actually jumped into the actual passage itself, though, I want to take a step back and remember. But I have a question for you. Have you ever been in a public place, maybe the mall, maybe you’ve been in a city somewhere, or maybe even just walking your dog and maybe I’m just nosy, but I’ll overhear conversations when I’m out.
You’ll, you’ll just hear a snatch of a conversation that someone walks by you and invariably they’re pretty comical or at least confusing, or sometimes disconcerting what you hear in a moment as you walk by, you’ll hear something that they say. And for me, maybe just cause I’m a bit of a nosy person, I start to think, man, what could that conversation consist of in order to have that as a part of it?
And my imagination runs wild and I have my own little interpretations of what that conversation might be, but I’m at a disadvantage because something’s missing that thing I’m missing is context without it. I really have no hope of understanding what that conversation was really. Now, I think that biblical narrative or story is a little bit like that conversation.
If I don’t provide you all and myself with necessary backstory, then we’re going to get a little bit of a skewed interpretation of the text. We want to let the story do the work of our interpretation. We want to view it through the lens of the story and let that teach us because acts is indeed a story.
Now, the best way to think of this as let’s start from a view of 30,000 feet real quick, and remind ourselves some of you, this is going to be reviewed. Just bear with me. If we take a step back and remind ourselves that acts is itself. Part two of a written account by the author, Luke, the physician he had followed the apostles around for many years, studied most closely the events that had.
And in Luke chapter one, he tells us his intentions behind the books that he is going to write. These two is part two, this two part narrative, which he’s going to write Luke chapter one verses one through four, many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who were from the first eye witnesses and servants of the word with this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too have decided to write an orderly account for you own most excellent Theopolis so that you may know with certainty the things of which you have been taught.
So that’s the macro context. It’s an orderly account written to us by Luke. And he’s informing this mystery man, Theopolis that these events, which you have been, maybe you’ve heard of maybe had been alluded to and the things which we have taught you, you could have. Because I’m writing for you and account of these things.
I know the eyewitnesses, I have seen them with my own eyes. I have talked with them. I have studied these things most closely. Okay. So that’s the macro view of acts. Just as a reminder for us now, getting a little bit closer into the actual chapter of acts chapter two. You remember that a few weeks ago, mark preached on the incredible coming of the spirit at Pentecost.
This is a very eventful chapter, a lot happens. So the spirit comes in power. As Christ has promised, uh, lights on the heads of those gathered in the upper room, tongues of fire, a mighty wind shakes, the house they’re filled with the words of God. They go out into the streets, filled with boldness, ready to preach the word, an incredible unprecedented new way that God is pouring out his spirit as the prophet, Joel.
And then from there, maybe an even equally as unlikely thing happens, the very man who had shortly before this denied his very association with Jesus. Now standing up before thousands, proclaiming Christ as the Messiah filled with boldness, every tribe and tongue assembled there at Pentecost, understanding every word he says.
And lastly, a powerful result produced by the spirit. You see Ben put it so well last week in his sermon on Peter’s sermon, he called it the sermon, which started the church, an unprecedented response from the Jewish people assembled there, unexpected these people had no business listening to this common.
Speaking of this stranger Jesus. And in that moment, 3000 people said, Jesus, take my life. I put my faith in him, incredible revival. So you see why I would be remiss not to mention this as we look forward to this passage, if we don’t have this in mind, the incredible weight of glory, the incredible power of the spirit already put on display lives transformed in a moment from death to life in verse 41 of chapter two, the very last chapter bef I mean, very last verse before we begin our passage this morning, it says a profound statement and there were that day, 3000 souls added to their number.
It’s a profound way to lead us into the next passage and the reason why I bring it up. And the reason why I bring up the awfulness is because I want us. Before we go into the passage to get our minds in the right space. I don’t want you to read this for a minute as a 21st century reader. I want you to read this as the office would have read this in the story moment by moment.
What happens next? Read this as he would have read this, what question might you ask after you hear this incredible coming of the spirit at Pentecost? This incredible moment of promise now realized this incredible word preached through a servant, a humble servant of Jesus, and then an unprecedented revival produced by it.
Now 3000 souls suddenly added to the one 20. What’s the natural question you might ask next. What happened to them? That’s a lot of people. Imagine if flu could just skip that part and gone on to chapter three? Well, he wouldn’t have been riding a very orderly. Now Luke was fastidious and he knew what he was doing.
And so in many ways, if you wanted to ask what’s the purpose of this little bookend at the end of chapter two, the answer is simple. It’s an answer to that question. What happened to the 3000? What happened next? What was the result? This passage reads when I read it at least, and maybe I’m over overstating this, but as I read it, it reads like a fairy tale ending.
I thought Luke might as well just put happily ever after at the end. It’s like, this is just, oh my goodness. It reads so well. It’s so beautiful. Now of course, we know that the events that continue the church gets under tremendous persecution and opposition, but at this moment it’s triumphant, it’s victorious.
It’s a capstone to this incredible chapter about. The next chapter to more than anything. As we look at this passage, it’s going to demonstrate something. It’s going to demonstrate the incredible transformational power of the gospel and preach to the spirit, transforming this gathered crowd, this 3000 people from all over the place.
Every tribe, every tongue, every nation, all over the place, spread out across all the area now becomes a committed community of love, living in the freedom, generosity, and joy of the spirit. Incredible transformation. Okay. Now let’s get to it. That’s a long setup. I know, but I think it’ll help us in our interpretation.
So Luke breaks down this passage, at least in my, as I was reading and doing my, my work in this. This is how it seems to be broken down. He breaks it down into three main parts. First, he begins with the habits and the routines of the early church in verse 42. He writes and they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
So right off the bat, he begins by establishing what was the lifestyle of these 3000 or 3,120, if you want to be specific? Well, he begins with the word before we even get to the habits. What’s that word I’m asking and or devoted as the word I’m looking for devoted that we’re devoted. Everything else is saturated in it.
The rest of this entire passage, that word is significant. And I know I’m not a Greek scholar. So take this with a grain of salt a little bit. But as I was looking through the Greek, I found that the word devoted there is the Greek word, and I’m probably going to butcher this pronunciation. Prost got that ale.
And I looked it up and listened to a guy pronounced it like five times trying to get it right. But that word, the way it’s defined is to be stead Fastly attentive, to, to give unremitting care to a thing, to be in constant readiness for, to wait on constantly the only other two times that this is used before this first, it happens in mark.
And then it happens a little bit earlier in acts chapter one in mark three nine, Jesus is talking to his disciples and telling them to ready a boat for him to enter into so that he’s not crushed by the crowd so that he can preach to them. He says, and he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd.
Lest they crushed him. That word that ready for him is actually that same word. So the boat was waiting, not moving on the Lord, determined to stay the ground, right. Waiting to be filled with Jesus, to preach the word. And in acts chapter one, verse 14, just before this, just before the coming of the spirit, all these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer together with the women and Mary and the mother of Jesus and his brothers.
They’re in that upper room, they’re devoting themselves to prayer, giving their strength, their remitting strength to prayer, waiting on the coming of the spirit to fill them much like that boat.
The reason why I mentioned this is not necessarily because that this is the exact same use of it. Or we want to treat each wart use of the word specifically in its context, but to give us an idea of the kind of uses, but it was being put to right before this. And the reason I mentioning this word devotion is because I have a question that came out of this is how has this devotion and any different than the devotion, which they, these Jews had before.
Because remember these Jews had traveled a long way to Jerusalem to celebrate the festival of Pentecost. They were devoted Jews. They knew a thing or two about giving their strength to something about being devoted to something, but something had changed. This was a new type of devotion. And the answer to that is what had context of acts chapter two, the coming of the spirit, Jesus.
Finished work of the cross changed them. They were not devoted to these things, to the practices, to the religion, to the religiosity. They were devoted to Christ no longer to a set of rules, but to a man, to God son, Jesus, that’s this new devotion. This is not a dead devotion, not a, not a sad and overwhelmed and tired devotion, but a full and free devotion to Christ.
Okay. But let’s get to the actual habits and practices. And I know I got to move along here. The first practice that’s mentioned is the apostles teaching. Now I think in reading this and in doing my study, this apostles teaching that they’re referring to is the teaching to which the apostles had received from Christ himself during his earthly.
And probably the rest of the scriptures as well, but they would have known that this is the new truth that they were hungry for was the truth that had come from Christ. Been passed down to the apostles. We have to remind ourselves these people, some of them may be perhaps most of them would have heard for the first time, the name Jesus Christ of Nazareth from the mouth of Peter, the moment they accepted Christ as savior, they were hungry for more, they needed more truth.
And so they gave their strength, their devotion, they stayed under the teaching of the apostles, the truth. They were determined to be saturated in truth to receive from the apostles, the teaching of Christ. The way I thought of it is to remain planted by streams of living water. They want it to be in the flow of that.
Secondly, the thing mentioned here is one, which certainly is super important to this passage. And that is the word fellowship. It’s important to us as a church. It’s in our name. These people were devoted to spending time together, not just once a week, not just on a Sunday every day. And there’s a reason for that beyond just their own piety.
Think of this Jerusalem was home to an, a normal time, about a hundred thousand Jews during a time of festival. That number would swell to like 190,000. So even though 3000 is quite a large number, they still would’ve felt small in that big city. And when you come into a new place and you’re alone and no, one’s like you, what do you do?
You cling to the people who are like-minded with you, like a light. They clung fast to each other. They were devoted to one another to fellowship and to meeting together to sharing in these things together next to breaking of bread. Now what’s this about where they just really into like breaking bread and crumbling.
It just like, they were just super into cracking the sound of baguettes and they loved that. No, of course not the breaking of bread here I believe is referring to the evening meal together that let me explain a little bit in the early early church, our idea of Eucharist or of communion had yet to be fully established in the ways that we think of it distinct from the meal or the social meal, then it would have been a part built in, skewed me built into this social gap.
In the evening. So when they were fellowshipping together, gathering and eating the evening meal, they would share in the communion, right? As they broke, breads and ate together, they would remind themselves that they shared in the body of Christ. They were one in Christ. And it sounds to me like it was something that they did regularly, probably even every night.
Now it was later that those two meals were separated. One into the feast or the love feast. And one into the Eucharist or the communion. One was the ceremonial. One was the social, but in the early days of the church, it was all one and the same.
And lastly, they were devoted to the prayers. This was not a community of people who were not familiar with the Jewish customs of prayers in the temple. They didn’t give it all up in a moment because they had. They continue to go and to meet in the temple and to be led in the prayers. But I don’t think this is mutually exclusive just to the ceremonial Jewish prayers.
I believe it also involves prayer together, spontaneous prayer, personal prayer. We see that on full display later in acts, they were committed. They were devoted not only to being together, but while they were together to be built around the foundations of the apostles, teaching to the breaking of bread and the prayers, it wasn’t just a social call every time it was sharing in these things.
And so let’s call these four practices, the four walls of the early church.
If these practices of the four walls, what was it like inside? What was the environment that was created by these habits, by this unswerving devotion to Christ and to seeking him to. Well, that’s answered by Luke. Luckily in verses 43 through 46, and all 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. So the first environment where the first element of the environment in which these habits had created was all, I think our temp, our temptation is to think of believers as once you accept Christ, you lose all that religiosity, all that sense of ritual and ceremony.
That is not the case with the early. In fact, all grew in them. The fear of the Lord grew in them. They didn’t take God less seriously. They took him more seriously. He had ceased to be just a list of dues, a part of just their culture and what we do, but personal, real living and alive all grew in every soul.
This was not an environment which promoted taking God lightly. And secondly, and definitely related to this signs and wonders were performed in their midst, through the apostles, by the holy spirit. This is an environment in which people welcomed the work of the spirit in which. They’re all their readiness for his work was, was evident and which the apostles then worked out the miracles just as Christ had done in his earthly ministry among them.
And lastly, and I think most profoundly, we see that this environment in which they had built their life on with these habits was an environment in which the side effects of the spirit were on full display, oneness, freedom, generosity of spirit overflowing in this community. This was not a community that was feeling constrained and guilty because the password shared that they should probably be giving 10%.
This was a community overflowing with the side effects of the spirit, oneness freedom, joy generosity.
These things abounded in this community so that we see that the things of which were going on around them, in their midst, we’re also going on within them. This wasn’t a merely practice-based faith. This was the faith which produced internal fruit right away.
One, this freedom and generosity abound. Lastly, if it’s a community like this, this community, which is devoted to Christ, giving their strength to these habits and practices remaining in the Apostle’s teachings remaining choosing not to give up, meeting together, breaking bread in their homes, sharing a meal over and celebrating their union with.
Giving themselves to talking and being spoken to and brew and relating in relationship to God through prayer, that community is going to have an impact. What was it that community’s not going to go unnoticed by the world? And that’s where Luke finishes in verse 47, praising God and having the favor of all the people and the Lord added to their number day by day, those who were being saved.
It’s a pretty powerful way to end it for multiple reasons. It’s unexpected to me as a 21st century reader, knowing what I know what happens next. I don’t know about you, but I, when I think of the early church, I think of persecution. When I think of the early church, I think of opposition, but in the early fledgling days of.
The powers that be at yet to catch on the enemy had not been allowed yet to sink his claws into the community of hope. And this was the state of it, having the favor of all the people, that word favor again, I’m going to do it. I’m going to go to Greek again, that word favor, and I’m going to try to pronounce it.
It’s CAUTIs or Charisse, however you want to pronounce it. And the way that it translates or what its meaning is that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness, grace of speech. I love that the people were delighted by them. All the people delighted sweetness, joy, charmed. This was not a community of which the outsiders looked in and discussed.
This was a community full of grace of speech, delighting its surrounding community.
Lastly, and I think most significantly, the Lord added to their number day by day, those who are being saved. This was not a community that turned in on itself. This was not a community which held the world at bay saying, no, we’ve got our own thing here. This was a community which called to the world, come and join
delighted. It’s a community. People looked in and they found favor with them. It called to its surrounding. I’m reminded of the words in Matthew Jesus, his words to his disciples and the people that he was preaching to you are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand.
And it gives light to all in the house in the same way. Let your light shine before others so that they will see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven, a city on a hill, a bright shining light this community, this first fledgling church call to its community. The people looking in were not filled with hatred.
Persecution had yet to touch the church. But those who looked in found favor with this way. Devotion to these things of an environment which promoted the work of the spirit, the side effects of the spirit.
And as I wrap up, I want to draw our attention to what I would call the primary application. Now of the Lord is, is doing something in your heart right now. And there’s applications that the spirit is, is giving you that are not the one that I give. Please do not shut your mind off to those things.
Treasure that in your heart. Take that with you. Merely let me add my own. The one that the Lord showed me in this process. I think if we ask ourselves, what is it that Lucas getting at aside from showing us what happened to this community? Is that the moment the spirit came in power, the moment his promised spirit came to his disciples, he did not set up a man.
He set up a church. God’s primary way of spreading the gospel is not first through individuals, but through his church,
I’m not taking away from the individual call of every believer to share the good news. Share the reason for the hope that we have. But I am saying that we can’t do it by ourselves. In fact, we never do it by ourselves. Even when you have the opportunity, maybe to lead someone to the Lord, you’re just the final seed in a long line of seeds planted by others.
And remember who added to their number? Peter the apostles? No for Lord added to their number day by day. Those who were being saved. I want to share a quick story this week. We were a. Uh, in our, uh, our monthly staff meeting of all staff meeting, and I was hearing Joanna candy. Who’s in charge of our care ministry here at fellowship.
Um, she was sharing a story about her little girl, Olivia, uh, Joanna wakes up early, obviously to wake up her kids for school that I’m sure a lot of you can relate to that. And she went about six, 15 to knock on the door and open, uh, oh, wake up, Olivia. But she noticed that she went, that the door was already a jar a little bit, and there was a light on, so she opened the door and she saw Olivia sitting on her bed, writing out her address on note cards.
And Joanna was a little confused. What are you doing live? And Liv said, oh, I’m writing out our address for all the kids at school so they can find out where we are so they know where we live. Cause they all want. Think about the number Joanna was torn. She said she’s had a part of me was like, oh, I’m part of her.
I was like, oh, it helps to know a little bit of the backstory. Mike and Joanna have made a tremendous impact on their community, through their kids. And their kids had made a tremendous impact on their community, through sports, through school. They’ve made connections to the parents and to the kids so much so that there at candy household has become a bit of a sanctuary for people to come so much so that kids there’s so many of them that she has to write out note cards with the address to hand out.
That’s what I’m talking about. That we created environment in this, our home in our community that calls to the world so much so that we’ve got to hand out note cards with.
But the only way that that happens as if we live a life of devotion to Christ,
I don’t want us to get from this primarily. Oh. If, if I just read my Bible a little more, then I’ll be good. If, if I just pray a few more times a day, I’ll be good. If I just spend a bit more time with my believing friends, I’ll be good. We gotta remember the and word in the, in the passage. It begins with the word and if you’re reading it ESV, but I love that because it connects it back to what happened before lives were transformed.
These people were in eternal debt to where Christ had done. Death to life, sin, to purity, washed clean, dead in their trespass alive in Christ. I promise Jared I’d share this. So I will, when I was talking with Jared and sharing, I had this really corny way of putting it. I said that we have to be Hawks, not hummingbirds.
And what I mean by that is that we have to let the work, the finished work of Jesus and the work of the spirit, fill our wings and hold us up and not be a hummingbird, constantly beating its wings. Just to stay a float. We need to be filled with the realization, the joy of our salvation. You, if you have received, Christ are a new creation.
The old is gone and the new has come it’s.
He doesn’t see you as a sinner anymore, but as a son and a daughter, that’s enough to make me want to scream from the rooftops I won’t, but that filling of the spirit that’s, which the devotion should be fueling us in our life and our walk, a devotion to one another, giving our strength to these things, building our lives around the foundation of these practices.
But off of the devotion, the one who saved me and you’ll find no matter the circumstances, no matter whether or not it’s like this. And you’ve got the favor of all the people, whether it’s what happens later and there’s persecution, joy doesn’t change because it’s his deposit of joy. As long as we hold fast to these things, as long as we do not give up.
I’m not calling us out exactly, but I want to challenge you if the only time that you’re in fellowship is on a Sunday for an hour. Are you really being fed and feeding others? The way that you’re called again, this isn’t a condemnation thing. This is a trust me. You’ll thank me. Later thing.
We need to live in fellowship in devotion to one another, because we are devoted to the one who saved us.
Holy spirit, Lord and father. We thank you for how you move in our midst. Thank you for your will.
Thank you for your perfect plan of redemption. Thank you that we now live in the, after the cross life, Florida life in which victory has been obtained through Jesus. We don’t have to live as those in fear anymore. Perfect. Love casts out fear, but Lord, we can’t do this alone. I can’t walk in devotion to you by myself.
I need my brothers and my sisters. I need to be in devotion and constant fellowship lead me, Lord challenged me Lord, to walk more and more as these Christians did and devotion to you, Christ Jesus. The one who is worthy of every bit of our praise and devotion or Jesus. In your name? Amen. Thanks guys. You are dismissed.