(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
29th March 2006
The early church, as described in the book of Acts, has much to teach us. For example, they set us a very high standard in Acts 2:42, which says:
They devoted themselves to the apostlesí teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Can you imagine what this must have been like?
Of course, they all had to earn a living and look after their families, but their top priorities were:
The fellowship - they practiced the sharing of life between believers, so that the church became a real community - not just a group of believers who met together on Sundays and lived separate lives through the week.
The apostles' teaching - they seriously studied what the apostles taught them, as we can by reading the New Testament. Devoting ourselves to this teaching involves putting it into practice.
The breaking of bread - they took seriously the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, remembering His substitutionary atonement for our sins, in the way that He ordained we should.
Prayer - They sought God's will and God's blessing for the church and for the lost.
It's hardly surprising that people were being saved into God's kingdom every day (Acts 2:47).
And it makes you think - what would God do if a church in our generation had the same dedication? Wouldn't we see revival - just as they did?
We need to pray, asking God to so change our hearts that we become as devoted to His ways as the early church was. Our friends and neighbours certainly need a devoted church - especially the ones who don't know Jesus yet.
But are we prepared to make the necessary sacrifices?
I think there are many Christians who want to see this kind of church. But how many of us are prepared to be this kind of Christian?
One last thought: Many churches work really hard at organising evangelistic activities - and quite right! But these are secondary, compared to devoting ourselves to Christ. He tells us (in this verse) to prioritise fellowship, Bible study, the breaking of bread and prayer. Let's get those right.
This emphasis on personal and church godliness (rather than business) as the true preconditions for growth was prefigured in 2 Chronicles 7:14:
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Humility, godliness, prayer, and seeking God remain God's requirements for His church. And he will bring the blessing to the churches where He finds them, and to their neighbours.