Acts 2:42-47 A Measuring Stick for the Church

Acts 2:42-47

A Measuring Stick for the Church

NOTE: SUNDAY POSTS ARE INTENDED TO BE USED ALONG WITH THE SERMON. THEY ARE NOT FULL THOUGHTS WITH IDEAS WORKED OUT. YOU CAN FOLLOW THE NOTES AS YOU LISTEN ALONG JUST LIKE YOU WERE THERE. http://www.threeriversc.org/#/sermon-audio

One of the greatest helps in studying Acts is to understand that it is not completely prescriptive but just fully descriptive.

What we see in Acts is Luke’s description of how the Spirit powers the advance of the gospel of the kingdom through every disciple engaging in their domain of society.

It’s easy to focus on the Apostles, but the Apostles are not the catalyst. Holy Spirit, through the preached gospel and public engagement, making disciples who make disciples is the catalyst recipe.

Take note of the irony of Paul’s impetus to get to Rome. Yet when Paul get’s to Rome, guess who greets him? Some brothers! Paul does not bring the gospel to Rome. Other disciples got there and made disciples. Paul mobilizes, instructs and moves on after his imprisonment (first Roman imprisonment).

Paul knows this because he writes a letter to the church before he visits, it’s called “Romans”.

Acts 8:1-4 reminds us that the Apostles stayed at Jerusalem after the persecution but the other disciples are scattered and go about preaching the gospel, making disciples and planting churches.

REMEMBER: Every disciple a church planter! Leadership is appointed from within after disciples are made (Titus 1:5).

KDSC!

They did not start with a church service. They started by being transformed by the gospel of the kingdom. They were made disciples who operated within their domains of society, and they made disciples in their domains of society. From that platform of domain engagement Jesus constructed his church!

Let’s make sure we look at our text today through that lens.

What do we see? Observation 1

1. The disciples devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship to the breaking of bread and the prayers v. 42

“An initial summary of the essential elements of Christian discipleship, elements the apostles had learned from their experience with Jesus: (1) his teaching about his person and work (Matt. 16:18–19; Luke 24:46; cf. Acts 3:15; 4:10; 1 Cor. 15:1–4; etc.) and their Christian responsibility as his followers (cf. Matt. 5–7); (2) the fellowship of Christ with his disciples (cf. John 13); (3) the Lord’s Supper—the breaking of bread (Matt. 26:17–30; cf. Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 10:16; 11:20; etc.); and (4) his prayer life for and with the disciples (Matt. 6:5–13; Luke 11:1–13; John 17: cf. Acts 1:14; 3:1; 6:4; 10:4, 31; 12:5; 16:13, 16).”

What does it mean?

1. The disciples were following Jesus through devotion to his teaching through those the Lord entrusted it to, the apostles!

2. The teaching of the apostles is canonized (captured) in the New Testament (1 criteria for canonicity was that it had to be “apostolic”), so we have Jesus’ teaching in the “Manual”.

3. The disciples were devoted to fellowship as Jesus modeled it.

4. The disciples were devoted to the Lord’s Supper.

5. The disciples were devoted to prayer.

6. This was messy and would lead to conflict (collision with culture) as ministry ramps up.

We take for granted living in a “Christian” influence culture. But these disciples lived in a Jewish culture, informed by Hellenization and ruled by Roman law. The developing church would practice within the cultural practices they knew and it would be 300 plus years before an evolving “Christian” culture would emerge.

What do we do with this?

1. We imitate the early example of devotion to core disciplines of following Jesus.

  • Scripture
  • Fellowship
  • Lord’s Supper
  • Prayer

2. We must exercise patience as we make disciples in our part of the world. Followers of Jesus have to practice following Jesus within some very similar situations that the early church did. We must disciple, allow Holy Spirit to dictate practice and timing, love, understand, stand with, support, engage domains, work for peace and protection of all, and advocate for as the kingdom grows.

What do we see? Observation 2

2. The disciples were in awe of God as signs and wonders are done v. 43

1. Awe (literally fear) describes everyone in the fellowship.

2. Miraculous things are happening as the apostles push out to mobilize the community to do the mission.

What does it mean?

1. The whole fellowship saw and responded in awe at the work of the Spirit.

2. Signs and wonders accompany apostolic sending.

  • Apostle means “sent”. Sometimes “Ambassador” is used as a synonym with “apostle”.
  • Signs and wonders accompany the “sending” and “going” movement of the mission.
  • The inverse may be true here. Signs and wonders DON’T ACCOMPANY not “sending” and not “going”.

3. Awe is the natural human response to coolness.

What do we do with this?

1. We are to be “pushing” the frontiers of domain engagement because Jesus told us to.

2. Jesus promised us that because of Spirit, we would do greater work than him.

3. We are to expect signs and wonders (like people continuing to give $50,000 to our work, people beginning to follow Jesus with transformed lives, the city giving us buildings)

4. We are to be in awe! It’s not optional. The heart not captivated by the glory of God has not been transformed by the glorious gospel of God.

What do we see? Observation 3

3. The church comes together and obediently shares in order to meet needs as they arise (in addition to their “tithe”) v. 44-45

1. The people have gained a proper understanding of “stewardship”.

2. The people share God’s resources for the good of those who are in need.

What does this mean?

1. It does not mean they were communists.

2. The disciples were simply following the Lord’s teaching in Psalm 24:1.

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein…”

3. Need in the fellowship is met by the abundance of the fellowship.

What do we do with this?

1. We are to hear Jesus and obey his word:

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.” – Lev. 19:9-10

“And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.” – Lev. 23:22

2. We are to be transformed by biblical stewardship

What do we see? Observation 4

4. The church operates in the public square on mission and in private devotion v. 46-47a

1. It was natural for them to attend the temple. That was their routine. So, these followers of Jesus follow Jesus in their daily routines!

The routines did not change. The routines were transformed!!

The routines are now transformed into opportunities to make much of Jesus in all facets of life or “domains of society”.

2. The disciples follow Jesus in public obedience and in private fellowship daily, not just on Sunday.

What does this mean?

1. Following Jesus is a lifestyle not an additional task tacked onto my other life.

What do we do with this?

1. The gospel of the kingdom transforms. It’s not a addendum to my other idols.

2. We are to wrestle with obeying Jesus in all things.

3. Our days are to reflect devotion to Jesus, his kingdom rule and his people.

4. KNOW THIS IS THE HARDEST THING TO DO IN THE POST-CHRISTIAN SOUTH WHERE IDOLS OF CULTURE LIKE TO WEAR CHRISTIAN T-SHIRTS AND THE SPIRIT OF DECEPTION IS REALLY GOOD AT DECEIVING.

We cannot be a, “They honor me with their lips but their heart is far from me”, kind of people.

What do we see? Observation 5

5. Public Ministry + Fellowship = Transformation of People and Domains of Society v. 47b

1. The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

What does this mean?

1. Following Jesus publicly (preaching gospel and healing; hearing and obeying) and loving each other results in people coming to faith in Jesus and society being engaged.

What do we do with this?

1. We are to follow Jesus publicly. Our faith in Jesus is NEVER to be private.

  • Preach the gospel
  • Love people
  • Don’t be political before you are kingdom. Let the kingdom determine your politics.
  • Make disciples. Get messy in helping people that Jesus is adding to the kingdom get in.
  • Know that public ministry is obeying Jesus because we are operating in the light not in secret.

2. Public following of Jesus will lead to opportunity to change the world. It’s “glocal”.

HOW DO WE MEASURE UP? HOW DO YOU MEASURE UP?

THERE IS GRACE, BUT WE DON’T PRESUME ON IT. WE RECEIVE IT AND SEEK TO REPENT IF WE NEED TO.

3. Praise!

Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”

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