What a Church Ought to Be

Posted: June 3, 2018 in Acts, Uncategorized

Acts 2:40-47, “What a Church Ought to Be”

It’s been said that the South is the Bible Belt & that Texas is the buckle. Drive around any town in Texas (it doesn’t matter how big or small), and you’ll find many churches: 1st Assembly of God, 1st United Methodist, 1st Baptist, 1st Missionary Baptist, etc. A town might not have a second Methodist/AG, but it will have a first. What about instead of 1st [insert denomination of choice], there was just 1stChurch? Not necessarily 1st Christian (being that there is an official denomination that claims the name), but simply 1st Church? There is only one congregation in history that can truly claim the title: the initial church in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. It was then that the Church was truly born, so that was the first Church in all history.

As such, that church set the standard for every church. For a brief shining moment, the local church was the Church, and they did everything the way it ought to be. Sadly, it didn’t last long. The gospel doesn’t get outside the city of Jerusalem before problems develop – the book of Acts already shows Christians being warned of false teachers – the Bible doesn’t even end without warnings in the book of Revelation given to local church congregations that were totally dead. The problems we experience in modern churches today had their rise long ago, and Christians have been struggling with the same issues for ages.

But for a time, things went right. What the first church congregation first did in Jerusalem is what every church in every city ought to do everywhere. Their love for God and love for each other was evident to all around them, and serves as an example for us today.

Our text actually picks up at the tail end of a monumental event in history: the day of Pentecost. Backing up, it was fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and ten days after His ascension to the right hand of God in heaven. It was then that the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, just as Jesus promised. The moment of their Spirit baptism was truly powerful: there was a sound of a mighty wind, there were visible tongues of fire resting on the heads of the Christians, and there was the spiritual gift of tongues spoken by the disciples as they praised God. All of this activity attracted the attention of the Jews who had come to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost, and Peter took the opportunity to engage in the first open-air evangelistic sermon of the Church Age.

First, Peter explained the tongues, showing that they were prophesied and that their existence was evidence of the world entering the last days, facing the judgment of God. Second (and most importantly) the fact of the last days meant that people had an urgent need to be saved, and the only way it could be done was through Jesus of Nazareth.

God had testified of Jesus to Israel, demonstrating Him to be the Messiah, with the most effective proof of Jesus’ identity coming after Israel’s rejection of Him. They had killed Jesus, but God had raised Him from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection proved conclusively that He is both Lord and Christ (God and King). The only hope Israel had was if they repented and believed upon Jesus, being baptized in His name. Individual Jews needed to make an individual commitment to Jesus as their Messiah (Christ), and receive the salvation of God only He could give.

That was the essence of Peter’s message (as retold by Luke). What was the response and the results to follow? That’s what Luke records next. The day of Pentecost began with a Spirit baptism & a preaching of the gospel – it ends with the birth of the church and establishment of what every church should be and do.

What did the first church do? They loved God, loved each other, and loved the lost. It is the same thing we ought to do today.

Acts 2:40–47

  • Advent of the Church (40-41)

40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”

  1. The first thing to notice is that Peter had more to say. Like any good preacher, he didn’t end with the words written in our Bibles (it takes less than a few minutes to read aloud); he had “many other words.” Luke provided a partial sermon; not a full transcript. He gave us the essence of what Peter preached (as guided by the Holy Spirit), which was a message filled with urgency. To say that Peter “testified and exhorted them” is to say that he gave them a solemn declaration with authority, pleading with them from the word of God. This may have been Peter’s first sermon, but he preached it with passion – and for good reason: there was an urgent need for people to be saved! Remember that he made the point that God’s judgment was at hand, and he had reminded the Jews that not only would they face God’s judgment for all of their ‘routine’ sins, but that they were specifically guilty of having sent Jesus to the cross. They had rejected and killed the Messiah (the Son of God). Everyone has an urgent need to be saved, but the Jews of Jerusalem more than most!
  2. So what was Peter’s exhortation? “Be saved.” The translation in the NKJV is correct, and shared by the NASB & HCSB. The KJV, NIV, and ESV get it wrong by translating this as “Save yourselves.” The grammatical voice and mood is specifically that of a passive imperative, meaning that while this is a command, it is an action that must be received; it is not something that is actively performed by us. Theologically, it makes a huge difference. We cannot save ourselves; we must be saved. There is not a single thing you or I can do that would bring about or earn our own salvation. Faced with the judgment of God in light of the myriad of our sins, there’s nothing that we can do to save ourselves. All we can do is cry out for mercy in order that God in His grace might save us.
  3. From what were people to be saved? “From this perverse generation.” The word for perverse could be translated “crooked,” (σκολιός ~ scoliosis). Something that is perverse is crooked, corrupt, bent, dishonest – and that was a description of Peter’s entire generation, not limited to a single person or nation.
    1. It still is. Our generation is a perverse generation, and we are our generation! We cannot look at our generation and blame it all on “other people.” Those other people are us – or at least, they were us, apart from the transforming work and salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ. We are just as guilty as anyone else, and it is from that guilt we need to be saved.
    2. Have you been saved? Have you experienced Jesus’ grace from this crooked generation, or are you still a part of it, contributing to it? Be saved! 

41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

  1. What a response: 3000! As amazing as it is whenever hundreds of people walk forward at a Billy Graham crusade or Greg Laurie Harvest festival, those events are nothing like this was. Peter had no platinum-award winning bands backing him up, no choir led by Bev Shea singing “Just as I am,” – not even any sound system or concert hall. He especially didn’t have nearly 2000 years of preparatory work by others preaching the gospel before him. Certainly the grace of God and the promise of the Messiah had been proclaimed since the Garden of Eden, but this was the first occasion in all history that the fully revealed news of Jesus Christ had ever been preached. This was the first time that the news was publicly stated of Jesus of Nazareth who had been sent by God, died on the cross for our sins, risen from the grave, ascended to God in heaven, being the Son of God and King of the Jews. It was the first time ever, and people responded in droves! Peter would have been pleased if three had come forward…but three thousand was absolutely amazing.
  2. Of course, three thousand (though wonderful) wasn’t everyone. The whole crowd heard Peter’s word; not all “received” it. Anyone can hear the gospel, but it doesn’t mean everyone is saved. Anyone can show up to church or a revival crusade – even be a regular attender – but attendance doesn’t make anyone a Christian. Probably everyone in the Jerusalem crowd that day could have recited the facts of what Peter had preached to them, but only a percentage of that crowd actually received the news for what it was.
  3. What is involved with receiving the gospel, beyond hearing it? Action…response. The good news of Jesus is news that demands a response. Not all news requires action. You can hear that Walmart is having a sale on televisions, and it might be good news if you’re in the market for one – but it doesn’t demand an immediate response. You could even hear that Walmart was giving away TV’s, and although you might miss out on some free stuff, it wouldn’t really make a difference in your life. All good news, but all ultimately irrelevant. The good news of Jesus is something else altogether. To miss out on Jesus is to miss out on eternity – it is to miss out on the forgiveness of God – it is to miss out on the abundant life available right now in the Holy Spirit. To miss out on Jesus is to miss everything. That’s news that demands a response…action must be taken. In this case, the action was very specific: baptism. When the crowd was “cut to the heart” (2:37), Peter told them that the right response was repentance and baptism (2:38). They were to sincerely turn away from their sins, and put their faith in Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness – the symbol of their faith being a public identification with Him through baptism. And they did! 3000 were immediately baptized, the event happening “that day.
    1. Remember that baptism does not save; it is symbolic of the salvation that Jesus has already given. But that doesn’t mean that baptism is unimportant. By all means, believing Christians are to be baptized! We are commanded to be baptized, it being an ordinance given to the Church by none other than our Lord Jesus (Mt 28:19-20). It is not something to impose on an unknowing infant, but it is commanded of those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. 
  4. With these 3000 being added to the disciples, what just happened? This is the advent of the Church! Already in Jerusalem there were 120 Christians. Earlier that morning the Church was born when those Christians were baptized by the Holy Spirit. By the afternoon, it all came to fruition with the first converts. With these 3000, the Church had officially arrived!
  5. Question: Does God care about numbers? 3000 people are mentioned here – does the Bible keep membership records? Do numbers really matter? Yes & no. Yes – God cares about numbers because God cares about each individual who receives Christ, and all those individual people add up. Yes – God desires great multitudes of people to be saved, and there are times in the Scriptures that numbers are recorded, and there are other times when the numbers are too big to count! (Rev 7:9) At the same time, no – God does not value one congregation over another based on the number of people in the pews. A home fellowship of a handful of people who are faithful to Jesus and His gospel is of more worth than a megachurch preaching heresy. God is not impressed by numbers or budgets; God seeks sincere faithfulness more than nickels & noses.
  6. BTW – Speaking of the 3000 converted, notice where it was this massive response took place: Jerusalem. For all of the skeptics who claim that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a fraud or a myth, how can they explain the 3000? Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost was the one place above all others that would have been able to expose a fraud, if one had existed. Peter was most likely preaching right outside the temple gate – any one of the people there could have taken a short walk to the tomb of Christ and pointed out His decaying body, if it had been there. Many of them had probably been witnesses to Jesus’ crucifixion – even personally calling out for it from their mob. They would have watched Him die. Yet not a soul raised a voice in opposition, and three thousand people agreed with Peter that Jesus had in fact risen from the dead, being proven as their Messiah. This was no fraud; this was gospel truth! (It still is!)
  • Activity of the Church (42-45)

42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

  1. The arrival of the church described, what was it that the church did? Verse 42 provides a summary, showing that whatever it was, it was done with intention. The word used for “continued steadfastly” has the general idea “to continue to do something with intense effort,” (Louw). The term is actually based in another word referring to “might, power, strength.” IOW, the things Luke lists are not things considered by the church as minor, or afterthoughts, or to be done with minimal effort. These were the primary goals of the church as they sought to glorify God. These were the things they did with intention & purpose. What were they? Four basic categories…
  2. Listed first is the church’s devotion to “doctrine,” specifically, the doctrine/teaching of the twelve apostles. What was it the apostles taught? Obviously we don’t have transcripts of their various studies, but the Holy Spirit preserved the essence of their teachings in the pages of the New Testament. At the time, the only Bible held by the church was the Hebrew Bible: the Old Testament as seen in the law of Moses, the history of Israel, the wisdom and poetic writings, and the prophets. There’s no doubt the apostles taught from those Scriptures, as those Scriptures point to Jesus – as Jesus Himself proved on the day of His resurrection (Lk 24:27) – but the New Testament had not yet been written, so the church also relied on the recollection of the apostles of their time spent with Jesus. For the church to hear the memories of the apostles was like us reading the pages of the four gospels: the apostles taught others what Jesus had taught them. This was something that Jesus specifically told the apostles they would be empowered to do once the Holy Spirit came upon them (Jn 14:26) – Jesus prepared the apostles to teach the newborn church, and to teach it accurately.
    1. This is one reason we put such an emphasis on Bible study, giving it a primary place in our worship gatherings. This book contains the doctrine of the apostles, which is in turn, the doctrine of God. It contains all that we need to know of what God expects of us, and to know the Person of God Himself (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). 2 Timothy 3:16–17, “(16) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Want to be “complete”? Receive doctrine! Not just any teaching, but the right It’s easy to get carried away by charismatic personalities and exciting speakers, but how do we know if what they are saying is correct? By comparing it to the written word of God. That’s how we continue in the apostles’ doctrine – that’s how we remain true to God’s own teaching.
  3. The term used for “fellowship” is somewhat general and may summarize the next two items. The interesting thing about the word is something unlisted in the NKJV & NASB, but rightly included by the ESV, NIV, and HCSB: the definite article. Technically, this should be translated “the fellowship,” which implies something more formal or specific. The Greek term simply refers to commonality/association (κοινωνία), but Luke seems to have a formal gathering in mind. As Christians, it was common for them to meet in house to house (as verse 46 makes clear), but that wasn’t the only way they met. They came together for worship – they met regularly to listen to the apostles. They participated in planned time together.
    1. Regular, planned times of gatherings for churches are important! There is a reason we gather for worship Sundays & Wednesdays: it’s not simply due to tradition; it’s something that was emphasized in the early church (though their schedules were surely different than ours). How else was the church supposed to receive the doctrine of the apostles, if they didn’t gather together to hear it? How was the church expected to love one another if they didn’t get around one another to show it? Christ never intended Christians to live their lives separated from one another – we are His body, and we need to be around other Christians if we are to act as ‘body parts.’
    2. Beloved, too often it seems that Christians treat worship gatherings as optional – something that’s fine to go if it’s convenient, but the first thing to be put aside if something more exciting comes along. It ought not to be that way. By no means should worship gatherings become legalistic, but it should be prioritized.
  4. The exact nature of “the breaking of bread” mentioned by Luke is debated, and it is perhaps part of a more specific description of the previously mentioned formal “fellowship.” Most agree that it is (at least in part) a reference to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. In the earliest days of the church, it seems that the celebration of Communion was intertwined with what was called a “love feast” – an ancient potluck where members of the church shared a meal together. For some members of the congregation, it may have been the only meal they ate all day long, which opened up the possibility for abuse and selfishness (1 Cor 11:20-22). When done rightly, it was wonderful. Culturally speaking, to break bread with someone was itself an act of fellowship & intimacy. Sharing meals was more than opportunities for gathering; it was sharing life & sustenance – symbolic of how they were united together. This made the love-feasts to be perfect complements to the Lord’s Supper. After all, what it is it we celebrate in Communion? That which we have in common: the gift of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin.
    1. The Lord’s Supper isn’t included in all of our worship services (though we celebrate it twice every month: 1st Sunday & 3rd Wednesday), but the celebration of the Supper is supposed to be an act of worship. It is to be taken with sincerity, praise, and thanks. It’s never to be done as a ritual – never as a way to earn favor with God – and it is to be done regularly, as opposed to once a year. The Bible never says how often we are supposed to partake, but it does use the word “often” in describing how we are to partake (1 Cor 11:26).
    2. Beyond the specific act of Communion is the more general idea of worship. When the church comes together to gather, we come together for worship. It isn’t a concert – it isn’t a rally; it’s a time to intentionally put our attention on the Lord Jesus, giving glory to God. IOW, it is a time we come to actively participate. Worship isn’t a spectator-activity; it is personal involvement.
  5. That the church “continued steadfastly…in prayers” may seem to state the obvious, but it makes the point that prayer was emphasized in the early church. Technically, like “the fellowship,” this could be translated “the prayers,” implying perhaps some formal prayers, or at least some time formally dedicated to prayer. To the early church, prayer wasn’t an afterthought nor something to sprinkle occasionally into a gathering; it was essential to the Christian life. Prayer was when they spoke to God, and they expected God to speak back to them. The were the church bought by and built up by the Lord Jesus Christ, and prayer was how they spoke to their Lord & King.
    1. None of that has changed! Prayer is still how we speak to our God, and needs to be prioritized within the life of all church congregations (including this one!). Prayer is a far more important activity than we sometimes make of it. Sometimes Christians get the idea that if we utter a short couple of sentences in prayer that the beginning of a meeting & another couple at the end, then we’ve done our duty in prayer & that was enough. Not so! It’s a good start, but that can be considered a bit of seasoning, when what we need is the meal. Christians sometimes wonder where the power has gone in the modern church, asking, “Why doesn’t the church of today look like the early church in Acts?” Much of the answer is found in this last description. We don’t pray like the early church prayed. What was it the Christians did after Jesus ascended? They “continued in one accord in prayers and supplication,” (1:14). What was it they were most likely doing earlier in the morning on Pentecost? What was it they did after Peter & John were released from their arrest by the Sanhedrin? Pray (4:24-30). Prayer was essential to the early church; it ought to be essential to us.
    2. When it comes to prayer, we have no lack of opportunities; we simply have a lack of desire. When you lack the desire to pray, ask that God would give you a heart to do so. There’s no question He will answer!
  6. These four things comprised the main activities of the church, but there were other actions as well. Miracles were done, as seen in verse 43…

43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.

  1. Wonders and signs” sound wonderful, so why did the people “fear”? Why not? If you saw daily demonstrations of miraculous power done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, you might fear too! The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 9:10), and these “wonders and signs” caused the people to see and understand the person and power of God.
    1. What took place among the early church should have taken place among Israel during their wilderness wanderings. Every day they witnessed miracles: they saw the manna – they saw the cloud & the fire – every day at the base of Mt. Sinai they saw the glory of God on top of the mountain. Every day should have been a day when they experienced a healthy fear of God. Instead, they took it for granted, and that’s when they got into trouble.
    2. BTW – What’s one proof we know the supposed miracles done by the TV preachers are false? Because there’s a complete lack of fear of God. Miracles are lifted up for miracles’ sake – they are done to elevate the profile of the preacher; not to proclaim the gospel. If they feared the Lord, they wouldn’t treat it like a circus – and when God truly acts in His power, there’s no way anyone would dare treat Him any other way except through fear!
  2. Question: If miracles happened often in the early church, then are signs & wonders necessary for a local congregation to be considered a true church today? No…but it is a qualified no. No, in that these initial signs and wonders were specifically done “through the apostles,” for the purpose of establishing the twelve apostles of Jesus as foundational and authoritative within the church (Eph 2:20). Considering that those twelve men are long-dead, the context for those signs & wonders has long-changed. The one qualification is this: conversion. Remember that conversion is a supernatural event. Miracles are not limited to healing the sick or walking on water. Every time a person is saved, a miracle has been done. (Someone just went from death to life!) With that in mind, we do expect miracles among the modern the church because we expect people to get saved. We expect God to interact with His people – we expect prayers to be answered and hearts to be changed. All of these things are supernatural, and all of these things ought to keep within us a holy, healthy fear of God.

44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

  1. No one lacked because everyone loved. The love the church had for one another was practical, and the result was that needs were met as they happened to arise. The whole idea is one of family community. Think about it: when your family needs help, you help. Whatever the need, you do what it takes to meet the need. If your kid needs braces, then you rearrange your budget and get the braces. If your parents have a medical emergency, you drop what you’re doing in order to help. That is described of these early Christians. They treated one another like family. They saw themselves as brothers and sisters in Christ, and made decisions accordingly. If that meant some land could be sold in order for widows to eat, then they did it gladly. If that meant that one of their possessions might help someone else survive, then they gave it. They had the proper understanding that life on earth is fleeting, and that all possessions are strictly temporary. We can’t take any of it with us to heaven, so we may as well hold it loosely today. If God can be glorified through our possessions and finances, then so be it. Sell it all, if God is glorified & the name of Jesus can be known!
  2. Objection: This is an idea ripe for abuse! What about those who would take advantage of the generosity of others? After all, it’s not right for a person who has labored hard for his/her things to give them away to a person who hasn’t labored at all. Why should a lazy person benefit off of the labor of those more responsible? Answer: they shouldn’t. The loving generosity of the church is nowhere held as a mandate for communism of forced distribution of wealth. (1) All of the giving was voluntary. Acts 5 has the example of Ananias & Sapphira who attempted to appear more generous than they were, and they were struck dead. However, Peter affirmed that they had the right to do what they wanted with their own money; what they didn’t have the right to do was to lie to the Holy Spirit! (2) The Bible (both OT & NT) commands us to take responsibility for ourselves and work hard for our daily provisions. Even when God provided manna in the wilderness, the people had to get up & go gather it for themselves; God didn’t place it in their laps. When landowners were commanded to leave some fruit in the field for the poor to glean, the poor was expected to actually go into the field and glean it for themselves. Laziness is universally condemned in the Scriptures, and that carries over even into New Testament commands to the church. 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”  Someone unwilling to work is someone who has a need bigger than food: they lack self-discipline. 
  3. Bottom line: In Jerusalem the church did not engage in any government-mandated wealth redistribution, neither did the apostles apply pressure and guilt to force landowners to sell off their possessions. What did happen was that Christians were so impacted by the love of God for them that they couldn’t help showing that same love towards others. Jesus loved us sacrificially; we cannot do less! The take-away is that God-honoring churches love one another, and we do so like family. The idea is that of love; not an economic model for all the church through all time.
    1. That all being said, be careful not to read this looking for excuses not to give sacrificially. We what to read the Scripture within the proper context, but we also want to be careful not to exempt ourselves from the principle. How might you love another Christian as family? Maybe there’s a way you can show a practical demonstration of the sacrificial love of Christ. Ask God to show it to you.
  • Attitudes of the Church (46-47a)

46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. …

  1. Just as there were intentional actions within the church, there were intentional attitudes. The same word used in 2:42 to describe how the church continued in the apostles’ doctrine, etc., is used in 2:46 to describe their attitudes as they engaged in those things. They did not wait to be ruled by their emotions; they purposed to live their days in ways that would honor God.
  2. First was their unity. They were with “one accord,” having the same unified purpose as was described during their prayers of 1:14. This was their “one passion / one will” (ὁμοθυμαδόν), as they were united together by the Holy Spirit. They didn’t come with their own agendas; they wanted the will of God for them. Be it in public (the temple) or in private (house to house), their focus was never upon themselves, but always upon the Lord Jesus. What was it God wanted for them? How could they best love God & love one another? That kept them unified. There was no building of any individual kingdom; they were just about building the kingdom of God.
  3. Second was their humility. “They ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.” They were joyful – they were humble. Again, when a church’s purpose is about the glory and love of God, then there’s no place for individual egos to get in the way. The early church wasn’t trying to impress one another; they just wanted to worship Jesus with each other.
    1. Imagine going to church without all the drama – without wondering what people are going to think about the way your kids are dressed, or fearing that you might let on that you don’t have everything together. Imagine simple humility, love, and worship. That was the attitude of this church. They loved Jesus & they loved each other. No judgment – no strings attached. 
  4. Third was their praise. Not only were they sincere & humble among one another, they were sincere in their praise of God. They were open in the testimonies they shared of Him – they were quick to give Him credit & glory. The word Luke uses for “praise” is to mention, to tell, to esteem. IOW, praise is public. There’s no doubt the church worshipped God privately, but they were also quick to speak of Jesus publicly. When attention was given, it wasn’t put on the church or the apostles – they wanted the attention on Jesus. He was to get the credit for all the signs and wonders. He was to get the glory for the possessions sold and given to the church. Their desire was for God to be praised and for God to get the glory.
    1. Again, this requires a removal of ego. It’s impossible to praise God when we’re the ones hogging the spotlight.
  5. What were the results of all these actions and attitudes? The church had “favor with all the people.” When the crowds saw the sincere love of the church toward God – when they witnessed the practical and sincere love of the church toward one another, they could not help but take notice. The love of Christ is itself a testimony to Christ…exactly as Jesus said it would be. John 13:34–35, “(34) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (35) By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” The world does not know we are Christians by our church buildings or bumper stickers – they will not know we are Christians by our vote; they will know we are Christians by our love. When the world witnesses Christians acting like Christ, then they cannot help but see the sacrificial love of Jesus.
  6. What did all of this lead to? Evangelism…
  • Addition to the Church (47b)

…And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

  1. Result #2: Salvations! When the culture saw the loving witness of the church, people got saved. Obviously it doesn’t always work this way. Some in our culture (and theirs, too!) are bound to reject the love of God through Jesus, and Jesus said that they would. If they world hates us, it’s because the world hated Him first (Jn 15:18-19). But there will be some who believe. The love of God is a powerful force! When people see it in action, according to God’s truth, then some people will be saved.
  2. Please note: Salvation is God’s work! “The Lord added to the church daily…” No doubt it was Christians who were preaching the gospel, just as Peter did on the day of Pentecost, but it was God Himself who added to His church. Conversion cannot be forced – it isn’t something that be sold, or maneuvered onto people. If God does not save someone, then that someone simply is not saved.
    1. That said, God does invite everyone to be saved! No one is restricted from the gospel of Jesus – none are turned away who respond in true faith.


Of all the churches in all the towns of the world, the original 1st Church of Jerusalem was wonderful! The earliest Christians set an example for all of us. They were birthed through a work of God in evangelism – they were dedicated to Biblical teaching, purposeful fellowship, worship & prayer – they treated one another like family – they lived their lives in unity, humility, and joyful praise as they shared the gospel with all. 

In short, they loved God, loved each other, and loved the lost. Their love for God spilled over for one another, and they could not help but share the good news of Jesus with everyone around them.

What they were, we want to be. Not that they always did everything right, never making any mistakes. They were human, just like the rest of us, and they eventually needed correction just like we all do. But for a time, they aced it. They set an example for every church to come.

As for us, what do we do? Stay in that example! Don’t depart from the foundations laid down at the beginning. Just as the church in Jerusalem dedicated themselves to Godly activities and attitudes, so ought we. Just as the church in Jerusalem depended on the Lord to add to their numbers, so ought we. Churches today don’t need to “gin” up crowds – we don’t need gimmicks or light-shows or circus atmospheres. What we need is Jesus. We need to love God as He has revealed Himself to be – we need to love others like family in the body of Christ – we need to love the world around us enough to share the gospel with them…and God will do the rest! God will add to His church as He sees fit, and we can trust Him to do it.

That’s as a congregation. What do we do as individuals? The same. Be dedicated to the same things the early church was. Stay in doctrine – don’t neglect gathering together – join in corporate worship – value prayer. Love one another in practical ways, and in simple joy seeking God’s kingdom & not our own. What was said of the original Christians in Jerusalem could easily be said of us today…we just need to be willing to do the same things.


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