Sept 17, 2017 – The Community Life of the First Christians
Preacher: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: With One Accord
Acts 2:37-47 (ESV)
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
The joyful and generous community we read of in Acts 2 is marked by 3 traits:
I) A supernatural community
- v38 “the gift of the Holy Spirit”; v39 “…promise… the Lord calls”; v47 “the Lord added…”
- our natural desires for community can be superficial and undermined by our self oriented desires
- v38 “repent… be baptized… receive… the Holy Spirit”
II) A sharing community
- devotion to “fellowship” (koinonia, v42) is sharing (v44 “together” “common”)
- v45 – selling and distributing flows from the devotion of v42 (counter example: Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5)
III) A receiving community
- devotion to “the breaking of bread” (v42); “received… with glad and generous hearts” (v46)
- the give and take of sharing is initiated by God, and the gifts that make for supernatural, sharing community point to humble stewardship
Questions for Reflection
- What sort of community do you long for? Lots of people; a few good relationships? Lots of time with others; particular time with others? Letting people into specific parts of your life; going very deep and broad? Stability; excitement?
- What do you think are chief factors that undermine community?
- The community in Acts 2 devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, the fellowship (sharing), the breaking of bread and the prayers. Which of these are you experiencing with others? Which are you not? Are you devoted to all 4 of these?
- Do you share joyfully? Do you share certain things joyfully, but not others? What do you most easily give away, and what is hardest for you to let go of?
- Do you find it easier to give or to receive? Why?
- How can the breaking of bread that Jesus commands (the Lord’s supper, “do this in remembrance of me”) keep you focused on the nature of Christian community?
- How should you be praying for change in your own heart? What do you want to turn over to God, but need His help? What desires do you have that undermine community, and what desires should you have that you lack? What does it look like to be faithful while you wait for God’s work in you to progress?