And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe 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, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Understanding And Applying the Text
Three things jump out in this short passage. First, the new Christians devoted themselves to learning doctrine. Second, they also devoted themselves to fellowship. Third, they devoted themselves to prayer.
I have run into many Christians who claim they long for the church to be like the early church. Yet these same Christians will despise doctrine. And since today’s church is not like the early church they avoid the fellowship of the saints.
This is the beginnings of the church. And Luke gives the marks of a true church. The Gospel is preached. They gave themselves to the teaching of the apostles. Second, the sacraments are rightly administered, the Lord’s Supper and baptism. The breaking of bread in verse 42 refers to the Lord’s supper. In verse 41, all who received Peter’s words were baptized. And there was church discipline. They were to giving to each other., as each had need. We will see this resulted in church discipline in chapter 5.
Churches which corrupt the teaching of the apostles, are not true churches.
Churches which desecrate the Lord’s supper are not true churches. I have seen the wine and bread substituted with milk and cookies. I have heard about preachers desecrating it with pizza and coke.
A true church corrects its members. We all error. A Church that does not care enough to correct you when you err is not a true church.
A true church is not easy to find. Most preaching is not about Christ and His atonement. Most preaching is about how to raise your children. How to have a happy marriage. How to live a good life. Some will sprinkle verses, out of context, into their preaching. Some start with a biblical text then not expound on it meaning.
All this serves to deceive the people. They think they are hearing from God. But they are not. Seek a church which expounds on the biblical text. This is important. This is a matter of life and death. Your soul and the souls of your family depend on it even if it is difficult to find a true church.
Fellowship among the saints flows out of clear doctrine. Worshiping God on the golf course or in the hunting blind is not worshiping God. Worship involves loving others. It involves caring for others. In particular, it is caring for the saints of God. (John 13:35, Romans 13:8 2 Corinthians 13:11, Galatians 5:13, 1 Thessalonians 4:9, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 John 3:11; 4:7)
Worship on the golf course is self-worship. It is not worshiping God. The golf course contains none of the marks of a true church. It does not teach, administer the sacraments, or correct your doctrine.
There are also those who claim we should do signs and wonders today. Miracles occured in the early church. The claim is that mean miracle should occur today. But notice what Luke says in verse 43, “many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.” The average congregant was not performing signs and wonders. It was the apostles.
Second, these signs and wonders induced fear in everyone. These were not signs and wonders that gave a warm gooey feeling inside.
Fear of God will soften the hardest of hearts. Some hearts will remain softened. Others will re-harden. For example, Pharaoh’s heart was hard. (Exodus 8:8, etc. 19,). Yet miracles soften his heart. When he forgot them, his heart rehardened.
This early day the new Christians held things in common. This is a description of what they did. It is not a command to do the same today. It was the way they followed the command Christ gave to love one another. Let us not confuse the two. It is a description of the love for one another. That is, this is a descriptive text, not a prescriptive one.
The apostles and the first century Christians in Jerusalem went to the temple. They went every day. The priests were still sacrificing animals daily. Christ’s death abolished the sacrificial system forever. (Hebrews 10:12). The temple was where the church met.
The temple was the meeting place for the church. The apostles went to fellowship and teach. The other Christians went for fellowship and to learn.
While it is difficult to find a true church, we should not avoid gathering together of saints. The golf course or hunting blind is not a substitute for attending church, even if the church is poor.
Another reason for going to the temple was a lot of people were there. It gave the apostles the ability to preach to those who Christ had not yet soften their heart to the gospel.
The Lord added to their number every day. There is no doubt the apostles labored. They preached. They taught. They discussed. But, Luke lets know that the work of conversion is the Lord’s. He used the means of preaching and teaching. But the results are His.