Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
As we move through Acts we see the beginning of the church. In Chapter 1 its center is at Jerusalem. In Chapter 13 it is located at Antioch. This is where believers were first called Christians. The first leader was Peter. In Chapter 10 Paul becomes the leader. In Chapter 9 Paul met the Lord on the road to Damascus and he was converted when the Lord shined that bright light; he lost his sight and the Lord spoke to him. We see ingredients in this early church that we should keep now.
(1) They were consistent. Church was more than an occasional experience. They loved being at church; it was their lifestyle. They sacrificed earthly things. It meant more than just attending a morning service. They practiced it 7 days a week, not just Sunday morning or even Sunday morning and night or Sunday morning and night and Wednesday night. They were consistent 7 days a week. We should pray that our life won’t bring a reproach to God. Be a Christian everyday of the week. There are other acts besides Sunday and Wednesday. Right now we’re not able to visit, but we do have telephones. We should pray for our leaders daily. They were committed to personal spiritual growth through prayer and study. Peter admonished us to do this. No one understands all the Bible. It’s the living Word of God. When we read the daily newspaper, it is already old news. The Word of God is fresh everyday. They shared their faith with others. A superficial religious person includes church in their schedule if there is nowhere else to go. Church should be at the top of the list. But we see the falling away more and more. We need to be more on fire. Stay involved in the work of the Lord. Is there a ministry you should be in? Do you see the need for one to be done?
(2) They were a witnessing church. This is the way God has chosen to get the word to the lost. There is no other platform, no other plan. We have something to tell. Not many will know about the Lord if we don’t tell them. Even in the Bible Belt some people don’t know about Jesus Christ. Friends tell friends. Invite them and your loved ones to church. Let them know you are concerned. The woman at the well ran into town and shouted to the people to come see a man who told her everything she had ever done. Soul winning is showing a person the Word and leading them to God. Witnessing is telling someone what the Lord did for you. The early church just did it. All of us are a little hesitant. We’re afraid they will get mad or we’ll mess up. If you begin to tell someone, you’ll find the Holy Spirit beings to work.
(3) They were a caring church. Acts 2:44-45 and 4:34-35 tell us they sold possessions and gave the money to the church to be used for the Lord’s work. We’re a church family, brothers and sisters in Christ. When a member of our natural family is sick, it affects us. When a member of our church family is sick, it should affect us as well. Rejoice with others when they rejoice. Feel the pain with others. Let people know you care. In the book of Job, he lost it all and three friends came to comfort him. At first they just sat there and looked at him. If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything. Just be there and let them know you care. Then those friends began to criticize Job. They came to care but criticized; they came to comfort but condemned. They brought no real help. But one helped Job. (a) He listened to him. Listening isn’t easy but it’s what we need to do at times. He became involved. (b) He became involved. He wasn’t a bystander. He wanted to help. (c) He talked to Job; he didn’t lecture him. (d) He confronted Job. Sometimes we have to do this. We don’t want to make them mad. We need to talk to them. (e) He pointed Job to God. Even when we don’t understand our circumstances, we need to trust God. Get advice from godly people. When people are sick, when death comes or divorce or other things, point them to God.
Times won’t get easier. Paul told Timothy that perilous times would come. When our love for God abates, so does our love for our fellowman. We love what we used to hate. We can enjoy what God blesses us with. Don’t love the world and set the church on the sidelines. Do you love Jesus? Love him as you used to? I’ve been married 43 years and I love her more today than I did then. Our love for the Lord should grow and grow every day. We should never get over being saved.
(4) They were a preaching church. There are a number of sermons in the book of Acts. In Acts 20, Paul preached a sermon that lasted till midnight. People listened because they were hungry for it. Churches use lots of avenues to communicate the message. Good music is one way. We lift praise by way of song. But it will never take the place of the Word of God. Drama is used by some. If it works, it’s good. Films and videos are used. None of these take the place of preaching the Word. We enjoy it, but sometimes we need a little trimming for us to grow. God wants us to be fruitful so we need to stay connected to the vine. But in that we may need pruning to grow. I want to challenge you to move forward. My main responsibility is to preach the Word, not opinions or philosophies. The Word still gets the job done. Paul told Timothy to preach the word: be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. The early church had problems even though they were growing in the Word. Every church has problems from time to time. They are made up of sinners saved by grace. We all have faults. We can still function together for the work of God. The early church chose out deacons to take care of the problems. God chose the foolishness of preaching to save. The world calls it foolish, but the cross, burial and resurrection will still get the job done.
(5) They were a united church. Look at Acts 2:1 and 46; 4:24; 4:32; and 8:6. All in one accord is the common theme. They were united. Was there ever a time in your family that you weren’t in harmony? It’s hard. Do you say, Christians don’t quarrel? They do too. A family is robbed of happiness until the problem is straightened out. The same thing exists in church. The house of God won’t function with friction. In the Civil War it was literally brother against brother as some fought for the south and some for the north. When we bicker there is no warmth. Visitors can even sense it. Satan’s tool is division. There will always be problems because there is still a devil who wants to tear the church down. In Acts, the widows were being neglected, so people complained even in this growing church. The deacons were appointed to take care of the welfare of the church. We all should be concerned and not let problems curb the momentum. There is strength in union. If I fall down you can help me up; if you do I can help you. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Some sports are played on your own. Many are team sports. They are not a one-man show. They all work together or there is a mess. An orchestra may not sound good when listening to one instrument, but put them all together and you have something beautiful. The New Testament church is a team. There are different gifts but we are to function as one.
(6) It was a giving church. Not everybody can sing. Not everyone can preach or teach. It takes no talent to give, and it’s something God has called us to do. It’s one of the easiest. There is no training. No practice to get it right. Money is vital to the work of God. In almost half of the parables of Jesus dealt with money; he had much to say about its management. Everything we have belongs to God. If your concept that only 10% belongs to him, you’re already thinking about it the wrong way. Give to the Lord and be good stewards of the rest. It takes money to keep anything alive. If we quit paying our electric bill, we’ll be in the dark. A growing church costs. In Matthew 25 we find the parable of the talents and it deals with Christ’s return. We see the Lord owns it all. The owner has rights; we have responsibilities. The more we prove to be faithful, the more God will trust in our keeping. He will not tell us to do something we cannot do. Faith requires action. The third man in the parable knew what to do; he didn’t do it. Many know what to do but delay doing it. Second Corinthians 8:5 says And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. Before they gave anything, they gave themselves. When we do, the rest will fall into place. Life will be drudgery until you give yourself to God.