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Acts Series: The New Testament Church in a nutshell

After Jesus ascended to Heaven (Acts 1), the disciples had a miraculous occurrence (Acts 2). The Holy Spirit descended on the disciples. After this, Peter preached a sermon, by the sovereign power of the Holy Spirit. Luke, after reporting Peter’s sermon, advised the New Testament church on how to fellowship with believers. Luke, the writer of Acts, stated,

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachings 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”

Acts 2:41–47

Around A.D. 60–63, Luke wrote Acts, the second volume of his two-volume set.[1] There are some important key elements of Theophilus that we should note. First, Theophilus’s name means “lover of God.” The Former book he is referring to is no doubt Luke’s Gospel. Acts is sometimes referred to as the fifth gospel because it continues to teach about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has a heavy presence in this book. However, this verse is indicating that the believers’ fellowship rests on the idea of serving another in Christ. I thought that was interesting. The full name of Book of Acts is entitled “Acts of the Apostles.”[2] According to Dr. Thomas L. Constable, “The Message of Acts is that the church of Jesus Christ is God’s instrument to glorify Himself in the present age. The subject of the Book of Acts, what is its primary focus of attention is the church of Jesus Christ.”[3] He continues onto say what the three major revelations regarding the Church. These three major revelations include: the origin of the church, the nature of the church, and the function of the church.[4] The Function of the church is found in Acts 2:41-47.There are some observations to be made on Acts 2:41–47.

First, the Word of the Lord was received by a multitude of people (v. 41). This multitude of people neared the total of three thousand (v. 41). Second, those three thousand people received Christ into their lives (v. 41). Third, the three thousand souls that were saved dedicated themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and to fellowship of the believers, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer (v. 42). Dr. Thomas Constable noted on this subject. Dr. Thomas Constable states,

“Two distinctive activities marked the fellowship of the early church. The ‘Breaking of bread’ is a term that here probably included the Lord’s Supper as well as eating a meal together (cf. v. 46; 20:7; 1 Cor. 10:16; 11:23-25; Jude 12). Elsewhere, the phrase describes both an ordinary meal (Luke 24:30, 35; Acts 20:11; 27:35) and the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 10:16; 11:24). Probably these early Christians ate together and as part of the meal, or after it, used their common food, bread, and wine, to commemorate Christ’s death.”[5]

Dr. Thomas Constable

Fourth, it is important to note the phrase “had all things in common.” They were all united under the Love of Christ. Therefore, there was no or minimal disunity in the early church (v. 43–44).

Fifth, when those, who were saved, started to sell their possessions, it indicated that one part of fellowshipping is to serve one another by caring for the weak and needy by giving away some of your possessions. God calls the church to help the poor and needy, not just the government (v. 43–45).

Sixth, it is important to note that the disciples did not just meet once a week. They met every day to fellowship with one another (v. 46). This was probably during meals as Luke wrote, “they (who are the Christ-Followers) received their food.” (v. 46). So. this indicates that there must have been food while they were meeting. Dr. Thomas Constable notes:

“In the ancient Near East, eating together reflected a common commitment to one’s another and deep fellowship. A meal shared together was both a symbol and a seal of friendship. In contemporary pagan religions, the meal formed the central rite of the religion, because it established communion between the worshippers and between the worshippers and their god. In Judaism, too, eating some of the offerings of worship symbolized these things, especially peace offering.”[6]

Dr. Thomas L. Constable

Dr. Thomas L. Constable indicates eating together can reflect a common commitment to one’s another and deep fellowship. Therefore, God calls each one of us to fellowship with one another. One way we can fellowship is by eating meals with one another. This also means the American form of fellowship is screwed up today (v. 46).

Seventh, while they were meeting every day, more people came to know, came to love, and came to serve the Lord to further the kingdom of God (v. 47). These are some observation made on Acts 2:42-47.

The New Testament church had different functions. However, its primary function to share the knowledge of God with new followers of Jesus Christ. Acts 2:41–47 was the New Testament Church. The New Testament church was called to Fellowship with local believers, remember the Lord’s Supper, and to pray for one another’s burdens. The New Testament church was not built to tear people down and cause them to fall away from the one true King which is God.

Also, Hebrews 10:19-25 has some hints also on how churches should operate small groups. Hebrews 10:19-25 states,

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God,let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Hebrews 10:19-25

In Hebrews 10:19-25, Do you remember what Brethren means? Brethren is referred to as the brothers and sisters in Christ. This method of doing small groups will help us not treat fellow believers as a checkbox. Again, we do not want to allow the philosophy of checkbox Christianity in Churches across the world. Churches are not met to be a checkbox to be checked off every time you do a good deed. Churches, across the world, are so much more than simply a checkbox. We, as fellow believers, should not treat other believers badly. God calls us to treat others the way we what to be treated. Crude joking, bad humor, bullying should be unacceptable in local churches. Churches should encourage one another, not tear fellow believers down.

2 Corinthians was written to the Church of Corinth. The Church of Corinth was having a hard time accepting a believer who formerly lived in sin. 2 Corinthians 13:10-11 states the purpose of how fellow believers (the body of the body church) should act with one another. This should be the role model of small groups today.

2 Corinthians 13:10-11 states:

“For I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down. Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

2 Corinthians 13:10-11

Paul is writing this letter to the Corinthian Church because they are having a hard time building people up. So, Paul gave the Corinthian Church a wake-up call. The Corinthian Church builds one another up by rejoicing in Christ Jesus, by being like-minded in the Word of God, and by living in peace. God is calling everyone, who is a believer, to build one another up, not tear them down.

Another passage also conveys the importance of building one another up in brotherly love. Ephesians 4:32 states,

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, Just as God in Christ also forgiven you.”

Ephesians 4:32

So not only should we rejoice with brother and sisters in Christ, but we should also be quick to forgive them. It so crucial to be kind to one another. When you do not show kindness, that person is probably not going to be your friend even when the other friend is nice. Here are some more verses that deal with how we should live out the New Testament Church model. Romans 15:26 states,

“For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem.”

Romans 15:26

Romans was written by Paul. Paul was formerly known as Saul of Tarsus. Saul of Tarsus (AKA Paul) studied under Gamaliel. Gamaliel was one of the best Jewish Rabbis at that time. Paul, the writer of Romans, was pleased with Macedonia and Achaia because they helped the poor. So, this shows that believers, who fellowship, should serve one another also. Hebrews 13:16 states,

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

Hebrews 13:16

Basically, we should sacrifice our time to serve others and ministers to other. We should share our talents to further the kingdom of God. Acts 6:2 states,

“And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “it is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.”

Acts 6:2

We need to serve one another. It does not just rest on the teachers to serve, but on everyone to serve the local community. 1 John 1:3-7 states,

“That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed, our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

1 John 1:3-7

We need to walk in the Word of God, then we can fellowship with all believers. Also, it is talking about how we need to fellowship with God, our Father, and Jesus. We can only fellowship with Jesus Christ in prayer, and it is also through His special revelation—the Word of God.

These are some of the verses that talk about fellowshipping. We need to truly live out these passages. If we do not live these passages out, the word of God becomes meaningless and void. Our good works flow out of our walk with Christ. We must live these passages every day. This is the New Testament Church in a nutshell.

[1] Dr. Thomas L. Constable. (2020). “Notes on Acts”. Plano Bible Chapel. Date Accessed October 10, 2020. URL: Sonic Light, 2.

[2] Ibid, 1.

[3] Dr. Thomas L. Constable. (2020). “Notes on Acts”. Date Accessed October 10, 2020. Received from Sonic Light. URL: Pg. 12.

[4] Ibid, pg. 11-12.

[5] Ibid. pg. 89.

[6] Dr. Thomas L. Constable. (2020). “Notes on Acts.” Sonic Light. Date accessed October 10, 2020. URL: pg. 92.

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