One of the most disappointing opening scenes of a movie I’ve ever watched was that of Executive Decision. (Spoiler alert: if you haven’t yet watched this 1996 action classic, you’re never going to.) The top-billed cast member was Steven Seagal, surely the greatest living actor of our time. If he’s still alive. From some of his recent straight-to-video releases I’m not entirely sure. But how that guy never won an Oscar…
In our journey through Acts, we arrive today at Peter’s speech in chapter 2. It’s Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit has come upon each believer, giving them the ability to speak the gospel in the language of all those visiting Jerusalem from around the empire. This amazes everyone (although some think they’re just drunk). Peter then gets up to explain to the crowd the significance of this miraculous sign – it’s not spirits, it’s the Spirit:
A shorter post today, but a very important one. And one you’re going to have to do the bulk of the work for! Yesterday, we read Peter’s great speech at Pentecost, and the response – three thousand people added to their number in the one day. This led to the formation of a small community, of which Luke now gives a brief description:Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Note this isn’t a prescription for how communities of believers should function; it’s a description. But having said that, it’s a pretty powerful and inspiring one. Who wouldn’t want to be part of a community like that? Although in our own context – different culture, different time, different social structures – the details might look a bit different. But the principles seem to be ones to which we would do well to aspire.
To think about
Now it’s your turn. I’m going to mention briefly the principles we see at work here in the earliest “church” grouping. For each, think about two things: (1) How are you in your church living this out? (2) How could you and your church be living this out better?
- Devotion to the apostles’ teaching (which we now have in written form, in Scripture)
- Devotion to fellowship (meeting together to share life and encourage one another to live for God)
- Devotion to the breaking of bread (this could mean the Lord’s Supper but probably just means shared meals in one another’s homes)
- Devotion to prayer
- Accompanied by God’s powerful actions
- Sharing of possessions, by which those in need can be cared for
- Joyful praise of God
- An upright reputation in the community
- Numerical growth