- Sermon Notes
The Picture to Pursue
Illus. Check the photo.
This morning we are going to look at a picture of the early church that demonstrates the way they functioned in their day, a picture that is simple but powerful, it shows passion and purpose, it is a picture that is seen in the past, in the earliest church historically, but one that we should pursue in our church corporately, in our lives personally, and employ in all of those areas presently.
It is a picture that I believe should continually be found in our fellowship. In our lives spiritually, it is important that we not only understand what God’s Word says, but that we endeavor to do as God’s Word describes, that we understand the picture to pursue, and then go and do!
Through the text this morning, I believe we are given the framework which will guide our church, our ministries, and a framework that you can even apply in your families and lives individually.
Read: Acts 4:42-47
It is from this text that I believe we find the picture that we as a people, as a church, as Calvary Chapel Community Church should find our picture to pursue. As we go through the Scripture and live life together, as we do our best to do as Jesus desires, that this would be the picture we would look at, lean upon, and align with.
The key identifiers of the early church, taken right here out of Acts 2:42-47 I turned into an acronym, a framework, a picture to pursue for our church so that we can make sure that individually and collectively, we are on the right track. The acronym I want to apply to our church from this day forward, is that we would be a D.E.E.P. fellowship, and be a D.E.E.P people!
D: Devoted to the Word.
E: Engaged in Fellowship.
E: Examples of Jesus in the world.
P: Persistent in Prayer.
The earliest church was continually devoted to these things. The word given there for continually devoted is a Greek word which means to adhere to, to do all the time, to persevere in and not faint, to be courageous in, to be constant in.
What they were devoted to continually is a wonderful model for you and for me in our church currently! They gave us the picture to pursue. My desire is that we would understand these verses and they would be applicable to our church today, in all we do! Let’s look at these verses and apply the “deep” acronym as that framework for our church and ministry going forward!
Be Devoted to the Word
Acts 2:42, They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching…
In Matthew 28:18-20, after Jesus’ resurrection and before He ascended to heaven, Jesus not only told His disciples to “go and make disciples,” He spoke about what His disciples were to do, they were to teach the people they went to, all that He commanded them, and this is exactly what the apostles are doing in the early church.
The apostles are witnessing to the world, teaching all Jesus commanded.
The people of the church were continually devoting themselves to the teachings of the apostles. Depending on what translation of the Bible you are reaching, you may see the word “doctrine” or “instruction” in place of teaching.
Didaché is the Greek word. It simply means doctrine, teaching, or instruction– or perhaps even simpler, truth taught, truth conveyed, truth imparted. That’s the word “doctrine.” That’s what it means– truth or instruction that is given to others.
It is instruction that applies to lifestyle application.
It is evident already in the book of Acts from Peter’s sermon in chapter 2, that the apostles teaching was tied to the Word of God.
When the Holy Spirit was poured out earlier in this chapter and people heard and saw what was happening, Peter explained it all according to the Scriptures. He looks back and explained it was a fulfillment of what was spoken by the prophet Joel. He looked at the resurrection and ascension of Jesus and lets the people know it was a fulfilment of what was written by David in the Psalms.
The teaching and doctrine of the apostles showed a clear devotion to the word of God and the words of Jesus.
As a church, we too are to be devoted to what has been given in God’s Word: The Old Testament, New Testament, which include the teachings of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus’ apostles…The full counsel of God’s Word!
2 Timothy 3:16, All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man or woman of God may be fully capable, equipped for every good work.
The content for our church, is the inspired word of God. The God breathed Scriptures.
This is what we as a church are tied to. Our weekly corporate gathering, our youth group, community groups, classes, we are devoted to the word.
This is “D” of our Deep Fellowship. We are devoted to the Word of God.
Joshua 1:8, This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will achieve success.
To have true devotion to God’s word, we must know what it says, to adhere to something, there must be a something to adhere to.
God’s word is the content for our church, and it gives context to our steps. It is the material we adhere to!
Psalm 119:105, Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.
John 8:31-32, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly My disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The people were not just devoted to any doctrine thought there were many out there, they were devoted to the Apostles’ doctrine; the word of God.
Acts 2:42, They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Be Engaged in Fellowship
Like the early church, we want to go deep in our church, by devoting ourselves to fellowship.
The word here for fellowship is koinonia, a word that is translated as partnership, sharing, communion, contribution, and partnership.
Put together, we understand that fellowship as mentioned in Scripture, is sharing the life of Jesus Christ.
It can easily become coffee and doughnuts or a shared activity without content or context, but it is much more than that.
Fellowship is certainly being together, being social, but it is being social in fellowship together over spiritual matters.
Fellowship is foundational to the picture and pursuit of the early church and the picture we desire to pursue. That we would be engaged in fellowship.
Together, they listened to the Apostles’ teachings, together they broke bread, they prayed together…they lived life together.
Acts 2:44-45, And all the believers were together and had all things in common; and they would sell their property and possessions and share them with all, to the extent that anyone had need.
Acts 2:46, Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God…
When they were breaking bread together, the were taking communion together, sharing Christ’s body and blood, in remembrance of Him.
They gather in the temple together, then from house to house together. They were in fellowship together.
They would gather in the temple; others would see their community gathering.
And they would go from house to house. They had all things in common, they would sell their property and possessions to care for one another, providing for those in need. They sacrificed in their fellowship.
They would go to each other’s house, take meals together, share in communion, with gladness, sincerity of heart, and they would praise God!
They engaged in intentional, genuine, and deep fellowship. We desire to be a church that engages in deep fellowship.
Hebrews 10:24-25, Let us consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds, not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Fellowship together is seen and suggested throughout the New Testament.
It is expressed and prescribed through the many “one another” statements we see.
Romans 12:10, Be devoted to one another…
Romans 13:8, love one another…
Romans 14:19, We pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
Galatians 5:13, … serve one another through love.
Ephesians 4:1-3, Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
These “one another” statements are found nearly 60 times; it has been said that the primary activity of the New Testament church was one-anothering one another.
They were connected with one another, sharing the life of Christ. The church was together, and later we will see the church was growing larger by the day.
Illus. Tied together.
Illus. In pursuit of the picture.
All of those parts and pieces, like us, are a part of the greater purpose. Let us be those who live with oneness of purpose. This is the first “E” to our deep fellowship.
Acts 2:46-47, So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
Be Examples for Jesus in the World
We recently went through Jesus’ prayer in John 17 in the message called unity on purpose.
John 17:18-21, Just as You sent Me into the world, I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, so that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. “I am not asking on behalf of these alone, but also for those who believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
Throughout His prayer, Jesus expresses His desire for oneness. In verse 11, “so that they may be one”; in verse 21, “that they may all be one”; verse 22, so that they may be one”; verse 23, “that they may be perfected in unity.”
Jesus said His desire, His prayer was that His people would be one, united, and through that unity, the world would believe in Him.
This is what the early church was doing. They were “with one accord.”
In this they proved the words of Jesus found in John 13:35.
John 13:34-35, I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another.
The picture we get there indicates that people saw something in the early church. Their engagement, their togetherness, their fellowship centered on Christ led to favor with all the people.
In looking at unity, we have been circling the idea of distinction in the same direction. Distinction headed toward the same goal line.
Living in this day and time in history, it is plain to see the disparities between the world’s value system and God’s.
The greatest temptation would be to opt out of it all, but Jesus makes His desire clear for His people to remain in it, but not be of it.
John 17:15-16, I am not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them away from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
Matthew 28:19 says we are to “go and make disciples of all nations,” Acts 1:8 tells us we are to be witnesses to the world.
Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Jesus calls us a city on a hill. That means that how we function and what we do is clearly seen. It can be seen from afar; the eyes of the world are upon us!
1 John 2:6, The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
If we, together are a city that is set on a hill, it is important that we have an understanding concerning what those who look at that city are seeing.
Here in Acts 2, the church had favor with all the people. They were doing what they needed to do to live according to the way Jesus had told them to walk.
The people were continuing daily, they had gladness, simplicity of heart, and favor with all the people.
Gladness is a word that depicts exceeding joy!
Psalm 92:4, For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands.
Jude 1:24, Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
We are examples for and witness of Jesus in this world!
To be an example is to be one of a number of things, someone or something that shows the character or the whole.
Acts 2:42, They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Be Persistent in Prayer
The early church is seen praying persistently.
Acts 1:14, All these were continually devoting themselves with one mind to prayer.
Praying continually means very often, regularly, with frequent intervals.
The early church was committed to prayer. Jesus had made promises surrounding prayer and the people were persistent in it.
John 14:13-14, Whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
Matthew 7:7-8, Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
As Jesus gives the assurance that God welcomes our prayers, it is also important to recognize the way His invitation to “ask, seek, and knock” reads in the literal translation: “keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking.”
He is calling us to continually ask, seek and knock. When you don’t know what to do, how to get there or which way to turn; keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking.
Jesus is pointing us towards persistence in prayer and our opportunity to come before the Father and make our requests known.
As we pray, we ask, seek, and knock with several things in mind:
He will provide, we are to seek first His kingdom and serve Him alone. (Mt. 6:24-33)
That our requests must be in harmony with His will (Mt. 6:10, Your will be done), accepting His will above our own.
We understand that our thoughts are not His thoughts, and our ways are not His ways (Is. 55:8).
1 John 3:22, And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.
Prayer is how we communicate our needs and desires to God. Surely, He knows what we need even before we ask, but prayer is the way in which God has chosen to bring about answers and our opportunity to spend time in communion with God.
And for us, there is power when we pray corporately, and in unity.
Matthew 18:19-20, Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.
Jesus said, “if two of you agree on earth” the word “agree” in Greek is symphoneo, which means literally to “symphonize.” When we come together, like a symphony, He hears us. It is pleasing to Him.
When we come to the Lord “in tune,” praying according to His will, He hears, He responds!
In a symphony, not all people play the same instrument, or part, but they are all coming together under the conductor.
Romans 12:9-12, Love must be free of hypocrisy. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor, not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer…
Finally, what we see in verse 47, was that the Lord was adding to their number daily. He was doing what only He could do. Their with-ness led to their witness!
Let us make this our picture to pursue:
D: Devoted to the Word.
E: Engaged in Fellowship.
E: Examples of Jesus in the world.
P: Persistent in Prayer.
And as we do, we trust the Lord with the results, to do what only He can do!
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.