Right after Peter preached the church increased from about 120 people to 3,120. I don’t know Billy Graham’s record but it would be hard to top Peter’s altar call at Pentecost. You just have to wonder if Peter and the disciples remembered what Jesus had said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12
For 40 days or so, the disciples had been sitting around waiting, hardly knowing what to do with themselves. But now, this new 3,000+ church seems to know exactly how to roll.
And I love the way Luke writes about it. He begins the next 6 sentences with the word “and” and he scatters a few more “ands” in the middles. And, just let me say, the reason I love it is because it just builds the excitement in the telling. It’s like he begins to tell what happened but keeps thinking of more things, the next things, the amazing things he wants to be sure you get.
So, right off the bat, the new church devotes themselves to the apostles’ teaching AND fellowship. You just can’t have church without good teaching. These new believers had not been with Jesus full time and even though they had a mindset toward being taught (like in from the Pharisees and those guys) they were wide open to Jesus-God’s interpretation of His own Words.
Fellowship is Koinonia – or participation, sharing. It’s not just sharing things. It’s more like having a shared calling and shared responsibility. This is the word we use to describe body life. (I like to think this is what OCC had in mind when, in the by-laws, the paid staff job descriptions include “be a Body life minister with a primary emphasis on teaching, equipping and discipling others to do the work of the ministry.”)
AND the breaking of bread – since it says “the breaking”, I have to believe this is celebrating communion. Jesus had taught this to the disciples – to do in remembrance of Him – of His sacrifice AND certainly to remember His resurrection!
AND the prayers – (another “the”) – There was already established a habit of prayer by the 120 who had been waiting – an integral part of unity with Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit.
AND there was awe and wonders and signs (done by the apostles) (Can’t you just feel the atmosphere? It was all Awesome!)
AND the believers were together AND had all things in common. They were completely sharing their lives and their new life – supporting each other and caring for each other.
AND they sold their stuff AND distributed the money to whoever had a need. They were letting go of personal worldly treasures and spending on ministry to people.
AND attending temple together AND having meals together AND having glad, generous hearts AND praising God AND being found in favor with all people.
AND the Lord added to their number, day by day, those who were being saved.
AND we would do well to consider this to be the model for living out church today. Isn’t this exactly what Jesus proposed: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:15
The Father AND the Son AND the Holy Spirit are the community of God. And the bride is to live in community too.
Being the church is much harder than going to church. I can’t do it in my own strength.
About the World?
A community of love AND respect AND caring will stand out like a Light on a Hill.