"Devoted to the Church."
October 13, 2021, 8:35 PM

Last week we started a series looking at the purpose of the church. Our focus last week was on the church’s confession that Jesus is the Christ. This confession sets Christians apart from other people. Only Christians confess that Jesus is the Christ. Those who confess this are part of the church. Before we can talk about the purpose of the church, it is necessary to define the church. John M. Frame, a theologian and author, says that “The church is the people of God in all ages called out of the world through Jesus Christ.” This devotional focuses on a snapshot of the early church found in Acts 2:42-47. This section is a summary statement from the author, Luke. Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke as well as the Acts of the Apostles (usually just called Acts).

This summary statement gives us a description of how the early church functioned shortly after Pentecost (the story of Pentecost is found in Acts 2:1-41). It describes the early church’s life together but also gives us a pattern that the church today should be following. In Acts 2:42 we see a list of four things that the early Christians were devoted to. We are going to look at this list and this list is going to help us see what every Christian and every congregation should be devoted to still today.

  1. Devoted to the apostle’s teaching: Luke tells us that the early church was devoted to hearing the teaching of the 12 apostles. These men (read Acts 1:12-26 to see how the eleven apostles remaining after Judas’ death replaced Judas) were all witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. Their teaching had authority and they taught and preached from the Old Testament. Remember, the New Testament hadn’t been written yet. The apostles had authority because of their time with Jesus and the fact that they had witnessed the resurrection. In 2:43 we also see that miracles were being performed through the apostles to help establish their authority and credibility. The apostles used the Old Testament to show how Jesus fulfilled all the expectations of the Messiah (Christ and Messiah both mean “anointed one”). The apostles preached in the temple in Jerusalem, in synagogues in other cities, and even in private homes. As the writing of the apostles were collected, they became accepted as Scripture. The New Testament is composed of writings from the apostles, except Luke. Luke was not a witness to the resurrection. The early church was devoted to the Word of God. The early church followed the apostles teaching because they were loyal to the Word of God revealed in the Old Testament Scriptures.
  2. Devoted to the fellowship: This is the Greek word koinonia. It means to have things in common. A helpful way to think of this word is a gathering with others of like mind and faith. The early church was devoted to meeting with each other. They were committed to being together more than one day a week. They lived their lives together and they knew the needs of others in the church. The breaking of bread and prayers are also part of the fellowship the early church enjoyed.
  3. Devoted to the breaking of bread: This is most likely a reference to the Lord’s Supper. It could also be talking about sharing meals together. From early in the life of the church, believers gathered to worship together, hear preaching, and celebrate the Lord’s Supper. These were regular features of the worship of the early church.
  4. Devoted to prayer: We see that the early church was devoted to praying both individually and corporately when they gathered. Prayer was a prominent feature in their worship as well as a prominent feature of their everyday life. Prayer is a gift that God has given His people so that we may seek guidance and encouragement from Him. Prayer is a way that we communicate our thoughts and hopes and hurts to Him. Prayer is a way for God’s people to seek time with Him. Paul tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

The early Christians devoted themselves to these four things. Every Christian today should be devoted to these as well. Every Christian should delight in the Word, in fellowship with other believers, in gathering for worship where we celebrate the Sacraments, and prayer. The early Christians were devoted to these things. This means that they purposefully sought out time to do these things. They purposefully and continually sought to learn more about God’s Word and to spend time with other Christians. Many today would claim to be devoted to these things, yet they don’t spend time in personal study of the Bible, in personal prayer, or attend worship regularly, or even spend time with other Christians. We were meant to be in community.

Every Christian today should be:

  1. Devoted to the Word of God – we must submit to the authority of God’s Word for ordering our lives. This applies to us as individual Christians as well as congregations and denominations.
  2. Devoted to one another – many places in the New Testament highlight and inform how Christians are to relate to one another. We should strive for peace in our congregations even when there is disagreement.
  3. Devoted to the breaking of bread – the Lord’s Supper should be a regular feature and highlight of our worship. Every time the church gathers, we should proclaim the truth about Jesus Christ. We should not water it down to make us or others feel good. We need to tell the whole truth: that we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and that Jesus Christ came to bear our sins in his body so that we could be forgiven and receive eternal life through Jesus. Jesus is the foundation and center of every gathering of the church.
  4. Devoted to prayer – we must be devoted to prayer in our worship together and in our private lives.
  5. Devoted to radical generosity – the early church provided for each other out of love, not out of compulsion. They were aware of the needs within their community, and they provided for those who needed help. We give freely and voluntarily because Jesus Christ has transformed our hearts and given us compassion toward others. We give because we recognize that God has given us everything we have.
  6. Devoted to worship – we need to be devoted to regular worship, both individually (devotional time) and corporately (Sunday mornings for example).
  7. Devoted to evangelism – this is a massive need in our world. There are people who have never heard the good news about Jesus. Every Christian is a missionary in that everywhere we go, we meet people who need the good news of Jesus Christ. We don’t have to travel to far-off countries to meet people who have never heard the truth about Jesus. They are right here in our town and in every town and village in this country.

Use this text to pray about how your spiritual life. Are you practicing these things in your life? Are you devoted to the Word, to a local congregation, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer? If not, pray that God would lead you into a deeper relationship to Him through His Word and through a local congregation where you can find others who share the same faith in Jesus Christ.