What's in a Day?
Mercy and Truth Have Met

Five Activities of the Early Church



"And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and
fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." - Acts 2:42


Key Points:

What do new believers do in a newly constituted congregation and continue to do as the church continues?

  1. They dig in. (continued steadfastly) 
  1. They get to know God's word. (the apostles' doctrine) 
  1. They get to know each other. (fellowship) 
  1. They begin to experience life together. (in breaking of bread) 
  1. They pray in intercession, in song, and in worship (in prayers)


They eat together. They do life together. They share. They laugh. They sing. They pray.

It must have been so exciting. Anyone who has ever been involved in church planting with new believers in a new community has experienced this.

Everything is new and it is experienced in community!

There is such love, such passion, such fire, such enthusiasm, and such a sense of purpose and mission. Everyone is in one accord. The mission is clear. The purpose is overriding.

People are willing to sacrifice their time and their resources. They are pulling together for the good of all and for the sake of the cause.

It is no wonder why there is so much growth in new groups, whether they be new churches, new classes, new fellowships, new cell groups, or new ministries. The attraction to something so positive is compelling.

These new believers in Jerusalem were following in Jesus’ steps as I Peter 2:21 says.

They were learning to hear and follow the voice of their new Shepherd as Jesus taught in John 10. They were learning to experience the reality of John 10:10 as they had been rescued from a thief that had, for too long, stolen their life joy.

"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." - John 10:10

They were, for the first time in their lives, living an abundant life.

Raw, Unedited Transcript ... with all the filler words.

Today we are investigating a little bit. We are taking a look at a description of the early church. It begins with the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 42 through 47. That's the larger context, but I'm zeroing in on one verse this morning. Acts 2 42. It says that they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship in breaking of bread and prayers. They ate together. They did life together. They shared, they laughed, they sang, they prayed. Uh, it must have been very exciting in that early church, right after the Holy Spirit, uh, came and with tongues of fire lit upon the disciples.

And then the gospel went forth from that room, and it was preached probably on the stairs that led up to the temple. It was a great place. A lot of baths there. Ritual baths, uh, that could have been the place where 3000 people were baptized in one day. Uh, it was very possible.

It was logistically possible. The church was born. Suddenly, there were all of these new believers who'd been waiting around, who'd been hearing about Jesus. And now Peter has preached to them this message about who Jesus is. And the idea of church had not really been explored a lot.

Jesus alluded to it. He talked about gathering people together. He said he would build his church on the rock, but now it's happening. It's suddenly happening, and there's no plan.

It's, let's see how we put these things together and how this presence of the Holy Spirit, not only in our midst among us, but also in our hearts and in our lives, emerges. There was such love. There was such passion. There was such fire, such enthusiasm, sense of purpose and mission.

Everyone was in one accord. The mission was clear, though the purpose was overriding, and people were willing to sacrifice their time and their resources. They were pulling together for the good of all and for the sake of the cause. And the cause of course, is the kingdom of God.

And it's no wonder there was such growth in new groups, uh, whether there were churches or new classes, new fellowships, new cell groups, new ministries. We'd have different names for them today, but they were gatherings of people wherever they were. And today, we're even gathering on the internet. At this very moment, we're gathering on the internet. It, it leaves some things to be desired, but it brings us together.

The attraction is compelling. The new believers in Jesus are doing what Peter would later say in his epistle, first Peter 2 21. Uh, they were following in Jesus steps. They were learning to hear and follow the voice of their new shepherd. Jesus as taught in, uh, John 10.

These are some of the other scriptures that are in your readings for today, including Psalm 23. They were learning to experience the reality of John 10 10, which is the thief comes to steal and to kill and to destroy. But I've come that they may have life and have it abundantly. They were for the first time in their lives, living a life of abundance and fulfillment. So what were some of the key points of this verse I read that would tell us what they did?

And in many ways, they helped to continue to define what we do in order to be church in some authentic way, whether we meet online or in person or in a coffee shop or in an open air setting, in a traditional church or a non-traditional church. And this is not a, a template, this is not a purpose statement. It's not a vision statement or a mission statement, it's a description. But the first thing they did was they dug in. They dug in, it says they continued steadfastly. And that means they, there was a, there was a time element.

They continued and there is a quality of it steadfastness. They, they really dug into this purpose of getting into this thing. Um, the curriculum is not necessarily told until the next few words, but, uh, the fact that they did it and without coffee just tells us that they were willing to go deeper than they ever had in their lives. And I think that this is something that in any generation and in any setting, the church wants to continue to do and encourage its members to do, to dig deeper. Don't be, um, an inch deep and a mile wide.

Uh, it's fine to be a mile wide, uh, thousand miles wide,10,000 miles wide. But go deeper. Don't just skim the surface of the Christian life or the experience of the presence of God. Now, number two is we do have some content.

We do have some curriculum, but it's being developed. Remember, there are no gospels written at this point. There are no epistles written. They have the Torah and they have the remembrances.

There are memories of the teachings of Jesus and the core message of the gospel. But they got to know God's word. It says they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine. Now, doctrine doesn't necessarily mean a set, uh, description of key points as much as it just means teaching just means they've teach their teaching.

Well, how do these guys get qualifications to teach? Well, they spent three years with the master teacher, and then after his resurrection and before his ascension into heaven, they had his presence to, in the quiet moments that are not recorded, I believe to summarize all of the things that he had taught them and done, and to make sense of them in the light of his death and his resurrection. And so they had a real advantage because they got to know God's word in a very intimate way. The third thing that happened was they got to know each other. We were told that they continued steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine and fellowship.

Well, why is it important to know each other? And this is where we could break down, but we, I mean by being online, but we really have the opportunity to fellowship every day. Now, I, I sort of offer my page for that, but we have another page and a group, uh, as part of the Fellowship of Joy. And you have that we study together every day. There are people that study, uh, the scriptures every day together with me and with each other.

And you can do that. We have better opportunity for close contact. We, and we have zoom. You know, people say that's a poor substitute for being in the room together.

And I agree, but right now you have my undivided attention and I have your undivided attention. If you were on the other side of the screen looking at me, I'd be, I'd be pretty much staring at you. And when you talk, I'll listen. And when I talk, you're listening. And there is kind of intimacy to that, that we're in the room together.

And in some ways we've done more to shut out distractions. But we need more just fellowship, just being together, just doing life together that makes church. That's why I love it when the church meets together in smaller groups around kitchen tables and coffee house tables and restaurant tables and park benches and places, or even old fashioned Sunday school rooms, which are getting so expensive now for churches to build. But, uh, it works.

Or, you know, at the break room where you work, they got to know each other. Why is that important? Because the church is the body of Christ. The church is the people through whom Christ expresses himself as the head. Now, the body itself is imperfect, but that's fine. That's fine. We're we're working it out. We need that level of authenticity because you know, people in the world outside of the church, they're not perfect either.

Did you ever notice that? That whether they're in the church or outside the church, that they lack that quality of perfection. But coming together, we commit ourselves to help each other get better, get closer to God, get closer to each other, get closer to the mission. We're gathered on a mission. Whenever people gather on a mission, there's something special that happens. And whereas Jesus was the living word among us during his life, life ministry here, this physical ministry, the church now takes that role in the world.

They got to know each other because we're all parts of something that's bigger than ourselves. And it takes all of us to make a whole. Then they began to experience life together at an even deeper level. And that comes from the words breaking of bread, because that is both mundane and intimate. That is very, very special and very, very ordinary. But that tells me that they did things together that were just, I, I mean, maybe they went to each other's homes and worked on projects.

Certainly in the, in subsequent years of the church finding its expression in the world, I I grew up going to the beach once a year with the entire church. Um, and it was great fellowship. And we didn't have a single Bible study, and we didn't sing a single hymn, but we rented a big pavilion and we all gathered there and we laughed and we played. And then the fifth thing is they prayed.

They continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship and breaking of bread and prayers. They prayed. They, they prayed in intercession, they prayed in song, they prayed in worship, they prayed in all that they did. They prayed in communion in the, in the breaking of bread to remember Jesus. And in the sharing of the cup, in remembrance of his blood, they were seeking God by being together. They were encouraging each other to do it individually, and they were doing it corporately. Well, that is, um, that's really all I have for today.

But I think you can do something with it. Are you gathered with anybody? Can you, can you identify a group of people that you're the church together, you're on mission in the world, you're praying together. You're, you're doing life together. You're getting no God's word together.

You're digging deep. You're fellowshipping, you're caring for each other. You're on ministry in the world. You're reaching out to other people, uh, participating in the, the Lord's Supper. In some simple way, you are acknowledging people's intention to commit their lives to Jesus and to move on in faith and to receive him as their savior and their the Lord of their lives.

It's not an institution that makes that a church. It's the intention and the commitment of a body of people to each other. I don't really say go to church anymore as much as be the church and gather as church. And we are, the pandemic required us to rethink many of us, uh, a broader definition.

And yet a very more s a very, very more specific definition of this church. This is authentic. This is real. This is alive. Let's be the church today.

And as part of being the church, let's pray the prayer that Jesus gave the church to pray all of his disciples, and let's pray it together. Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Th kingdom come by, will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For dying is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.

Amen. The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and be gracious under you and give you peace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I'll see you next week actually. I'll see you tomorrow if you gather with me. Uh, we'll be together. I'll, I'll see you the rest of the day. I'll be back sometime afternoon. I'm gonna go preach this message at the tri-City Chinese Baptist Church. And, uh, but I'm gonna be back today and gathering with you. God bless you.