The Fellowship Of The Believers
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.
To grow in faith and to fulfill the mission Jesus has given to us, we must regularly gather together for instruction, worship, encouragement and prayer. God never calls any Christian to a solitary life. No Christian is called to be alone.
The word “devoted” has a rich meaning. It refers to “staying close, cleaving faithfully and continuing steadfastly.” This is in the imperfect tense, meaning it was ongoing, occurring over and over. The New American Standard captures it well: “they were continually devoting themselves.” One commentator says they “attended constantly upon.” The idea is to “to be steadfastly attentive unto.”
Here’s how the idea of “devoted themselves” is further developed in other passages…
14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose.
Hebrews 10:39 helps us see the definition of devotion by showing us what it is not:
39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
Church… let’s be done with casual Christianity and half-hearted holiness. God longs for us to be completely committed. Notice this is an act of the will because it says they devoted “themselves.” It didn’t happen automatically, and no one could do it for them. These Christ-followers decided to become sold-out, to give their all to the one who gave His all for them. They knew the depth of their devotion would determine the impact on their life.
There are 4 truths about a Christian church:
We are committed to teachings of prosperity gospel, gimmicky techniques, or motivational pep talks. Acts 6:7 says…
7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
A healthy church must have devoted disciples committed to sound doctrine. Again, and again, Paul exhorts two younger pastors, Timothy and Titus, to preach the truth of the Scriptures. Listen to 2 Timothy 4:1-4:
2 Timothy 4:1-4
4 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
We get the Bible into our head by getting into it. The Word resides in our heart when we let it get into us. The Bible is demonstrated through our hands when we live it out obediently. Chuck Swindoll (Evangelical Pastor and radio preacher) says it like this: “It’s not how quickly you get through the Bible but how quickly the Bible gets through to you.”
Because the depth of our devotion will determine our awe and our impact, let’s continually devote ourselves to hearing and heeding the preaching of God’s Word. The second truth about a Christian church is…
At its core it’s being committed to the common cause of gospel proclamation. We see this in Philippians 1:5-6:
5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Note this is “the” fellowship, meaning it was a specific group of people they were partners with. Drop down to verse 44: “And all who believed were together and had all things in common.”
44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.
Are you continuously devoted to the fellowship here? Has the preaching or the partnering/fellowship with one another gone stale? Have you gone tired of why you were called? The depth of our devotion will determine what lies in the heart. Do we still devote ourselves to preaching and to partnering? Third truth is…
5 And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it, he began to eat. 36 Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves.
Not only did Paul partake of this meal, he shared it with others on the ship. Communion reminds us of our common union in Christ. We do it because Christ commanded it, because it reinforces the truth of the gospel and it preserves unity in the church. The church at Corinth was filled with conflict and division, so Paul writes these words in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17:
1 Corinthians 10:16-17
16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
In the early church it was common for believers to eat an ordinary meal together and follow it up with communion. Commentators are divided on what this passage is referring to but I lean toward it being a simple shared meal. I get this from Acts 2:46: “…breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.”
The depth of our devotion will determine our awe and our impact. Let’s devote ourselves to preaching, to partnering, and to partaking…
Lastly: The 4th truth of a Christian church…
3 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.
Prayer took place privately and publicly, in homes and at the temple. Most of us don’t need more preaching on prayer, we need more ways to practice prayer. Here are some practical ways to incorporate prayer into your life.
• Pray every day before reading the Bible, pray while you’re reading and pray when you’re finished.
• Pray while you’re driving.
• Pray for one another, friends and family members who are still lost.
• Pray before and during sermons, that God will give you the understanding of His message.
• Pray the Lord’s Prayer and use it as outline for prayer.
Church…you alone can find your own time of prayer. And always remember that God will hear each and every prayer.
The depth of our devotion will determine our awe and our impact. Let’s devote ourselves to preaching, to partnering, to partaking and to praying.
When we continuously devote ourselves to these four truths of faithfulness, God will awaken our awe of Him. This was not accidental but came about because of their intentional devotion. When we do what God wants, we get to see Him do what He wants, which leads us to worship!
Pastor Richard Santos
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