As we walk through the Acts of the Apostles, we come to a very important moment—a watershed, moment to be exact. The beginning of the Body of Christ, or, as we are called “the Church of Jesus Christ. Pastor Ricardo continues the series by explaining the purpose of the Church and how we are to live and act among our brothers and sisters.
Opening to Acts 2:1-2, we read, “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” It was the promise of the Holy Spirit indwelling the first believers and the start of something new, something never before seen or witnessed,though it was prophesied by the prophet Joel. God’s power and Spirit indwelling believers and imploring them to fulfill Christ’s commands to make disciples and to proclaim his name in all the earth. It was a very exciting, yet confusing time, for there we many Jews in the upper room, and, to the best of our knowledge, no one imagined the Holy Spirit falling on the disciples in such a manner But then again, God’s plans are always outstanding. The Church was brought forth that day with wonder, surprise, and expectations of something great that God was and has been doing to do through those who know him.
And they had all things in common.
The community of the Church is one of the biggest aspects of the life of a believer. The lone ranger Christian doesn’t last long. Instead,God established for us to be together and to share and bear one another’s burdens. We might ask what a healthy church is supposed to look like. Well, look no further than Acts 2.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.
Before the New Testament, there was the was the Torah, or the Pentateuch—the first five books of the Old Testament. So with what they knew, guided by the Holy Spirit, the apostles began preaching Christ from the Old Testament. This was a very important concept because many Jews at that time were expecting Christ to come as the immediate conquering king to deliver the Jews from the oppression of the Roman Empire. God had a different plan one that would be eternal, not temporal. As believers put their faith in Christ, not only were they interested in knowing the Scriptures, but they also devoted themselves to knowing God more through the teaching of the apostles who had walked with him. This is of course still prevalent today as we are guided by our shepherds and overseers of our souls, the elders of our congregation. Not only should we devote ourselves to their teachings, but also live it out in our everyday lives.
Riccardo urges us not only communicate with each other, but to actually be an intimate part of the body. The Scriptures say the we are to be giving of ourselves and our possessions as needed. This can only come from brothers and sisters spending time with one another and getting to know each other beyond what occurs in surface-level conversation. Knowing someone’s needs and trying to see how God has called someone to use their gifts in the body can only come from spending time with fellow Christians.This can become an issue for those who feel like the don’t want to disclose certain things about themselves But it is the perfect opportunity to witness others walking in humility and grace.
The Lord’s supper is a very important and intimate part of our lives, both individually and corporately. Jesus commanded us to take the bread and wine in remembrance of his broken body and shed blood. We need a fresh reminder in our busy lives of the magnificent sacrifice of the One who loved us so much that he would take torture and our penalty of sin upon him as a result of his tremendous love. This is central to the gospel. Breaking bread and taking the wine together brings more intimacy with our Savior and his Bride, the Church. We need a constant reminder of God’s true love and sacrifice for us.
Ricardo picks up on how important it is to devote ourselves to pray individually and corporately. We have the privilege of praying to our God directly through Christ Jesus, and he hears us. There is not merely one way for us to pray, but we are commanded to do it with sincerity. This can be especially difficult as we openly pray with others; but we must keep in mind that God isn’t looking at eloquence or whether we use proper English; rather, he examines our hearts and intentions. I would encourage all of us to find a pray partner or a group that we constantly pray for and with. It is an honor to pray to our King and creator of all things. We are able to come to his throne with thanksgiving and supplication, and we should never bypass an opportunity to talk to him, even if we don’t always know what to say.
Before Christ ascended into heaven, out of his disciples’ view, he gave them one more commandment: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. That is our mission: to spread the good news of Christ and to make disciples of all humankind. This exalts the name of Christ while bringing sons to God through faith.
There is a point in each of our lives where someone broke the gospel down, causing us to realize we needed Christ. Just imagine how important that moment was/is to us. Now think of the thousands of people who could be affected and have changed lives simply by allowing God to work through us to bring sons and daughters to himself. What a great honor to be ambassadors of the King of glory! Let us not allow our fear and emotions to rule instead of the Spirit prompting us to profess the good news.
Giving of our time and possessions.
The early church had all things in common. That means the they had to put their differences and preferences aside and love one another. It can be a very difficult thing to give of your time and possessions to others after working so hard for some of it. Let us not forget that our God is the one who supplies our needs according to his riches and glory (Philippians 4:19). The riches and time given to us can be enjoyed individually, but it should always be with an open heart willing to give to our brothers and sisters. This is one way God builds us up and strengthens us, all while getting his glory when others see our love and commitment toward one another as we glorify our Father in heaven.
The early Church had committed itself to the other in the midst of what was perhaps the largest and fastest explosion of the Church since that time. We should continue to imitate those brothers and sisters, as it is pleasing in the sight of God.