Acts

Acts 2:40-47 Church Essentials-What It Means To Be Saved.

The apostolic ministry of words was twofold-they were witnesses testifying to what they saw and heard, and they were also preachers, exhorting the people about what they needed to do with the knowledge they were receiving. Once again Peter focused on the key of his sermon, that all who called on the Lord would be saved. “Be saved from this perverse generation” (v. 40)! Repent and believe the apostolic witness was the essential message. “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized” (v. 41a). The critical text does not have the word translated ‘gladly’, but the received text does, and it is what separates those who are saved and those who are not. “And that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (v. 41b). The preaching of the gospel had an immediate effect.

However, unlike much of what passes off as decisions for Jesus today, these folk “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (v. 42). This essentially makes up the core activity of the church. As much as many want to elevate church discipline to the same level as these, the fact is, it did not occupy the same place as these for the apostolic church. It became necessary to be sure, but it was not on the same level as the activity listed here. In fact, a good argument could be made that church discipline becomes more paramount in those churches where these elements are lacking. Some people need to ask why their church is not as keen on these items as they seem to be at “exercising discipline”.

My advice to any willing to listen is to flee from any church that focuses on discipline while neglecting the activities listed here. It is the Lord who will discipline that church or denomination. Sadly, many reformed churches go from the doctrine listed here to discipline, with little or no fellowship, very sparse breaking of bread, and prayers that don’t go beyond the morning and evening ministerial. So if they claim that churches without discipline are not true churches, then what are they besides being hypocritical? The leadership needs to be disciplined for failing on these more core activities. Perhaps if their churches had more fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers, their need for discipline might change dramatically. Ask them to discipline their own children whom they starve of food and affection.

This isn’t rocket science folks. This passage is clear. The preaching of doctrine was not enough. Where is the fellowship? Is the breaking of bread once a quarter or twice a year enough? And why is the supper more like the funeral dirge of those destined for hell? Why do people in the church not pray for one another on a regular basis? In short, why is going to church more like going to a lecture? The weekly church service is more like a drive in theatre than it is a family gathering. Fear that is godly, is both good and necessary (v. 43), but it is not an end in itself. Like the signs and wonders which accompanied the apostolic witness, there was always a bigger end in view. As a family we read that they “had all things in common” (v. 44). They helped each other as each had need.

If selling some of one’s possessions could help someone in need in the church then this is what many did (v. 45). Again, they daily shared their meals together, “with gladness and simplicity of heart” (v. 46). They were a family. Together they praised God, and because of His favour, and how they lived, they also found favour with all the people (v. 47a). Luke concludes his account of these events by again summarizing the basic message-the sovereign saving activity of God. “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (v. 47b). It is very noteworthy that he didn’t simply state that the Lord was saving people, nor did he make a man centred judgment of numbers of those who made decisions. Decisions were made by God’s saving people, and these evidenced themselves by being added to the membership of a community that actually walked the talk of their faith together.

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