We have come a long way since Jesus ascended into heaven. The Message entrusted to those few disciples has now been carried throughout most of the world by the power of the Holy Spirit. Even now new people in many nations hear and encounter the power of the Gospel of Christ every single day. We have many big churches, Christian universities, seminaries, and numerous ministries carrying out works throughout the world and we thank God for that, but what did it look like for the early church?
Delving into Acts 2:42-47
In order to get a snapshot of this we will look at some verses in Acts 2:42-47. The first line says that they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. What a beautiful verse. If I had to take any single verse as a summary of what church should look like, I think this would be it. Here we see that the early church devoted themselves to the Word and to the apostle’s teachings. This was not only hearing and discussing the teachings but applying the teachings and living it out on a daily basis. This verse tells us that they also met together daily, not just once or twice a week, but every day. Together they broke bread – an indication of sharing, acceptance, and love, symbolic of a family sharing a meal, and also in remembrance of Christ. And they prayed together.
The second verse tells us that everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. Miracles were common place for the early church, just like miracles were common place for Jesus. We read about lame men healed, demons cast out, lepers cleansed and that the sick were laid on the streets just so that Peter’s shadow could fall on them. We read that all of them were healed. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever; and miracles, signs and wonders are for today too.
As a result, the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. They saw people coming to faith and repentance on a daily basis. Every day people were being saved, every day people were being healed, and every day people were coming to faith and being baptized. This was normal for the church of that time.
While this was all happening, we read again that all the believers were together (fellowshipping daily) and that they had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. What a powerful expression of love and care, to sell possessions and property to assist a fellow brother or sister in Christ. In the following chapters we read that as a result of such love, there were literally no needy persons among them. Here we see the outworking of Jesus’ teaching to not store up treasure on earth, where things get stolen, lost, or destroyed, but to rather to store up treasure in heaven.
Finally, in Acts 4:33, we see that with great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Evangelism. They could not help speaking and sharing about Jesus. Wherever they went they testified about the Gospel of Christ resurrected. Sometimes it resulted in them being thrown into jail, and at other times it resulted in them being persecuted, but they never stopped proclaiming the message.
Revel in the powerful simplicity!
What a beautiful picture of the church at that time. Simple yet powerful. They cared for each other’s needs. Lived and practiced the word. Met together for fellowship and teaching on a daily basis. Experienced signs wonders and miracles. New believers were added to their number every single day. And the testimony of Jesus was proclaimed with boldness. What more do we need?