I believe today that the Lord Jesus would have me talk about the church, and what the church looked like at the beginning, and what it should still look like today. So I will begin with Acts 2:42, for this is what happened right after what took place on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus’ followers and they began to speak in the languages of the people who were present, and the people were hearing the mighty works of God in their own native tongues. And many people believed in Jesus Christ.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42 ESV).
Devoted to the Apostles’ Teachings
We know what the apostles taught because their teachings are written down for us and are recorded for us in our Bibles. And they taught death to sin, turning away from sin to God (repentance), and walks of obedience to our Lord, by the grace of God, via God-given faith in Jesus Christ. And they taught walks of holiness and righteousness in the power of God, for the glory of God. And they taught that obedience and walks of righteousness are required for salvation and for eternal life with God, as part of faith in Christ.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
The new believers in Jesus were devoted to the apostles’ teachings, and they were steadfastly continuing in their teachings. So, if we are devoted to the teachings of the New Testament apostles and if steadfastly we are continuing in those teachings, what should that look like? It should mean that daily we are dying with Christ to sin, and we are denying self, and we are walking in obedience to our Lord’s commands (New Covenant), and we are not deliberately and habitually sinning against the Lord, but we are living holy and godly lives for the glory of God.
It means our lives are now surrendered to Jesus Christ to do his will, and that we believe in him as our Lord (Owner-Master), and so we are letting him direct our lives, and we are not the ones directing our own lives. It should mean that we are sharing the truth of the gospel with others consistently and regularly, and not the diluted gospel so many are teaching today. And it means we are committed to the body of Christ to help one another to grow in our walks of faith and obedience to our Lord and that we are exhorting one another daily so we are not led astray by the deceit of sin.
Devoted to the Fellowship of the Believers
And they also devoted themselves to (steadfastly continuing in) fellowship. Now this fellowship doesn’t look like what most fellowships today look like that I have seen in local gatherings of the church. For this fellowship is a partnership, a participation in and a sharing in spiritual fellowship with other believers who are likeminded with Christ, for this is a fellowship in the Spirit of God. It is what should be shared in common with other believers as our basis of fellowship, which is our fellowship with Christ, by faith in him. And it is our walks of faith in righteousness and in obedience to his commands.
And so this fellowship should include being of the same mind and heart, which is the mind and heart of Christ. And it should include us using our gifts of the Spirit, by the Spirit, for the mutual and spiritual development of one another, and in the areas of ministry assigned to us by God. And we should be speaking the truth of the Scriptures to one another so that we are not carried away by false doctrines being taught by men in their deceitful scheming, and so we help one another to grow in Christ to spiritual maturity.
And we are to speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, not on a worldly or fleshly professional level, but from our hearts, and from the word of God, in order to encourage one another in our walks of faith. And we are to teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, which is of God. And we are to exhort one another every day so that none of us will be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. And we are to provoke one another to love (of God) and good deeds (of God), not neglecting to meet together, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
[Romans 12:1-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31; Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 4:1-16; Ephesians 5:17-21; Philippians 2:1-8; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 3:13; Hebrews 10:23-25; James 5:19-20]
What do Your Church Fellowships Look Like?
So, is this what is taking place in your church fellowships? If not, why not? Or are your fellowships mainly focused around eating food and having fun and playing games and telling stories and talking about anything and everything but Jesus Christ? Sadly what I just described in this paragraph has been my experience with most church fellowships all throughout my 63 years of those experiences. Very few included anything spiritual, but many of them were totally worldly, and other than maybe someone praying for a meal, there usually was not any kind of real spiritual fellowship happening.
And sadly, from my experience, most gatherings of what is called church I have been to have not engaged the body of Christ in ministering to one another. For usually one or two “official” men do all the preaching, and a select few of qualified musicians do all the singing and the playing of instruments and the speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. And the one or two select preachers do all the exhorting and admonishing and teaching. And the rest of us just sit and listen or sing along and when it is all over we all go to our individual homes until the next week.
And, yes, we can have other believers into our homes for fellowship and for the breaking of bread and for prayer and to encourage one another in our walks of faith. But how many people do you know, if invited to your home, would want to sit and share with one another what the Lord Jesus was giving them to share, and would be okay with you exhorting and encouraging and urging and provoking them to walk in holiness and righteousness and to follow our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will?
Many years ago we used to have these kinds of home fellowships, but somewhere along the line they disappeared. Now when Christians get together to fellowship, from my experience, it often looks no different from people from the world getting together, for their conversations revolve around all the same things that the people of the world are talking about. And that is a sad reality.
Hear my Voice
An Original Work / July 9, 2012
Based off Psalm 27
The Lord is my great salvation.
He’s the stronghold of my life.
When my enemies attack me,
My heart will not fear at all.
Though a war break out against me,
Confident in Christ I’ll be.
Of the Lord, I ask that I may
Live with Him eternally.
Hear my voice, Lord, when I call you.
Merciful to me You’ll be.
Though my relatives forsake me,
My Lord God will receive me.
Teach me Your way, O my Jesus.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
I will sacrifice to my Lord.
I will sing with joyfulness.
I am confident that I will
See the goodness of the Lord.
All the richness of His blessings,
My Lord has for me in store.
He asks me to be of courage;
To be strong and to take heart,
Patiently as I wait for Him,
And from Him to ne’er depart.