Sep 2, 2018

Build Your Kingdom Here Bible Study Part 3

50 days after Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples were in Jerusalem.  In Acts 2:1-41 Luke writes that the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples and it seemed as if tongues of fire had descended upon each of them.  Peter then preached a sermon about the resurrection and about 3,000 people were baptized.

Immediately, then, the new believers gather together in fellowship:

Acts 2:42-47, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

THE JOURNEY TO DISCIPLESHIP

It is interesting to note how Luke writes about followers of Jesus.  In Acts 2:41, he writes, “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”  Then a few verses later, in Acts 2:44, Luke calls these people “…believers”.

Luke continues to reference these followers of Jesus.  Look up the following verses and determine what they are called:

Acts 4:32
Acts 5:12
Acts 6:1

Q:  Why do you think Luke makes this change?  What do you suppose is the difference between a “believer” and a “disciple”?


These believers also began to gather together as Church.  In Acts 2:42, Luke writes “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

APOSTLE’S TEACHING

“They devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching…” 

Jesus was constantly teaching.  Whenever there was a crowd, Jesus took the opportunity to teach about the kingdom of God.  The disciples had learned at Jesus’ feet for three years, so they knew His teachings and were eager to share it with a new generation of believers.

We must remember, however, that none of the books of the New Testament were written at this point.  When the Apostles taught these new believers, it was all done with simply oral teaching.

Q:  Our Bible consists of 66 books.  39 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books.  Which of these writings were available to the Apostles?

Q:  What do you suppose the Apostles taught?

FELLOWSHIP

Fellowship was important to the early church.  Being devoted to the Apostle’s teaching doesn’t stop with simply hearing the words of Jesus.  It continues with applying these words to our lives.

Q:  How does fellowship with other Christians help us grow in our own discipleship?

BREAKING OF BREAD

There is quite a bit of debate about what “Breaking of Bread” in Acts 2:42 means.

Some accounts of “breaking bread” in scripture clearly refer to the Lord’s Supper instituted by Christ on the night He was betrayed (Mt. 26:26; Mk. 14:22; Lk. 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:23-24). In 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 Paul refers to the cup as well as the bread which also clearly indicates this is the Lord’s Supper.

Yet other instances of “breaking bread” seem to indicate an ordinary meal.  Before a meal, it was the duty of the host to divide the bread into pieces and give thanks. This breaking of bread was not necessarily associated with the Lord’s Supper.

Here in Acts 2:42 both types of meals could be inferred.  Since Luke writes that they “devoted themselves” to this meal, it could be the Lord’s Supper.  Yet one could also argue that eating together was so important to the early church that they devoted themselves to this type of fellowship on a daily basis.

PRAYER

The believers also devoted themselves to prayer.  It is not surprising that as they gathered together, ate together, and fellowshipped together, they also prayed together.  The perfect example of prayer is the one that Jesus taught the disciples in Matthew 6:9-13.

However it is also clear that the early Christians also prayed in other circumstances.  Read each of the following verses and see what other prayers they did:

James 5:16
1 Timothy 2:1
1 Thessalonians 5:25
Galatians 6:2
Matthew 9:38

TEMPLATE FOR CHRISTIAN GATHERINGS

In Acts 2 we see two different gatherings.

In Acts 2:1-41 it is a very large gathering.  Since we know that 3,000 people were baptized, that is the minimum number that came to see Peter however there could be many more.

In Acts 2:42-47, the believers gathered together in people’s homes.  These were much more intimate.

In thinking about these two gatherings of believers

Q:  In Acts 2:1-41 what attracted so many people?  What is it about a crowd that attracts a crowd?

Q:  In Acts 2:42-47 what kept them coming back on a daily basis?

Q:  Is the Sunday morning worship at CLV more like Acts 1:1-41 or is it more like Acts 2:42-47?  In what ways are we like both?  In what ways are we different?  

THE STRUGGLE

If one considers human nature, each of these gatherings its purpose.

Large gatherings of people will naturally attract more people.  Isaac Newton noticed this.  The attraction of two bodies increases as the mass of the bodies increase.  This is why very large congregations continue to attract more and more people. It’s what they do.  Bigger just naturally attracts.  The downside to large congregations is that it extremely easy to attend and never meet another person or grow in discipleship.

Small gatherings of Christians are where true fellowship and discipleship can really bloom.  The problem with small gatherings is that it is very, very hard for newcomers to feel welcomed.  This may explain why very small congregations have trouble attracting new people.  They have a small natural attraction and those inside the congregation have such strong fellowship that any visitor will feel like an outsider.

Every congregation struggles with this.  Large congregations struggle with helping people in their fellowship and discipleship.  Small congregations struggle with attracting people and making them feel welcome.

Q:  How would you solve this problem?  

THE CHALLENGE

If you are not connected to a small fellowship of believers, consider how you might seek this out.  When Christ Lutheran Vail adds the multi-purpose sanctuary, our worship service will become larger with more people.  This will provide huge attraction to people in the Vail area and that is good.  But it will require that our congregation is intentional to provide more and more opportunities for intimate fellowship.  What things could you do in your life to begin to provide those opportunities?