In the 1990’s an author wrote in Stop Dating the Church: “We live an increasingly fragmented world. That mindset has infected the way we approach our relationship with God. Faith is (now) a solo pursuit. These days experts describe America as a nation of “believers” but not “belongers” – and the numbers confirm it. According to pollster, George Barna, while the adult population in America is increased by 15 percent during the nineties, the number of adults who either didn’t attend church or only went on major holidays increased by 92 percent.” Perhaps some of you noted in Acts 2:37-27 the six responses to the Spirit-empowered preaching of Peter that Pentecost morning:
- Rending(2:37) katanouso, “cut to the heart”. Where the pain of Christ is exposed, where the power of freedom from the darkness of Satan’s dungeon is clearly taught, there will be those who will be cut into deeply!
- Requesting(2:37b) “What shall we do?” When the Gospel is clear, a choice is demanded. The lost who are now fully exposed to their lostness and lack of fulfillment will desire to know more!
- Repenting(2:38) metanoeo, “repent” is meta: with, after or behind plus noeo-ponder, think. It is used 32 times in the NT and 14 by Luke. It was the preaching in Acts of Peter (2:38, 3:19, 8:22) and Paul (17:30 at Mar’s Hill, 26:20 before Agrippa II). It is a change due to reflecting on the truth one has heard.
- Realignment: (2:38) be baptized, from “Baptidzo”: Not to be confused with “bapto”. Christ said that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a unionwith him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle!
- Reception: (2:38) receive the Holy Spirit. As with Jesus in the initiation of His ministry (John 1) the coming of the Spirit for empowering of the work was the key.
- Recognition: (2:39) the promise, they understood the Words preached were the fulfillment of God’s Word, and that they were for their people both near and far. True salvation is not selfish. It is a message so thrilling, so life-changing, that it is impossible to truly contain.
So the people believed and followed (2:40-41). How could you tell? What could be done to measure the reality of their life change? Look carefully – Luke has recorded for us six descriptive experiences that were occurring in the lives of the first century Christians.
Note that all the experiences were perform WHILE DEVOTED TOGETHER (2:42).
- 2:42a – Instruction: (Greek: didache)
- 2:42b, 46 – Participation: they “fellowshipped” (koinonia from koynos “common”), which included BOTH public and private (2:46) time with one another. The time included participating in the bread and cup, as well as prayer times together, praise of God’s goodness.
- 2:43 – Manifestation: Leaders flowed with the power of the Spirit, manifest presence of God, and people reverenced and worshipped the God that made Himself known.
- 2:44-45 – Contribution: Because they were together enough to know what others needed, and because they were surrendered enough to part with their things, God nudged them to care for one another as the needs became apparent.
- 2:47a – Attraction: “enjoying favor” of all the people, a spirit of freedom and joy sweeps away the selfish and complaining spirit that overcomes a group that has lost its focus and vision. When Jesus is lifted high, all others shrink in the scene. His sufferings and selflessness become the pattern of our intense focus. The other-person-centered life is attractive to a needy and harsh world, and we become a natural refuge for the hurting and lost.
- 2:47b – Evangelization: God added, because he could trust them to have His heart in focus.