Faithlife Sermons

The Church, The Body Of Christ

Notes & Transcripts | Handout

Introduction

How many of us have ever taken a picture like this (S)? What makes these kinds of pictures humorous? The head doesn’t match the body! Dan Bernard asks the question, “If we could picture Christ as the head of our local body of believers, would the world laugh at the misfit? Or would they stand in awe of a human body so closely related to a divine head?” - http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/c/church.htm
What makes these kinds of pictures humorous (S)? The head doesn’t match the body right?
Acts 2:40–47 NKJV
And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
Acts
Remember putting your face above a headless frame painted to represent a muscle man, a clown, or even a bathing beauty? Many of us have had our pictures taken this way, and the photos are humorous because the head doesn't fit the body. If we could picture Christ as the head of our local body of believers, would the world laugh at the misfit? Or would they stand in awe of a human body so closely related to a divine head? 
a. The Enabling Of The Disciples To Preach Ch. 2
Dan Bernard. http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/c/church.htm
What an important question. We are ambassadors for Christ. We represent our head. How well does the body fit the head? This morning we will learn about the early church and discover how the church ought to function.
i. Enabled By The Holy Spirit 2:1-13
Just to remind us where we are at in the book. We are dealing with the spread of the gospel in Jerusalem. Chapter 1 deals with a. The Preparation Of The Disciples To Preach Ch. 1. Chapter 2 covers b. The Enabling Of The Disciples To Preach Ch. 2. So far in ch. 2 we have discussed how the disciples of Jesus were i. Enabled By The Holy Spirit 2:1-13. And ii. Enabled By The Word Of God 2:14-39. Today we will examine the final section of ch. 2 where we find the disciples iii. Enabled By The Body Of Christ 2:40-47.
In these verses we find the formation, function, and fellowship of the first church.
ii. Enabled By The Word Of God 2:14-39
In NKJV this is the first mention of the church in v. 47. Depending on the manuscript basis for your translation, you may or may not have the word church in this verse. I believe its absence to be a textual error in some manuscripts.
From the structure of the early church we learn some valuable lessons about the purpose of the church.
iii. Enabled By The Body Of Christ 2:40-47
As we understand and live the purpose of the church the body of Christ will become a better fit for its Head.
That is what we want to do? We want to be a fitting body for our Head Who is Christ! Today we want to learn how to better do that. These verses first describe…

1. The Formation Of The Body vv. 40-41

How the church is formed helps us to understand its identity. The question to be asked here is “What is the church?” Luke reveals two ways the body of Christ is formed in these verses. First, it is…
What is the church?

a. Formed through salvation v. 40

The fact that the church is formed through faith in Jesus Christ reminds us that it is not a building, it is people!
We don’t know exactly what all Peter said, but the gist of it is contained in the quote, “be saved from this perverse generation”. With these “many other words” that Peter uses he does two things. He testifies and exhorts.
With these many other words that Peter uses he does two things. He testifies and exhorts.
With these many other words that Peter uses he does two things. He testifies and exhorts.
Testified” is the Greek word διαμαρτύρομαι (diamartyromai) meaning warn; testify solemnly. To bear witness – to solemnly assert something, offering firsthand authentication of the fact; often concerning grave or important matters. He is giving them a solemn warning. They need salvation from the perverse generation or else they will suffer the fate of the perverse generation. This is something to bear in mind. When we preach the gospel we are solemnly testifying about something that is vitally important. This is a serious matter! Peter also exhorts them.
He is giving them a solemn warning. They need salvation from the perverse generation or else they will suffer the fate of the perverse generation. This is something to bear in mind. When we preach the gospel we are solemnly testifying about something that is vitally important. This is a serious matter! Peter also exhorts them.
Exhorted” is the Greek word παρακαλέω (parakaleō) meaning urge; implore; exhort. To earnestly support or encourage a response or action. There is a pleading note to this word. We don’t just simply lay out the bare bones facts of someone’s need for salvation. We earnestly plead with them to respond to the gospel message.
There is a pleading note to this word. We don’t just simply lay out the bare bones facts of someones need for salvation. We earnestly pleade with them to respond to the gospel message.
“Saved” is the idea of being delivered or rescued. This is what someone bound in perversity needs! They need to be rescued! A drowning person cannot rescue themselves, they need outside deliverance. In the same way, Sinners need someone to come from the outside and rescue them from the slavery of sin. That someone is Jesus Christ!
We live in a crooked, immoral, and dishonest generation. It is perverse and will suffer the consequences of perversity. We need to be delivered from that. Deliverance is only found in Jesus Christ. He is our salvation. He is our deliverance. When we trust in Him we are placed into the body of Christ. That is how it is formed. It is formed through those who are saved! That is who makes up the body of Christ.
The Church is composed of believers.
This is a big deal. Attending church is not what makes you part of the body of Christ. What makes you part of the body is faith in Jesus Christ! There are churches who are full at this very moment, but they are full of people who have not truly accepted Jesus Christ as Savior! Many have never even heard the gospel message! A local church is not a building, it is a gathering of those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ! Therefore, the body of Christ is formed through salvation. Secondarily, the body of Christ is…
Secondarily, the body of Christ is…

b. Formed through identification v. 41

It is interesting to note that in Luke’s estimation someone is not added to “them” until that person has been baptized. This is the public identification with Christ. Also, as we noted last week, baptism was what officially cut someone off from Judaism and made them “Christian” in the eyes of others. Baptism is like the Christian’s ID card.
The words “gladly received” indicate that there are two responses to Peter’s message. There are those who receive it, and those who reject it. This is true of the gospel message. You either accept it or reject it. The acceptance or rejection is not of a body of information, but of the person of Jesus Christ. It is whether or not we accept Him that determines our salvation. Baptism does not save you neither does church attendance, praying a prayer, or going forward in response to an invitation! Salvation only comes through believing that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sin, was buried, and rose again. If that is not the message that someone is responding to, they are not saved.
Baptism is identification with Christ.
Once saved, the expectation of the early church was for believers to be baptized. Just as in v. 38 “baptized” is speaking of immersion. 3,000 people were saved and baptized after the first sermon. This is the identification. They are baptized to demonstrate that they are a part of the body of Christ. This is the accepted “norm” for the believer. The body of Christ, the Church, is formed through salvation and through the identification of baptism. What is next described for us is…
Once saved, the expectation of the early church was for believers to be baptized. Just as in v. 38 “baptized” is speaking of immersion. 3,000 people were saved and baptized after the first sermon. This is the identification. They are baptized to demonstrate that they are a part of the body of Christ.
Baptism is identification with Christ.
Just as in v. 38 “baptized” is speaking of immersion.
3,000 people were saved and baptized after the first sermon. This is the identification. They are baptized to demonstrate that they are a part of the body of Christ.

2. The Function Of The Body vv. 42-45

We have learned how the body is formed. You are made a part of the body of Christ upon salvation by grace through faith. Baptism is the formal ceremony that identifies a believer with the body of Christ. Luke turns from these observations to a consideration of how the early church function. There are two modes of function considered here. The first is the…

a. Corporate function vv. 42-43

a. Corporate function vv. 42-43

What did the early church do in their meetings? How did they function as a corporate body? There are actually two different divisions of this point. There is a difference between how the believers functioned and how the leadership function. First let’s examine the corporate Function as believers in v. 42. “They” refers to the believers. “Continued steadfastly” is the Greek word ροσκαρτερέω (proskartereō) meaning be devoted to. To persevere devotedly in some activity or cause. This is the church corporately! The early church was devoted to four things. Doctrine, fellowship, hospitality, prayer. They persevered in and were devoted to these things. They viewed these as the most important. Not social justice, not feeding the poor, not political activism, but doctrine, fellowship, hospitality, and prayer.
i. Function as believers v. 42
Continued steadfastly – ροσκαρτερέω proskartereō be devoted to. To persevere devotedly – to persevere in some activity or cause to the point of devotion. Verb, present, active periphrastic participle, plural, nominative, masculine.
Continued steadfastly – ροσκαρτερέω proskartereō be devoted to. To persevere devotedly – to persevere in some activity or cause to the point of devotion. Verb, present, active periphrastic participle, plural, nominative, masculine.
This is the church corporately! The early church was devoted to four things. Doctrine, fellowship, hospitality, prayer.
They persevered in and were devoted to these things. They viewed these as the most important. Not social justice, not feeding the poor, not political activism, but doctrine, fellowship, hospitality, and prayer.
The early church was devoted to 3-4 things. Doctrine, fellowship?, hospitality, prayer.
“Doctrine” is simply teaching or instruction. Luke is very specific about what teaching and instruction they were devoted to. That which came from the apostles. Where would we go to find what the apostles taught? The rest of Acts as well as the epistles! Statistically speaking, over 70% of the NT is quotations or allusion to the OT. This means that what the apostles taught was how the OT spoke of Christ and applied to the church. This is exactly what Christ Himself did on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection. Of primary importance to the early church was the exposition of God's Word. Kent Hughes writes:
Kent Hughes writes:

Where the Spirit reigns, a love for God’s Word reigns.

These new Christians, under the reign of the Holy Spirit, were hungry for God’s Word. They could not get enough of it. Being filled with the Spirit and being filled with God’s Word go together.

Doctrine is sneered at today. It is considered unnecessary by many. Boring, divisive, confusing, relative. These are words that have been used to describe doctrine. Yet in the early church, this is what they were devoted to!
Fellowship – κοινωνία (koinōnia) fellowship; participation. Participation fellowship – the act of sharing in the activities or privileges of an intimate association or group; especially used of marriage and churches. Noun (indirect object), dative, singular, feminine.
Secondly, they were devoted to “fellowship”. This is the Greek word κοινωνία (koinōnia) meaning fellowship or participation. The act of sharing in the activities or privileges of an intimate association or group. The early church believers shared an intimate associate, a communion. They participated together for the work of the ministry.
The early church believers shared an intimate associate, a communion. They participated together for the work of the ministry.
“Breaking of bread” is literally what it sounds like. It is the physical tearing apart of bread for the purpose of sharing it and partaking of it with others. It is likely that this references a shared meal followed by the observance of communion, or the Lord’s Supper. The early church communed spiritually in their fellowship and physically in their hospitality. They also corporately shared in prayer. This word is plural. There is an ongoing element to these things. It wasn’t a one time deal.
The early church communed spiritually in their fellowship and physically in their hospitality. They also corporately shared in prayer. This word is plural.
Breaking of bread is literally what it sounds like. It is the physical tearing apart of bread for the purpose of sharing it and partaking of it with others.
They also corporately shared in prayer. This word is plural.
These are the four thing deemed essential and worthy of devotion by the early church. Doctrine - What the apostle taught. Fellowship - Spiritual intimacy and fellowship with the body of Christ. Hospitality - Spending time eating together. Prayer - Laying petitions at the throne of grace. That’s it!
That’s it!
That was the corporate function of the believers. Now we need to consider the corporate Function as apostles in v. 43. Fear is the idea of reverence. The more they spent time learning what the apostles taught, the more time they spent in fellowship, hospitality, and prayer; the more their reverence for God increased! This leads to the conclusion that one of the reasons there is little reverence for God in many churches today is because we have downplayed doctrine and hospitality and prayer and emphasized praise or what is often called worship. We are out of balance and therefore out of reverence.
ii. Function as apostles v. 43
Fear = reverence. The more they spent time learning what the apostles taught, the more time they spent in fellowship, hospitality, and prayer, the more their reverence for God increased! This leads to the conclusion that one of the reasons there is little reverence for God in many churches today is because we have downplayed doctrine and hospitality and prayer and emphasized praise or what is often called worship. We are out of balance and therefore out of reverence.
These miracles established the authority of their teaching which the early church was devoting itself to. They did not yet have the written word, so how would the church know what message was approved by God? It came with miraculous attestation.
Fear = reverence. The more they spent time learning what the apostles taught, the more time they spent in fellowship, hospitality, and prayer, the more their reverence for God increased! This leads to the conlcusion that one of the reasons there is little reverence for God in many churches today is because we have downplayed doctrine and hospitality and prayer and emphasized praise or what is often called worship. We are out of balance and therefore out of reverence.
The apostles did a lot of miracles and signs. These are the same two things that served to demonstrate who Jesus was according to v. 22. The purpose of Christ’s miracles was to demonstrate who He was. That He had been sent by the Father. It is an establishment of Christ’s authority. These same things are true of the disciples.
The purpose of these miracles was the establishment of the Apostles’ authority who would establish the church and write the Scriptures which would be the authority after them. These miracles established the authority of their teaching which the early church was devoting itself to. They did not yet have the written word, so how would the church know what message was approved by God? It came with miraculous attestation. We call them sign miracles because they served as a sign of the authority of the apostles.
These miracles established the authority of their teaching which the early church was devoting itself to. They did not yet have the written word, so how would the church know what message was approved by God? It came with miraculous attestation.
The corporate function of the body is focused on growth.
After considering the corporate function we need to consider the second mode which is…
We call them sign miracles because they served as a sign of the authority of the apostles.

b. Community function vv. 44-45

I want to explain what the early church did and as described in these two verses and then I want to make some comments about it. What we have presented here is both community dwelling and community distribution.
“The early church in Acts is often perceived as the model. But think about this. At what point in history do we find the most immature church? Early Acts, Right? Are they the model then? Are we looking to the most immature moment in all of church history for the model? We shouldn’t. But we do. There are commendable things obviously; they are devoting themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word.” Cone.
Common” is the Greek word κοινός (koinos) meaning common; unclean; ordinary. Belonging to or participated in by a community as a whole. They essentially set up a commune of sorts where they all dwelled together and shared everything. Not everyone did this however because they broke bread from house to house (v. 46).
i. Community dwelling v. 44
Common – κοινός (koinos) common; unclean; ordinary. Common (shared) – belonging to or participated in by a community as a whole. Adjective, double accusative, plural, neuter.
They essentially set up a commune of sorts where they all dwelled together and shared everything. Not everyone did this however because they broke bread from house to house (v. 46).
Possessions” is the Greek word κτῆμα (ktēma) meaning possession; landed property. Something that a person has come into the possession of; often referring to real property such as lands and houses. They sold their dwellings. “Goods” is the Greek word ὕπαρξις (hyparxis) meaning property or possession. Anything owned or possessed; sometimes used collectively for all of a person’s possessions. This word refers to possessions. It is important to understand that this was never commanded by Christ. As far as we can tell, it was not necessarily even encouraged by the disciples. The self sacrifice this evidences is commendable. They sold everything and divided it among themselves. Those who had needs they were unable to meet had those needs met by the body of Christ! This is awesome!
The community function of the body is focused on giving.
I do believe that the body of Christ should take care of its own today as well. However, I do not believe we should do exactly what the early church did here. Let me explain.
Possessions – κτῆμα (ktēma) possession; landed property. Acquisition (land) – something that a person has come into the possession of; often referring to real property such as lands and houses. Noun (direct object), accusative, plural, neuter.
This first word refers to houses and property. So they sold their dwellings.
Goods – ὕπαρξις (hyparxis) property; possession. Possession – anything owned or possessed; sometimes used collectively for all of a person’s possessions. Noun (direct object), accusative, plural, feminine.
This second word refers to possessions. It is important to understand that this was never commanded by Christ. As far as we can tell, it was not necessarily even encouraged by the disciples. The self sacrifice this evidences is commendable. They sold everything and divided it among themselves. Those who had needs they were unable to meet had those needs met by the body of Christ! This is awesome! I do believe that the body of Christ should take care of its own today as well. However, I do not believe we should do exactly what the early church did here. Let me explain.
There are some who hold the early church up as a model for churches today. There are others who believe that this sort of communal dwelling should be normative for the church today. Let’s talk about that. Should this be normative? No. Why not? This is not a command, it is just a report. We have mentioned this before but I will repeat it often because it is vital. When interpreting narrative passages it is absolutely essential that we distinguish between description and prescription. This is a description of what the early church did, it is not a prescription for us today.
Should this be normative? No. Why not? Not a command just a report. We have mentioned this before but I will repeat it often because it is vital. When interpreting narrative passages it is absolutely essential that we distinguish between description and prescription. This is a description of what the early church did, it is not a prescription for us today.
3. The Fellowship Of The Body vv. 46-47
“The early church in Acts is often perceived as the model. But think about this. At what point in history do we find the most immature church? Early Acts, Right? Are they the model then? Are we looking to the most immature moment in all of church history for the model? We shouldn’t. But we do. There are commendable things obviously; they are devoting themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word.” Dr. Christopher Cone
It is interesting that in both Romans and Corinthians Paul speaks of collecting gifts to take to Jerusalem to help support the poor believers there (; ). I heard it mentioned recently, and I tend to agree, that this would not have been necessary had the believers in Jerusalem not sold their property and thus hindered their own ability to provide for themselves. I cannot and will not be dogmatic on this point, but it does bear some thought. Regardless, The function of the body of Christ is to meet the needs of one another. To give of our time, resources, and oursleves to help and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ! This is how the body is to function! We have discovered the formation and function of the body. Finally we consider…

3. The Fellowship Of The Body vv. 46-47

While connected to the purpose of the body, Luke’s consideration of its fellowship helps to give us a clearer picture of the connection enjoyed by these early believers. The fellowship they enjoyed challenges us to better fellowship. First we are presented with how…

a. The fellowship interacts vv. 46-47a

Day by day they met in the temple, there was unanimity of purpose, they had unity. They broke bread from house to house eating and sharing food with great joy and unity. Singleness of heart is an idiom that describes a unity of mind, will, and emotion. They were also praising God and well spoken of by others. WOW! Does this describe churches today? Does this describe Grace Church?
What is fascinating here is that even in the somewhat communal dwelling of believers, they didn’t distance themselves from those in Jerusalem. This is evidenced by the favor they found with others.
The source of this unity and fellowship was their devotion to the four things mentioned earlier. The doctrine, fellowship, hospitality, and prayer. The continual engagement in these activities knit their hearts together!
By and large the church today is failing at hospitality. Let me meddle for a minute. Have any of you had someone from the church over to your house in the past month, two months, six months, year? Have you taken someone from the church out to eat? Hospitality is commanded. By failing to spend time with one another in our homes we are hindering unity! When we have our fellowship luncheons, some of you do not stay. Why not? That fellowship is what will knit our hearts together! Why are we avoiding it?
In the church: the greater the fellowship, the greater the unity.
The interaction of the church i
Let me be really honest with you. We have had people leave Grace Church because no one sought them out for fellowship. says this (S)…
(S).
Romans 12:9–13 NKJV
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Hospitality is given the same importance as prayer here! This is a matter of obedience. Will we obey or not? Will we fellowship? Will we have one another into our homes and build unity? This is how the body of Christ is to fellowship and interact. As this occurs we will discover that…

b. The fellowship increases v. 47b

Notice who adds them. The Lord. This is what Paul is talking about in (S).
Notice who adds them. The Lord. This is what Paul is talking about in (S).
Notice who adds them. The Lord. This is what Paul is talking about in (S).
Notice who adds them. The Lord. This is what Paul is talking about in (S).
1 Corinthians 3:5–7 NKJV
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.
God is the one who adds to the body of Christ. Those who are saved are saved by grace through faith. I don’t save anyone, you don’t save anyone. We plant and water, God brings the increase. That being said, there is no increase apart from planting and watering. They cannot hear without a preacher.
“Being saved” is not a reference to a process of salvation. Rather it is an attempt to translate a passive Greek verb into English. What Luke is emphasizing here is that we do not save ourselves, nor do we do anything to contribute to our salvation, we are saved by an outside force. The person and work of Jesus Christ is what saves us!
The church only grows as God wills.
In NKJV this is the first mention of the church in v. 47. Depending on the manuscript basis for your translation, you may or may not have the word church in this verse. I believe its absence to be a textual error in some manuscripts. Regardless, we need to talk a little bit about what a church is.
In NKJV this is the first mention of the church in v. 47. Depending on the manuscript basis for your translation, you may or may not have the word church in this verse. I believe its absence to be a textual error in some manuscripts.
In NKJV this is the first mention of the church in v. 47. Depending on the manuscript basis for your translation, you may or may not have the word church in this verse. I believe its absence to be a textual error in some manuscripts.
1st called Church.
Church used universally or locally or both?
“Church” is the Greek word ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia) meaning assembly or church. An orderly congregation specifically of those who trust in Jesus as the Messiah. A church is an assembly or people, not a building. The early church didn’t have buildings. We must understand that the church building is not a replacement for the temple. Because we are not Israel, we do not have sacred buildings.
This room is not sacred, it is not sanctified. This building is not God’s house. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit (). The body of believers is God’s house (). This is just a building. It is a place where we gather. Biblically speaking, the place we gather doesn’t really matter. The early churches met in synagogues, the temple, houses, schools, and by the river. With all of this being true, we need to be wise stewards of our building, but we must not worship it. That means that if our carpet gets some stains, that’s okay! We would rather have stained carpet and growing people than a pristine building that is empty! The people are the church, and they are far more important than any temporary building. God is the one who builds His Church. He is the one who brings growth. Our Job is to be faithful to him and await His leading.

Conclusion

What we are focused on is the Church. What do these verses teach us about the church? The church is made up of those who have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior. Part of the evidence of this is baptism. There are four things that the life of a believer should be centered on. Doctrine, fellowship, hospitality, and prayer. Further evidence of conversion is seen in the desire to meet the needs of other believers. When the four things mentioned above characterize the life of the believer there is gladness, unity, praise, and good reputation. From the flow of the text we can conclude that these things flow into evangelism. God is the one who builds His church.
God is the one who builds His church.
Warren Wiersbe writes:
The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Two: Power from Heaven! (Acts 2)

The Christians you meet in the Book of Acts were not content to meet once a week for “services as usual.” They met daily (Acts 2:46), cared daily (Acts 6:1), won souls daily (Acts 2:47), searched the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11), and increased in number daily (Acts 16:5). Their Christian faith was a day-to-day reality, not a once-a-week routine. Why? Because the risen Christ was a living reality to them, and His resurrection power was at work in their lives through the Spirit.

This is what we need. We need to be men and women who are daily committed to growing in Christ. Men and women who live by the power of the Spirit in service to the resurrected Lord. For this to be a reality, we must be devoted to four things.
Be devoted to the Word of God.
Acts of the Apostles B. The Results, 37–47

Pentecost is past. The church does not need another Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is here making available all His power. The need of the church is simply dedicated Christians who continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers.

In our personal time with the Lord and in corporate fellowship, we must feed on the milk and meat of the inspired Word of God.
Be devoted to fellowship.
Minister alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ in unity of mind and singleness of purpose.
Be devoted to hospitality.
Come together away from our church meetings. Spend time together in each others homes. Be here for communion and fellowship.
Be devoted to prayer.
Bring each other’s requests before the Lord. Pray personally and corporately. Be fervent and dedicated in prayer.
Doing these things will enable us to fulfill Peter’s exhortation in his second epistle. says (S).
2 Peter 3:18 NKJV
but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
May the body here at grace church grow to be a fitting body for our Head, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
#355 “Trusting Jesus”
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