Public Reading — Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)
If you receive this word that has been read in your hearing as the word of God, not the word of men, will you voice your faith by saying together, “Amen”?
Let us pray: “Our Father, we receive this word as a gift from you.
We believe you have inspired it, and that it is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
We ask for eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to obey.
Introduction of Theme
Fear is a powerful motivation for movement.
Fear compels people to move in ways that they did not think possible.
If you doubt this, then go to a beach, and watch what happens when someone yells “Shark!”
A fear comes upon all who are in the water, and they move through the water with movement never before seen!
The Church of Jesus Christ needs a holy fear of God.
Not the kind of fear that paralyzes (stage fright).
Not the kind of fear that attacks of flees (fight or flight).
The Church of Jesus Christ needs a holy fear of God that comes from God that not only compels movement but empowers it.
This was the kind of fear that verse 43 says:
I want to talk to you today about Power in the Fearing.
The early Church received power from on high and it moved them with a holy fear of God into the mission of God in the world.
Introduction of Text
Acts records for us that before Jesus was taken up into Heaven, just as he promised, the Spirit of God, the power from on high, was poured out on Jesus’ followers on the day of Pentecost.
That day is described in the beginning of Acts 2 with these words:
Pentecost is a feast that takes place 50 days after Passover.
And during these 50 days the followers of Jesus are still together, and waiting.
And as they wait, a sound from heaven like a mighty rushing wind comes and fills the entire house and fills them - it is the Holy Spirit of God, the promise of the Father, power and presence of Jesus, just as Jesus had promised.
And in the Holy Spirit, language barriers were broken down and the message of Jesus was being heard by men from every nation under heaven in their own language!
The events from the Tower of Babel of Genesis 11 are beginning to be reversed!
Human beings, created in the image of God, can accomplish impossible feats when united together as one.
The Tower of Babel was a tower built at a time when the whole earth had one language.
So the people got together and said:
The people attempted to make a name for themselves and build a tower into the heavens - and by doing so appoint themselves as God.
At the Tower of Babel, God graciously confused the languages of the people on the earth so that they would not destroy themselves with their united ability and pride.
God had a better unity in store, a unity he would give for His people.
A uniting of His people by His Spirit and with His power — and just imagine the possibilities of God’s people united by God’s Spirit, and what they can do!
It’s a foreshadowing of the Church of Jesus Christ!
A foreshadowing of the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, and a foreshadowing of the worship of God that will take place, as Revelation 7:9 describes a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb worshiping God!
And so this begins, on this first Pentecost, after the Holy Spirit is poured out on the followers of Jesus.
And in the midst of much bewilderment, amazement, and astonishment at the message of Jesus being heard in every language under heaven, Peter stands with the other apostles, and begins to preach and explain what is happening among them.
And what did Peter preach?
He did not preach that humanity could band together and reach up to God in the heavens, but instead he preached that humanity could be united together by a God who came down from heaven to humanity.
Peter preached Jesus — who was crucified, raised to life, and exalted at the right hand of God in power!
And all that the people are experiencing, is the promise of the Father, provided for by the person and work of Jesus.
What powerful preaching!
— What a powerful God!
That about three thousand souls were saved that day as God became known through this Word and through His Spirit!
What moved those three thousand people to salvation?
I want to suggest that Acts 2:42-47 answers that question by saying it was a holy fear of God.
The more God is known, through the revelation of His Word and Spirit, the more God is feared.
And fear empowers God’s people to move on mission with Jesus!
The fear of God is a motivator for movement!
We need a healthy fear of God.
We need God to shock us awake!
To remind us of the power of His presence given for His Church!
This fear of God first propelled the followers of Jesus into an unnatural devotion to the things of God.
And this healthy fear of God will propel us in the same way today!
I. Devotion [Acts 2:42]
Four actions are listed that the followers of Jesus devoted themselves to.
That word “devotion” is used twice these six verses, and it is a word that means:
to continue to do something with intense effort, with the possible implication of despite difficulty—‘to devote oneself to, to keep on, to persist in.’
The early believers were not swayed from doing these four things.
And the first item of devotion was the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42).
That is, the testimony of Jesus, the word of their witness.
What the apostles themselves saw with their own eyes, and heard with their own ears after having walked with Jesus as he walked the earth —
This is what the apostles taught, and this is what is preserved for us in the Holy Scriptures.
This is what the Gospels record, and the epistles (letters) of the New Testament expound, and all the Bible says “Amen” to, about God’s salvation in Jesus.
This is the teaching that we devote our attention to as well.
All believers are witnesses for Jesus, but not all believers are apostles.
That word “apostle” has its root in the ancient shipping industry, to speak of what was sent out, as a bill of lading.
It became used in the New Testament to speak of those who were sent out as ambassadors or envoys on a specific mission.
That’s who the apostles were - men specifically appointed and commissioned by Jesus as eyewitnesses to His teachings and works for the specific assignment of testifying to all people of the truth of Jesus, which they had personally seen and heard.
First the devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.
Secondly, according to (v.42),
The believers were devoted to “the fellowship.”
“Fellowship” is the the word “κοινωνίᾳ.”
It describes a closeness and a communion.
It was a word used of marriage relationships as being the most intimate fellowship between human beings (BDAG).
In Jesus there is a κοινωνίᾳ, a fellowship, a close communion with one another.
And verse 42 elaborates on that fellowship:
The “breaking of bread” is a figure of speech for eating together.
Sharing a meal.
There is a special closeness and uniting and relationship that develops in partaking of a meal together.
Even if there is no common ground, you at least share in common food at the table.
It is a powerful image of unity.
Table fellowship in the New Testament time included discussions and even lectures.
There was teaching at the table.
The devotion to the apostles’ teaching and prayers was lived out over meals!
Worship happened at table! (IVP Background Commentary: NT, 2:41-47)
A family meal today is a practical way of enjoying fellowship where devotion to God may be lived out.
As the family gathers together to share a meal, it provides a natural opportunity for prayer, eating, teaching and for the worship of God!
When we were in El Dorado, we were invited to share a meal with a family in our church.
Before we ate, they did something very special.
We all gathered around, and one of the sons explained that they have a habit in their family of reading a passage of Scripture before eating their meal.
This was a way of reminding that in the eating of the food that had been prepared before us, we should have a tangible reminder of what Jesus taught - that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
That is creativity, that is worship and teaching at table!
But there is a deeper meaning here.
In using that phrase “the breaking of bread” it intentionally connects us as hearers with what Jesus did with his disciples over a meal on the Passover in the Upper Room before his suffering and death.
The “breaking of bread” in v.42 is a reference to the Lord’s Supper.
The meal that believers devoted themselves to, and that united them together, was not just an ordinary meal, but specifically the Lord’s Supper which they were to eat often.
It reminded them of Jesus’ body being broken for them on the cross so that God might forgive our sins through Jesus!