They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.Acts 2:42-47
I told you in the last Gems that for Christmas Eve I departed from my normal approach to Gems and gave you more devotional or practical everyday comments to ponder over Christmas. But I am not unaware that you probably haven’t got to doing that. Why? Because you have been caught up in the Christmas “thing”. A number have responded to me and asked why I don’t write the kinds of things I write from time to time like in the last Gems or on the times when I include my own testimony related to the Bible passage that we are looking at. For the simple reason Bible Gems (what I write daily) and Deeper Bible (what I teach in the course designed to help Bible lovers everywhere dig the depths of the Bible for themselves) go together like a hand in a glove. It is to encourage you that you too can understand the Bible at a deeper level. Do you realise that to get the best understanding and therefore the best Gems to share practical devotional thoughts with others, you have to develop the ability to go down deep into the text of the Word of God?
Have you done the normal Gems / Deeper Bible thing with this passage? I suspect not with the busyness of the last few days. So I will give you time to do that. Are there questions which spring to mind as a result of reading the passage before us? Deeper questions lead you to deeper truth. There is something clearly happening in the description of this gathering of Jesus’ followers in the beginning, which sets them apart from the rest of us. This is not a description of a normal church or cell group these days. There is something about this passage which raises the bar on what is normal. Something which sets these early Christians apart. Do you remember I told you the Book of Acts is described by some as being a manual for Church Growth and Practice or a Missionary Manual of how the church should function when it comes into being (Gem 1339). So if we sense something in this passage which is different from our experience of Church, wouldn’t it motivate us to study this section in detail and ask the Holy Spirit of the Creator of “Church” what is different about these people to the way my church or cell church operates?
If you do that, I imagine it would spark questions in you like:
- What does devoting themselves mean?
- What did the apostles teach? Was it just preaching or was it more than that?
- What does it mean by fellowship / breaking of bread / prayer? (We often use Christian jargon little knowing what it actually means)
- What was it these early cell group / church people were feeling?
- How many of them were there? (There is a difference between a cell of 12 and a gathering of 120)
- Is this prescriptive of a church or a cell group? What is the difference?
- Is there a difference between “being together” and “having fellowship”?
- What were the signs and wonders taking place?
- What is the meaning of “had all things in common” / began selling their possessions / sharing with anyone in need?
- Is this like Communism?
- What is the difference between “property” and “possessions”? (Are you seriously suggesting I should sell my house and give the money to the church?)
- Is the secret to seeing this kind of thing happen these days, being in church everyday?
- Should we have communal meals every day?
- Should we have communion more than once a month? Like every day?
- What is the secret to church growth? How can we get people added to our church / cell group every day?
You can see how a more intentional look at this passage leads you to more questions. Of the end to questions, there is not!
There is also a need to right brain this passage as well. Make it personal, put yourself in the situation and ask the Lord what you should do. Be sure you listen for His input. As I told you in the last Gem, meditate on the words of Luke in Acts 2:42-47 and measure your life, your situation, your church, your cell group against those words.
- Is there anything you think you might need to change?
- Is there anything your cell group might need to change?
- Is there anything your church might need to change?
It is at this level that the Bible begins to become relevant from within us. Was the Books of Acts written just to tell you a nice story of what happened? Or is there more to it than that? In reality, it is up to you to decide the answer to that question. How you answer may well determine your future course of action.
I will leave you now to meditate on this passage and to ask more questions of your own. “But Ian what questions should I ask? You seem to have asked them all.” I don’t know, they are your questions. I don’t know the things bothering you which you need answers to. So spend some time with God and talk to Him about it first. When you have done that and come up with some of your questions or have paused and thought about some of my questions – then ask God for His input to you, what He thinks. He is right there with you. That is the point of Joel’s prophecy. We are living in the period of time post Pentecost. You have the author of the Book living inside you. What you mean Luke is inside me? No, of course not, but the One who inspired him is in you. Go talk to Him.
See you back here next Gem.
Being challenged in life is inevitable, doing something about it is optional.Ian Vail
The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.Walt Disney
Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have laboured hard for.Socrates
God uses your tears to water your dreams.Anon
Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.Maya Angelou