Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been on a quest to find out how to live as the family of God. Last week we looked at some of our responsibilities that we have as members of God’s family. There were actually 32 in our list, but we looked specifically at three. We have the responsibility to encourage one another, to live in harmony with each other, and to love each other – not just with our words, but with our actions as well.

So today as we continue looking at how to engage with God’s people, we want to take a look at one of the earliest examples that we have of a local church.

We read about this church in Acts chapter 2 and we’re going to start reading at verse 36, but before we do, let me give you some of the background.

It’s been just 50 days since Jesus died on the cross and came back to life. And although the Bible doesn’t give us the exact details, it may have been only a day or two since Jesus ascended into heaven. All the believers were meeting together in one place, and for the first time in history, God pours out the Holy Spirit on every believer. Now before this, the Holy Spirit had come upon a few individuals and usually, only for a certain time. But now, God sends the Holy Spirit to dwell permanently in every single believer. This was a huge life-altering, world-changing event.

As this was happening a huge crowd gathered to see what was going on, because these believers, enabled by the Holy Spirit, were talking and people from all different nationalities could understand them in their own language. So with this huge crowd gathering, Peter stands up and  preaches God’s word to all that had gathered. And we are going to pick it up at the end of Peter’s sermon in verse 36.

36 “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”
37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”
41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.

42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

To me, this paints a picture of an incredible church! Can you imagine being part of that very first church? Being one of the few people in the history of the world at that time to have the Holy Spirit come down and live right inside of you! That was totally unheard of! God was doing a brand new thing.

As you read through the text, you can feel the buzz in the air. The excitement of what God had done and what He was doing! No wonder the church was growing daily! These guys were bursting with joy and life! And you can tell by their actions that this wasn’t just an act. This “being a Christian” thing wasn’t just a hobby or a new fad. This was a total world changing, life altering, new way to live!

Look at what they did. Verse 44.

44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity.

This is some radical stuff. Imagine what your family would think if you sold your house and your tv and your car and you gave the money to the mustard seed in Calgary? Or if you started going to worship services every single day? I mean really. People would think you were a fanatic.

And in verse 42 it says….

42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

They devoted themselves to those things. You know how dedicated Olympic athletes are – training for eight or more hours a day… Just like those Olympians devote their lives to their sport, these guys devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, to the fellowship, to sharing in meals, and to prayer. For them, that was life.

Are these guys crazy or what? I mean, why didn’t they just get together for worship on, say, Sunday mornings for an hour or so? Or why didn’t they just read their Bible and pray for 15 minutes each morning? Or why didn’t they just give 10% of their pay cheque to the local temple? Wouldn’t that be simpler? Less fanatical?

But I don’t think these guys could have done that. You see, to them, this new Christian life that they were living wasn’t just another activity to add to their routine. It wasn’t a hobby, or a charitable act to make them feel good about themselves. To them, this is what life was all about. Living to enjoy God. To know Him and to make Him known to the rest of the world. To celebrate God with all the others in His family!

Is that what we live for? If someone where to watch you for a week, would they conclude that you live to enjoy God? That you live to know Him and to make Him known to the rest of the world. That you live to celebrate God with all the others in His family!?

When I began to prepare this message, I had in mind to point out the four things that the believers were devoted to in verse 42.

42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

So I was going to encourage you to devote yourselves to the Apostles teaching (which is the Bible), to fellowship (as we’ve talked about for the past couple of weeks), to sharing in meals (including the Lord Supper), and to prayer. I was going to urge you to do these things so that we too could have that explosion of Life like we see in the church in Acts. So that we too could see people being added to the church daily, just like the church in Acts did.

But I don’t think that would address the real issue. I don’t think that forcing ourselves to do more and do better would give us that explosion of Life like what we see in the Acts church. But if that’s not the answer, then what is?

How can I live my life like those early Christians? How do I get to the point where my life is all about living to enjoy God? Where my life is all about knowing God and making Him known to the rest of the world? Where my life is all about celebrating God with my spiritual brothers and sisters?

I’m not sure there are any easy answers, but I think that we might find a few clues by digging a little deeper into the lives of these early Christians.

First of all, these believers had seen first-hand with their own eyes just how real and how powerful God is. Two months ago, they had seen Jesus do miracles. He walked on water. He fed 5,000 people with just one lunch. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. And they saw Him do it with their own eyes. They even saw Him die on a cross and then be raised to life again! And now, they got to experience the coming of the Holy Spirit as God came to dwell right within them. There was no doubt in their minds of how real God is.

And because of that, they had no doubt in the power of God. And they had no doubt in the Word of God. And that’s why…
That’s why they devoted themselves to prayer – because Jesus said that they could pray for anything in His name according to God’s will and it would be done for them – and they believed it.
That’s why they sold their possession to give to those in need – because God said that He would provide for all their needs – and they believed it.

Do we believe the word of God? Do we believe that God will do what He says? Do we believe that God will keep His promises?

Because when we believe 100% that what God says is true, when we actually live by the principles that God lays out in his Word, when we take God’s promises to the bank, our life will start to look a little fanatical. We’ll do things that seem a little weird to the world.

I mean, selling your house and your possessions to give to those in need seems pretty weird – unless you believe that there is a lot more to Life, than just living on this earth.
Devoting yourself to praying to a God that you can’t see with your eyes or hear with your ears seems pretty weird –  unless you believe that the God who created & who sustains the universe hears and answers your prayers.

If we started to live like the Bible was true – really true – then I think our lives would look a lot more like those ‘fanatical’ Christians we read about in the book of Acts.
We would live to enjoy God. We would live to know God and to make Him known to the rest of the world. We would live to celebrate God with the rest of our church family.

This morning we are going to share in communion and the Bible tells us that every time we share communion together, we are making a proclamation.

For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:26

When we share communion, our actions proclaim what we believe. They proclaim that we believe that Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, died on the cross in our place to pay the price for our sins and that three days later, He rose from the grave and is now alive and well sitting at the right hand of God. And because of that, we can have a relationship with our Creator and we can experience true life – both here on earth and forever in heaven with God.

We proclaim it, because we believe it.

And just like our actions in communion proclaim what we believe, the rest of our actions through the rest of our week also proclaim to the world what we believe. So what are your actions proclaiming? What message are you sending to the world through the way you live? I’m going to invite Jim to come up and lead us in communion this morning, and let’s let this be the first of many actions this week that proclaim the truth of God to our world.