Jump Start # 2173
Acts 2:41 “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”
NOTE: Monday is a holiday, so there will not be a Jump Start.
Our verse today shows the origin of the first church. The church is saved people. It’s not the building, the real estate, pews, but people who have been called out of sin by the saving grace of Jesus. Peter preached and three thousand responded. Amazing. Every preacher’s dream.
God is showing that people do listen to the Gospel. Lives can change. People who grew up Jews could become Christians. There were many changes in store for those new Christians. For centuries their families had observed the Sabbath. Now, the first day of the week, Sunday, would be the day of worship. For the first time, they would remember the death of Jesus through the Lord’s Supper. No longer did they need animal sacrifices. No longer did they need to go to the Temple. No longer was incense burned to God. So many changes.
There are many things the Holy Spirit doesn’t share with us about those first Christians that our curiosity wants to know. Practical items. Logistic things. For instance,
- Where were they to assemble? Three thousand people is a massive crowd.
- How would everyone hear? No mics, no loud speakers, how could the message be heard?
- How did they do the Lord’s Supper? Who taught them what to do? Where would they find enough items to use for such a crowd?
- With a church of new converts, how was it possible to get the congregation mature?
- People bring issues, baggage and problems. With that large of a crowd, who handled all of that?
- Was it possible for the twelve apostles to do all of this themselves?
- Did anyone fall through the cracks? Did anyone slide back into Judaism?
- How often did they meet during the week?
- Did they know each other?
We look at this and imagine 3,000 at our Sunday worship. That would be amazing. But then we think, where are they all going to park? Where are they all going to sit? Do we have enough cups for the Lord’s Supper? How could the shepherds take care of that many people? So many questions.
Some how the Holy Spirit didn’t seem to think that these details mattered. We are not told. From this, we can make assumptions, guesses and speculation, but there is no foundation to support that other than trying to reason things from our perspective. Some how it worked. The first church took off. Instantly, more and more were added to this number. It exploded in size.
First, what all of this tells us is that the N.T. is not a manual detailing every single move and action of the first church. Acts is not written like a detailed car manual, this piece fits on top of that piece. That’s not the intention. What we have within the N.T. are the principles that allows a congregation to operate. We understand the purpose of worship and the elements necessary that God wants. We understand shepherding and how that works.
Second, with that, each congregation will have it’s own way of fulfilling these principles. For instance, there isn’t an edict from Heaven declaring that our worship must begin at 10:30 Sunday morning. We need to stop saying, “We meet at the Scriptural time.” While that’s a cute saying, it’s also misleading. There is no Scriptural time other than Sunday. What time on Sunday is left to each congregation. There isn’t a flyer that outlines what every congregation is going to do that particular Sunday. Start with a song, or start with a prayer? Or, start with announcements? Or, start with a greeting to the audience? How many songs? How many prayers? Lord’s Supper before the sermon or after? The offering immediately following the Lord’s Supper or later in the worship? Sing a song during the giving or sit in silence? End with a prayer or end with a song? I’ve seen all of these. Each congregation was fulfilling the principles of the New Testament. They were doing these things as it works best for that group.
Third, because a congregation does things in a different order than what you are accustomed to does not mean that it is wrong. Each congregation has it’s own flavor, just like a family meal. In some homes, everyone passes the food and you wait until the food comes to you. In other families, everyone reaches for what’s in front of them, and you might get stabbed with a fork if you are not watching. Everyone is fed, it’s just doing it in a different fashion.
Fourth, our worship is to honor God and encourage each other. When we get upset because things weren’t done well, or to our liking, the purpose of worship has been ruined for us. Some go home more discouraged than when they came. Some come in a good mood, only to go home mad. Some allow little things to upset them and that is just Satan’s way of getting our mind off of God. Satan doesn’t mind if you go to church, as long as you do not worship. He can fool us into believing that we’ve done a good thing, when our minds, our attitudes and our focus has been on anything and everything, except God and His word.
I’d love to see a video of the early church worshipping. I have in my mind how I think they may have sat, but I can’t build a Biblical case for that. Just my thinking. But what I must take from that first church is the passion that they had for the Lord and the love that they shared for each other and the commitment to the kingdom that they had made. That is something that we can follow, repeat and establish among ourselves. How they sat and how they functioned is not the point. It’s what they did and now, it is what do I do.
We gather on Sunday like those early disciples, like believers do all around the world. We honor God and thank the Lord. We preach His word. We teach, encourage, pray and draw our hearts together to the One who has saved us, blessed us and kept us safe. It matters little whether we are in a portion of the temple, in church buildings, in store fronts, in living rooms—wherever a congregation gathers, we ought to be there. We need to support, help, and defend our congregation. We need to be active, doing what we can, as long as we can. We need to be one who is dependable and can be counted upon.
Far too many are letting wonderful opportunities to honor God, learn His word and grow, slip through their fingers because they do not participate in these things. They let the world control their faith. As a result, they are weak spiritually and they make unwise decisions. Folks around the world would love to have the opportunities that they have. Heaven doesn’t understand why these folks stay on the outside of opportunities. There are classes that teach the Bible, but some never come. There are wonderful times that the word is preached, but some won’t be there. There are times to share and teach others, but some never think to do that. They have lived their lives barely experiencing and barely knowing the Lord. It’s enough for them. They have kept one foot in the world and have surrounded themselves with people of the world. And, as their congregation grows, develops and matures, these folks just drift along missing one of the greatest advantages ever offered to anyone. These things I do not understand.
Work with your congregation. Be active. Be visible. Be one that can be counted upon. Someday, we’ll get to meet those first Christians. Won’t that be a conversation!