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Acts 2:41-47

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things in common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:41-47).

[This is the third and final sermon transcript by Pastor Joe Focht (http://www.ccphilly.org) dealing with Acts 2 and the birth of the early church. Copyright 1996 © Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia PA.] “We are in Acts chapter 2, taking note of this early church being born and developing. Very important as we look at these things again because I think many questions today about our faith and our practice are answered here in these verses. I think, again, if Jesus taught something, if it was practiced in the book of Acts, and it’s expounded on in the Epistles, then we have church doctrine and practice. You’ll take note, Jesus washed the disciple’s feet, we don’t really see it practiced in the book of Acts [may not have been mentioned in the book of Acts, but it was practiced along with the Quartodeciman observance of the New Testament Passover service Jesus observed with the 12 apostles on the 13th/14th Nisan, and observed as recorded in the “Post & Anti-Nicene Fathers” by the apostle John, Polycarp his disciple, and Policrates, the disciple of Polycarp--the latter two being bishops of Smyrna after John, their teacher died. This New Testament Quartodeciman Passover service was observed by the whole Judeo-Christian church in Asia Minor up until around 150 to 200 AD. Click on “Early Church” in this “Early Church History” section. The annual foot-washing ceremony is done with this Quartodeciman Passover or Lord’s Supper observance, along with the taking of the bread and the wine, once a year on the 13th/14th Nisan in the early evening, just as Jesus had done on the same time and date the night before he died on the cross. The Greco-Roman church suppressed the Judeo-Christian church in the 200-300’s AD, and this New Testament observance basically died out, except among some very few Sabbatarian denominations that carried it through the centuries. The Jews keep their standard or traditional Seder Passover meal 24 hours later than this New Testament Passover, on the end of the 14th Nisan at sundown, not to be confused with this early Lord’s Supper observance, as I said, still observed by a few Sabbatarian denominations.] It certainly isn’t expounded on in the Epistles, so not necessarily church doctrine and practice [again I say it was a practice in the early church, as historical research will clearly indicate]. It’s a little uncomfortable, if you’ve ever been the recipient of something like that. You wish you had warning.

Certainly prayer, fasting, we hear about in all three places. Something that no doubt we need to learn about more and more as this year comes upon us. What a great idea if we can, if your health prohibits that in a physical way you can fast from television, maybe more difficult. There are things we can fast from, set ourselves aside for the Lord. But we’re taking note of these things instead of looking into church history, which is marred in many ways, looking back to the book of Acts, looking to the Scripture to see those things that we want to put into practice in and around our own lives. Peter standing up on the Day of Pentecost [Shevout], as the 120 in the upper room [Portico] are filled with the Spirit, begin to speak in tongues, asking what this was all about, some saying that they’re drunk, making fun. Peter answering that this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, having a Biblical explanation for what was taking place, and then preaching this sermon. The reason they spoke in tongues, by the end of the day, was so that 3,000 people could be added to the church (verse 41). Peter, preaching the gospel and finally saying to them, in verse 40, “With many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, save yourselves from this untoward generation”--warped generation, that should help you--crooked generation. You’ll feel right at home. “Save yourselves”, literally “be saved” from this crooked generation. It’s interesting, I have this article that somebody gave to me…Topless club in NYC, and how the government gave authority to mayor [Rudy] Giuliani and the police up there to begin to shut down the “Red Light” district and to clean things up. And how this topless club was on the upper end of--no pun intended--whatever topless clubs are, the swankier nicer place, whatever that could possibly be, I don’t know. [They] got a high profile lawyer, who said that it couldn’t be called an adult club because they served foods and there was nothing in their charter that restricted minors. Therefore someone on the supreme court agreed, the state supreme court, that it was also a place open to minors, and now the topless club was open to children. And that’s what kept them from shutting down. Because you could go in there and have a meal too. They’ve said there’s only been, since they did that, in two years, one 14-year-old that has come in with his parents. Mayor Giuliani said at any other time those parents would be put in the system and the kids would be taken away from them for being negligent as parents [remember to pray for Rudy Giuliani, who is battling cancer right now]. See, it’s a warped generation, if you haven’t noticed. It is a crooked generation, calling that which is right wrong, and that which is wrong right and evil good and good evil--we have no idea anymore what we’re doing. You know when the Lord looked at Israel and said “they’re sick from the top down, from the top of the head to the sole of the feet,” and it’s easy to look at Washington today [spoken when Clinton was in office, and much of Washington outside the White House even today is just as sick as under Clinton] and say ‘we’re sick from the top down.’ Great exhortation, turning to Christ, hope in the midst of this crooked generation.

The Apostolic Model: Four Essential Keys For Promoting and Maintaining Spiritual Health Within Your Congregation

Verse 41. Verse 41 says, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."” That's a long baptism service, in case you wonder. 3,000 of them, I wonder how many of them were out there baptizing. Very interesting. Now, what do you do with 3,000 souls? One day, the church grows, this is exponential if you hadn’t noticed, growing from 120 to 3,120 in one day. That’s pretty remarkable, in fact, in one sermon. That’s good preaching. What do you do? What kind of follow-up do you do? How do you look after 3,000 brand new babes in Christ? How do you disciple them, what do you do with them? And the answer is given to us right here, and I think it’s important. In the next verse it tells that there were four things that occupied their lives, and evidently within the basis of those four things, spiritual health was produced and maintained in this early church. It says “and they”-3,000 souls added to the church--“continued”--I like that, wasn’t just Sunday, and we know you’re not just Sunday Christians because it’s Wednesday and you’re here, and it’s cold outside and we take if for granted you’re not here for the heat, unless you have three dogs at home that keep you warm --“and they continued stedfastly” in four things, 1) “in the apostles doctrine”, 2) “in fellowship”, 3) “in the breaking of bread”, and 4) “and in prayers.” Four things maintained in the early church.

First Essential Key

First, “the apostles’ doctrine”,
which by and large is the teaching, the apostles’ doctrine, the teaching of the Word of God. When we move a few chapters on we’re gonna hear as the church begins to grow and there’s trouble between the Grecian, the Hellenistic widows, and the Hebrew widows, how men have to be appointed to take care of those things because the apostles say “It is not fitting for us to be distracted from what the Lord’s called us to, waiting on tables, taking care of these things, we want to give ourselves to the Word of God and to prayer.” And the early church held in high regard the Scripture, [look at the sermon of Stephen in Acts 6:8-Acts 7]. Right from the first chapter. Peter said, it was necessary that the Scripture be fulfilled, in regards to Judas. He considered the Scripture infallible, inspired. As you read through the book of Acts over and over, you’re gonna read “that it was necessary”, or “as the prophets have said”, or when they’re preaching their sermons about Christ “that all was fulfilled that the prophets had spoken” in regards to Jesus Christ, on and on through New Testament your gonna hear that. You’re going to hear that in II Timothy as Paul is writing to Timothy, one of his disciples, saying to him that all Scripture is inspired, it’s God breathed and it is profitable. We hear in Peter’s epistle, as he’s writing, “that the prophecy came not by the will of man, but Holy men of old were moved by the Holy Spirit and that’s how they spoke”. In fact, Peter in his one epistle, as he’s finishing up he talks about the writings of Paul, he said that “those that are unlearned wrestle with them to their own destruction as they do with the rest of the Scripture”--putting the writings of Paul on the same level of inspired Old Testament Scripture [which is all they had in the very early church]. So all the way through the New Testament, all the way through the New Testament we see the esteem that this New Testament church held the Word of God in. Those early Christians basically said “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” And that was their position. And when I see Christians today get in trouble, more often than not it’s because they think that there should be some clause in the Bible in regards to their life. They think “Well, if God would have wrote it today he would have had foresight to see “my” life, he would have put a clause in here that says ‘This applies to everybody but John Doe.’ ‘He’s the one that can live with his girlfriend before he gets married, because God knows his heart.’ Sure he does, it’s desperately wicked. He writes about it in Jeremiah [17:9], incurable. And when we see someone step outside the Scripture thinking that there’s some blessing or some fulfillment outside of the will of God that they will be robbed of if they yield their life to God’s revealed will, they end up in big trouble. That, you can follow all the way back to Genesis 3 verse 1, where Satan comes to Eve and says, “Yeah, hath God said?” and begins to accuse the Lord and to encourage Eve to step beyond his Word. That is where all the problems of this universe started. And Satan still wars in the same area. How many churches, mainline denominations today, because they want to be “politically correct”, are willing to sacrifice parts of God’s Word?--when the Bible says “heaven and earth are going to pass away, but My Word is going to Abide forever.” And I believe if we’re going to see a revival in these last days, and God is going to pour out his Holy Spirit, it’s going to be somewhere where his Word is being honored as his Word. And the first thing that was important to those believers then, and it hasn’t changed, it’s important to us now, is to abide stedfastly and continue in the Word of God. That we find our lives there, that we look there, not just to categorize our theology, but to discover how to live. And it’s the one place where Satan is still going to attack, and try to say “Well, this doesn’t mean that, and this gender really isn’t there”, “and this really doesn’t mean that” and “Professor Funk in his Jesus seminars, that Jesus really didn’t say these things”--I always think, what a great name for that guy. You know, “Jesus didn’t say this and Jesus didn’t say that”--cutting things out of the Word of God, professing themselves to be wise they become fools, as the Scripture says. Chuck Smith told me he talked to one of the professors of religion at the University of California, who was holding the deuterIsaiah theory that more than one author wrote the book of Isaiah [sort of like those that say that Daniel really didn’t write the book of Daniel in the 600s to 500s BC, but that is was written by other Jews in 139 BC-same thing, no different], and he [Chuck Smith] read a verse to him from John where Jesus quotes Isaiah from both ends of the book and says “Isaiah hath said”. And he said to him, Jesus said Isaiah wrote the whole book, both ends. [And those denominations who would say the book of Daniel was written by other Jews in 139 BC need to look up Josephus Book XI, Chapter VIII, paragraph 5 where Josephus records the event of Alexander the Great (333 BC) being handed the Scroll of Daniel in the temple of God by the high priest.] And he said (this professor of religion) “Well Jesus didn’t have the benefit of all the research that we have now.” Chuck Smith said, “Are you telling me that Jesus was dumber than you?--that you’re smarter than Jesus?” And he said he hung up on him, because he said “I’m afraid to talk to somebody smarter than Jesus.” Isn’t it amazing??? “They abode stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine.” You have the Word of God, you have the Holy Spirit. You don’t have to come here and believe me. You go home, you study it, see for yourselves what it says. Then you never have to worry about going to Jonestown and drinking cool-aid. Because if I say to you one day “Hey, the Lord spoke to me, we’re all packing up, we’re moving to South America. UFOs are coming, and there’s a special drink down there waiting for us”--just run me out. No sense moving, because it’s a nice building, you paid for it, just take me and throw me out! You have the Word of God. You have the Word of God, not just inspired, but preserved. You hold it. How remarkable.

Second Essential Key

Secondly, “they continued stedfastly in fellowship.”
We get the word koinonia from this, very important. Ah, I think J.L’s doing a great job with our home fellowships. That’s a big part of what’s taking place here in the New Testament, they’re going from house to house in fellowship. The New Testament believers didn’t sit around wondering how they could get involved. They were involved. And there are great opportunities to get involved around here too. There are prison ministries, there are sports leagues for the kids where parents get to meet each other, there’s the school, puppet ministries, there’s all kinds of different ways that people can get involved and serve from ushering-in fact, while you’re sitting there pray for those guys out in the parking lot tonight, it is freezing, and they’re out there serving Jesus, freezing for Jesus, wishing they had three dogs out there with them. I’m sorry, I, it won’t go away. I keep trying and it keeps coming around [his three-dog night analogy.] It must be greyhounds, I don’t know. Koinonia, fellowship. It says that they sold their possessions and their goods and they had all things in common. I don’t think it’s an endorsement of communal living, and communism. It was--communism is “what’s yours is mine.” Capitalism is “What’s mine is mine.” Christianity is “What’s mine is yours.” It wasn’t communism, it wasn’t. Forced, Peter will say to Anninias and Saphira, God didn’t require anything, but it was agape love. If you’ve come through my generation you know that in the late 60s and early 70s that many of us [in Calvary Chapel in California] ended up in Christian communal situations. There was Shiloh, Gospel Outreach where I was. Calvary Chapel had a number of communal houses in southern California, but that petered out, it died out. It didn’t last, because I don’t think that it was enjoined upon the church. I think we saw these things in the book of Acts and we were willing to make sacrifices for Christ, and I think he loved that and honored that. But it wasn’t required. And I think that what happened here in the book of Acts was it tells us there were devout Jews from all over the entire known world that came to Jerusalem on Pentecost. And 3,000 of them were saved, and many of them no doubt, didn’t want to leave immediately and go back to their own towns (and lands). They stayed in Jerusalem. And many of them didn’t have the provisions to stay there. [And we saw in Acts 2:8-11 all the different countries these devout Jews had come from.] Many of them didn’t have the finances to stay there. But the church was so excited at that point in time, and it was so filled with vitality, that there was nothing that anybody held back and said, “No, this is mine, I’m not gonna share.” There was real life, there was real agape love, and many sold goods and possessions and passed them on so that others might have sustenance and be able to stay there. Koinonia, having things in common is the idea. With Christ, our fellowship is with him, it’s with one another, and I think that’s important today. You need to be tied into the body of Christ somewhere [log onto http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/history2/choosingachurch.htm ]. No doubt there are people who come here Sunday morning, it’s kind of like the waves of the sea coming in and out, and some people love their anonymity, they’ve finally found a church where nobody knows about them. And some of them have sinned and they have a reputation and one of the inherent problems in small churches is gossip, because everybody knows everybody else’s business when there’s one hundred people in a church. The inherent problem in a big church is you can get lost in a crowd. So people that have done something wrong in a small church like to come here and get lost in a crowd. And then hopefully as time goes on, and they respond to the Word of God, they find their way somewhere into the body. But for those of you who consider this your church, you need to be involved somewhere, in a home fellowship, you need to be involved in ministry somewhere, missions church, you need to get plugged in and have koinonia relationships with other believers, very important, so they can pray for you and you can pray for them. It was an important part of the early church--“they abode stedfastly in”, it wasn’t a question mark, it was part of their lives. Very important.

Third Essential Key

Thirdly, it talks about “the breaking of bread.”
We love that at Calvary Chapel--eating, good stuff. Of course it included, in the early church, the communion, the Lord’s table, the Lord’s Supper, but it wasn’t a night set aside like we do. Because when the Lord had given them, instituted the Lord’s Supper, it was at a meal [it was the New Testament Passover meal, as the articles on early church history show in the next section. The early New Testament Passover, often called the Quartodeciman Passover in early church history books (Post & AntiNicene Fathers, for one), was observed with the bread and wine and a foot-washing service on the memorial of the same evening, once a year, that Jesus first kept it on, the evening of the 13th/14th Nisan.] And the practice in the early church, on a regular basis, when the saints ate together, at the end of the meal, they would break bread and they would drink wine and they would remember what the Lord had done [it should be unleavened bread]. And God’s a master-teacher. He knows how important it is for us to have memorials, where we’re looking at those on Sunday night in the book of Joshua, those piles of stone. And he’s given us this as a memorial, because we so easily fall prey to the enemy, who would condemn us. The Bible says condemnation is from the Devil, and maybe get discouraged in our journey. [And what does the bread and wine symbolize but the fact that the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ has paid for our sins, we’re beyond condemnation.] And I think it’s wonderful when we come together to partake of the cup and the bread to remember, the price has been paid in full. The Lord doesn’t have a mortgage on us, we’re paid off, paid off, we’re his. I think it should be a part of your home fellowship, if you’re involved in a home fellowship here at Calvary Chapel [or anywhere], and they don’t have communion, you need to ask them why, it should be happening. I think it’s something that you can get together at a, with a group of friends if you’re enjoying yourself at Christmas time or at Easter and Thanksgiving, at the end of the meal I think it’s a wonderful time. Have some grape juice there, I’m not telling everybody to drink wine [Calvary Chapel is one of those churches that work a lot with recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, so they sort of voluntarily abstain from alcohol even though I know they realize (the pastors realize) that the Bible teaches alcohol consumption in extreme moderation is permissible.] Have some grape juice, there and bread and take communion together. I think it’s a wonderful thing. It should happen. And it was a regular part of their life, remembering what the Lord Jesus Christ had done. And remember, most of their teaching was coming from the Old Testament, that which was not written came from the apostles, because Jesus spoke to them for about 40 days in regards to the things concerning the kingdom. And in particular, Matthew and John were there and heard the Olivet Discourse, they were with Christ, they heard the things that he taught, as many of the other apostles were. So part of that New Testament teaching that they abode stedfastly in were the things the apostles heard directly from Christ, which would then be written down and reflected in the New Testament writings of the apostles and so forth. [And I’d like to add something about the habit of “breaking of bread” in Jewish times. It was a strong Jewish custom, the eating of meals together with like Jewish believers in the Jewish faith--and the total abstinence of eating with a Gentile or non-Jewish person. This custom carried over into the early New Testament church, but this time the distinction of eating with other believers carried over into the New Testament church, binding them oftentimes into a close spiritual-ethnic group, just as the custom had bound the Jewish people into a strong racial-ethnic group, separate from the pagan Gentiles around them (as God had originally told them to be). But we as Christians must not use this custom as a means of excluding non-believers from sharing in our fellowship. If you’re having a barbecue with some of your church brethren and your neighbor sees you doing so, go over and invite him to be a part of it. Who knows, the Lord may just use you or another one of your guests to lead your neighbor to Christ. Use balance here, don’t be exclusionists, but invite those in the world into your “breaking of bread” where appropriate and possible (we’re not talking about communion with the bread and wine of course). I remember when I first came into the Worldwide Church of God, our local pastor had quietly organized a group of long-term member families into a hospitality group. These families would have special meals or cookouts. They would invite some other local members along with any new-believers over for a nice afternoon meal that often would stretch into the early evening with hearty fellowshipping over good food. Many new-believers were firmly anchored into the church and informally discipled through the casual contacts they had with long-term spiritually mature members during these meals. This group of members were actually part of a hospitality ministry which could have been called “The Breaking of Bread Ministry”. Many long-term bonds of spiritual friendship were formed as a direct result of these agape meals--agape feasts-- we partook of, making our denomination more like a family than a church in the sense of what we view many churches like today. So ministries like this, men’s and ladies breakfasts, special after-church meals, all contribute to the spiritual bonding, health and growth of the church and its members. But it was this hospitality group that I remember the most, with the fondest memories. They created a bond that cemented me to a part of the body of Christ.]

Fourth Essential Key

The Word of God, Fellowship, the koinonia, breaking of bread, taking communion, fellowshipping [over meals], and lastly, “prayers.”
I think if there’s one thing I’d like to see more of here, more of in my life, it’s this aspect. I think it’s very important. We’ve put a prayer rack up out there in the hall. We’re going to begin to fill that with prayer requests. If you are a pray-er, feel free when you start to see that fill up, we’ll put names of folks in the church that have cancer, that need prayer, different things that the church needs that need prayer. We’ll start to keep you informed. As prayers are answered we’ll post those on the back so you can see the answers to those prayers. But there’s that goes on around here. Saturday night there’s prayer here in the prayer room. Thursday morning, the women have a great prayer-meeting here at the church at 10 o’clock. Early on Wednesday morning, at 6:30 I believe, the men gather for prayer and then breakfast. We have prayer as we start here in the office, with the staff, and the school does the same every day. We have great times when we can get away, the pastors and elders, we try to get away twice a year for three days in the mountains, with no calendars, no instruments, no business, to pray for three days. And what a wonderful time that is, and God cleanses us, and renews us and strengthens. I think prayer is an important part of the church. We would love to see people praying during services. If you’re ever so inclined please let us know. We’d love to have people in there praying during the services as the Word of God is going forth. Again, Spurgeon at his services would have five to six hundred people in the basement on their knees, praying all throughout the service. And very important, we’d love to have prayer before services, if you’re inclined to come early. As the musicians are rehearsing up here you can go in the prayer room and pray. Prayer is an important part, it should be happening at the home fellowships, it should be a regular part of your life, and if you feel the way I do, as we look at this coming year, I think, Lord I need--that’s an area in my life that needs to continue to develop. I need to learn more and more what it is to sit quietly with God, to have a dialogue, to hear God and have that communion [as God speaks to our minds at times as we pray]. [To learn more about prayer and read some pretty good prayer resources on this site, log onto http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/prayer/congregation.htm ]

Four things that are important. 3,000 new believers, babes, what did they need for spiritual health? 1) Sound teaching of the Word of God, 2) They needed fellowship with other Christians, 3) They needed to remember what the Lord had done for them in the breaking of bread and taking the Lord’s table, [and I might add, re-enforcing normal fellowshipping with eating meals together in fellowship with other believers, inviting believers to each other’s homes for meals and hearty fellowship], 4) and they needed to learn to pray. And those four things are the things that provided health. It says “fear came upon every soul.” “Many wonders and signs were done”--King James says “by”, it’s “through the apostles”--done by the Lord, through the Holy Spirit through the apostles--“and all that believed were together, had all things in common. They sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men as every man had need” (verses 43-45). Again, not communism, but agape-love. “And they continued daily with one accord”--what a wonderful thing it must have been--“in the temple, and breaking of bread from house to house did eat their food with gladness and singleness”--simplicity--“of heart.” [Notice one thing that puts this 3rd category-“the breaking of bread”--mentioned in verse 42, in context with verse 46 here. This breaking of bread terminology is shown to mean “going house to house, eating meals” and fellowshipping with believers, taken in context with verse 46 here, and not necessarily communion. Communion is nice, but he may be reading something into verse 42 that’s not there, taken in context with verse 46. Just an observation.] Nobody was arguing about Arminianism or Calvinism, they were enjoying the fellowship that had been bought at such a precious price with the blood of Christ, and the filling of the Spirit and of the Holy Spirit directing the church and the teaching, “And they did eat their food with simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all people. And the Lord”--what a relief--“the Lord added”--no church program here--E.M. Bounds said “men in the church are looking for more machinery, and God is looking for a man”--It says, “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (verse 47). “The Lord added to the church such as should be saved”, and they were those who were hungering after the things of God. You know, A.W. Tosier said “The reason people aren’t attracted to a living church is because God is the only attraction”, and they want more, they want to be entertained, they want drama, they want this, they want that. You know, “the Lord adds to the church daily such as should be saved.” What an interesting thing. You know, we had grown here. It was interesting to watch the church grow [Calvary Chapel in Philadelphia, PA], from a Bible study of 25 or 30 of us, to over 5,000 adults. And during that time-period there was no altar call, there was just simply the teaching of the Word. Healthy sheep reproduce. Shepherds don’t beget sheep, sheep beget sheep. You guys do it. You are the evangelistic program. And I had people come in and say “We want to introduce our evangelistic program to your church.” And I said, “Where have you been exercising your evangelistic program?” and they said, “At this church”--the names have been changed to protect the innocent, I won’t…--“the church down the street.” And I said, “Well, you’ve had this evangelistic program going there for two years?” “Yes.” “And how many people have been saved?” “Well, I’m not sure.” And I said, “Really?” “How much has the church growth?” “Well, I’m not sure.” And I said, “But in the last two years here we’ve grown by over a thousand people.” And he said “Why?” I said, “I don’t know.” But I said “No thanks to your program, because I’d rather keep what I don’t understand that does work, than trade it away for what I do understand that doesn’t.” “The Lord adds to the church daily such as should be saved.” And then about a year and a half ago, if you remember, in the spring before the first Harvest Crusade, at the end of three or four services on Sunday morning while the musicians started to play the song, people started walking down the aisles and just stood here. And I looked at them and said, “Are you here to be saved?” “Yeah!” “Oh, OK” “I guess if anybody else wants to be saved they should do the same thing.” Then I got home and prayed “This is not part of our original contract. What is this?” And then you think, ‘Well, it’s not the Devil bringing people forward to get saved.’ And it’s just wonderful to see the changes and what’s going on, and now of course how wonderful it is to see the Lord add to the church as he does in so many wonderful ways. What a great thing. I hope we grow in these things and take these things to heart.”

end

[In the next section you will learn what happened to the church, the various divisions it went through, which eventually led to the various denominations we see today. Bear in mind that this early church we just read about in Acts 2 was entirely Jewish, Torah-observant Jewish, for at least the next 15 to 20 years, before they came to really understand the new covenant. They in their religious observances looked like a sect of Sabbath/Holy Day observing Jews that believed in Jesus of Nazareth as the living Messiah. The Jews themselves considered these early Christians as just another troublesome sect of Judaism, calling them “the sect of the Nazarenes” (see Acts 24:5). They were more like Torah-observant Messianic Jews than the Methodist or Church of the Nazarene neighbor living down the street from you. As time went on, particularly after the conference in Acts 15, the church in Israel and Jerusalem become like non-Torah observant Jews, keeping the Sabbath and Holy days out of ethnic preference more than out of obligation. This will help put things in context before you read the next section on early church history. Messianic Judaism is growing again in leaps and bounds across the US and in the nation of Israel again, just as it did in these early days of the church. And these are sincere believers in Jesus Christ, whom they call Yeshua, spiritually alive and vibrant Christians in every way, and very knowledgeable in the Word of God. But this first section helps to set the tone in understanding how the church came to be. It was purely a creation of God, of Jesus Christ, created by and through the actions of the Holy Spirit, and not man. Real Christian churches, from whatever denomination, are born and grow in the same manner, so to understand the pattern is important. And Calvary Chapel seems to have re-discovered this pattern outlined in Acts 2:42, and are growing in similar fashion. As Romans 14 points out, under the new covenant, days of worship don’t matter, the gospel of salvation is adaptable to any and every culture we find on this planet, Jewish or the various Gentile cultures we find around the world. The early church in Israel and Jerusalem kept Sabbath and Holy days, out of preference after Acts 15, as did the Judeo-Christian church in Asia Minor under the apostle John, Polycarp and Policrates (up to as late as 150-200AD). Calvary Chapel keeps Sunday, Christmas and Easter (which some of them are beginning to call Resurrection Day). In Romans 14 Paul brings out that days of worship are a secondary matter, but the gospel of Christ is not. The gospel of Christ, or salvation is a primary matter. In this area the whole church is one body, sharing the same indwelling Holy Spirit. Hope this helps you keep your bearings as you navigate further through early church history in the next section.]

 

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