For those of you who have been gone a Sunday or two, we started a new study in the book of Acts, the first Sunday of March. On that first Sunday we saw the instructions of Jesus in Acts 1:8 as he told the disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” This is the same Great Commission we studied in Matthew. Last Sunday we saw and heard that power, described as wind and fire from heaven, as “it filled the whole house where they were staying with the Holy Spirit.” This was the beginning of the first Church and was witnessed by a large number of people from many different countries.
Last Sunday’s lesson ended at Acts 2:15 with Peter stepping up to get the crowd’s attention and explain what was and was not happening. Today’s lesson begins in Acts 2:41-47 and essentially skips verses 16-40 in which the newly empowered Peter explains the meaning of the events the crowd had just witnessed. He cited Scripture from the Old Testament prophet Joel as evidence these happenings were a fulfillment of prophecy, and he identified Jesus, whom they had crucified, as the resurrected Lord and Messiah who had poured out the Spirit upon His followers. Many in the crowd fell under deep conviction and asked what response they needed to make to Peter’s message. I think Peter offered them the first altar call. He instructed them to “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” Acts 2:38. Another thought he stressed to the huge crowd is in 2:40 where he tells them to “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Isn’t it fascinating how the words of the bible apply to our world today!
Read Acts 2:41-42
How did people respond to Peter’s sermon? About 3,000 were saved, baptized and became involved in the community of believers (Church).
What is the logistical reality of verse 41? A large area was needed to hold thousands of people. Peter did not have a snazzy sound system. God allowed everyone to hear, and as we studied last Sunday, they could hear in their own language.
Can you imagine any Church growing from 120 to over 3,000 in one day? Our Pastor Todd and the Fusion Church will have baptisms several times a year to baptize 20 or 30 people. Don’t you know he would love to baptize 3,000 people in one day? I have no doubt he could figure out how to do it.
What might an outpouring of God’s miraculous grace with an outcome like this mean to our church today? Blessings on our church and community.
Verse 41 says “those who accepted his message were baptized”. Is baptism required for salvation? No. “The Baptist Faith and Message” (online at www.sbc.net/bfm2000/bfm2000.asp) describes baptism as an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith.
What are the four activities to which the early church was devoted? Teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer.
Which of these activities are a priority for our church today? Could priority be: 1. Eating, 2. Visiting, 3. Prayer, 4. Teaching?
Read Acts 2:43-47
What does “fear came over everyone” mean? Could be fright, but here, as we have studied before, the meaning is reverence or respect.
What are the “many wonders and signs” Luke refers to in verse 43? I plan to ask four class members to read: Acts 4:30, Acts 5:12, Acts 6:8, and Acts 15:12. Perhaps you read these yourself. The discussion should make the point that God was still doing miracles through the disciples and the people were seeing them performed.
What does verse 44 not mean? The church members were not required to surrender all their personal property and live as part of a Christian commune.
Then what does verse 44 really mean? Various individuals did give of their means generously and did host church meetings in their homes. The concept of the family of God and the importance of their shared mission as believers seem to have inspired a remarkable generosity in the church.
What happens when believers are not united in purpose? Members can get sidetracked and lose sight of the church’s primary purpose. Personal agendas can overshadow reaching people for Christ.
When and where does verse 46 say the believers met? Everyday, in the temple and in different houses.
What is the importance of large group gatherings vs small group gatherings? Large groups can build fellowship and excitement through corporate worship. Small groups enable people to become better acquainted and meet each other’s needs.
Does God prefer the large group or small group meeting? Both, God is present wherever His people gather. Remember Matt. 18:20.
What were the people doing in verse 47? Praising God and having favor with all the people.
What was the Lord doing in verse 47? God’s blessing was evident. The church was growing with believers being added daily.
As Jesus’ followers, we should be connected and contributing to the health of a local group of believers. For us, we should not let ourselves be limited to our Sunday School Class.
We should worship together and look for opportunities to assist other believers as they have needs.
Close in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to show us how we can contribute to the unity and health of our church. Pray, too, for all the believers around the world who are studying Acts alongside us.