Come Connect Commit

Sermon Summary

This message is the first part of a three part sermon series on Biblical Community. The first message deals with why we come to worship in a large gathering on Sunday mornings and uses the first New Testament Church as an example. A background look at who the people of that first church were and where they met served as an introduction to the sermon. Five reasons for the large gathering were gleaned from Acts 2:42-43. They came to learn together, to fellowship together, to break bread together, to pray together, and to worship together.

 

Community Group Study Guide

1. In your opinion, is meeting together as a large group on Sunday morning, still an important activity or do you feel it is a thing of the past?

 

2. When Peter preached his famous sermon on the Day of Pentecost over 3,000 people accepted Jesus as their Savior. The Bible states they were cut to the heart by his message. Why do you think they were so moved and do you think this had an impact on their eagerness to gather so often after that?

Acts 2:46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.

 

3. God’s Word says they were devoted to the Apostles teaching. Why do you think this was the case, and why should we have the same attitude?

Col 3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

 

4. In what ways does gathering together as a large group on Sunday mornings help you in your walk with God?

Heb 10:24  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Heb 10:25  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

Full Sermon Notes

Come to Worship!

 

When we ask the question, what does it take to be in a true Biblical Community, we look to the New Testament Church. Debbie and I were in Baton Rouge Friday and Saturday. I was in Chaplaincy training at LSU and Debbie hung out with our daughter and granddaughter. On Friday evening we were on our way to eat and Debbie saw a church named, "The First New Testament Church!" We were like, wait a minute, we thought the first New Testament Church was in Jerusalem a couple thousand years ago.

The book of Acts gives us a beautiful picture of what "Church" ought to look like. A true church is not a building or an institution. It is a people who Come, Connect and Commit!

A people who Come to worship, Connect in small groups, and Commit to serve! This three part series of messages will look deeply into Luke's description of the brand new church in Acts 2:42-47. Today we will look at the reasons we come together in a large worship gathering on Sundays.

It was just a few weeks ago we dug pretty deep into the concept of worship and what worship is. Today we're going to talk about the reasons we come together to worship. It's an important message. Let's pray and ask God to be our teacher this morning. PRAY!

 

Open Your Bibles to Acts 2:42-47 and let's read our text which will guide us for the next three weeks!

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.

44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.

45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,

47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

 

What a description of the first church. So powerful. It's a description that many churches and church leaders have tried to emulate down through the years. It was the ideal church. They were devoted, filled with awe, together, had everything in common, sold their possessions and goods to give to those who had a need, they met together in the temple courts, ate together in their homes with glad and sincere hearts, praised God, and grew every day because people were being saved!! What a church!! What a testimony! What an example! The verses tell us the first church came together to worship, the connected in small community groups and were committed to serve God and one another. Today we will look at the first of these three things. Why they came together to worship in large gatherings back then should be the same reasons we come to worship today. Let's look again at the first part of verse 46 …

 

Acts 2:46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts...

 

They were so excited about what God had done in their lives they gathered in the temple courts every day, not just on Sunday. Who were these people and what were they so excited about? Let's back up just a little bit and well discover the answer to these questions. Look at Acts 2:1ff...

 

1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.

 

This group of people gathered included Jesus' closest disciples. Some of His family may have been there and others who had decided to follow Jesus. Most scholars believe there were probably around 120 gathered for this worship meeting. Where were they? We don't know for sure. Remember, Jesus, before He ascended back to heaven, had breathed on the disciples and told them they were to receive the Holy Spirit. This happened in the upper room. Then just before Jesus left He said…

 

Luke 24:49-53

49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them.

51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.

52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.

53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

 

Some scholars believe they were in the  temple courts on the day of Pentecost. Some people believe they were back in the upper room and transitioned to the temple courts because it talks about the whole house where they were sitting.

Bottom line, it's not as important where they were as is what happened where they were. A house, the temple courts, the House of God, upper room of someones house. It's not about the building, or the place, it's about the presence. The presence of God and the people who are present! Let's read on...

 

Acts 2:1

1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.

2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.

3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.

6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?

8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?

9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome

11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”

12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine. ’”

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.

15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!

16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

 

Peter goes on to preach a powerful sermon to these people gathered from near and far about how the prophecy's of God's Word were being fulfilled in front of their very eyes. This is not a sermon about spiritual gifts, but you need to know this particular instance of speaking in tongues God gave in order to share His love in all the languages represented by those gathered in Jerusalem. Some of the people were amazed they could understand the words spoken in their own language. Others were making fun of them saying they were drunk. You know what? I've never seen a drunk person who could speak fluently in foreign languages. They usually can't even speak their own language! Anyway, Peter explains to the crowd how what they are seeing is a fulfillment of ancient prophecies and quotes to them their own Scriptures. But then Peter's sermon, abruptly changes course and it's almost like he lowered the boom on the crowd. You need to understand, that many of the crowd gathered had been present at the crucifixion of Jesus. Some of them may have even been caught up in the mob mentality that led them to say "Crucify Him! It may be that, while some of them had no remorse, others of them, who had witnessed the crucifixion, may have been really struggling with the results of their actions. Let's listen in to what Peter says…

 

Acts 2:36-41

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off —for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”

41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

 

Wow!! Can you imagine going from 120 to 3,120 in just one day? Now what in the world were they going to do? All of sudden there was a mega church and they had no building of their own! So they met in the temple courts and in homes. But the important thing is not where they met but what they did and why!!! What they did and why gives us the reasons why we Come to Worship! Look at the next verse. Verse 42.

 

Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching ...

 

Reasons to Come to Worship

To Learn

 

They devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching! Why? The message of the apostle's was one of forgiveness, hope, new life, purpose and personal relationship with God almighty. The people gathered were truly sorrowful for what they had done. They had cried out to God and He listened! They had even been willing to make that decision public by being baptized. The people were devoted to the apostle's teaching because they new the apostles had been with Jesus and they wanted to know everything. They were hungry spiritually. Are you hungry spiritually? So many things the disciples had been unable to see when they were with Jesus, had become crystal clear on this side of the Cross and resurrection. They finally got it! They looked back on their time with Jesus and probably had the same attitude as the two disciples who had talked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus after the resurrection...

 

Luke 24:32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

 

One of my prayers as we gather together each Sunday is whoever is presenting the message from this stage will have been with Jesus as they prepared and it will be evident. It's important because we come together to learn about God, from God, through one who has been with God!

 

Reasons to Come to Worship

To Fellowship

 

Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship...

 

Folks, I don't know about you, but I need the fellowship of fellow believers. I need the encouragement I receive when we come together to worship. In this old world we can sometimes get a complex and begin to feel that we're the last one standing. When I participate in corporate worship, my heart is greatly encouraged. In fact, God's Word tells us we should gather together for worship. Listen...

 

Hebrews 10:24-25

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

And I love the way the Psalmist put it...

 

Psalm 122:1 I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”

 

Paul would later remind the Thessalonian Church of the importance of fellowship as a way of life. 

 

1 Thessalonians 5:10-11

10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.

11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

 

Reasons to Come to Worship

To Break Bread

 

Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread...

 

Breaking bread is mentioned twice in this short description of the New Testament Church. Breaking bread had several meanings to the people of the New Testament.

At times they would be talking about the close fellowship of just sharing a meal together as brothers and sisters in Christ. At other times they were talking about taking communion or the Lord's Supper. We try to have this very special time to remember what Jesus did for us quarterly. Eating the bread and drinking the cup during communion is not what imparts salvation to us, it serves as a reminder of what Jesus did when He allowed His body to be broken and His blood to be spilled out in order to cleanse our soul and to save our soul. Jesus said "Do this in remembrance!" And don't you know the imagery for these early followers of Christ was so vivid. Why? So many of them had been eye witnesses to the gruesome scene of Christ's death. Remember, when they were first reminded of it in Peter's sermon, they were cut to the heart. In a few weeks we will observe this powerful service. It is so important we never, ever forget the extreme price Jesus paid on your behalf!

 

Reasons to Come to Worship

To Pray

 

Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

 

You certainly don't have to be in a church building to pray, and you don't have to be in group setting to pray, but there is something about coming together to pray and to agree together that God has heard your prayers and is already working in response is powerful.

 

Jesus put it this way...

 

Matthew 18:18-20

18 “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

19 “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.

20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

 

It wasn't long before the New Testament Church experienced persecution and the need for prayer was great. Peter and John had been arrested for preaching the message of Jesus. They were told to no longer speak publicly about Jesus. Listen to their reply...

 

Acts 4:18-25

18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

19 But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.

20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened.

22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.

24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.

25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “ ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?

 

Now skip down to verse 29...

 

29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.

30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

 

Reasons to Come to Worship

To Worship

 

Acts 2:43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.

 

Everyone was filled with awe! We worship God because of the awesome wonders He is doing in each of our lives. If you are here this morning and you say, what assume wonders? I would invite you to come and experience for yourself what awesome things God can do in anyone who is willing to turn from their sin and cry out to God for salvation. Just like the 3,000 plus people who heard and accepted the message Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, you too can begin a new life in a new direction. You too can be filled with awe as you see The God of the Universe

begin to change everything from your perspective on life to the very details of how you live your life. You'll begin to experience a confidence and peace even in the worst of circumstance, because you'll have the presence Jesus Christ with you through His Spirit and you'll have really cool new family in Christ to walk with you! It'll be something like this...

 

Colossians 3:16-17

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

Let's pray!