Bible Studies for Life
with Clay Anthony
Sunday, October 30
We can agree that Jesus had some good things to say. One of those things was that we are commanded to love one another. (John 13:34) That love is preached about often from our pulpits. It is taught about weekly in our small groups. Yet the question today is if this Christian love is unstoppable to the lost around us?
Acts 2 records Peters delivery a sermon during Passover and that makes his audience key to this entire scene. Acts 1:8 gives the directive that the gospel will be shared with the nations. From Jerusalem to Judea/Samaria to the ends of the earth the good news will go forth. Here in vs. 5 we see that people from every nation under heaven were in town for Passover. Acts 1:8 had occurred and the disciples had not even left town.
The most astonishing phenomenon in this scene was not the eloquence of Peter but the response of the audience. In vs. 41 we are told that 3000 souls were added that day. Incredible! Those souls were then changed by the love of Christ. Not only to take that message back home to the nations but also by displaying tangible devotion to their new found faith.
Devoted to their church vs. 42-43
Much was different in their lives. Now they were learning from the disciples, fellowshipping with other believers, worshipping often through the Lord’s Supper and even evangelizing neighbors. Their old lives held no promise for them. Their old way of faith was found to be lacking and indeed they simply discovered that Christ was better. He was better than the Jewish customs, leaders and rituals. He was better for their family and future seeing that now their destination was heaven. At the end of the day that news was worth sharing with those around them.
Devoted to their neighbors vs. 44-45
We are told that these new believers (the 3000 referenced above) held all things in common. (vs. 45) This is the exact word from vs. 42 for fellowship, just used differently here. This is a volunteered love for those around you. What these people possessed did not posses them. If there was a need in the community it was met, not by the government, but by the church. How times have changed!
Devoted to their worship vs. 46
Notice how often these people were found worshipping? Day by day they are found in the Temple. Most likely in the Court of Gentiles which was the largest portion of the Temple complex, holding some 200,000 people and all were welcomed, not just Jews. This was their corporate worship.
Yet they also practice intimate worship as well. They broke bread in their homes, not meaning meals together but practicing the Lord’s Supper as a close knit family. Worship with the church and worship with their family meant certain growth towards Christ.
Results of their devotion? vs. 46b-47
Their daily lives were changed from unbelievers to people with glad and generous hearts. (ESV) You cannot have one without the other. To be glad means to be generous and vice versa. Also, having favor with all the people (ESV) certainly means that their reputation was stellar. The city of Jerusalem loved these new Christians. No doubt that if all people held them in high favor then assuredly even some of the Jews and even some Romans found these new Christians favorable.
Again, do not loose the point that every descriptive word in these verses refers to these new 3000 souls. Indeed they were a changed people. In one day’s time, 3000 people were changed from unbelievers to God’s children. Then, as we have seen, through their devotion and unstoppable love they began the church that we continue in today.
This is the type of love that needs to be recaptured by all churches today. Why? Such love brought in 3000 souls in one day and what we see recorded is nothing less than those people turning into 3000 missionaries to their community. Furthermore, if we are still reading about this love centuries later it is indeed unstoppable.
Live It Out
1) Read further into Acts and compare the work of this early church to your own.
2) Read up on one of our SBC missionaries and share their contact information with your small group. Make their needs a prayer priority.
3) Contact our local Baptist association for local mission ideas to be On Mission just as the early church was.
Anthony is director of the Collaborative Missionary Network, Oxford/Holly Springs.