Source of God’s blessing is in the church/Acts 2:42-47
The snapshot of the church we have in this passage is one of joy and bliss. Many things in our culture have diminished commitment to the church. Luke’s account of the church reminds us of the inestimable value of belonging to Christ’s church and that the source of God’s blessing is in the church.
The goal of God calling us to faith in Christ is to form the image of Christ in us. God does this through the Holy Spirit working with and through the means of grace in the church. By means of grace, I mean the elements practiced in the church Christ has commanded and promised to bless. We see in verse 42 these elements include the teaching of God’s word, the Lord’s Supper, prayer, and fellowship.
Neglecting these means will endanger your spiritual growth, and can be an indicative of spurious faith (so don’t). The teaching of the word means the Scripture, as interpreted by the apostles. The early church was “devoted” to the apostolic teaching. The word devoted means they firmly attached themselves to it, and eagerly listened and practiced what they were taught.
The first obligation of the church is fidelity to the doctrine of the inerrancy and sufficiency of God’s word. The most judicious, wise course for any soul is to place oneself under the faithful exposition of God’s word and prayerfully conform to it. The central means of grace from God to you is through his word. So immerse yourself in it, it is the fountain of life.
The “breaking of bread” in verse 42 points us to the Lord’s Supper. This is done in remembrance of Christ. The Lord’s Supper is connected to the word, the truth of Christ. It personalizes his sacrifice for you. In it, you can say He died for me. He is mine, and I am his. He loved me and gave himself for me. May my soul exalt his name, and life be honoring to him. Here we find the joy of Christ.
This passage also emphasized the praying nature of the early church. They prayed in the name of Christ. God delights to hear us pray in the name of Christ. When Saul (Paul) was converted, the Lord Jesus appeared to Ananias and said about Saul, “Behold he prays.”
Saul, as a devoted Pharisee, had prayed continually all his life. Yet it is now, when he prays from the knowledge of Christ that God acknowledges his prayer. If you want God’s ear and help, you will not receive it apart from knowledge of Christ, approaching God through faith in Him. Also, understand blessing from God is connected to prayer. So you must set aside time for regular, devoted prayer.
Lastly, we see depicted in the early church joyful, loving fellowship, full of praise for the wonder of salvation in Christ. One of the chief characteristics of the work of the Spirit is thanksgiving and generosity. They were “selling possessions” and helping those who needed it in the church.
Some people have argued that the Bible justifies communism or socialism based on this passage. Communism though, promotes conflict over material needs for its own nefarious ends. It seeks to advance society through force, controlling both the production and distribution of goods.
It is compulsory sharing, enforced violently, and intentionally limits freedom in all areas to stamp out any resistance. Hence, in the institution of communism in China over 60 million people were murdered and at least 20 million in communist Russia. In this system, liberty must be limited, and any teaching of Christ. Hope must be only in government. Utopia promised was a hope never realized.
We all would prefer to live in a free country, to live and worship as we would. It is a great privilege to live in America. But it isn’t safe to follow your own ways and reject the word of God. The people converted in our passage had spent their lives hoping for a change in government leadership. Now their hearts were on Christ and his kingdom.
We see the spirit of generosity that shows hope and expectation of a better inheritance than anything in this world. They freely and joyfully gave because of love. You don’t see the abolition of private property, but the abolition of proud, selfish, covetous behavior. The word of God gives us sure and firm promises. Not believing God is the root of all our woe.
The Rev. Chris Shelton is the pastor of The First Presbyterian Church of Union.