Following Jesus’s death and resurrection, Peter stood up with the eleven apostles and proclaimed the word of God to a crowd. Peter informed them all that Jesus is the Messiah who was crucified by them. There was a conviction felt among the people following Peter’s message because the words he spoke were not his but of God himself.
Peter then advised them to ” be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. And they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ” After his message, 3000 believers came to Christ that same day.
After coming to Christ, Jesus’s followers immediately ” devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. ” Acts 2:42. This was the establishment of the first church body.
How are we as a church body living as those first few thousand followers had? Are we devoting ourselves as they had, through fellowship, communion, teachings, and prayer? We need to look back at those first few thousand believers and eleven apostles as how we as a church body should be gathering each week and begin living as the first church had.
Returning To The First Church
Gathering to Learn and Teach
” But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. ” 2 Thessalonians 2: 13-15
Peter and the other apostles would come together and give thanks to God, exchange their teachings and experiences with one another not just one day a week but daily. They would share the Gospel with those who have never heard it and also with other believers to reinforce their faith, feeding one another with more knowledge and wisdom.
So how can we continue to learn throughout the week as the first church had? Through our Sunday services, small groups, daily devotions, and bible studies. I know what you are thinking, that seems like too much work to squeeze into my weekly schedule. But really what we should be doing is squeezing in our eventful calendar around these things. If we put God first we will see great changes blossom from even just 15-20 minutes of reading a day! We can do that on our lunch breaks at work or we can audibly listen to readings from the Bible in our car as we drive to work 5 days week.
When we come together to learn more about God’s word it not only allows us to get to know one another outside of Sunday service, but it also helps us grow in our faith. It brings different perspectives on the scripture we study through different people’s experiences and knowledge and it is what God commanded us to do.
Gathering to Break Bread
“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. ” 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26
Coming together to eat is something special, we do it for big holidays and celebrations with our families and friends. Coming together to eat is something also appears special in the Bible as well. When Jesus would break bread with his disciples, it was always very intimate and personal, yet it wasn’t just about just eating.
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Matthew 26: 26. There was usually teaching involved when they would gather and in this verse from Matthew 26 Jesus tells the disciples ” Take and eat; this is my body“. This is how we now fellowship with Jesus. When we come together as believers and sit down to enjoy a meal with one another, we can also sit down to a meal with Jesus.
Because of this, we need to focus on the true reason as to why we come together to take communion. Instead of praying before receiving the bread and blood of Christ, we should be meditating on remembering exactly why and how Jesus died for us. Redirecting our focus on how this new covenant came to light.
Often I would find myself praying just prior to taking communion but not fully focusing myself on the symbolism of the bread and juice. Not that I wasn’t aware of it, but the focus isn’t always there. I am sure there are some of you who agree with me on this or recognize that maybe that isn’t what you were doing neither.
So the next time you take communion recognize the true representation of the bread and the juice as Jesus’s sacrifice for us all.
Gathering to Pray
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19
Picture a soccer team, typically there is a goalie and 10 field players on the field. If for some reason a team has a few players injured with no one to substitute those injured players, a team can legally play with 7 players. No one would want to play an 11 vs. 7 soccer game, it is almost obvious which team will control and win the game. Just like a minimum player soccer team lacking power in numbers, the power that comes from prayer is greater with more you have to participate.
We should be coming together more than once a week to pray in small groups, at home with family members in addition to our Sunday morning prayer with the whole congregation. There is power in numbers especially when it comes to praying!
The more we come together and fellowship together, the more we have the opportunity to pray in large groups. This gives us time with Jesus and to ask God for specific things in our lives. It also gives us the ability to be vulnerable around one another and confess our sins. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
Gathering as one and being devoted are the two main focuses of the first church. If we are able to maintain weekly gatherings with our church family and stay devoted to God throughout the week, we as a church will see great things arise, things that only God can do through our faithfulness towards Him!
So join me in getting back to the core and heart of the first church and let us devote ourselves to many seasons of thanks and praise, in Jesus’ name, Amen.