The Glorious Body of Christ VI: The Church's Devotion - Acts 2:42-43

Love doesn’t just think or feel things, it does things. Your devotion is displayed by your actions. So it’s important for us to ask these questions: what kind of devotion does God want? What does a Church that is devoted to Jesus do?

In Acts 2:42, we are given an outline of the things that the Church is devoted to when she gathers together, and then in v. 43, we see the impact that this devotion had on the souls of the people who gathered. And we see four actions grouped in two pairs of two: teaching and fellowship, and breaking bread and the prayers.

“The apostles’ teaching” involves explaining the OT in light of Jesus, and Jesus in light of the OT. It took place at synagogues, in the marketplaces, and in private homes, through sermons, discussions, Bible studies, letters, and books as the apostles sought to teach the disciples everything that Jesus commanded. And although we usually use “fellowship” to refer more generally to all sorts of Christian social interaction, here it seems to focus on meeting as a distinct group to pursue Christian discipleship.

“Breaking bread” speaks both of a shared fellowship meal and of the Lord’s Supper, which is how they normally concluded those meals. “The prayers” (not simply “prayer”) indicates something of a liturgy or pattern of worship, which included not just prayers addressed to God, but also devotional type exhortations and singing.

Taken together, the four elements in v.42 form the basis for our worship service today. What’s striking about this verse, though, is that the early Church devoted herself to this worship, and the result was a wave of awe washing over the people of God. They were overwhelmed by the power of gathering for these purposes, and by the way it knit them together into one body. They knew they were sharing in something special.

By way of application, I want you to consider two words: “devoted” and “together”, and I want to ask you if these two words characterize your Christian life. Are you devoted to these things, and are you doing these things primarily individually, or together with the Church?

Here’s what I mean: devotion is more than just participation. Attending Church doesn’t make you devoted to the Church. Devotion is loving enthusiasm that makes the object of your devotion primary in your affections. In the marriage vows, we see this expressed by the phrase “forsaking all others”. This doesn’t mean that you never interact with anyone other than your spouse, but it does mean that you make your spouse the primary object of your affection, attention, provision, time, and love.

So are you devoted to the things the disciples were devoted to in Acts 2? Are you regularly turning down other opportunities in order to gladly gather for teaching, fellowship, breaking bread, and the prayers of the Church? Devotion to God is expressed by devoting yourself to the worship and life of the Church as disciples of Jesus.

The other word I want you to consider is implied in vv. 42-43, and shows up explicitly in vv. 44 and 46. Personal devotions like Bible reading and prayer are wonderful, but they’re not what vv. 42-43 are talking about. These verses are focused on what the Church does together. God’s priority is that you devote yourself to Him as the Church, many members gathered into one body. It’s easier to have “devotions” alone. It’s better to have them together.

So does this describe you? Are you re-working your schedule and making sacrifices in other areas in order to hear teaching, to enjoy fellowship, to break bread, and to pray together? Are you devoted to prioritizing the gathered Church?

What creates this devotion is described in the verses just before the ones we read. In Acts 2:14-41, Peter preaches a powerful sermon glorifying Jesus Christ as Lord, and he calls on the crowd to repent and believe the good news that Jesus lived and died and rose again so that sinners could be saved from a crooked generation devoted to all the wrong things. If your heart doesn’t have at least a desire for this devotion, then go back and listen to the good news again until love for Jesus fills your heart to overflowing! Then devote your life to Jesus by constantly seeking out the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking bread, and praying together as His Church, praising God with glad hearts, and trusting Him to use your glad-hearted devotion to add to His Church.

Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 by CJ Bowen