All Believers Together
Togetherness is not about you agreeing with everything I do. Nor is it about me always being happy with you. Togetherness is not continual satisfaction with one another or even the absence of conflict. Togetherness is not the absence of struggle. Each of these believers had their own personal as well as family challenges.
Despite the regular difficulties of living on this planet, these believers achieved a oneness of mind and heart that was remarkable. Something in us wants to discover or maybe rediscover this kind of community. We know that the unselfish love and service described here is essential to achieving the highest level of human experience. Everyone wants to be loved and have true friends. We lament our pathetic condition when we do not have friends. We want a true, loving community.
We are not very good at it, though. Half of the marriages are failing and have been for some time. As a result, fewer people are getting married. We suppose that we will do better if we do not enter into a covenant relationship.
We are wrong. The highest level of human community is the community of promise. This is why God makes a covenant with us. He initiates this covenant—it is his idea. The covenant is central to the Bible and to God’s activity among us. Two parts of the Bible: Old Covenant and New Covenant.
- The churches displayed a lot of things on boards at the front 50 years ago. That might include the numbers of the hymns we were going to sing or the numbers for attendance in Sunday and the amount of the offering. They might also have on a board the Church Covenant. The first paragraph might read as follows: Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior; and on the profession of our faith having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we do now in the presence of God, angels and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.
We live together in a relationship of promise, implied if not explicit, pledging to care for one another as members. This covenant community emerges spontaneously from the apostles’ witness and the evident work of the Spirit.
These first followers of Jesus displayed these qualities. We want our church to be like this:
Singleness of Purpose:
"They devoted themselves…" — Acts 2:42
"All the believers were one in heart and mind." — Acts 4:32
Teaching of the Apostles—they were believers. That is, they believed in Jesus as Lord and Savior. This is the spiritual as well as intellectual framework that binds them together. They are gathered around a certain teaching —the gospel.
- There is no togetherness in the church without this consensus among everyone—Jesus is Lord.
- This cannot be just a slogan. It cannot be a reluctant confession that we half believe. It is fundamental. It cannot be compromised. The church ceases to be the church when it loses the confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Fellowship—this is an emotional and relational framework that binds them together. They are “sharing together in a common possession” which is the gospel. They are Journeying Together as family in Christ Jesus.
Breaking bread together—this is the sacramental framework that binds them together—the reinforcement of an organic unity in Christ.
- This probably refers to what the Apostle Paul calls “the Lord’s Supper.” It was a memorial meal symbolizing the death of Christ.
- It was also the sharing together of meals in their homes. "They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts" (Acts 2:46). This is a tremendously important aspect of their fellowship, their Koinonia.
Prayer—this spiritual framework binds them together.
Intense Sense of God’s Presence:
"Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles." — Act 2:43
"And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all." — Acts 4:33
Abandonment of the old life for a new reality.
- The resurrection is the dramatic historical evidence that God is present and at work among them.
- The coming of the Holy Spirit and the miracle of languages at Pentecost is the dramatic confirmation of God’s continuing presence in the life and mission of the Church.
Daily in the temple courts and in their homes
- They experience the daily reinforcement of belief that comes with teaching and sharing the good news.
- Their faith is pervasive. It touches them everywhere and at all times.
The Holy Spirit at work in their lives daily, empowering them to witness to the resurrection.
- Every time they preach and teach they experience the supernatural work of the Spirit.
- Just the obedience to open your mouth and testify to the new life you have in Christ activates this spiritual reality.
- I was in this intense moment where I was sharing the gospel with someone who was obviously under deep conviction. And all of a sudden I was aware of the Spirit.
Costly Investment of Resources:
"They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need." — Acts 2:45
"For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet." — Acts 4:34-35
This was God’s grace at work among them. God gave so freely to them through Christ that they were liberated from their possessions to give to one another.
They invested their time, daily in the temple courts.
- This was a meeting that they could attend if they were able. I am sure that many believers were not able to leave their duties elsewhere on a daily basis.
They invested their worldly possessions. I do not interpret this as a complete divestment of property and possessions. Rather, I think they were giving from both the interest and the principal. They were turning assets into cash to address the immediate needs of others in the family of faith. Barnabas sold a piece of land (Acts 4:36-37). The scripture does not say that he sold all his land.
How costly have been your adjustments to the will of God in your life? How much time, money has it cost you to be faithful to Christ?
Powerful Witness for Christ:
"With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus." — Acts 4:33
"And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." — Acts 2:47
They were never satisfied to sit on the good news. They could not hold in this information they had received and this transformation they had experienced.
The apostles were giving eyewitness testimony as they talked about the resurrection of Jesus.
- This is not to say that the others were not testifying. It is clear from the very first that others were witnessing. Stephen received the good news secondhand, but he proclaimed it heartily and became the first one martyred for his faith. Philip received with joy the good news of the gospel as a second generation Christian, not an eyewitness, and began to preach it everywhere he went.
The Holy Spirit is activated every time a believer witnesses to his or her faith in Christ. The Spirit is the one who convicts, who takes the word of God to heart of the hearer. The Spirit is doing his internal work as you are verbalizing your own story of transformation and the basics of the gospel message.
This is a resurrection witness. We cannot get far from this central truth which clarifies everything. It is through the resurrection that Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God with power” (Romans 1:4).
Are you a believer? I mean, have you trusted in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior?