Ten Characteristics of the early church we should emulate

5 08 2013

Taken from Acts 2:42-47

The first century church was:

1. A learning church (vs: 42) “They devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching…”

The Greek word here for “Teaching” is not passive, it is active. The Apostles were actively teaching and the baptized believers were devoted to this teaching. SO, what was this teaching? Well in Matthew 28:20 Jesus had told his Apostles to:

“Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you”

Sounds like a daunting task…”Teach them Everything”

But, Jesus had not left them to rely on their memory. In John 14:26 He had told them that the holy spirit would “Teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you.”
So, again; What were the apostles teaching that they were so devoted too?

“Everything the Lord had commanded.”

2. A Fellowshipping Church. (vs: 42)

What does “Fellowship” mean? The Greek word for fellowship could also be: Partnership, Participation, Oneness. To have fellowship with each other is so much more than just being around each other twice a week. It means caring for each other, loving each other, having something in common with each other. It means to carry each other’s burdens (which is a sermon all to itself). When you do these things, when you truly have “Fellowship” with each other, positive things happen as a result.

3. A “Remembering Jesus” Church. (vs: 42 “breaking bread”)

When the first century church got together they broke bread…they devoted themselves to it. Some would say; Lynn, how do you know this is referring to the Lords Supper? Well, I don’t know (for sure) if this is talking about the “tradition” we now call “the Lords Supper”. But I do know this: When the first century Christians “broke bread” they thought of Jesus. How could they not? And I ask you, isn’t that what “The Lords Supper” is?

4. A Praying Church. (vs:42)

This means they talked to God. When they needed to make a decision, They talked to God. When they needed guidance, they talked to God. They were devoted to talking to God. It seems that communication with God was important to them. God was in charge (and BTW He still is)

5. A Fearful Church. (vs: 43)

I must confess, I like the NIV best. It seems to have the least amount of errors in translation to our current day language. But I don’t like it’s translation here; It says: “Everyone was filled with Awe”. What does “Awe” mean to us today? Well, I asked some people and here are the answers I got:
Wonder, Amazement, Stultified (yes someone actually said stultified), shocked, startled…do you see the confusion? None of the answers are even close to the Greek word; “Phobos”. (Which means Fear or Terror.) It is the ultimate respect of God. We most often refer to it as “Reverential Fear”.
At any rate, this “Awe” means they were a Fearful Church. When they began to lose some of that fear God stepped in and reminded them (Look at Acts 5:1-11)

6. A Church where things happened. (vs:43)

“Signs and wonders” were done there. Now, look at this quote (I forget where I heard it)

“If we expect great things from God and attempt great things for God, Great things will happen for God”.

Read that a couple of times. How does this apply to us? If you expect your church to be a church of 10,000 then you need to attempt to be a church of 10,000.
When faith dies, achievement dies. Great things happen for God when we believe that God and us working together can make it happen.

7. A Sharing Church. (vs:44&45)

Why were they a sharing church? An obvious answer is the Apostles teaching. But also consider this; pretend Jesus came here today and you believed in him and turned your life over to Him. Then your parents kicked you out of the house, your friends slammed the door on you, your boss fired you, the government denies you any assistance because of your new belief…where do you go? Who do you turn to? That’s what really happened to these people. So, because of the Apostles teaching and because of the great need of the people…they became a sharing Church!
And verse forty six shows they became;

8. A Worshiping Church. (vs:46)

Imagine playing a sport and nobody shows up. Now, imagine the God of all the universe comes into your church to receive your worship and no one shows up…or you’re late.
When you read the book of Psalms you get this point very strongly:

God Inhabits our Praise! He is Praise Worthy!

Now, we all know that is true…right? RIGHT?
Then please explain something to me; How can people be so casual about worship? How can someone come to worship and sing with little or no emotion?

God Inhabits our Praise!

We need to be a worshiping Church! They were!

9. A Happy Church (vs:46)

Kind of goes back to the last one. I grew up in a church that told you that you were not supposed to smile in church. I never understood it and still don’t understand it. We have been saved! Our sins removed! And our God pours blessings upon blessings on us. Shouldn’t that make us happy? Are you Happy? Is your church happy? As Phil Robinson says, are you Happy, Happy, Happy?

Now remember I said there were Ten Characteristics.

Well, if you look at the nine listed you can probably figure out #10.
1. A Learning Church.
2. A Fellowshipping Church.
3. A Remembering Jesus Church.
4. A Praying Church.
5. A Fearful Church.
6. A Church where things happened.
7. A Sharing Church.
8. A Worshipping Church.
9. A Happy Church

If any church is all of those nine…they will be:

10. A Church of people whom others could not help liking.

That’s the kind of church they were. And the result? (the end of vs:47)

“The Lord added to their number daily…”

If your church has these ten characteristics, the Lord will add to your number daily.
Now, the church is who? (The people)

Are you this kind of church? Search your heart for that answer.