In our last teaching we established that the definition of the Greek word for church, Ekkleisa (Acts 2:47), describes those who have been “called out” from the world into the body of Christ. And in fact, we came to the understanding that the Church does not contain people; it is the people! “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” 1 Corinthians 12:27. Having gained that understanding, when we first see the church in Acts 2 we find the formula, given by the Holy Spirit, on which the church is built, and a picture of what it looks like.
After Peter’s first sermon in Acts 2, we are told that about 3000 souls were added to the number of disciples. And in Acts 2:42 we read; “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Thus we discover in this verse, the pattern on which the church was established. It says that this group of disciples “continued” doing four things. But before we look at those four things, we need to examine the word “continued.” Webster’s describes this word as an adjective defined as: lasting, extending, or happening for a long time without interruption. I find this adjective to be very important in our understanding of the establishment of the church. These followers of Christ who had been “called” and “saved from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:39 & 40), were established within a formula and pattern, which should still be followed by the church today. So what is this formula of four things? Let’s look again at Acts 2: 42. They continued steadfastly in:
1. The Apostles Doctrine
- This is the teaching delivered to them orally by the apostles who have received it from Jesus Christ.
- Today this Doctrine is preserved for us in the written Word of God.
- This speaks to the fact that those who were “called out” were separated to God from the world and,
- that their desire is to develop relationships within the body of Christ and,
- share in the needs of the body.
3. The breaking of bread
- Which in one sense was a part of their fellowship in that they shared meals together (Acts 2:46), and
- in another sense participated in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7).
- Thus they spoke to God in gratitude and worship,
- for knowledge and guidance,
- for provision and protection, and
- for their ministry and calling.
This then is the formula and pattern on which the church was established, and is in fact, the formula and pattern which the church should still be continuing in today. Sadly, I’m afraid most “churches” today do not follow this formula or pattern.
And, what was the appearance of the early church? Where did they meet? Acts 2:46 tells us they met in the “temple” (this would be an open courtyard or hall on the temple grounds) and “house to house” (the dwellings, courtyards, and structures belonging to the individual members). Interestingly, New Testament Scripture never speaks of a church building, a physical structure, whose sole purpose is to house the “body” in “worship.”
Acts 2: 46 & 47 also tells us that they did all of these things “with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.” And, the result of all of this was that the body of Christ grew daily. Today, there are some extremely large “churches” in the world. However, are they truly a part of the body of Christ?
In our next teaching on the Church built by Jesus Christ, we will examine the “churches” we see in the world today. We will compare them to the formula and pattern, appearance (meeting place), and effect in the world, and affect on their members, and see how they stack up the True Church. In doing so I believe we will gain a better understanding of the concept of the remaining faithful believers who make up the True Church, what we call His Remnant Church, in these Last Days.
Until then, remember that Jesus has called us all to be ministers of the Gospel, and that;
Jesus is Coming Soon!