My Musings in the Morning
('musing' = a period of reflection or thought)
"My heart was hot within me, while I was musing, the fire burned: then I spoke with my tongue:"
#4: The four-fold purpose of our church gatherings
"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." (Acts 2:42)
If the initial church in Jerusalem is to be a model for our church gatherings today, we can understand four significant and crucial activities that used to take place during each time that they met together based on the above scripture:
- They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching: The apostles had been personally taught and mentored by the Lord Jesus Himself during the last 3.5 years with the objective that they would transmit those teachings to the church. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who would bring to remembrance everything that Jesus had taught them (John 14:26), the apostles made a deliberate effort to teach the laity everything that they knew. This is just what Apostle Paul had instructed his spiritual son Timothy as well later (see 2 Timothy 2:2). These teachings eventually got written down as Epistles meant for our instruction. The equivalent activity for us in the church today is the preaching of God's Word, exhortations & Bible Study.
- They devoted themselves to fellowship: They were simply together because of the joy they experience for being together in each other's company through fellowship & worship. As it mentions in Hebrews 10:24; they stirred up love (for God and each other) and to do good works (for God's kingdom) in one another through these meetings. Their fellowship was a strong base for them to reach out to others with the gospel. We need to develop a close knit community of faith as well, which will energize us to do kingdom work.
- They devoted themselves to breaking bread together: This signified the sacrament of Holy Communion during which they remembered the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ to redeem themselves from sin. This was usually significant when they came together to break bread especially on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). However, the breaking of bread also signified other meals that they had together as a faith community,
- They devoted themselves to prayer: Last but not the least, the purpose of their gatherings was to pray together to God together through Jesus Christ who would be present in their midst according to His earlier promise in Mathew 18:20. They prayed unitedly at the temple initially (Acts 3:1) and in different homes later (Acts 12:12) as they were united in their efforts to pray for their specific needs and for the furtherance of the gospel.
Read the Bible in One Year: Genesis 37-39