There are many things which a person can do alone, but being
Christian is not one of them. As the Christian life is, above all things, a
state of union with Christ, and a union of His followers with one another, love
of the brethren is inseparable from love of God. Resentment toward any human
being cannot exist in the same heart with love to God. The personal
relationship to Christ can only be realized when one has “come to himself” as a
member of His body, the Christian fellowship.
– William T. Ham
Acts 2 introduces the start of the church and they did everything together, as a community of believers. Part of our strength as Christians can be drawn from that. We wouldn’t survive if we were to go through this life alone. There would be no accountability. There would be no fellowship. There wouldn’t even be weekly gatherings on Saturday evenings or Sunday mornings. Can you imagine a world without that?
It scares me to say that I can…in some ways, at least. Prior to moving to Minneapolis, I lived in Sioux Falls, SD. Sure, there are plenty of churches and one only has to choose from the plethora available and just go, but it wasn’t the same as my home church in Brookings, SD (over an hour away).
For three years, I attended Bible study through what they called life groups at one church in the area and attended services at several others. And yet, I never found that sense of onnection; of the fellowship and community of believers that I had in Brookings. Perhaps it was because God had blessed me immensely in taking me from a place where public education and living in the world but not of it were seemingly frowned upon to a community where love abounded, no matter your story, what you’d done in your life or where you came from. Or maybe it was because He had opened my eyes and my heart to what following Christ really meant based on His Word and any other location would pale in comparison.
Sure, I could have traveled the 50-60 minutes to church every week and stick around for Oasis in the evenings, but it wouldn’t didn’t make sense financially to go there during the week for Bible study and any other social events that brought that sense of community. Living outside of that was not the same and I felt isolated. I missed my group of friends; I missed digging into the Word with other believers on a deep level and being real with accountability partners.
I found myself seeking that fellowship in Sioux Falls and missing home in Brookings more and more with each passing week. I knew that my soul longed for that fellowship and my heart longed to trust in that group. I lived a spiritually dry season during that time, even though I was fed regularly and was still actively involved in Oasis back in Brookings – a young adult/college ministry and had been for six years prior to my moving to Minneapolis.
Within the last several days, the rest of the team moved up from Brookings and are now settled in Blaine, just across from Kingswood Church (in the parsonage). We’ve discussed starting a new Bible study on the book of Acts in light of the fact that we are here to plant a new church. It only made sense to study the beginning of the church and what it meant to be a community and true body of believers according to God’s holy Word, right?
Acts 2 records five things that kept the early church together and strengthened them:
- They continued together in one accord.
- They all preached and taught the gospel exhorting people to believe.
- They had fellowship together.
- They practiced the ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper – together.
- They prayed – together…as one.
The first group of believers stayed together. They met together. Part of the strength of the church is that they meet together. That simple act bonds believers and serves as a source of ersonal support. In Hebrews 10, we see how the Lord combines church attendance with holding fast the profession of one’s faith. Meeting together serves the purpose of lifting up and encouraging one another in our daily walks with Christ. This is also the reason the church is called the body of believers. A body is, after all, a unit. When one part suffers, the rest suffer with it. When part rejoices, all rejoice with it (1 Corinthians 12).
They all taught the gospel and it was believed by all. They all believed the Bible was the true Word of God and devoted themselves to the teaching, doctrine and fellowship of that Word.
They had fellowship, as one unit. The basis of their unity was Christ and this continuously brought them together. One commentator defines fellowship as “the expression of genuine Christianity among the members of God’s family.” That fellowship includes love and acceptance. All insensitivity, resentment and judgment must be replaced by love (agape). This type of love brings a feeling of family…God’s familyand this type of relationship/fellowship with one another requires concern and spirits of restoration (Galatians 6:1-2), confession and forgiveness (James 5:16) – bearing one another’s burdens, encouragement and availability (Hebrews 10:23-25), and informality and flexibility (Hebrews 13:1-2, 14-16).
The first group of believers practiced and observed the Lord’s Supper and ordinances as a group, just as most churches do today. Think of where we get the term communion
from. That first group of believers prayed as one just as we should pray as one too.
In looking over that list, that was something I had in Brookings and it excites me to no end to know that God has blessed with that fellowship again.