We pick up where we left off at the end of our previous study, continuing our examination of the things the Early Church devoted themselves to. We’ll contemplate how and why disciples of Jesus are to devote themselves to those same things in the Church today.
I can't make any promises, but I am 99.99% sure that this will be our final message. In Acts chapter two over the last couple of weeks, we've been looking at how the church began making disciples from the very first day it was born. In verses 37 to 41, we saw how 30 people became disciples of Jesus in a single day. Then in verses 42 to 47, we began to look at how these brand new disciples were discipled. We can see things that the early disciples devoted themselves to, things that took place in the early church, things that built up the faith of these new believers.
And we are to give ourselves to the same things today if we are disciples too. We read in verse 42 they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. Last week we saw what was involved in their devotion to the apostles teaching. This week we picked things up in the middle of verse 42 by taking a look at what's involved when disciples are devoted to fellowship. If you happen to know just a handful of Greek words that are in the Bible, chances are good that one of those Greek words is the Greek word for fellowship.
It's the word koina. Koina is a word that means helping by way of making a contribution. It means participation. It means sharing in or communion with one another. Koina, or fellowship, is an action word that involves other people.
By definition, nobody can fellowship by themselves. You need other people in order to do it, and you need something to fellowship around. You will find at the center of any fellowship one main thing that is shared in common. And that one thing is what binds everyone in the fellowship together. Those who participate in a fellowship are fellowshipping around a common denominator.
There is a single nucleus that everyone revolves around. In The Lord of the Rings, there was a fellowship around the Ring. The Ring was the common denominator that bound all the characters in that story together. In the church, our fellowship revolves around Jesus as disciples. Jesus is the one central common denominator that binds all of us together.
Fellowship creates surprising relationships. True fellowship makes friends out of people who probably would have never been friends outside of the fellowship they share. In The Lord of the Rings, there were nine characters who were part of the Fellowship of the Ring. There was a wizard, a couple of humans, four hobbits, an elf, and a dwarf. And if it wasn't for the adventure that centered around the Ring, most of these characters paths wouldn't have crossed.
The same can be said of Jesus'twelve disciples, whom he later designated as his apostles. If Jesus hadn't called each of his twelve disciples to follow him, most of them would have never spent any real time in fellowship together with one another. Except maybe for the disciples who were biological brothers and the ones who worked in the same trade together. Peter and Andrew were brothers, and John and James were brothers, and all four of them were fishermen, meaning they probably would have crossed paths with each other even if Jesus never came into their lives. But the same can't be said of the other disciples, jesus disciples who came from all walks of life, fellowship with each other only because of Jesus.
Jesus had disciples that would have hated each other if it wasn't for Jesus. There were these guys back in the day called zealots, and these guys hated tax collectors more than anyone. And Jesus had a tax collector and a Zealot as members of his twelve disciples. Jesus is what bound his believers together in fellowship back then, and is Jesus who binds his disciples in fellowship together today. This room right now is filled with people who are friends today, who spend meaningful time together with each other today, who fellowship today only because of Jesus.
All kinds of lives and stories and hobbies and careers are represented in this room. And if we're honest, if we took Jesus out of the equation of our lives and just gave ourselves to only hanging out with people who are just like us, who only like the exact same things that we like, then a lot of our paths wouldn't have crossed in any kind of meaningful way. That seemed another reason why I'm so thankful that Jesus is a part of our equation. We probably wouldn't have one another if he wasn't. So fellowship requires a common focus or goal that binds everyone together around it.
For the disciples of Jesus, Jesus is that common foundation. Now, there are things to be accomplished in a fellowship. Fellowship requires more than just a common nucleus. It requires sharing meaningful time together around that nucleus, accomplishing the tasks that are centered on it. Again, the fellowship and the Lord of the Rings didn't exist because each of them had a nice picture of the ring hanging in their own homes, where they could all look at their own picture of the ring by themselves, independently from the other characters.
They all spent time, various amounts of time together around the ring accomplishing the task at hand. They had to get the ring to mordor. Now, Christian fellowship is accomplished when we are actively doing God's will together. Doing God's will involves doing the things we see the disciples doing in our passage. Things like devoting themselves to the apostles, teaching breaking of bread and prayer.
It involves loving one another and fulfilling the one another commands. In the Bible, it involves evangelism. Now, the fellowship that the first disciples devoted themselves to, we see take place in a couple of different formats. Their devotion to fellowship took place in big groups and in small groups. So if you have your Bible open, drop down to verse 46 in our text and it says this every day.
They devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple and broke bread from house to house. They met in the large open areas that the temple afforded them and they met in smaller quarters from house to house as well. They met all together in a big group and then they broke into smaller groups too. And Jesus, he did this with his disciples during his ministry. He spent time with them teaching the vast crowds.
And he would pull away from the crowds and spend time in smaller groups with just his disciples. There was an ebb and flow throughout Jesus's ministry time in big groups and time in small groups. And we tried to do the same thing as a church. Gospel City Church meets here in a school gymnasium every Sunday as one big group. And we meet together throughout the week in various locations and smaller groups too.
Some fellowship activities are better accomplished in the different kinds of groups. Like what we're doing now. Public teaching to the whole church is better served in a setting like this. But really knowing one another and serving one another and loving one another and encouraging one another, all these things are done better in smaller groups where people can meet consistently with each other in a more personal setting. Meeting in various kinds of groups together throughout the week takes time and energy and will more than likely require some planning and some sacrifice.
But if there's one thing that you need to know about fellowship is this it's impossible to experience fellowship with one another without spending meaningful time together. So go ahead and write this down. This will be the first feeling on your outline. Discipleship requires devotion to spending meaningful time with other disciples. How often do the disciples spend time fellowshipping with each other?
Look again at verse 46. They said every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple and broke bread from house to house. Verse 46 says they met every day. Now, I know what some of you are thinking when you hear this. Is he going to tell us that we need to start meeting every day for church?
I know this guy likes the Bible. Is he going to say this to us? The answer is no. I'm not going to say that so everyone can breathe a collective sigh of relief. I'm not going to tell anyone to start meeting every day for fellowship, but I'm also not going to tell anyone that they shouldn't meet every day either.
I'm not going to tell you what you need to do when it comes to spending time with your brothers and sisters in the church. You have the freedom to choose that for yourselves. But I am going to talk a little bit about the idea of disciples spending meaningful time together. Now it's plain that the church met every day in Acts Two because it's right there for us in verse 46. But why do you think the disciples met every day for fellowship?
Let me toss you out a few ideas. The disciples might have met every day in Acts too because they were a part of a minority. At this time there were only 30 Christians in the world and they were all in Jerusalem. There were only 30 people who believed that Jesus was the Messiah and that he was risen from the dead and that he is Lord of heaven and earth. There were only 30 people on the planet who wanted to learn the things that Jesus had said so that they can know how to follow his waste.
I think the situation would be like if you found yourself living in a foreign country and everyone talked a different language than you did and they did things differently culturally than you're used to and then you found a small group of Canadians and then you guys stuck together every day eating bacon, drinking maple syrup and talking about hockey. And I think one of the reasons the early church met every day was that they were the only ones who had this new life that they were just spiritually born into so they stuck together. That's one idea. Now the disciples might have met every day back then because they were a family. I love my family and I love seeing them every day.
The church was and is comprised of spiritual brothers and sisters. They were now a family. They loved Jesus and they loved each other. And it's not that far fetched of an idea that the spirit of God that was now in them drew them to spend a lot of time together. That's another possibility.
Third, the disciples might have met every day back then because a lot of them were still on vacation. A large quotient of the early church was made up of people who came from out of town for Pentecost and who probably ended up staying around in Jerusalem after Pentecost was over. If some of them didn't have to attend to their regular responsibilities of life they may have had more time to meet together every day. Maybe the disciples might have met every day back then because the church was awesome. We cannot forget the amazing things God was doing among the early church.
From day number one his spirit was poured out in marvelous and demonstrable ways. People were getting saved every day. There was a supernatural love and joy and unity being experienced on a daily basis in the church. Revival was taking place and if you love God it's not hard to imagine wanting to be there in the middle of what was happening. I'd want to be there every single day.
I wouldn't want to miss a thing that God was doing. That's a possible reason for the daily meetings. Now here's the last idea I have as to why they might have met daily. The disciples might have met every day back then because that's how Jesus discipled the twelve. The early Church was disciples by the apostles who were discipled personally by Jesus.
And I think there could have been a case of monkey see, monkey doo. Jesus modeled this kind of fellowship with his disciples when he discipled them. Jesus was with his disciples every day for the three years of his public ministry. They were with each other constantly for three years. That's the only pattern of discipleship that the apostles knew.
So that could be a reason why the early Church met every day. It's what Jesus did with them and now they're doing it with the Church. So when you think about these five possible reasons why the early disciples met every day and you put them together, I think it makes sense why they met as often as they did. Now as I was preparing for this message, I couldn't shake the concept of meeting every day for fellowship. Now remember, I already promised I'm not going to tell anyone how much meaningful time you should spend devoted to fellowship.
So keep that in mind when I share these next thoughts with you. But I got to thinking if there was any connection between how much time a disciple devoted themselves to fellowship and their growth as a disciple, have you ever wondered how Jesus disciples developed so quickly? They only spent three years with Jesus. Then after those three years Jesus set them loose and they went out and flipped the world upside down in his name. The kingdom of God advanced in powerful ways through a bunch of guys that spent only three years following Jesus.
How does that make sense? If I think back over the last 20 years of my life that I've been a disciple of Jesus, I can't think of any three year span of time that catapulted me from a nominal follower of Jesus to a world changer for Jesus. How did the disciples change so much in only three years? Now this may sound off to you at first, but hear me out before you make a judgment. The disciples radical change wasn't solely because they had Jesus as their teacher.
Jesus is the only perfect disciple maker that has ever lived or ever will live and the disciples had him as their teacher. But that can't be the main reason for the rapid development. And I can say that with some confidence because while he was with them, jesus told his disciples that it would be better for them if he left them so that the Holy Spirit could come to them instead. Jesus says this in John 16, verse seven to the disciples nevertheless, I'm telling you the truth. It's for your benefit that I go away because if I don't go away, the counselor will not come to you.
If I go, I will send him to you. So according to Jesus, we have a better situation today than the disciples did when they were with jesus because we have always had the Spirit in us for as long as we have been disciples. The moment we became disciples we had the Spirit. The apostles didn't have the Spirit in them for the first three years they followed Jesus. So that means we aren't disadvantaged in our potential for discipleship compared to the disciples just because they had Jesus in the flesh and we don't.
Their superfast growth as disciples cannot be tied to the fact that they had Jesus in the flesh. It has to be something else. We can also rule this one out too. The disciples didn't radically change over three years because they had so much untapped potential to become super disciples. People elevate the twelve disciples today, but they were pretty basic guys.
As Jewish men they would have grown up learning the Old Testament as part of their studies like everyone else. But because they weren't following any other rabbis when Jesus called them to follow him, that tells us they weren't the top of their class because if they were they would have already been following another teacher and learning under him. But they weren't. They were fishermen, tax collectors and zealots just some random dudes when Jesus called them. The religious leaders recognize what kind of men the disciples were.
Acts 413 tells us when they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus. So the disciples weren't special by any of the metrics that people use to measure specialness today. They didn't change the world for Jesus because they were the cream of the crop. They were regular people just like we are today. So the radical development of the disciples cannot simply be reduced to the fact they had a flesh and blood Jesus as their teacher, as perfect of a teacher as he is and it cannot be tied to the incredible abilities or giftedness that they didn't have.
So what was the factor that led them to being transformed over the course of three years into men who turned the world upside down for Jesus? Can I suggest to you that a key factor might have been the time they spent in fellowship with each other centered around Jesus. The disciples were able to be disciples so quickly because they spent meaningful time with each other being discipled by Jesus, meaningful time devoted to fellowship and just how much meaningful time? Enough of it to become experts in making disciples after only three years. Has anyone here ever heard of the 10,000 Hours Rule?
It's an idea that was popularized by a guy named Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. As Gladwell tells it, the rule goes like this it takes ten 0 hour of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials like playing the violin or getting as good as Bill Gates at computer programming. 10,000 hours to become an expert and I wonder if this rule can be applied to making disciples. How much time did the disciples invest in their discipleship? Remember they were with Jesus 24 7365 for three years.
So I'm going to do some rough math for you. I'm going to take 24 hours in a day minus the 8 hours used for sleep and you get 16 hours a day that the disciples fellowship with Jesus and the other disciples take 16 hours a day and multiply that by 365 days in a year. Take that number and multiply it by three years and you end up with 17,520 hours. That's over 17 0 hour day in and day out living life that is completely revolving around Jesus with others who are also living their lives completely revolving around Jesus. They all traveled together, ate together, ministered to people together, prayed together, slept in the same vicinity as one another.
They would have laughed together, handled conflict resolution together. They witnessed Jesus teaching crowds of thousands and they had private lessons sitting at his feet. They were with Jesus and each other constantly for three years. They fellowship with each other nonstop over 17 0 hour. That's impressive no matter which way you slice it.
By the end of those three years they were experts in discipleship by today's standards of expertise. That's why when Jesus told them to just go and make disciples they knew exactly what to do. Now I want you to keep a few things in mind as I shared this idea with you about time devoted to fellowship. Keep in mind that the apostles they did have a unique call on their life. Jesus was going to build his church through them so they needed some unique training to get ready for that monumental task that was coming upon them.
Keep in mind too that the apostles wouldn't have become the disciple making machines that they were without the Holy Spirit. They spent those three years with Jesus and each other and then they received the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is what empowered them to actually do the things they learned from Jesus. The Holy Spirit makes all of the difference. Just look at the before and after of Peter at the end of three years of intense discipleship with Jesus.
Peter, I can imagine him with this cap and gown ready to cross the stage graduating as a disciple, denied even knowing who Jesus was. Jesus? Who's that? I don't even know the guy. That was what three years of discipleship without the Spirit produced.
Then what do we see Peter do after he receives the Spirit? Stands up in front of a crowd of thousands in Acts two boldly proclaiming that Jesus is the Messiah. We are meant to see the stark. At contrast, the Holy Spirit makes all the difference. You could give 10 years to being disciples and none of it would make any difference if you didn't have the presence of God in you.
Empowering your life. So also keep in mind this that hour spent in fellowship is not the only metric for success in making disciples, is not that simple. Because if time and fellowship was all it took, judas wouldn't have bailed on Jesus. Judas had the same time spent with Jesus as the other disciples did, but his heart was never truly with Jesus. But the other eleven whose hearts did belong to Christ, their time with him and with each other produced a level of discipleship in them that equipped them to start the church in Acts chapter two, after the Holy Spirit came upon them.
So with those things tucked away in our minds, I want to do a little comparison. I want to compare their discipleship back then to what our discipleship looks like today. And I want to see if there's anything we can glean from this comparison. How much time does the average Christian today devote to fellowship, to meaningful time spent around Jesus with other disciples? Let's do some more math.
I'm going to do it for you. Let's take 2 hours spent at church on Sunday and add another 2 hours spent during the week in home group for example, and you get 4 hours a week in fellowship. Take 4 hours a week, multiply that by 52 weeks in a year. Take that number and multiply it by three years and you end up with 624 hours. Now that might sound like a lot to you, but at the rate of meeting 4 hours a week, it would take a person 84 years to accumulate as much personal experience and fellowship that the disciples had with only three years with Jesus.
At the rate that we consider normal, it would take us over eight decades to get the same amount of discipleship hours that the apostles got in three years with Jesus. Now go ahead and interpret that information however you want to. I'm just crunching the numbers for you. Whatever conclusion you come to, I think it's safe to say in general terms that nobody is going to get good at making disciples without spending meaningful time in fellowship with other disciples. A person spiritual maturity as a disciple cannot be disconnected from the amount of time that they invest in discipleship.
This brings me to one of my favorite parts of any message. It's time for my own personal game show. I call it try to presume. The Push back and the questions and the obstacles that people in the crowd are raising in their minds as I speak. I love this game.
Here are some pushbacks that some people may raise to the idea of spending meaningful time with other disciples in fellowship. Pushback number one our culture. You might be thinking that kind of radical life where disciples of Jesus spend meaningful time together in fellowship isn't practical in the kind of culture that we live in today. Now we have to understand how our culture works so that we can live in it. But our culture should never dictate how we order and structure our lives.
The apostle John said this in his Epistle one John Two, verse 15. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one's possessions is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world, with its lust, is passing away, but the one who does, the will of God, remains forever.
Now, does the world sound like something we want to be taking our cues from when it comes to shaping and structuring our life, our culture, our world prizes and celebrates autonomy of the individual self. It does not value real community that Jesus values. Our culture tries to stuff us into its mold so that we think and act like everyone else in our culture does. But we're told in the scriptures not to be conformed to the pattern of this world. It's tough to live radically with other believers in meaningful ways in this culture, definitely, but not even close to being impossible.
Things would have to be altered in your life if you're going to spend meaningful time in fellowship with other believers. Devotion to anything requires that we say yes to some things and no to others. But if our culture is the reason someone can't pour their life out for Jesus in fellowship with other believers, I would recommend thinking seriously about how much stock you put into fitting into this culture. Pushback number two our relationship or our family status. If you're single, you might be thinking I sometimes find it challenging to fellowship with other disciples as a single person because our culture puts an emphasis on families.
Fellowship with families, singles fellowship with singles, couples fellowship with couples. Now, this is definitely a cultural notion the church needs to break down. Christian fellowship should not be determined by relational or familial status. And this is where I want to encourage us as a church to initiate fellowship with others who are in different life situations than us. If you are single, don't shy away from inviting a family over for a barbecue or a couple over for coffee or spending time with the new mom who might enjoy some company and a little help around the house.
If you're a family, please know that there are singles in the body of Christ that would love to spend time with you and your family. Extend a dinner invitation or invite a single person to a family outing to the beach or the park. Get to know their story and what God is doing in their life. There's something powerful about fellowshiping with people in different life stages. We learn from each other and bless each other in ways that wouldn't happen otherwise.
And one note to singles here. Remember that singleness is not a negative. Instead, it's a designated status from God. In order for this stage of your life to be fully leveraged for the sake of the kingdom, you as a single can single mindedly follow Jesus without having to consult anyone else. You have the most flexibility to allocate your time, energy, and money with complete freedom.
So go for it. Maximize it. I know sometimes it can feel intimidating, but I want to encourage you to be bold in creating, organizing and hosting fellowship opportunities. There are joys and connections waiting to be experienced through your bold hospitality and your willingness to engage in fresh ways.
Maybe you're a parent with young kids, and if you are, you might be thinking, I can't devote myself to too much fellowship with other disciples because I have so much family responsibility at home. Just so you know, this is something that I take very seriously. I would never call someone to sacrifice their family on the altar of discipleship. That's because God would never ask any of you to do that. And that's because God has actually designed family as one of the means of fellowship and discipleship.
But that doesn't mean we have to shut down meaningful fellowship opportunities just because we have relational responsibilities at home. The bigger your family is, the more challenging it is to devote yourself to fellowship. It only gets harder with each successive kid that's added to the mix. It gets harder because with each new kid, you have another life to consider when weighing out the implications of the decisions you make each hour, day, week, month and year. The time you devote to fellowship has to take into account not only your spouse if you're married, but it has to take your kids into account too.
And that's challenging. Hard, but not impossible. It will involve planning some things when the kids are in school, that is, if they're not homeschooled. It will involve being tired more often than you would like to be, and it will involve saying no to doing some things at church during certain seasons in your life. I get that.
But don't forget these things if you're a parent, you're not just raising kids to be fully functioning adults in this world when they grow up. If you are a Christian parent, you are discipling your kids, raising them to be followers of Jesus. You are their parent, but you are also their number one teacher in the Lord for all of their formative years. That is no small task. But also keep in mind that although you are discipling your kids, you also need meaningful time spent in fellowship with other, more mature disciples.
The primary discipleship you receive can't come from a six year old. It can, I guess, but it's not going to turn out the best for you. You can't just pour into your marriage and kids without having someone pour into you at the same. Time. That is a recipe for spiritual burnout.
I hope your spouse is pouring into you and you into them, but you need more than that. You need the church. Family is a blessing from the Lord. They are not a ball and chain preventing you from fellowship and discipleship. In God's wise design, he has made it impossible for anyone to say, I could do so much for Jesus if it wasn't for my family holding me back.
You can still devote yourself to some fellowship, some that will involve your entire family and some that won't. And as your family watches you over the years, do you know what they're going to see? A mom or dad that loves Jesus, that loves them, and that loves other disciples of Jesus too. They will see that, and what they see will impact them. Pushback number three our work status.
You may be thinking, I can't devote time to fellowship because my job is just too demanding. And sometimes work is a valid reason to pull back from ministry, and sometimes it's not.
You do. This is very important. You have to put food on the table for yourself and your family, just like everyone else does. Some jobs have terrible hours. Some jobs take us out of town for long periods of time.
Some jobs are physically demanding. Some jobs are mentally demanding. Some jobs pay well and some jobs don't. Some jobs have security and some don't. And people have to navigate all these things constantly.
I get the struggle and I sympathize. But sometimes work can be plain unhealthy, and sometimes it should change. If work ever keeps you from devoting the time you would like to devote to fellowship in the church, ask yourself these questions do I need to work this much, or do I just want to make more money than I actually need? Do I need to work these specific hours, or do I schedule them knowing that it will get me off the hook from participating in fellowship with the church? Is it possible for me to get a different job that will still provide for my family and give me the time I need to devote myself to fellowship?
Am I a workaholic who derives my identity from how hard I work and how many hours I put in? There will be seasons where you might need to take a step back from extra fellowship opportunities in the church because of work. That is totally understandable. And there will be times where you'll need to take a second look at your relationship with work and how it affects your participation in the life of the church. You will wrestle with both of these for as long as you have a job.
Now, everybody should work hard at whatever job has provided for them in the season of life they are in. But work should never be a reason a Christian would amputate themselves from the body of Christ for extended periods of time. Pushback number four, our health status. You might be thinking, I can't get too involved devoting myself to fellowship in the church because my health won't allow it. Another one I take very seriously.
I never want anyone who deals with debilitating health issues to feel shame that they can't participate in different areas of discipleship as much as they would like to. Oftentimes it's those who physically can't who want to do it the most. How much you can give yourself the things at any given time will depend on many factors your current health situation, doctors orders, and your own discerning what the Lord is calling you to and what he's not calling you to. Cut this away, though. If you are someone who struggles with physical or mental health ailments that prohibit you from doing as much as you would otherwise like to do, the church will bend over backwards to work with you, and we will work around any health challenges as best as we can.
There's a story in the Bible that I love. When the four friends brought the paralytic to Jesus, there was no stopping them. They were going to do whatever it took to get their friend where he needed to be right at the feet of Jesus. And we will do the same for you in church. That means if we need to change locations of certain meetings, we will.
If we can alter start and finish times to certain meetings to accommodate, we will. If you need permission to leave part ways through a group or even part ways through a semester, or not show up on certain days, you have that permission, too. Do you get the idea, though? Your health struggles do not have to stop you all of the time. No one will ever force you to do more than what you're able to do or what the Lord is asking you to do.
But we will work hard to make sure that you are able to participate in as much as you desire. Pushback number five, our hobbies. You might be thinking, I'd really love to devote more time, more of my time to fellowship in the church, but I can't because I have skiing lessons or boating every weekend, or I have to go to the gun range with my friends or fill in the blank. I tried to imagine a scenario in the early church where a disciple was not participating in fellowship because of a hobby. This is the hypothetical scene that came to my mind.
Hey, Bob, you coming over to the temple court today? Andrew is going to be teaching us. It's going to be awesome. And then we're going over to Jeremiah's place after for dinner and communion and prayer. You come in or what?
Hey, Jim. Sorry, man, I can't. Why not? Bob. Jim, you're not going to believe this.
I know a guy who's friends with a Roman who has his very own chariot, and he's offering to let me learn how to ride it for free. I can't pass this up. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. So now I have chariot practice Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That means I can't come to fellowship on those days.
Can you imagine something like that happening in Acts, too, with the stuff that was going on in the church in Acts Two? Now, if you know me, you know that I'm not a no fun guy. I have fun all the time. Like, real fun.
I don't know.
I don't want to brag, but I probably have more fun than most people.
But the majority that wasn't the punchline.
But the majority of the time but the majority of the fun I have is enjoyed organically in the context of trying to make disciples like I'm having right now. I'm having a lot of fun right now. Trust me. Some of the deepest laughs, the most profound joy I experience happens in the context of different groups we have in the church throughout the week. Is real fellowship hard?
Sure it is. But is it fun? It most definitely can be. I know this because I experience it, like, all the time, every day, every moment of my wacky life. I'm having fun.
Of course not. But most times. I'm not against hobbies. I'm only against them if they take you away from meaningful time spent in fellowship with other believers. I'm only against hobbies if they make you say no to the things Jesus is asking you to do.
So those are some of the pushbacks I presume fill some of your minds when you hear me talking about spending meaningful time with other disciples and fellowship. Now, do you know what we need more than anything in a discussion like this? Grace. We need so much grace. Grace for everyone in every direction.
Every disciple in the church today is in a personal and unique season in their life, and no two lives look exactly the same. That's why we need so much grace when we talk about devoting ourselves to fellowship. I need so much grace from the church, and I need it constantly because I'm always wrestling with what's too much to ask of people and what's too little. I don't want to raise the bar of expectation for fellowship so high for people that they are crushed under the weight of it. I pray I never do that to anyone in the church, ever.
But on the other hand, I don't want to lower the bar of expectation so low that no one is ever challenged in their growth as a disciple, it's okay to be pressed and uncomfortable at times so you can see the wrestle that I'm challenged with. So I need grace from you because I am sure to make mistakes in this area, and I need to show you grace, too. So much grace. You need grace to make mistakes when you're trying to do too much. And you need grace when you're trying to do too little.
Grace. Grace and more grace. Grace for everyone in every direction. So what does fellowship look like here at Gospel City Church? Like Gospel City, we aim to create opportunities for various kinds of fellowship, and we make those opportunities available for anyone who wants to take advantage of them.
Wherever a person is at on their discipleship journey with Jesus, we have things in place for you to give yourselves to. I put the fall ministry schedule on your outline so that you can see the different kinds of fellowship opportunities we have here in Gospel City and the days and times that they take place. This schedule doesn't include the random or the planned or the organic. Get togethers with others for Bible study and prayer and food and fellowship that takes place throughout the week. I love to hear when you guys meet up together on your own for those things that's so good.
Nobody is going to coerce you or mandate that you do anything. When it comes to voting yourself to fellowship in the church, you are totally free to give as much or as little time to fellowship as you want. Over time, Jeff and I may have a conversation with you about it. We may encourage some things or hope some things for you, but at the end of the day, you have to be comfortable with what you believe the Lord is calling you to give. In terms of time devoted to fellowship, in our text it says they devoted themselves.
That means no one devoted them to anything against their wills. They devoted themselves to the things they wanted to give themselves freely to. So we can see they devoted themselves to fellowship. And if we keep going in verse 42, we see what else they devoted themselves to. And if you're looking at the time like I am, don't worry, we're going to breeze through the whole rest of the next part of the message.
Verse 42, they devoted themselves to the breaking of the bread. Is this breaking of bread referring to a normal meal or communion or both? In the beginning of the church, the common meal and communion were done together. If you think back to the way that Jesus enjoyed the Passover meal with his disciples, they ate together and at that meal he instituted communion. The church in Acts Two to communion every day as a part of their dinner.
Over time, though, the church designated Sunday as the day that they observed communion. And that time observing communion was set apart so that they could remember Jesus. I want you to write this down on your outline. Discipleship requires devotion to remembering Jesus by taking communion together.
Why does discipleship require this? Communion doesn't seem like that big of a deal to a lot of people today, and that's part of the problem. It's a huge deal. We give ourselves to observing communion first because Jesus told us to listen to this scene. Luke, chapter 22, verse 19 to 20.
At the Last Supper it says And He, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to them and said, this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, he also took the cup after supper and said this cup is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you. That's a simple answer as to why Christians take communion. We do it because Jesus said to do it.
But there's a reason he tells us to do it. There's always a reason Jesus tells us to do something. Do you know why Jesus tells us to remember Him? Because we forget about Him all the time when we come together for church on Sunday and we take communion together at the end of the service. We are doing this after a week of being bombarded by the messaging of this world that aims to take our mind off Christ.
The world has been constantly attempting to mould us into its image all week long. We are prone to forgetting God, forgetting his love for us, forgetting the value that we have in his eyes. Then when we take Communion on Sunday, we stop. We remember God loves us. The bread is a symbol to help us remember that the God of Heaven took on a human body so that he could live for us and then die for us.
The cup is a symbol to help us remember that the God who took on flesh let Himself be tortured and killed on a cross, pouring out his blood as the payment that secured the forgiveness of our sins. And Jesus told us to use these symbols to help us remember Him and what he's done for us. We always forget how much God loves us. If we remembered this truth more than we do, we would be less prone to worry and fear and sorrow in this life. If we remembered more often how much God loves us, we would be more satisfied, more free, more willing to take risks for Him, more willing to lay down our lives for others.
So we devote ourselves to remembering Jesus in Communion because Jesus told us to. And we devote ourselves to remembering Him because it is devastating for our life if we go any length of time forgetting how much he loves us. We don't take communion with a meal the way the early church did. I'm not opposed to ever doing it that way. But as it stands, we make time every week for disciples to take communion together at church on Sundays.
It's one of the practices we need to devote ourselves to if we're going to make disciples. This brings us to the last item on the list of things that the disciples devoted themselves to. And verse 42. They devoted themselves to prayer write this down. Discipleship requires devotion to praying with other disciples.
Discipleship requires devotion to praying with other disciples. We have a clue as to the corporate nature of prayer when we consider how Jesus taught his disciples to pray in what we call the Lord's Prayer. Listen carefully to the language Jesus uses when he teaches us how to pray halfway through the Lord's Prayer, we would read this Matthew 630 in verse eleven give us our daily bread and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors and do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. This is a model for communal prayer, not for individual prayer. Jesus prayed with his disciples while they were with him.
The early church throughout the Book of Acts devoted themselves to praying with each other and disciples need to devote themselves to praying together. Today we have to pray together. Should you spend time praying alone? Yes. Jesus often went alone by himself to pray.
But you should view your private prayer time the same way you should view your private Bible study time. Both are important aspects of your discipleship, but both should also be done in the context of other disciples, too. If a Christian is to grow in their discipleship, they must spend time praying with other Christians. We need to devote ourselves to it, like the disciples in the early church did. Cheap plug time.
We meet together as a church every second Friday at 07:00 p.m.. To pray together is some of the sweetest time in my life. Some of the funnest time, of course, too, because I'm there having so much fun. But we would love to have you join us for that sometime if you're able. So phase two of discipleship requires devotion to the Bible, devotion to meaningful time spent with other our fellow disciples, devotion to remembering Jesus in communion, and devotion to prayer together.
Now, does this idea of this kind of life excite you, inspire you, challenge you, scare you, overwhelm you, or a mix of all of the above? Do you want this kind of experience in church? What do you think it would be like if we all grew in our devotion to these things? Well, I think I can tell you what it would be like. Our text tells us what it was like.
It was awesome. Literally. And I know we throw the word awesome around a lot, but the early church was awesome. Read in verse 43 everyone was filled with awe and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. So write this down discipleship is awesome.
It's awesome. Note what the awe in verse 43 is connected to. The awe isn't connected to the signs and wonders being done by the apostles. It says Everyone was filled with awe and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. The awe is connected to what was happening in the church.
In verse 42. Everyone was filled with awe when they saw how the church lived. True discipleship produced awe in those who witnessed it. Word of God washing over people every day, renewing them and transforming them spiritually. A people loving each other in a radical way every day.
Love that was empowered by the spirit of God and directed by the word of God. A people that continued to visibly display the gospel message of Jesus. All of them were baptized publicly identifying themselves with Jesus and showing the world a picture of his death and resurrection when they were buried in the waters of baptism and then resurrected to new life when they came out of the water. And that was done in Jesus name. But baptism was a one time display.
The early church continued to display Christ in their observance of communion. The bread and the cop testifying to the body and blood of Jesus and the people saw that every day. And every day the church praised God and let the requests be made known to Him. And God continued to pour out his grace on his people as they met to pray. Do you know why people responded in awe to the early church?
Because discipleship in the early church was awesome.
I'm going to begin to wrap up and I'm going to invite the worship team up. Verse 47 says this every day the Lord added to their number those who are being saved. At the end of our passage we come full circle in the disciple making process. God added the first wave of new disciples to the church. Back in verse 41.
Those new disciples were disciples in verses 42 to 46. Then God added more new disciples to the church. In verse 47 god saves people and the moment they are saved they are his disciples. Then as his disciples they grow in their discipleship and then they are used to make new disciples. And the cycle has continued for the past 2000 years.
Phase one and phase two of disciple making. And this cycle will continue until there's no more time left for people to believe in Jesus. May God make gospel city church. A church where disciples for Jesus are made. Amen.
Amen. Let's pray together with Jesus. We worship you for the way you love us. We worship, worship you for what you did. What symbolized in the bread and the cup?
Jesus, there would be no church without your sacrifice. There would be no pouring out of the Holy Spirit unless you came. There would be no history of the early church written in Acts Two for us. None of it would have happened unless you came and poured out your love for us. The cry My heart Lord is that every single person here who hears this message will recognize and realize that disciples making disciples is terribly hard work.
But the sole point of it is not duty is not to wear ourselves into the ground and the point of discipleship is not even primarily obedience to you. The whole point of making disciples is bound up in love. Love. The love of God that came for us and died for us and rose for us. The love of God that saved us and forgive our sins and poured the Holy Spirit in us.
That love in us makes us want to worship you, Jesus. That love in us makes us want to obey you. We don't obey you to get your love, Lord. We obey you because your love has been perfectly poured into our lives and you'll never take it from us. When you say make disciples, Jesus, we want to do that and honor you because we love you.
We want to make disciples, Jesus, because people in this world don't have the love of God in their life. And the whole point of leading them to you is so that they could be filled with heavenly love. And then when they get the love, they become our brother or sister. And now we want to spend the rest of our life loving them in the truth, discipling them. So Lord, if we leave here with anything, let it be this.
Making disciples is all about loving you, loving the lost, and loving each other, all because you first loved us. Fear that into our hearts. Lord, we pray and make us an awesome church. Make Gospel City an awesome church. Make us a church that leverages everything in our lives to make disciples.
For your name. Do that. Jesus. For your glory and for our joy, we pray. Amen.