Acts chapter 2 is the story about the coming of the Holy Spirit commonly known as Pentecost. It is an event that was marked by strange events such as; tongues of fire, speakers speaking in different tongues yet understanding what was being said by other speakers in their own tongues. The event was strange and confusing prompting accusation of drunkenness on the part of the speakers by onlookers. These accusations prompted along speech from Peter as he tried to explain the strange occurrences. The author of Acts says that, with many other words Peter warned his audience and pleaded with them saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” The author then concludes, “Those who believed what Peter said, were baptized and added to the church-about three thousand in all” (Acts 2:40 TNIV).
What an experience! What a sermon! As the Holy Spirit descended on this community in a fresh way, it grew from 120 people previously recoded to a record 3,120 what a church growth strategy! My response to all this is a simple wow! As the Holy Spirit took charge of the community, the community was transformed and empowered to become an authentic Christian community that ministered to others. It became a community that continually experienced the Lord’s hand at work, God’s Spirit continued to shape and act in powerful ways. It is no wonder that the author reports, “And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47). This christian community experienced this phenomenal growth as a result of the overwhelming visitation by the Holy Sprit but also by the community taking seriously their new identity and mission.
As I read this text again I asked, “if we worship the same God, proclaim the same Lord and the same Holy Spirit because God is the same yesterday, today and forever more (Heb. 13:8), how come we do not have the same experiences”? But even more importantly I asked myself, “is such an experience possible”? I believe the answer is a resounding “Yes”! and if this is true, then let us imagine what Capital Christian Fellowship could look like if we were living in this Spirit filled environment? What kind of impact would we have in our community and around the world as we become an authentic community of disciples? I do not need to imagine this because here at CCF I see glimpses of such a community as we strive to become an authentic community of believers. We have not arrived yet and we are not perfect and we never will be perfect before the Lord returns but I have seen glimpses of the Acts 2 Community of disciples here as we see people being transformed and those of us who are being transformed are in turn reaching out through the power of the Holy Spirit to transform and hold hope for each other in the midst of life’s sometimes-cruel realities.
I believe that the church in Acts 2 was not a perfect church by any stretch of imagination and if you doubt, just read a little further and you will find complains of favoritism, prejudice and the resultant church leadership structure that came about in Acts 6. But in spite of their imperfection, we see what happens when the Holy Spirit makes a special visitation. The community grew from 120 members to about 3,120 in one event. I wonder what the baptismal experience might have been! We talk of plans, who might have planned for that? And even more crucial, how did they actually conduct it? I would have liked to be there to see for myself as 3000 people got baptized! When God shows up, our plans go out of the window! Now, this does not mean we don’t plan, planning is good and I believe you all are glad that we plan our services but we must always be open for the interruption by the Spirit of God because lest we forget, we are really not in charge if we claim Jesus to be Lord.
We believe that the Lord is firmly in charge and we must continue to trust him and give our lives to him. As the bible says, when Jesus is lifted up, he draws people to himself (John 13:12). Our church is not a perfect church and if anybody told you that we are, I hate to break this news to you! we are not! But having said that let me also say that we are a community of imperfect believers who continue to strive through the guidance and the power of the Holy Spirit to live out our Christian calling. Our individual life stories provide glimpses of hope of a community that seeks to be formed and transformed in order to be a transforming community. Looking at Peter’s address in Acts 2, we see him calling this community not simply a to private individual salvation experience, but also to a new allegiance and to a new transformed community. When you accept Jesus Christ as Lord, you also accept the new community of Jesus’ followers that community is the church and for us here today that church is CCF.
In Acts 2:47; we are told that the church had the good will of all the people. The church was respected and esteemed. The Pentecost event had a profound effect on the community. This formerly timid community that clamed allegiance to an alleged rebel who had been crucified now found new life as they became a spirit-filled body of believers.
Luke describes their life together thus,,
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Observations from the Acts 2 Church:
. They became Students of scripture taught by the apostles:
They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching. There are people who have argued that all we need is the Holy Spirit, nothing else. The experience of this church rejects that position. These people had experienced an overwhelming visitation by the Holy Spirit but they still devoted themselves to the teaching of the word. I would like to remind and encourage us to commit ourselves not only to the reading of the Bible but also to the teaching done in our bible study classes on Wednesdays and other settings, which rightly divide the word for us.
As followers of Jesus we must devote ourselves to the entire life of Jesus; his teachings, death, resurrection and living in the hope that he will come again to complete the work of redemption that he already began when he walked the face of this earth over 2000 years ago. We should note, however that even the apostles still had a lot of learning to do. It is apparent from Acts 10 and 11 that Peter did not quite understand that God had set aside the old Jewish food laws (as per Mark 7:19). They had not yet grasped that the church would be composed of Jewish and Gentile believers, now “one new man” (Ephesians 2-3). The issue of circumcision and law keeping for Gentiles was to be tackled in chapter 15 (the Jerusalem Council). Many points of theology were yet to be defined and refined in the centuries to come. But, the Spirit of God leads God’s people to submit to the word of God.
. They became a worshiping church Breaking Bread together:
Their caring was not only expressed in fellowship but also in worship together. They ate meals both in their homes and in the temple courts. Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts (Acts 20:46). The sharing of a meal was perhaps the most intimate form of fellowship one could have with fellow believers.
I remember personally how I was ministered to when we had our first-born son Barak. We had no idea what we were doing and no parents around us to ask questions or to lean on for support, it was this community that reached out to us and shared with us in meals, in stories of encouragement and affirmed us as we adjusted to living in a new reality either of us had ever realized. It was this community that embodied for me love and hope when my sister passed away suddenly from childbirth. You gathered around me literally and laid hands on me and prayed for peace, bought me a ticket to fly home to Kenya and collected funds to help take care of the funeral expenses and also provided community and support for Jessica and Barak while I was gone form two weeks. It is this community that I have seen gather around people who have likewise lost loved ones.
. They became an Evangelizing Community:
The activity was not all concentrated inwardly. They were not only studying for themselves, worshiping alone and fellowshipping with each other, they apparently were reaching out to their neighbors as well. The Holy Spirit is a missionary Spirit and created a missionary church. The Lord added to their number through the preaching of the apostles, through the love that was shared in the community and the joy and the praise of God, which was perhaps contagious.
. They became a loving church (Fellowship, koinonia):
“Fellowship” means, “joint participation,” communion or “sharing in common.” It is a kind of partnership. The most common expression of “fellowship” in the New Testament is that of sharing financial resources:
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality
Contributing to the needs of the saints; pursue hospitality (Romans 12:13).
Paul uses this word to describe the generosity of the Macedonian church;
And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people.” (2 cor. 8:1-4). Note, the apostle’s words here, “they gave beyond their ability.” What an inspiration!
In Acts 4 we read,
For there was no one needy among them, because those who were owners of land or houses were selling them and bringing the proceeds from the sales and placing them at the apostles’ feet. The proceeds were distributed to each, as anyone had need. So Joseph, a Levite who was a native of Cyprus, called by the apostles Barnabas (which is translated “son of encouragement”), sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and placed it at the apostles’ feet (Acts 4:34-37).
Even though we each need to discern what we ought to give, we are all called to live generously especially towards the poor and needy. John challenges us thus, “if we have material possessions and see a brother or sister in need, but do not share what we have with him or her, how can we claim that God’s love dwells in us?” (1 John 3:17).
As a Christian fellowship, we are a caring, and a sharing community of disciples. We have an opportunity this morning to meet the needs of our missionaries in South Africa…(We beamed our missionaries live on the screen via Skype and after hearing them tell us their needs live, the congregation gathered around the T.V Screen which was quite a scene and a reminder of the age in which we live and its incredible opportunities and we participated in a collection that went towards their need. Our community today lived out our name in a practical way.)