The church in Acts is dynamic, it has life. “Apostle” means “one who is sent”. God sent His Son Jesus to this earth to save human, but Jesus Christ sent His disciples (apostles). When the Lord Jesus, who defeated death and rose again, appeared to his disciples, he said to them, ” As the Father has sent me, so I send you ” (John 20:21). We too are sent into this world by Jesus.
The church in Acts 2 is the Jerusalem Church. This is the first church in the world, born of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) promised by Jesus.
41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.The Fellowship of the Believer.42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 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, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:41-47)
Let’s take a look at 10 features found in the Jerusalem Church.
① They adhered to the teachings of the apostles .
The teaching of the apostles is the teaching of Jesus Christ. Peter and others received teaching from the Lord Jesus and passed on that teaching to the people of the Jerusalem church. And some of them are recorded in the Bible. It means to protect, practice, and carry out the teachings.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave the parable of two houses (Matthew 7:24-27). A house built on sand and a house built on rock. It may look the same. Normally there will be no problem. However, there comes a time in life when the true value is questioned. Difficulties and trials of storms and floods will come. The foundation of the house is usually invisible. So it may look like a fine house, a fine life. But it is when the flood comes (when the tribulation comes) that the person’s true form appears.
Listening to the words of the Bible is very important. Faith begins there. Faith is given and strengthened by hearing the Word of God. If we don’t listen to God’s Word, if we don’t read it, we will naturally walk in unbelief. Because we will rely on what we can see. Jesus taught that hearing the Word of God is not enough. He said that those who hold fast to the Word and carry it out will build their house (life) on the rock. It means making Jesus Christ the foundation of our life. Relying on others is like building our life on sand. If we build our life on sand, it’s fragile and will crumble very quickly. But if we build our house (life) on the rock (Jesus Christ, Word of God), we will be strong and protected in the Lord. It is important for each of us to become a disciple of Jesus. What is the evidence of discipleship? It depends on whether we follow the Word or not.
Wolves target sheep that are not flocked, or that are alone. The target of the enemy, the devil, is isolated Christians who do not attend church. What worries me about the corona misfortune is that the number of Christians who do not gather at church is increasing. Our active participation in church gatherings encourages our faith and protects us from demonic attacks.
③ Bread breaking (Holy Communion)
The grape juice represents the blood Jesus shed on the cross, and the bread represents the torn body of Jesus. Those who repented of their sins, were baptized (water baptism), and believed in Jesus were taking part in the sacrament. The cross is central of our faith. Because there is no other way in this world than the cross of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, the way to heaven, the way to eternal life.
Prayer gives the filling of the Holy Spirit. After Jesus ascended into heaven, the apostles believed in Jesus’ promise (soon you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit) and had a prayer meeting. After ten days of prayer, they experienced Pentecost (the outpouring of the Holy Spirit).
A church is called a “house of prayer”. Prayer transcends space. Of course, I don’t think there is anything better than actually going there, but there is great power in praying in the name of Jesus, praying by faith. Let us intercede for the nations of the world.
⑤ Mysterious signs (including healing)
Acts chapter 3 tells of a man who was born lame and was healed. When Peter proclaimed, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk ” (v. 6), the man’s feet were healed, his ankles were strengthened, and he began to walk, jumping for joy to God. (verse 8). This kind of work was taking place in the Jerusalem church. Let’s pray that this kind of work will happen in Japan as well.
⑥ Distribution to everyone
The disciples gave everything they had to the Lord Jesus and the church. The important thing here is that it was voluntary. It’s not coercion, it’s not communism. However, the Bible commands us Christians to give a tenth of our income, so we should respond, but we are free to do so.
There is a problem of poverty all over the world, including Japan. For this reason, there are churches in Japan that serve as children’s cafeterias, and there are churches that serve as orphanages around the world.
⑦ unite one heart
In the Philippian church, two sisters fell out, but the apostle Paul urged them to be united in the Lord. By believing in the cross and resurrection of Jesus and the diverse works of the Holy Spirit in modern times, we can be united in the Lord in preaching the gospel and in the ministry of the church.
⑧ Gather at the church
The church is called “the temple of God”. We gather in church to praise and worship God. We seek the presence of the Holy Spirit so that we can experience an encounter with God in our worship. We would like to pursue Jesus Christ like the Apostle Paul.
⑨enjoying the favor of all the people
We can’t bend the gospel, but we can’t be humanly extreme, and we can’t be religious. I think it should be normal.
⑩ Salvation of souls
Every day in the early church people were added to the church. This is a powerful church. The church in the Acts of the Apostles had vigor, life, thanksgiving and praise, and joy. Above all, the work of “salvation” took place.
I believe that this kind of church is what Japanese churches are aiming for. The Jerusalem church is our model.