“And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.” Acts 4:43
Twenty-seven years ago a 15 year old boy whose only religious experience came from his Sicilian Catholic upbringing was invited with his family to a Pentecostal church. My upbringing as a Catholic helped paved the way for me to understand that there is a God who loves me but I was not prepared for what I was about to experience.
At the end of worship, a dear old saint by the name of Sister Conlee began to “speak in tongues”. As everyone became quietly reverent, I became very curious. I covertly turned my head and partially opened one eye to get a glimpse at what was going on. Although the experience was foreign to me there was something about that moment as I could sense what I later came to know as the presence of God.
That moment changed my life forever! Twenty-seven years later I continue to grow in my relationship with God and have been serving as a Pastor for the last 17 years. I am more optimistic today about the ability of the church to transform our culture and society than ever before.
In Acts 2 Luke writes about the events surrounding the inception of the church. There were four notable practices that caused believers and unbelievers alike to be in “AWE”. That word awe means “awe struck or jaw-dropping.” It’s not just “ahhh- that was nice” but AWESOME! Only the Holy Spirit can make the church awesome.
The church is not a building but a group of imperfect people united by their faith in Jesus Christ who are being transformed into a new creation. The church is a divinely empowered group of people where God shows up and shows-off. He loves to do the impossible through the improbable. The church does not need better ideas. The church needs action. If we will avail ourselves to God, He will do the impossible through us.
Acts 2 gives us a model not a blueprint for church structure, affording us creative license to apply these principals in our culture.
Four Practices of the Church
#1 They were devoted to the Apostles teaching.
The word devotion means “to continue to do something with intense effort, despite difficulty.” There is no devotion without resistance. Resistance rises where devotion resides. If resistance causes you to quit then your motivation needs to be corrected. God isn’t looking for perfect people, He is looking for devoted people. Devotion is a required attribute because the journey will be challenging. The church gathered regularly to increase their knowledge and application of faith.
“Faith comes by hearing and hearing the words of Christ,” Romans 10:17
“Without faith it is impossible to please God,” Hebrews 11:6
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God,” Matthew 4:4
Faith is necessary for spiritual development but also for the manifestation of the supernatural.
#2 They devoted themselves to fellowship.
The Greek word for “fellowship” is “Koinonia.” Its basic meaning is association, fellowship, close relationship. The early church came together outside of regular “church meetings”.
Developing friendships was just as important as developing their relationship with God. Without intentional relationship building we can be a nice church but not a friendly church. A nice church doesn’t leave people with a sense of “awe”, a friendly church does.
#3 The “broke bread” together.
This continues along the theme of fellowship. It refers to coming together to eat. It also refers to the sacrament of communion. The metaphor “breaking bread” was a symbol of communion. The idea is about keeping Christ at the center of our life, church and fellowship.
#4 They prayed together.
- Communicating with God.
- An expression of faith.
- Serving others through intercession.
- Unifies the body of Christ.
Prayer is the means by which;
- The kingdom of Heaven is established on earth.
- God works in us and through us.
- The will of God is fleshed out.
- Opposition in the spiritual realm is defeated.
As the early church devoted themselves to these four practices, Acts 2:42-47 says they were the benefactors of significant and supernatural results.
- Many signs and wonders, v.43.
- They were unified, v.44.
- They were filled with generosity, v.45.
- They experienced favor with all people, v.47.
- The Lord added to their number day by day, v.47.
Let’s be an authentic church that causes the world around us to be in “awe” of our God!