– by Mantle A. Nance –
In Acts 2:42, Luke provides a summary of the ways believers in the early church grew as disciples. He writes, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” According to Luke, these Christians devoted themselves to four basic means by which they were
First, Luke tells us that the early disciples devoted themselves to “the apostles’ teaching.” We should note that Luke chooses to characterize their activity in terms of devotion. In other words, they made the hearing and the study of the truth as it is revealed in Jesus Christ a priority—a regular, nonnegotiable part of their lives. Still today, most ministers will tell you that those who do this are those who, more often than not, lead the most vibrant and fruitful Christian lives. Those who faithfully attend the public teaching of the Word with a genuine hunger for it are disciples who make disciples. When the Word is preached faithfully, boldly, and winsomely in the power of the Spirit, these disciples are equipped to be faithful, bold, and winsome influencers for Christ in every sphere of their lives.
Luke also speaks of the early disciples’ devotion to “the fellowship.” Our triune God is the God of eternal fellowship, and we, as those made in His image, were made for fellowship with Him and with one another. Our lives are deficient without genuine fellowship with others, especially with others who share our love for Christ. As we proactively encourage one another, the body of Christ is built up spiritually and, very often, numerically. When we are known by our love for one another, those who have not yet tasted and seen that the Lord is good often become curious and open to hear more about the Jesus who is at the center of all our fellowship, and, by the grace of God, become genuine partakers of that fellowship as well. Let us follow in the footsteps of the early church and avail ourselves of these ordinary means of grace.Share
Third, Luke tells us that the early church was devoted to “the breaking of bread.” This likely refers to their observance of the Lord’s Supper, which they observed, along with baptism (see Acts 2:41), according to Christ’s instruction. In sensory ways, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper communicate the Father’s adopting love,