Tom: In this, our Understanding the Scriptures segment, we are going through the Book of Acts, and, Dave, I think every once in a while we ought to encourage people, and I hope they are encouraged by what they hear in the program, Search the Scriptures Daily. We want them to search the Scriptures daily; we want to encourage them to read God’s Word. We have the privilege of going through it verse by verse, but hopefully we have people out there who listen to what we say but then they check us out to see how we are interpreting the Scripture, that we are handling it correctly, that we are doing it in a way that is pleasing to the Lord and it’s edifying. But they need to, not just buy what we say, Dave, without checking it out for themselves—spending time in God’s Word, that’s our great encouragement here.
Tom: We are in Acts:2:46: “And they (that is, those who came to Christ), continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Interesting language there, Dave, especially the last phrase, but what about “continuing daily in one accord in the temple.”
Dave: They are not inside the Temple, of course, where only the priests can go, and they are not in the priest’s court, but the Temple was a gathering place for Jews, and so they are gathering there and gathering there to praise God, to preach His word. They didn’t have a church building, and, furthermore, they haven’t sold all of their houses—we commented on that last week, verse 45, they sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men. And later on it says, “As many as had lands and houses sold them,” we noticed that that meant, extra ones, investments, and so forth. But they obviously still kept their houses, because they had a prayer meeting in Mark’s mother’s house, and here it is they are breaking bread from house to house.
Now, two ways, I guess, you could look at that. I haven’t looked this up in a concordance and I haven’t tried to seek it out in the original Greek, but “breaking bread”—that’s a term for the communion service, and that would be, certainly, what it is talking about in verse 42: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” I think, unquestionably, it’s talking about coming together to take the bread and the cup in remembrance of Christ as He has asked them to do.
Well, these people are a very close fellowship—“Hey, come on over, we’ll have lunch together,” you know, or maybe more than just a few. They are getting together in their homes—they are rejoicing [that] Christ is alive, He rose from the dead. They are a testimony of the transforming power of Christ by their lives. So they are in close communion and fellowship with one another, so they visit one another in their homes. “They did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” I don’t think that means they are having big feasts—instead of prayer and fasting, they are having fun and feasting, like you have in some churches—but they are rejoicing in the Lord. In the Old Testament times, the Jewish people were supposed to rejoice over the harvest God gave them. He did give us appetites, He did give us taste buds, and so we thank God for our food. That’s one way you tell a Christian, you know. If I’m on an airplane, and I see somebody—when the food comes around and they bow their head and they pray, or it’s a student in school in the cafeteria and you see somebody bowing to pray, to give thanks for the food—well, they may not be a Christian, but probably they are, or they wouldn’t be doing this in public. In a restaurant, you see someone at another table and they are praying to give God thanks, that’s a pretty good indication they have a grateful heart to the Lord, they know the Lord.
And so this is what we see a demonstration of: “They did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” One of the things that I— well, I couldn’t say that I always do, but I very seldom would forget, when I thank God for the food at a meal, I thank Him for the health and strength to partake of it. “Lord, that you would give me the appetite, that you would give me the strength to enjoy this good food that you have given us.” So, there is legitimacy to thanking God for good food, and eating good food.
On the other hand, the Bible condemns gluttony and that began to happen in the Corinthian church, as we read of that later.
“Praising God,” Tom, I want to be praising God—the Scripture says—in everything, at all times, just praise God, thanking Him for His mercy and His love. Now, we’ve got some peculiar statements—“having favor with all the people.” That’s not going to last long. Jesus warned, “They will put you out of the synagogue; they are going to hate you for my sake.” But at the moment, this is a growing movement, and thousands of Jews in Jerusalem are coming to Christ. The Rabbis yet have not opposed this—they don’t know what to do with this.
Tom: But their lives have been transformed, and that has to bear fruit, and people have to recognize it, that is, before it brings conviction—that’s where the trouble comes in. But certainly, I’m sure they were a blessing to others right there.
Dave: Later on, it says, “No one dared to join himself to them, and fear came upon everyone.” But it’s honestly reporting what happened. This is right after the day of Pentecost, “and the Lord added to the church daily, such as it should be saved.” I think that’s awkward old King James: “should be saved”? Well, everybody should be saved if you want to take that meaning for it. I guess someone could go to the original Greek and seek out the exact meaning, and so forth. I don’t think it means the Lord added to the church daily those that He had predestined to salvation. I think it simply means those who are being saved, those who realize their need of salvation and are opening their hearts to Christ. He is adding them to the church. Now that’s interesting, Tom, and again, we don’t want to offend people out there, but the only adding, the only belonging, that I read of to a church in the Bible is the Lord does it. If you are a true believer in Christ, you have been placed into the body of Christ, 1 Corinthians 12: “We are all baptized by one Spirit into one body.” It’s not talking about being filled with the Holy Spirit— it’s the Spirit who puts us into the church.
So, the true church consists of every true believer, no matter where they are, no matter what denomination they may adhere to at the moment. It certainly is not talking about signing, you know, a membership list in a particular denomination, although that has been added along the way and that is the practice in many churches. But that’s not what it is talking about. Here God, and when it says “the Lord,” it’s really talking about Jesus Christ because Jesus is the one who in Matthew 16 said, “On this rock [that is, the confession of faith in Him] I will build my church.” What is happening? These people are confessing Christ as Lord—they have come to faith in Christ and He is putting them in His church, He is building His church. Peter says, “We are living stones, built up to the habitation of God through the Spirit.” So, this is what was happening at the very beginning. Then, of course, things began to deteriorate and we see that in the Book of Acts.
Tom: Dave, it seems inevitable that once things begin, as Paul writes in the Book of Galatians, that having begun in the Spirit, something happens after that, that the men get in there and—well, we’ll talk about that next week.