In this section, we can hear the powerful testimony of the very first Christians and learn their practices that resulted in strong believers and a growing church.
I. Peter’s Message and the People’s Response
Acts 2:29-41,“Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. NIV®
A. Three thousand people believed in Jesus that day! What caused so many people to become Christians? It’s worth examining!
1. They were “________ to the ____________” by the Holy Spirit. (2:37)
2. They realized that Jesus had fulfilled Old Testament p_____________ about the Messiah’s death and resurrection. (2:30-31)
3. They heard the disciples’ eyewitness testimony about Jesus’ r_________________. (2:32)
4. They were urged by P _ _ _ _ to repent and accept Jesus as their Savior. (2:38-40) Repentance doesn’t mean that we become good by our own effort and power. Thank goodness! It means that we see our sin and turn to God for the solution. When we receive Jesus into our life, we are forgiven and begin to change through God’s power.
B . The new Christians were b____________ to demonstrate their belief. (2:41) Many Bible verses show that baptism does not make a person a Christian. The thief next to Jesus on the cross was not baptized, but he was promised paradise. John 3:16, Acts 2:21, and Romans 10:9-10 do not mention baptism as a requirement for becoming a Christian. However, Jesus commanded that his followers be baptized, so it is a necessary step in obeying him after a person becomes a Christian.
II. The Early Church
Acts 2:42-43, 42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. NIV®
A. Here we find four practices that enable Christians to grow in their relationship with God and other believers.
1. The new Christians devoted themselves to the apostles’ __________. Today we can do the same by studying the Bible.
2. They devoted themselves to _____________ . In John 17:23, Jesus prayed , 23 “. . . that they [his followers] may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you [God the Father] sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” NIV® We can find good Christian fellowship in Bible-believing churches.
3. They devoted themselves to the breaking of bread.
a. Communion (or the Lord’s Supper), during which a church distributes small pieces of unleavened bread and grape juice or wine, is to remind us of Jesus’ death for us. Luke 22:19, 19And he [Jesus] took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” NIV®
b. It also reminds us to check for sin in our life. I Corinthians 11:28, 28Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. NIV®
c. It is symbolic of having accepted Jesus into our lives as our Savior.
4. Finally, we find that these first Christians devoted themselves to _________. In Matthew 18:19-20, Jesus promised that God listens to united prayer: “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” NIV®
B. The writer Luke goes on to describe how the early church generously shared their possessions and met together each day. The chapter concludes in Acts 2:47 with a description of these first Christians joyfully “praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” NIV®
Scripture quotations marked (NIV®) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. NIV® Copyright © 1973,1978,1984,2011 by Bilica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.