Rather than describe the birth of an institution, Acts 2 is about the birth of a movement. The four characteristics we’ll explore over the next four weeks are vital to any church becoming a healthy, thriving church. Each of these characteristics also have an individual growth component, as the church is comprised of individuals.
What we find in Acts 2 is that the church begins not with a strategy session but with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus had promised them they would not be left as orphans (John 14:18) and that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 1:8). For many Christians, the Holy Spirit is the anonymous third wheel of the Trinity. For the early church, it was the Holy Spirit that powered their movement and expansion.
While multiple apostles spoke in tongues on Pentecost, it is Peter’s sermon that gets recorded. His sermon only has one real point: “You put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death” (Acts 2:23-24).
The result? “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:36). It is this gospel-centered emphasis which informs and inspires the early church and still informs and inspires churches today.
Near the end of Peter’s sermon he is asked a very important question: “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).
Peter’s answer is straight-forward: you must be transformed. But this transformation is not something that we manufacture on our own; it is the result of God’s redeeming love.
By the end of Acts 2, this new church has 3,000 new believers. In a short summary, Luke describes what life was like for them: devotion, fellowship, and prayer were at the heart of this new community. Because they were tuned into God, they cared for each other.
This new kind of community had a magnetic appeal: “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
It’s my prayer that churches everywhere will become Acts 2 kind of churches.
N.T. Wright has an excellent little book on Acts. Acts – N.T. Wright for Everyone Bible Study Guides