“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)
The passage begins by noting the devotion of those who gathered together. Not only were they intent upon the study of God’s word, the apostles’ teachings, but they were also devoted to each other in fellowship – breaking of bread, prayer, praise, and worship. It was in this context that their fellowship experienced something remarkable to the point that it inspired a sense of fear and reverence. They bore witness to many miracles by the apostles. These were signs that the Kingdom was at hand.
Biblical Fellowship Begins in Sharing In Worship
Just as the Kingdom of God is compelling, our worship should also be compelling. Unbelievers should be drawn to the kingdom through witnessing our worship services. However, Lord’s Day worship can be merely attractional. It‘s possible to love the music, love to serve, love the experience, but to forget what actually binds the church together. The focus of corporate worship should be the intentional sharing of the gospel. In corporate worship, we publicly hold the gospel in common through the preaching of the word, as well as the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Table.
We are not individuals practicing private devotion in public. We are bound together as one people: economically, through sin struggles, through grief and joy, in all situations. It is in this common fellowship that we say with one voice that Jesus is worthy. We are cosmically bound together in an other-worldly fellowship.
Biblical Fellowship Happens on Mission Together
The passage communicates how those who gathered had “all things in common” and actively sacrificed to meet one another’s needs. This grinds against our radical individualism. Is this socialism? Is this unconditional charity? No, this is not a government program; rather, it is the life of the church. The cost of the Kingdom causes us to need one another. Our devotion to the Kingdom may cost us a job or may alienate us from others, and the church is bound together in this cost and sacrifice.
Biblical Fellowship is Sharing Life Together
As the passage continues, we see that this fellowship extends throughout the lives of the believers. Day by day, they gather to eat and worship. In this way, we see that fellowship around meals is a sign of sharing life together. We see a biblical model for mealtime fellowship in both the Lord’s Table and in references to the coming Kingdom, the banquet feast of the Lamb. Families eat together, and the church is a family forever, so we eat a lot.
It is through fellowship that we share the Christ life that we hold in common. It creates in us a “glad and generous heart.” This gives us the joy of thanksgiving and creates contentment with one another. We pursue contentment in a life shared together, with the height of joy being a life shared with Christ. Joy is living before God and others in the gospel, to be forgiven and accepted. It’s because of the gospel that we can share our lives without fear of losing anything, only with the promise of more life to gain.
Biblical Fellowship Is Witness
Fellowship is also crucial to our evangelism. The church should contain a vibrancy and hope that draws others to Christ. Acts reminds us that the Lord “added to their number day by day who were being saved.” The church is a compelling witness to the kingdom.
BFGs at Ashland
We seek to extend the model of fellowship we see of the church as a whole in the book of Acts through our Bible Fellowship Groups (BFGs). The serve as a microcosm of the Kingdom activity that binds us closer together as a church.
Our BFGs worship together by sharing the word we have in common. We respond to and reflect upon the word we have heard preached and push each other to be doers and not hearers only. When we experience the word of God and do not respond, our hearts grow calloused to it. In BFGs we are compelled to life-change and respond because we have accountability in our communities.
Our BFGs provide a target group for the “one another” commands we find in the New Testament. When we love one another, forgive one another, be merciful to one another, and consider one another, the faces of those in our BFGs are the ones who come to mind. As we respond to the word, we have a living, breathing platform for grace, forgiveness, and restoration in our daily lives.
When we aim only for fellowship, we miss both fellowship and mission. When we aim for mission, we get both fellowship and mission in full. A church that aims for mission will have good fellowship. We will call our BFGs to serve together, pray together, and witness together. By being on mission together, they exhibit biblical fellowship.
- Why is corporate worship on Sunday vital to a church’s fellowship? What binds us together in worship every Lord’s Day? How does corporate worship help you feel closer to your church family?
- The early church in Acts shared the cost for their witness. How do you see this happening in our current context? How can we share the cost of our mission? How can your sacrifice for the gospel create greater intimacy with your church family?
- Sharing life together in the gospel brings contentment and joy. Why is the true? Why do we tend to choose otherwise? How has this kind of fellowship helped you understand the acceptance we have in Jesus before God?
- The early church’s fellowship was crucial to their witness and spread of the kingdom. How have you seen your church’s fellowship lead to others coming to faith in Jesus? How can we be more intentional in cultivating this kind of fellowship?
- How will you be more intentional in sharing the Word, Mission, Life, and the gospel in a Bible Fellowship Group?