In Acts 2:41, the Jerusalem congregation began with about 3,000 members. It was a daunting undertaking, but they allowed the Lord to direct them. That direction led to further growth (Acts 2:47). Furthermore, several nationalities were represented in this group (Acts 2:9-11). This, of course, meant their were several cultural and social diversities along with linguistic differences. Despite this, Acts 4:32 says they were of “one heart” and of “one soul.”
Six Contributors to Unity
If we are to be this New Testament church, we are to be unified. To gain this same unity, we should emulate these qualities to be the church God wants us to be.
- They spent time together. In Acts 2:42-46 and Acts 5:42, the disciples were gathering together. These gatherings were not exclusively religious or social. This seemed to be a combination of the two in some cases. However, spending time together can be inconvenient, and it takes effort to make that time to fellowship with other Christians. It can also be difficult to spend time with certain people because it may take more effort to overcome differences with each other, but, if we do invest that time, we can become close to one another.
- They were united in purpose. The Christians in Acts 2 were praising God, and this is the result of their purpose. Acts 3:19-21 reminds us that our end goal is looking forward to Christ’s return. Our world is not perfect, but the world to come is. These New Testament Christians were focused on Christ, and, if we can keep that same focus, many of this world’s cares and problems seem a little less important.
- They prayed together. In Acts 1:14, the disciples continued in prayer and thanksgiving. Prayer is a reoccurring theme throughout the book of Acts. In Acts 4:23-24, the disciples pray when they come under persecution, and they prayed together for the strength to endure. In Acts 12:12, when Peter had escaped from prison, he found other Christians praying together when he came to Mary’s house, even at a late hour of the night.
- They were united in the same doctrine. In Acts 2:42, the Christians continue in the “apostles’ doctrine,” and in John 14, the apostles are told that they would be told what to say by the Holy Spirit. This was not a promotion of self – the doctrine is Christ.
- They worshiped together. Again, there is encouragement in unified actions. The acts of worship and the songs of the Old Testament were factors and contributors of unity. Acts 20:7 & Acts 2:42 focus on the coming together to worship God and participate in Christ’s memorial.
- They had the same concern for one another. Still in Acts 2:43-44, it is said that they had “all things in common.” This does not mean they had all of the same qualities. It meant that what is mine is yours, and I need to be concerned for your needs and ready to help out. This is reinforced in Acts 4:34-35.
Conclusion: A Successful Congregation
All of these qualities led to the strength of the Jerusalem church, and these qualities work hand-in-hand with each other. This congregation was successful because they were enthusiastic and generous toward each other and toward the Lord. They were a disciplined church, and discipline is the result of concern for each other and for the sanctity of God’s word. Furthermore, their unity helped them develop endurance, weathering problems from outside the church and from within the church.
Our relationships with one another and with the Lord can bring about a unified congregation, but the final product takes time and effort to achieve.
lesson by Tim Smelser