The Birth of the Church
This Bible Study will help people to understand Jesus’ promise to send the ‘Comforter’ and the fulfilment of that promise when the early Church began.
Guidelines For Group Bible Studies: ACTS 2:1-4, 14-18, 37-38, 41-47
The Promise of Another Comforter and Another Day
Jesus, towards the close of His life on earth, spoke of
"another Comforter" (JOHN 14:16) - Counsellor (NIV), Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby (Amp), coming not only to be WITH them, but also to be IN them (v.17).
He spoke also of another day.
"At that day" they were to have:
- An ASSURANCE they had never had before (JOHN 14:20).
- An AUTHORITY they had never had before (JOHN 16:23).
- An ABUNDANCE they had never had before (JOHN 16:26).
Study these scriptures carefully. They are the title deeds of your inheritance.
The Fulfillment of that Promise
The Comforter came when the day had fully come. Ten days had passed since Jesus had ascended. Five hundred at once had seen Jesus after His resurrection, but only 120 were found at the prayer meeting when God's zero hour struck.
Note the importance given to prayer in the New Testament and the failures that followed lack of prayer. (See LUKE 9:32; cf. v.40; MATTHEW 26:40,43; cf. v.56).
The Evidence of Pentecost
There were three manifestations of the coming of Pentecost - wind, fire and speaking with tongues.
- Wind and fire had evidenced God's presence before in the Old Testament. Speaking with tongues was a new phenomenon.
- Wind and fire are in the realm of nature. Speaking with tongues is bound up with human personality.
- Wind and fire came BEFORE the believers were filled as a sign of the initial outpouring and was not repeated. Speaking with tongues came AFTER the believers were filled as the hallmark of a genuine experience (ACTS 11:15) and WAS repeated (ACTS 10:45-46; 19:6; 1 CORINTHIANS 14:18).
Study the value of speaking with tongues, especially in the realm of personal communion with God as outlined in 1 CORINTHIANS 14.
Pentecost Was Linked With Evangelism
Jesus promised, not only that His disciples would receive power when the Holy Spirit came on them, but also that they would be His witnesses (ACTS 1:8). As soon as the crowd gathered as a result of the phenomenon of tongues speaking, Peter stood up and addressed them. What was his message? It was the message of repentance, baptism in water, and the receiving of the Holy Spirit.
- REPENTANCE. The message of Jesus was the command to repent (See MARK 1:4; MATTHEW 9:13). Repentance is more than feeling sorry for sin; it involves a complete change of direction. Study the example of repentance in the Old Testament cited by Jesus. (See MATTHEW 12:41; cf. JONAH 3:5-10).
- BAPTISM IN WATER. We are not saved by an empty rite, but by God's grace through repentance and faith in Christ. But within that initial act and part of it, in God's intention, is baptism in water. Study the implications of MARK 16:15-16; ACTS 2:38; 22:16; 1 PETER 3:20-21.
- BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. How do we receive the Holy Spirit? Not by works, but by faith. When should we receive the Holy Spirit? We should expect to receive as soon as we are saved and baptised in water. Study especially GALATIANS 3:2,5,14.
Pentecost Produced Fellowship
In the beginning of ACTS 2 there was a collection of individual experiences -
"tongues like as of fire... sat upon each of them" (v.3). At the end of ACTS 2 there was a community of believers -
"all that believed were together" (v.44).
1 CORINTHIANS 12:13 says,
"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body... and have been all made to drink into one Spirit".
Here again we see:
- The INDIVIDUAL experience - drinking in of the Spirit.
- The CORPORATE experience - baptised by the Spirit into the body.
The believer is plunged and immersed into water by a fellow-believer. The believer is plunged and immersed into the fire of the Holy Spirit by Jesus Christ. The believer is plunged and immersed into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit.
The Kind of Fellowship It Was
- A LEARNING fellowship (v.42), devoted to the apostles' doctrine, handed down by men of the Spirit, accompanied by signs following, with so much to say about how to live. A ministration not of the letter that kills, but of the Spirit that gives life.
- A TOGETHER fellowship (v.42) quickened together; raised up together; fitly framed together; builded together (EPHESIANS 2:5-6,21-22); striving together (PHILIPPIANS 1:7); moving around together (ACTS 2:44; 3:1; 14:1).
- A WORSHIPPING fellowship (v.42) centred around the Lord's table. How important is this simple act of remembrance as an opportunity for self-examination (1 CORINTHIANS 11:25-34), and as an expression of our unity (1 CORINTHIANS 10:17).
- A PRAYING fellowship (v.42). After Jesus had prayed for Himself in JOHN 17 and before He prayed for the church universal, He prayed for the little company of disciples with whom he regularly fellowshipped.
- A HOLY fellowship (v.43). The NIV translates,
"Everyone was filled with awe". Our intimate praise and our sense of nearness to Him must not detract from our appreciation of His majesty.
- A fellowship where THINGS HAPPENED (v.43) -
"...many wonders and signs were done by the apostles".
"...Jesus began both to do and teach,"(ACTS 1:1). The Acts of the Apostles is only a follow up to "the former treatise." It has no concluding AMEN. It still continues.
- A CARING fellowship (v.44), with practical implications.
- A PRAISING fellowship (v.47), causing them to enjoy the favour of all people.
- A GROWING fellowship (v.47), the Lord adding to their number daily those who were to be saved.
Final subject for discussion: Is my church one to whom God can confidently commit new converts?
by Alfred Missen
Source: 'Redemption Tidings'