As you start turning to Acts 2:42-47, I want to introduce you to what it looks like to live Life after Repentance.
Teachers in Jesus’ day recognized the principle of Kavanah. It is a Hebrew word meaning “to aim” that is used to speak of the inner life and points to hitting the bullseye by strengthening yourself, aiming, releasing, and hitting the bullseye repeatedly while taking into account the favor of God on the Arrow’s flight.
Kavanah combines our intentional action as we purposely do spiritual disciplines together with the expectation that God is present and active. Kavanah refuses to pretend that only God is active in my life; and it refuses to act as if all of my spiritual progress is up to me alone and if I just work hard enough I can hit the target. Kavanah demands that we labor as God labors within us.
it is the Expression of Paul the Apostle in 1 Corinthians 15:10.
1 Corinthians 15:10 NASB95 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.
God was actively working in Paul as Paul actively labored.
Ready. Aim. Fire. Repeat.
The New Testament writers also recognized the Kavanah principles as they are reflected in the ancient Jewish writing called the Talmud which was compiled from the writings of many different rabbis around the years 400-500 AD.
In that writing the rabbis taught that hitting the target in true spirituality demanded four things.
- Studying scripture to know God , not just to know facts .
- Prayerfulness as a life experience, not a mere devotional time that we walk away from when we’re done.
- Being loved extravagantly and loving extravagantly .
- Life as worship . Not restricted to the hour on Sunday, but the constant – consistent bent towards responding to God in all that we do.
This is Colossians 3:23 living in which literally everything you do is turned Godward.
Colossians 3:23 NASB95 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,
None of that sounds particularly unique because it is not. The principles present there are all over the scriptures from Old Testament to New Testament. And it formed the absolute center of the early church. And my friends, if it doesn’t describe your life today it is time to start because without these principles you won’t grow.
In essence they describe what is needful for life after we repent and turn towards God. Life after repentance.
Now, if you haven’t already arrived there, turn to Acts 2:42-47 and stand and read it with me, and keep your eyes open for the concept of Kavanah there.
Acts 2:42–47 ESV
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.
Life after Repentance is a Bible Oriented Relationship with God
On the day of Pentecost as the Lord added to the small band of disciples a repentant crowd some 3000 strong (Acts 2:41) the early church began its forward march. This crowd consisted of mostly Jews who had grown up saturated in the Bible. They knew the stories and histories of Genesis to Malachi like modern Christians know their favorite television shows. They knew the actors and could recite the scripts. At that point too the few Gentile God fearers who also became believers in Jesus that day were proselytes who were being trained in the word of God. I think this is very important because the first thing we read about the new Church is that “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching…”
What was the apostles teaching? Let’s not forget who these guys are. They are fishermen, tradesmen, political activists, and tax collectors at least. They had spent three years listening to everything that Jesus taught, living with Jesus, walking with Jesus, eating with Jesus, drinking with Jesus, and participating in the constant ministry flow of Jesus. Then after the Resurrection, Jesus had spent forty days with these guys clarifying all of the stuff that they were formerly unable to understand. Talk about a life changing crash course in the Bible.
Now, these Apostles are filled with the Holy Spirit who is guiding them into all wisdom and remembrance. So the apostles are able to start walking the entire church through things like how Genesis, Hosea, and all the rest point to Jesus.
The early church was not focusing on the apostles’ teaching because they didn’t know scripture. They knew scripture – but until now, they didn’t really know God as Jesus makes him known.
From the very beginning they were studying the word of God to know God – and not just to know the Bible. And still yet, they weren’t reading just to get it over with for the day so they could get on to the good stuff.
For the Christian, the word of God is the basic, vital source of truth about who God is and what he has done. The Bible is our chance to know for absolute certain what God has said about who he is. It is where we begin to know Him.
Yet for many people the bible is unaccessed and their relationship with God is barely as deep as a water drop. This is where opinions and feelings together with human perspectives and rationale conspire to lead the church away from strength and truth towards wimpy sentimentality and baseless conclusions about what God wants.
Today the American church has been fed a regular diet of opinion rather than scripture and is it any wonder that the church in America does not know what it believes, does not have a consistent doctrine even on the insanely clear things, and even when it has a belief it doesn’t share it with the Love of Christ because opinion lacks the authority of scripture.
Let me just ask you: When you read the Bible do you read it to get it done, to gain a fact, or to know God? Or do you read the Bible at all?
Life after Repentance is a life of Prayerfulness
I know we’re taking these slightly out of order but look at the end of that list in verse 42. They were continually devoting themselves to prayer. Listen, for centuries – the church has at times not had access to the Bible – certainly not as prolifically as it does today after the invention of the printing press. But the church has always had access to God through prayer.
We’re told to enter the throne room with boldness. of course we’re also told to pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 NASB95 pray without ceasing;
Now Most people read that and they start thinking with a Monk mentality, “Get on your knees and start praying when you wake up and just stay there until you pass out at night and do it again tomorrow. Forget work, forget paying the bills, forget eating, forget the family, forget everything that isn’t praying or you’re doing life wrong.
But that’s not what he means.
That image of praying till you die of starvation is just prayer. But Prayerfulness means that your life, your work, your bill paying, your eating, your family, and all the other stuff you have to do is done with an open line of communication to God. I mean think about the difference it would make to you if you had your heart tipped in God’s direction – so to speak- as you went throughout your day.
I might be a little different than others, but I like quiet. If I drive somewhere with you and sit silently for the length of the trip, it means nothing more than that I am content. Given that chance, when I speak it has meaning. In the same way a life of prayerfulness doesn’t mean constant conversation with God; but it does mean a life lived intentionally in his presence doing whatever you do and able to speak to him at a moment’s notice.
Let me urge you to keep the line open with God. It is easier to walk righteousness, and harder to sin when you are living in his presence.
A life of prayerfulness, also implies being present in your prayers.
It is very easy to slip into mindless “god words” when praying. This happens sometimes when we fill our prayers with mindless repetitions of “Lord” or “Father” every two to four words. I do not talk to anyone else and use their name or title repeatedly. This goes as well for all of the repeated words like “just” or “bless” which we may or may not mean, but which we ought to be aware of as signs that we are letting our minds drift away from our prayers.
Let your life be prayerful, and let your presence be in prayer.
Life after Repentance is a life of Extravagant Love
In Ephesians 3:14-19 Paul prays:
Ephesians 3:14–19 ESV For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
God’s extravagant love towards us shapes and transforms us, and the life we live after repentance is marked not only by being loved extravagantly by God, but by loving extravagantly.
Look at the record here in Acts 2 where extravagant love flows in the church.
Acts 2:44–45 ESV 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.
Their extravagant love took the form of caring for anyone who had need. In the same way that we would consider it rational and good to do whatever we can for our earthly brothers or sisters should they fall on hard times; immediately the church – marked as brothers and sisters in Christ began giving of themselves for their eternal siblings.
You can see their love in the way that they mingled too.
Acts 2:46 ESV And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
Just note the part where they were taking their meals together. We don’t normally eat with people we don’t like. Someone here is going to point out an exception, but I did say normally.
Breaking bread together implies more than just eating together, but let’s take it at that for a moment. At the very least it implies that they shared meals together over and over. You see it not only in verse 46, but also in verse 42 as the summary. Being together as Christians was a normative response.
It goes beyond as well as you see the church throughout the New Testament offering loving self sacrifice to each other.
Ask yourself where and when have you seen extravagant love practiced? How can you as the gathered believers in the living Christ demonstrate to others the love that we have received?
We love, because God loved us first. Love flows from God, through us, towards others.
Is your love able to be called extravagant?
Life after Repentance is a Life of Worship
While these saints remained in Jerusalem they were living a life that responded to what they heard about Jesus.
In the rest of this text, worship is laced throughout their activities.
In verse 42 they are breaking bread, as are they in verse 46. Normally Luke uses that phrase to describe the Lord’s supper. If he is consistent than this is likely to be a record of the early church celebrating communion repeatedly, not just in a formal church setting, but also as they ate in each others’ houses. I think it is a wonderful freedom to worshipfully remember the Lord’s sacrifice for us with each other, as often as we can.
It is said that Charles Spurgeon celebrated communion constantly at the dinner table. Not to mention the regular habit of John Wesley and many other Christians of days gone by.
Then look at verse 43 for how it reflects worship: “Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe…”
Then in verse 46: “Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple…”
and of course verse 47:
Acts 2:47 ESV praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
It is not difficult to see the rest of the story. Everything from Acts 3 and forward is summarized in verse 47. “The Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
But that growth didn’t happen in a vacuum.
The Context of growth wasn’t and isn’t a program or even a push, but rather growthy by God’s hand occured in a context of true Christian community. Devotion to the word, prayer, Love, and a living worship formed the background of their growth. We know this because flowing out of this section they “[had] favor with all the people.”
Something amazing was transpiring as the church was the church and even those who were not part of the Church had to take notice.
Let us resolve not to endure nor experience less than Acts 2:42.
Let us not relegate Scripture, prayer, worship, and, love of the brethren to nice words on Sunday.
I believe that Jesus said he will grow his church. And he grows his church in this type of soil where the church knows how to live after repentance.
For more on Kavanah see: