And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Last week, we considered the first two practices of which the early church “continued steadfastly”: 1) they were focused upon the apostles’ doctrine, i.e. they had a love and hunger for the word of God, and 2) they continued in fellowship, i.e. they loved one another’s company and were united as the body of Christ. This week we want to consider the final two items, revealed in our text above, about which the early church busied themselves.
We see next that they continued steadfastly in the breaking of bread. I think a couple of things are referred to by this statement. First, it reveals the practical way in which they lived. Their lives were characterized by simplicity, contentment, and care for one another. They didn’t seek lives of extravagance, desiring the delicacies of this present world, but were satisfied with merely the breaking of bread. Even as we are instructed to be in 1 Tim 6:8, they were content with simply having food and clothing. They “ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart”. (v. 46) And their care for each other is revealed in this breaking of bread for no one did without according to Ac 4:34-35. There was not “anyone among them who lacked,” and “they distributed to each as anyone had need.”
The second conclusion we must draw from the declaration of their steadfastness in the breaking of bread is a spiritual one. We can’t consider the phrase “breaking of bread” without numerous passages coming to mind concerning the Lord Jesus being the spiritual bread that sustains every believer. As Jesus declared in Jn 6:51: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever…” Christ was the bread that was broken and sustained the early church, even as every true believer is sustained today. He was their focus and desire. They hungered and thirsted after righteousness, and they were filled! (Mt 5:6)
Last of all, they were a praying people. This truth was the evidence that the Spirit of God had indeed fallen upon them because both Rom 8:15 and Gal 4:6 remind us that the one thing God’s Spirit within us will continually do is cry out “Abba, Father!” You don’t have to teach a child to cry out to his mother or father. It’s completely natural. It would be strange if he didn’t! Likewise, every true child of God cries out to his or her heavenly Father, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” (Eph 6:18) We have One who is our hope, and it’s not the person sitting in the White House (regardless of whether or not your candidate won this past Tuesday). Our hope is in the Person sitting upon the throne of heaven, and to Him we must continually cry!
I want to us to notice one more important point at the end of our text. This church grew, but how did it grow? They didn’t form an outreach committee to determine the best way to reach the surrounding population. They didn’t take a poll to determine what would attract the most people. They were focused on God. They simply lived in obedience to Him, “continuing daily…praising God.” And what was the result? God gave them “favor with all the people,” and “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Such is the only way the true church can grow. Men can come up with creative ways to build assemblies, but only God can build His church. We must simply be faithful to do what God has called the church to do–preach the gospel! Cast that precious seed, church! God will see that it brings forth fruit to the praise of His glory. We can water and plant, but only God gives the increase! (1 Co 3:6)