Going to church and being the church are as different as going out to eat and having a family dinner at home. Eating in a restaurant has its charm and place. For a fee, we have trained chefs and wait staff provide a manufactured culinary experience for us complete with decorations, furnishings, music, and audio visual displays we wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable with at home even if they fit. Family dinners have their challenges but come with the benefit of the intimacy of home, the unity of relationship, and the opportunity to serve one another.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. [Emphasis added.]
For the purposes of this discussion, think of the temple as the restaurant and the houses as the family dinner—the church building and the church being. Of the two, breaking bread from house to house would prove to be the primary means of Christian fellowship. Saints gathering on a daily basis to joyfully eat together and praise God as they shared the apostle’s doctrine led to daily church growth both in quantity and quality.
And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied …
We learned from Acts 2 that the church was growing through daily salvations. Daily salvations and fellowship led to the days described in Acts 6, a season when disciples were multiplying. All disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ are saved, but not all the saved of the Lord Jesus Christ are disciples. Every church service can have an altar call and see salvations, but disciples aren’t made in meeting halls and classrooms. They are made in living rooms and market places, in the hustle and bustle of daily life where following Christ is practiced more than preached.
And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
The events of Acts 16 occurred approximately 20 years after the Day of Pentecost. The practice of daily fellowship led to a time when the number of congregations increased every day. When disciples gather together and share food and faith, the Lord adds to the church through salvations. As the saved continue in fellowship, they become disciples. As disciples multiply, new congregations are born.
The bloom and boom of the church as seen in the book of Acts is difficult if not impossible to replicate with weekly meetings in public settings. Daily fellowship where people live was an essential ingredient to the spread of the Gospel from a small community in Jerusalem to the far reaches of the Roman Empire and beyond.
12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
Though we stand before the judgment seat alone, we walk there together. Daily exhortation guards us from daily temptations. We need to encourage one another every day to remain tenderhearted to His loving direction so that we can fully share in the inheritance He has promised us.
32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
34 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
As disciples of Jesus, we are to live in the continual expectancy of our Lord’s imminent return. We need to remain alert and engaged in our faith through prayer and Christian service. At no time can we afford spiritual slumber. If His return proves to be our awakening, it will be a rude awakening indeed. He expects to find us serving and prayerfully watching for His arrival so He may reward us accordingly.