The Importance of the Apostles’ Doctrine
“And they devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2: 42).
The words above were related to what happened after the Jewish holiday of Pentecost, when Jews celebrated the first fruits of the wheat harvest, also associated with remembering the Law of Moses being given on Mt Sinai. It’s been weeks since the death of Jesus, his resurrection, and then ascension back into heaven. He instructed his disciples to wait in Jerusalem and they’ve been doing so, praying regularly for him to move. On this symbolic holiday of Pentecost, the Lord sends the first fruits of the Christian age, the Holy Spirit, which will guide them as they follow the instructions of Jesus and his apostle’s in the days to come. Peter preaches the first public sermon and many who had witnessed what had taken place to Jesus respond, in fact 3,000 are baptized on this day!
That’s where we are when the Acts 2:42 verse comes into play. These new Christians devoted themselves to the Apostle’s Doctrine (doctrine means teaching), along with encouraging each other in fellowship, eating together and celebrating the Lord’s Supper, and joining together in prayer. That was the mandate for the church as the good news of Jesus is now preached and the church goes forth.
What does it mean to be devoted to the Apostle’s teaching? There’s nothing magic involved here, just the simple realization that to walk by the Spirit God had provided, Christians needed knowledge of what Jesus and his 12 appointed apostles taught. That wasn’t forced into their minds, it took time and effort as they were instructed, and/or as they read or listened to the letters the apostle’s provided to the churches. It’s true for us today also. I believe this is one of the major faults of the modern church. We gain some level of mental belief in Christ, but then lazily go about our lives without involvement in the church, without instruction in the teachings of Jesus and his apostle’s, without reading their words for ourselves. As a result, our “beliefs” wander all over the place, formed from other influences, but not as a result of what Jesus and his apostles taught.
What did they teach? Let’s look at just a few examples:
*They taught the miracles of Jesus, his death for our sins, his resurrection providing hope for eternity! This is basic. Jesus was not just one of many moral teachers in history, he was and is the Son of God, the predicted Messiah, who lived in the flesh, died a cruel death, but was bodily raised from the grave and tells us he is the only way to the Father (John 14:6).
*They taught that we must reject and repent from sins, turning to Jesus and following him in faith! It’s not always easy, not always what we’d prefer, sometimes requires sacrifice on our part, but yields the fruit of heaven! Yes, this includes common sins like gossip and deceit, but also includes the less common sins like murder and homosexuality (Romans 1, etc.). All sin must be admitted and repented of, if we are truly Christian.
*They taught we must take up our cross and follow Jesus, living sacrificially, not selfishly! That means our goal in life is not “the American dream” with all the stuff, but is helping others, preaching Jesus (Matt. 10:38).
There is much more, the apostle’s or their associates wrote 23 books, or letters, to the churches with instructions, besides the 4 gospel accounts of Jesus’ life. It’s a primary reason you should be involved in a Bible study within a small group or a class at the Bible believing church you attend. Without it, you wander, and are at risk.
Cross Point: Peter wrote, “This is now the 2nd letter I am writing to you. I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the commandments of the Lord through your apostles” (2 Peter 3:1, 2).