Ancient Israel celebrated together as a people to honor their God and his deeds in their lives. Each feast listed in Leviticus chapter twenty-three focused on a specific time in the calendar year. Those celebrations contained food, fellowship, worship, prayer, and gathering together as one people. Little did the Israelites know that the first three feasts found direct fulfillment in the person and work of Christ. The Passover feast prefigured our Lord’s death, which atoned for the sins of believers throughout all history. The firstfruits celebration pictured Christ’s resurrection, which the apostle Paul alluded to in 1 Cor. 15:20, 23. Lastly, the feast of weeks foreshadowed the birth of the church at Pentecost.
All of the apostles including one hundred other disciples remained in Jerusalem in obedience to Christ’s words after he ascended into heaven. Fifty days later at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon the 120 in fire and power. Soon after the coming of the Spirit, Luke recorded that 3,000 people came to faith in Christ (Acts 2:41, ESV). This was a massive revival in the hearts of the Jewish people, which came on the heels of Peter’s famous sermon. How did this early group of converts celebrate these new happenings? They gathered together in order to celebrate their God and his work in their lives. Here are the final five verses from the second chapter of Acts:
“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” (Acts 2:42-47, ESV).”
Each time I read those verses in Acts 2, I can’t contain my joy over the early church’s celebration. I’d love to teleport back in time in order to join them. This wasn’t a celebration for the sake of itself. No. These early Christians devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (doctrine), to fellowship (doing life together), and proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes, which Luke alluded to with the words “…the breaking of bread and prayers…” (Luke 2:42, ESV). The early church understood its foundation and purpose. Even though Luke failed to include believer’s baptism in his list, I think such an ordinance finds itself in the subtext given the new converts being added by the Lord (Luke 2:47, ESV). At some point, those new believers would’ve been baptized given the Great Commission.
When today’s church gains new converts by the preaching of the gospel in the power of the Spirit, a celebration is in order. We must praise the Lord for the increase because he gave it. If our cups run over, then let’s rejoice till we overflow. The early church serves as a model for all churches today. We must keep the church’s focus clear and simple: sound teaching (preach the gospel), gathering together in his name, and administering the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s supper until Christ comes back. If we’re faithful to those few things, the Lord will add to our numbers. There will be an increase, a revival. All that is needed from us is to present our five loaves and two fish in faith. Once we’ve done that piece, then we can sit back and watch Christ to multiply our meager offering.