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Acts 2:42-47 Study Guide: Tools for Growing in Grace

Community Group Study Guide — Tools for Growing in Christ 
Acts 2:42-47

Study Information:
In our last study guide we discussed the importance of growing in God’s grace by how we consider those who have gone before us in the faith, as we lay aside weights and sins that hinder us from running the race and as we look to Jesus. This week we will look at specific tools that God has given us to experience this growth in grace. These tools are often referred to as habits of grace or spiritual disciplines and help us grow in our knowledge of him and our ability to walk in holiness. One great place to see these spiritual practices in action is in Acts 2:42-47. In that passage Luke wrote about what the early church devoted themselves to and how that was used for spiritual and numerical growth. It is important to recognize that these practices have an individual aspect as we read, pray and confess; but note that there is also a corporate aspect in that the church does this together to grow in faith.  

Actions to Experience God’s Grace
Acts 2:42-43
The book of Acts begins right after the resurrection with the ascension of Jesus and the sending of the Holy Spirit to dwell in followers of Christ. Shortly after, Peter proclaimed the gospel in the temple courts and thousands came to faith in Jesus as the Messiah. These new believers continued to meet in the temple courts in such numbers that we’d describe them as a mega church today (3,000+ believers)! But their spiritual life was more than just their weekly gatherings. Luke gives us a window into the daily and weekly spiritual habits that led to the church’s spiritual and numerical growth: they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching (Bible), prayer, the fellowship (sharing life together) and the breaking of bread (communion). These are all tools that God gives us to help us grow in grace.

The Apostle’s teaching would be a dedication to knowing sound biblical theology. God has given us his word to help us know the story of redemption, his heart for his people and the way he has worked in the world. Regularly engaging with God’s word individually and as a community helps us to know God’s grace and to live changed lives in Christ. 

Prayer, in Acts 2, likely referred to formal prayers like the Lord’s prayers among other corporate prayers like praying the psalms. Pre-written prayers can be helpful especially when we do not know what to pray or how to pray for a situation; but we are also invited to go to God by offering him praise, the cares and concerns of our hearts and to ask for him to be at work in the world around us. 

Fellowship would be gathering together with other believers for the purpose of confession, service, love and mutual encouragement. If you’re reading this with your community group, our hope is that this group would be one place you’d find fellowship in the body of Christ. It may be weird to think of this as a spiritual discipline since we kind of expect friendships to happen naturally or organically, but fellowship does not come easily for many of us. Notice that the early church DEVOTED themselves to fellowship meaning they pursued it and assumed it would take some work. Joining a bible study or seeking out Christian friendships will take effort and that is a good thing and a tool that God uses to grow us in our knowledge of Christ. 

Breaking of bread likely refers to the practice of taking communion together as a church community. It could simply mean sharing a meal but that is probably closer to what Acts 2 means by fellowship. Communion is a corporate action the church is given to remember Christ’s crucifixion for us and to fellowship with Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:16). It is a mystery in terms of “how” it works, but the early church knew that it was a way to grow in their knowledge of God’s grace. 

There are other helpful spiritual practices not listed in this Acts 2:42-47 like:

Confession — the verbalizing of your sin to God and another trusted believer where you can walk in the light and hear back that forgiveness in Christ. 

Fasting — the abstaining of food for a period of time to grow in humility and awareness of your dependence on God.

Celebration — feasting and rejoicing in what God has done.

Giving — going above and beyond your normal offerings to bless and care for others’ needs. 

And, there are many more spiritual practices we can use as tools for growth. 

God’s Grace Leads to Generosity, Community and Witness
Acts 2:44-47
This devotion to these spiritual practices within the early church led to tremendous spiritual and numerical growth. Specifically there were three results - generosity, community and witness. 

As they grew in their knowledge of God’s grace (grace sharing the same root in Greek as the word “gift”), they were generous with what they had. Notice how much they cared for one another with the money and possessions they had going so far as to sell their things to care for other believers. Knowing Christ will help you to be more generous with what you’ve been given. As you understand that all you have is a gift you become more free to use it for the blessing of others. They also grew in community as they opened up their homes for fellowship and worship. There were no “cultural” christians in the early church and it was dangerous for them to proclaim faith in Christ, this led to deep interdependent relationships and care for one another. Finally, this way of living was a witness to the watching world. Acts 2:47 tells us that people saw the work of God through the church and many were being added to their number day by day as they were being saved! 

These tools for growing in Christ will enable you to know God in a deeper way and at the same time move you towards greater community and mission with the world.

They will not always feel natural, hence how they “dedicated themselves” to these practices and were rewarded with depth and knowledge of God’s grace. 

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:

What spiritual discipline are you most interested in learning more about and why?

Describe the spiritual practices of the early church. How can the church today grow in focus on these areas?

Our modern world can emphasize a “personal” relationship with Jesus which can often be a good thing; but how are these spiritual tools used in private and in group settings to grow in a relationship with God?

How does growing deeper spiritually lead to the church growing numerically in the book of Acts? Do you think this kind of thing happens today? If so, what are some ways we can focus on spiritual growth as a witness to the world?