Pulpit reflections: And awe came upon every soul

There is a description in Acts 2 of the early church that ought to make everyone who calls Jesus their Savior to stand up and pay attention. 

Acts 2:42-47 describes the character of the early church and this one phrase pulls together Luke’s description; it’s found in verse 43—“And awe came upon every soul…” Oh that all of our churches would be described with such words! Oh that “awe” would be the atmosphere in every church!

The moment we embrace Jesus as our Lord and Savior…the moment we recognize we are sinful and Jesus is the Savior who lived the perfect life we could never live and died the death we deserve…the moment we understand He died for us and rose again and is coming again to rule this world…in that moment of placing our faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin, we become members of the church, the bride of Christ. 

And as members of the church, we express our membership in local churches. What should our local churches look like?

Acts 2:42 describes what the first church looked like: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” 

So our churches should at least look like this: There should be teaching that centers on Jesus and understanding the Word of God, fellowship that reminds us we are the family of God, the Lord’s Supper where we remember the cross and Jesus’ death for us, and prayer where we see ourselves as totally dependent on God. 

So, teaching, fellowship, remembering Jesus’ death, and prayer. That’s a lot! But right after this, Luke tells us what holds the church together is this sense of awe!

This passage in Acts 2 ends by telling us (Verse 47) “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” 

The teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers overflowed into evangelism. The church reached out and proclaimed the Good News of Jesus Christ…that Jesus came to save sinners. And people embraced Jesus in faith and were added to the church. But again I come back to the phrase: “And awe came upon every soul.”

In the first local church, there was a powerful sense of God’s presence. They devoted themselves to the teaching of God’s Word, and to one another in true fellowship and to worshipping God through remembering Jesus’ death and through prayers. They reached out to tell people about Jesus! But what made all of this real and not just some new religious cult was this…they knew Jesus was the real deal and they were in awe! 

God was not an idea to be talked about and studied…He was actually there! “And awe came upon every soul.” God wasn’t an argument or a tradition to acknowledge, He was real and He was with them! 

The King James Version reads like this: “And fear came upon every soul…” There was fear and amazement, because God is real and He is present and He saves sinners.

So let’s ask ourselves: Is there any awe in our church? Is there any trembling at the teaching of the Word and the proclamation of Jesus? Is there any sense of the presence of God? Let us pray for this to be a reality for all who call upon Jesus to be saved! “And awe came upon every soul…”

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