A Doctrinal Church
Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine…
I. The Significance of their Doctrine
One of the points I would like to make this morning about the early church was the importance of doctrine.
Today, doctrine has taken a backseat to the general philosophy of many churches.
Doctrine is minimized because it is divisive.
Doctrine is ignored because it causes confusion and strife.
We are told to set doctrine aside for the greater good and just love one another.
God’s prototype of the local church placed an enormous amount of emphasis on doctrine.
In fact, we could say that the church was started; founded; began BECAUSE of the significance of doctrine.
Nowhere in Peter’s message did he try to be relative.
Nowhere did he try to bridge cultural and religious divides.
He simply preached a strong, doctrinally founded message and 3,000 people got saved.
By the way – Peter preached from the Old Testament books of Joel and Psalms.
This was before the Romans Road had ever been paved!
Let me illustrate just a few of the doctrines we find preached in Acts 2:
1. The Doctrine of Scripture – vs. 16
2. The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit – vs. 17, 18
3. The Doctrine of End Time Prophecy – vs. 19, 20
4. The Doctrine of the Free Will of Man, Prayer and Salvation – vs. 21
5. The Doctrine of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ – vs. 22
6. The Doctrine of the Sovereignty of God – vs. 23
7. The Doctrine of the Resurrection – vs. 24-32
8. The Doctrine of Deity of Christ – vs. 34-36
9. The Doctrine of the Crucifixion – vs. 36
10. The Doctrine of Repentance – vs. 38
11. The Doctrine of Baptism – vs. 38
12. The Doctrine of Sin – vs. 38
13. The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (again) – vs. 38
14. The Doctrine of Salvation, World Missions
15. The Doctrine of Separation and Sanctification – vs. 40
The Bible says in verse 40 that WITH MANY OTHER WORDS DID HE TESTIFY AND EXHORT.
I’m confident that he preached many other doctrines.
I’m confident that he quoted many other passages of Scripture.
I’m confident that his message was packed with Bible references and doctrinal themes.
He mentioned no less than 15 doctrines in just 25 Bible verses.
Don’t fall for the lie that lost people; unsaved, unchurched people cannot handle doctrinal preaching.
Three thousand lost people got saved because of a doctrinally heavy message.
They got convicted because of doctrine – vs. 37 “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart…”
They wanted to know more as a result of a doctrinal message – vs. 37 “…what shall we do?”
There is something powerful about Bible doctrine.
The Bible says in verse 41 that “…they gladly received HIS WORD…”
It was NOT Peter’s word. It was God’s Word!
When we preach doctrine today, people will either receive it or reject it.
If we preach God’s Word, it is up to the hearer what to do with it.
The early church; the Acts 2 church; God’s Prototype of the Local Church was founded on DOCTRINE.
Not only do we see the SIGNIFICANCE of Doctrine, but we also see the STEWARDSHIP of their doctrine.
II. The Stewardship of their Doctrine
The Bible says in verse 41 THEN THEY THAT GLADLY RECEIVED HIS WORD…
This is a second-generation church (technically).
The original 120 found in Acts 1 are now fulfilling the Great Commission in Acts 2.
They were commanded in Acts 1:8 to wait, receive the power, and be witnesses.
They are now taking what they have learned from Christ and spreading it.
They were given both the opportunity as well as the obligation to pass on the truth.
For 3 ½ years, the disciples had sat at the feet of Jesus and learned.
NOTE: Peter and the early church got their passion for doctrine from Jesus Christ.
It was Jesus that had instilled in them the importance of doctrine.
He had drilled it into them from day one.
Here are just a few references to the times that Jesus placed much significance on doctrine:
- Matthew 7:28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
- Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
- Mark 1:22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
- Mark 1:27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.
- Mark 4:2 And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine,
- Mark 11:18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.
- Luke 4:32 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.
- John 7:16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
- John 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
- John 18:19 The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine.
The disciples took what they had learned from Jesus and passed it on.
They took their solid foundation in doctrine and truth and made it a significant part of their outreach.
They didn’t try to re-invent the wheel; they were given the baton of doctrine and they passed it on.
This early church continued in the apostle’s doctrine, which was actually Jesus Christ’s doctrine.
This early church received the apostles word, but it was actually God’s word.
They continued in the apostle’s doctrine, but it was actually God’s doctrine.
Do you see how the stewardship of truth is so important?
ILLUSTRATION: Ronald Reagan said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
Likewise, Sound Doctrine is never more than one generation away from extinction.
III. The Steadfastness of their Doctrine
The Bible makes an interesting case here for this early church.
They didn’t just CONTINUE in the apostle’s doctrine.
They continued STEDFASTLY in the apostle’s doctrine.
The word STEDFASTLY in this verse means:
- to be steadfastly attentive unto, to give unremitting care to a thing
- to continue all the time in a place
- to persevere and not to faint
- to show one’s self courageous for
- to be in constant readiness for one, wait on constantly
In Acts 2:40, they were exhorted to RECEIVE IT.
In Jude 1, they were exhorted to EARNESTLY CONTEND FOR IT.
- 3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
- 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
No less than 16 different nationalities were saved at Pentecost. (Acts 2:9-11)
The cultural, religious and language differences were no doubt overwhelming.
Peter didn’t customize the gospel to fit their respective beliefs.
Peter didn’t look around at the cultural challenges and adapt his doctrine.
Peter didn’t take into consideration the wide variety of religious backgrounds and nationalities.
Peter didn’t back off from bold, doctrinal preaching because of the need to be “relevant.”
Nowhere did Peter offer up sound doctrine at the altar of “unity and love and acceptance.”
Nowhere did Peter toss doctrine aside “for the greater good.”
The church was founded on doctrine. The church was started on doctrine.
These 3,000 people got under conviction with doctrine.
They got saved on doctrine.
Without doctrine, you have nothing but a social club.
Without doctrine, all you have is a group of people hanging out sharing ideas and philosophy.
Without doctrine, you don’t have a New Testament church!
Peter, the same Apostle that preached in Acts 2 later warned the early church in II Peter of the dangers of getting lazy and failing to be steadfast. Watch this:
II Peter 3
- 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
- 15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
- 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
- 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
- 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
Conclusion: God’s Prototype of the Local Church was a church that understood the SIGNIFICANCE of sound doctrine. They also understood the importance of STEWARDING sound doctrine. They also believed in CONTINUING STEDFASTLY!