Shelby G. Floyd
Good to see all of you today. A lot of you have come out to honor your mothers after our worship today and that is wonderful. We have a lot of great mothers in this congregation and you know Almighty God chose a young Jewish maiden to bring his only begotten, and beloved Son into this world. So God honors mothers and we do also!
Last night I called Jim and left a message for him. I asked do you have an upbeat song service for tomorrow? This morning I asked again. Do you have an upbeat song service, and he said, well, I am going to sing everything slow! But Jim did a great job and let me tell you the song leader has a lot to do with the with how the preaching goes over, because it can put you in an uplifting mood and we appreciate our song leaders.
The New Testament clearly outlines the essentials of worship. There is no doubt about that. These are communion, the contribution, prayer, preaching and singing. It really is that simple. In matters of judgment or incidentals, the New Testament does not have a whole lot to say. That indicates that God specifies what he wants us to do in worship and then to some extent He leaves it up to us as how we expedite it or carry it out. Therefore we are not to unloose what God has commanded and we are not to command what he has unloosed. So this is the third sermon that I have prepared to present on Acts 2:42, which is a statement that Luke records immediately after the church was established and after 3000 people were baptized into Jesus Christ. Acts 2:42 says they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine or teaching, fellowship or the contribution, the breaking of bread—that is the communion, and prayer. So the first sermon was on prayer. The early church was a praying church. They started out that way, and the early church listened and abided by the apostles teaching or doctrine, and the early church took up a weekly contribution and the early church broke bread every Sunday, every first day of the week. And I plan to establish that proposition this morning.
JESUS ESTABLISHED HIS OWN MEMORIAL BEFORE HIS DEATH
Now Clay read that wonderful scripture from Matthew 26:26 through 30 where Jesus instituted the Lord’s supper. But where and when did he do that? It was the Last Supper, and it is not called the Last Supper for no reason at all. The Last Supper was the last Jewish supper that would ever be observed scripturally by God’s people. It had served its purpose. Every time they took the Last Supper, they were reminded of their bondage down in Egypt and how Moses was sent down there to bring them out of that bondage and lead them to the promised land. So Jesus took some elements of the Last Supper and He instituted or inaugurated the Lord’s Supper. And so in the Bible it is called the Lord’s Supper and the Bible even uses the Lord’s Day and the Lord’s Table! This is because we usually have a supper on the table! The Lord’s Supper as also called the breaking of bread or communion. Those are the words that the Bible uses to express the Lord’s Supper. Now the people in the world sometimes refer to the Lord’s Supper as the Sacrament or the Eucharist, but we believe it is better to express Bible subjects by Bible language. It is a lot more accurate if we describe Bible things with Bible terms. Therefore, Jesus established the Lord’s Supper at the Last Supper. And the Jerusalem church began by observing the Lord’s Supper steadfastly every first day of the week. They continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine. That is the apostles teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer.
Now it does not mention singing because the New Testament was progressively revealed to us. It was not revealed all in one day. It took about 60 years and the New Testament was not completed until about 95 A.D. And then the bible was closed and Jude said the faith was once delivered (Jude 3), and that means it never needs to be repeated. We are not going to have any new revelations since the end of the first century! From the beginning, the Lord’s supper was observed on the first day of the week.
Now Buzz Aldrin took communion on the moon. I pointed out to you the last time I spoke, that Jesus in his conversation with the woman at the well said the time is coming when neither in this mountain nor at Jerusalem shall men worship the Father. He added that our God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth. So the place in Jerusalem was not the only place that people could worship. We can worship anywhere in spirit and truth!
And we have an example with Buzz Aldrin taking communion on the moon on Sunday, July 20, 1969. I really am thankful that we had a man like Buzz Aldrin, who had the courage and the faith to do that, because one year earlier on Christmas Day 1968 when we first landed on the moon, several astronauts read Genesis 1:1 through 10 out of the King James Bible and there has never been a more beautiful reading of the book of Genesis. But they got a lot of grief from Madeleine O’Hara. You can see the video of Aldrin taking communion on the moon by searching on YouTube.
A SUMMARY OF PAUL’S TRAVELS LEADING TO TROAS
Now I want to talk to you about some of the travels that the apostle Paul made as he traveled around on his evangelistic journeys. He was always encouraging the disciples and the congregations with the word of God. God’s word is a great comfort in any thing that is going on in your life. You will find encouragement and the word encouragement means it gives you courage to go forward and live your life and to deal with problems and whatever is going on.
Paul did not have automobiles or jet airplanes and he did not have a phone that he could call ahead and talk to people to find out how they were doing. But he traveled all over the world, establishing churches, and setting them up in the worship on the first day of the week. Then he would leave them and they would carry on, because they been taught what the Bible teaches in regards of worship.
In Acts 20:2 we find that Paul and those travelling with him, when they had gone over that region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece. According to Romans 15:4 Paul wrote the church at Rome “that whatever things that were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” So he was always encouraging people personally with the word of God. Life is made up of our relationships with each other and we have a lot of wonderful relationships. Heartland you can see the map on the screen and that map shows how Paul was traveling around. He probably rode on a donkey and walked a lot. It is amazing what that man accomplished without all the modern means that we have of travel and communication. And the Bible declares to us in Acts 20:2-3, that when they had gone over that region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece and he stayed there three months. And when the Jews plotted against him as he was about to sail to Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. Now please notice the young men who are traveling with him:
And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia—also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. These men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas. But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days (Acts 20:4-6 NKJV).
These men going ahead waited for us at Troas. Did you notice there the change in the pronoun to the plural us and we? That indicates that the man who wrote the book of Acts is traveling with them. Who wrote the book of acts? Luke, the same person who wrote the gospel according to Luke, is the man that wrote the book of Acts, and he is traveling with these seven other men. And Paul says, but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and in five days we joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days. (Acts 20:6). Now they stayed seven days and that is very important.
A WINDOW INTO THE WORSHIP AT TROAS ON SUNDAY
I want us now to look through a window. This window is beautiful because it allows us to openly look into an actual worship service of a New Testament congregation. Have you ever thought about that we can just open a window and see what was going on in that congregation? Therefore we can actually have a perception of what was going on in an actual New Testament worship service!
Let us now look through the open window to the Troas worship service: “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight” (Acts 20:7 NKJV).
Now notice what the Bible says in Acts 20 and verse seven. What day did they come together to break bread? The text says, “…now on the first day of the week.” What day of the week was the first day of the week? Sunday! Yes! We learned that in our previous lesson, that the church began on the Day of Pentecost which was the first day of the week (Acts 2:1-4). Our Sunday is the first day of the week. That is when the disciples came together to break bread. Therefore they came together to take the Lord’s Supper established by Jesus before his betrayal, death, and resurrection (Matthew 26:26-30). The seven men who were travelling with Paul went ahead to Troas and waited for Paul and Luke to arrive (Acts 20:4-5). Later when Paul and Luke joined them at Troas, they “stayed seven days” (Acts 20:6). And some people have tried to say that this breaking bread here was a common meal. I do not think Paul waited 7 days to eat nourishment! This was a special kind of breaking bread and so they waited 7 days. Why did they wait seven days? Evidently, they got there too late on the Lord’s day. The church had already met for worship to take the Lord’s supper, and then they all went home just like we do. Therefore, they had to wait seven days until the first day of the week came again and the congregation would gather together. So this is another proof that indicates that the church was in the habit of meeting together every first day of the week.
PAUL PROCLAIMS AN ALL-NIGHT SERMON
Therefore Paul and company met with them on Sunday, the first day of the week and he spoke to them and continued his speech until midnight (Acts 20:7). You know I have never heard anybody complain about our preaching here. At Heartland we just get up and speak on the subject and we step down when we are through. Sometimes it is shorter, sometimes it is longer! But the Bible says plainly Paul met with them and he did intend to leave the next day by going aboard a ship headed to Syria. He was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem because there was a feast day of the Jews, and he wanted to be there, and perhaps convert some of his own people. But the Bible says he spoke to them and continued his speech until midnight.
I think we have established that the Lord’s supper was taken on the Lord’s day (Revelation 1:10). Paul preached until midnight. Weak preaching produces weak churches. We want the Heartland congregation to be strong in declaring the word of God. I would love to come here every Sunday and make everybody happy. Sometimes we must preach on things that make people holy! We want God’s people to be holy and happy! That is our goal and we cannot be holy if we are committing sin and living an ungodly life. We must teach and preach on things that encourages people to live a holy life as well as a happy life. And we will not have a happy life unless we live a holy life! We need to remember the charge that Paul gave the young preacher Timothy,
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:1-4 NKJV).
There will not be much power coming out of the pulpit if our goal is to make everybody happy. Where did the church meet? It met everywhere. The church met in the Temple court and in synagogues and in people’s houses (Colossians 4:15 Roman 16:5) and in a rented place. The church did not own property back then. And in our lesson today they were in a building up on the third story. They were not too proud to meet anywhere to worship the Lord God.
EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED DURING WORSHIP AT TROAS
Now I want us to look through that window again and notice everything that happened during a worship service at Troas that I have listed on the chart on the screen. I believe we have everything mentioned. Paul preached! Paul preached until midnight. A young man was sitting in a window, so they had a window on the third story. A young man fell into a deep sleep. His name was Eutychus. Eutychus was overcome by sleep. And he fell down from the third story. Eutychus died from the fall. Luke the physician gave us his death certificate—he said he was taken up dead! Luke is present in worship (we, and us section of Acts 20:5, 6, 13). Paul went down and brought Eutychus back to life!
And the Bible says that after Paul had raised this young man up and gave him life, he went back up to the third story and “broke bread.” That means he went back up there and took the Lord’s supper and worshipped God. And then the Bible says Paul “talked a long while, even till daybreak” (Acts 20:11). After they took the Lord’s supper, Paul probably answered many questions in an more informal type of discussion, like we do in a Bible class. Paul stayed with them until early morning and he departed
Have I covered everything that happened there in the Troas worship service? I do not want to leave anything out. It has been a very eventful worship gathering. I had a thing like that to happen at one of my preaching places. We had a wonderful elderly lady and her husband was a doctor. He never came to church on Sunday morning, but would always come on Sunday evening worship and eat the Lord’s supper. So one Sunday evening I was preaching and we had a young couple sitting about halfway back in the congregation. He and his wife were talking and laughing and that really disturbs the preacher. Therefore, immediately after we dismissed, I asked the husband what was going on? He said, I kept telling my wife to wake our son up because he was snoring. But my wife kept telling me that our son was not snoring. She said it is the doctor who is asleep and snoring! But that is not the end of the story! Shortly afterward the young men brought the Lord’s supper around and the doctor was still asleep. They woke him up and it startled him and he scattered the Lord’s supper all over the place! That is the only time anything like that has happened. It was not a good situation. But it is not a sin to fall asleep in worship.
Martin Luther King was speaking up in Harlem in 1968, and Bill Clinton was on the podium and Bill Clinton fell asleep. Later the New York Post said, “Like Martin, Clinton had a dream!” And even now we have noticed sometime that our president has gotten a little bit sleepy upon the podium. So you know things like that happen, and it is not good, but sometimes we cannot help it. For instance, if you are a person that does heavy labor and you work long hours and you come to worship, you might fall asleep. And some people take certain kinds of medicine that will make you sleepy. And so it is not a sin if anybody goes to sleep because we are not to judge that situation. We do not always know the circumstances and we do not have a record of Paul rebuking Eutychus for falling asleep and disrupting the assembly! The record say that Eutychus was a “young man” and the original word means a lad about eight to fourteen years old. He could have been a slave and worked long hours before coming to worship. We do know that it is midnight and Paul is still preaching. We could say, “Paul preached him to death.” It is not a sin to fall asleep physically in worship, but it is a sin if we fall asleep spiritually! Therefore Paul wrote the Ephesian church and said,
Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead
And Christ will give you light.
(Ephesians 5:14 NKJV).
The Troas worship was experienced by people just like us. They were ordinary people who had been baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26-27) and were doing their best to serve the Lord. I think the congregation at Troas was made up of common people like all of us. So we decided to describe what the members at Heartland do in their everyday life. We have factory workers, public school teachers, school administrators, nurses, homeschool teachers, policeman, business owners, technology workers, and school bus drivers. We also have delivery truck drivers, medical supervisors, plumbers, carpenters, accountants, armed services, both active and retired. But that is not all! We have retired postal workers, preachers, truck drivers, mechanics, bakers, clerical workers, childcare workers and administrators, and young people like Eutychus. And we also love our little children and infants, with more on the way! Have I missed anyone? I think I know this congregation fairly well. All of you are just common people like they were in New Testament times. All of us do different things. But when we come together, we all worship God on the first day of the week and we break bread.
INCIDENTALS AT THE TROAS WORSHIP
Now I want us to look at some incidentals. Incidentals are things that God has not legislated, but left us free to carry out his commands. Did God tell us the time of the day to worship? No! Different congregations have different times to worship, but they all “break bread” on the first day of the week. God did not tell us the length of the sermon. He did not tell us where we are to sit, some like to sit up front and some in the back. Evidently it was permissible for Eutychus to sit up in an open window! Sometimes children will get up and leave the congregation for a short time. We have no record that Eutychus was criticized for sitting in the window! Do not make it a habit to come to worship to find fault, but to be lifted up in love and devotion to the Lord! God did not tell us how many lights we should have in the assembly. Troas probably had oil lamps and that would probably help to make Eutychus sleepy.
We are all going to die someday. It could be at a worship service like where Eutychus died. But we do not have an apostle to raise us up to life again. But all those who die in the Lord have the promise that Christ will raise us up to everlasting life.
I will close with the story of a man who was rather wealthy, and he noticed there was a man that was very needy. The wealthy man had seven costly coins. And he gave the needy man six of those coins and he was very happy. But then he turned around and followed the man who gave him six coins and stole the seventh coin. You may say, that is terrible, the man should be put in prison!
But the moral of that story is that God gives us six days to work and make money and enjoy life to the fullest! But I wonder what God thinks when we steal the first day of the week—the Lord’s day? Let us think about that as we stand to sing a word of encouragement for anyone to become a Christian and live a faithful life. *
* Copyright © 2021 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd presented the essence of this sermon May 9, 2021, at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana 46142