When we compare the church today with the example given in the book of Acts, we come up short and wanting. It looks like what life was like in the book of Acts and our church life now are not even related, like they were from different parents, from different planets. And if you are honest with yourself, you will see how much we have lost and how far we have fallen from the prototype God gave us in His Word. Which begs the question: How can we recover what we have lost?
What do we know about the early church? Consider the following:
• They lived in communities, like one large, extended family.
• They met in homes or rented facilities. There was not a million-dollar building on every street corner that sat empty six days a week.
• Their key distinctive was worship and evangelism. Or worship expressed as evangelism.
• They were led by lay leaders. You and me. The guy next door. There was nothing of the clergy, laity divide. There were no hired holy-men. Everyone was obedient to the command of Christ, individually.
• They were guided by Scriptures. Not tradition, nor public opinion, nor vote of the congregation. God and His Word was the final authority.
• Everyone was a priest. Each believer had direct access to the throne of God. Hence, they were all equal in His sight.
• They had all things in common. This is probably the hardest concept to get our heads around since we are happy living in a narcissistic world.
• They were known, both within and outside of the church, as holy men who lived sanctified lives.
Looks a bit different from any church I have ever been a part of. Can you say the same?
The early church took the commands of Jesus seriously. They did not pass them on to someone else or assume they were meant for only those who were “gifted” or “specifically called” to total commitment. They took responsibility knowing that Jesus’ commands still applied to them, and also to us, some 2,000 years later. Consider this command:
Matthew 28:18-21 – And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go (not stay) therefore and make disciples of all the nations, (how) baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
As Keith Green once sang, “Jesus commands us to go. It’s the exception if we stay.”
So as 2021 dawns on us, consider following Him this way:
• Consider opening your home for Bible study this year.
• Consider getting together with others for Bible study, fellowship, and prayer.
• Consider creative ways to teach your children about the “exceeding riches of His grace” in Christ.
• And, if you don’t feel compelled to “Go” for the gospel, then consider bringing the lost to you (both home and church) to make disciples of them.
Let 2021 be a year of spiritual renewal and revival for us as individuals and as His church. After all, it has to begin somewhere. Why not let it begin with you?
The following message is a call to help the church in Recovering What We Have Lost.