BODY LIFE: Biblical Example of the Early Church
Living as a Supernatural Community in a Fallen World
The early church was a supernatural community . . . operating in the power of the Holy Spirit according to God's design for the Body of Christ.
Some local bodies, like the Corinthian church, had to be brought in line but as a whole, the potential was promising.
The church was not perfect but it did leave an example for us of:
The early church was a supernatural community . . . operating in a fallen world in need of a Savior.
They experienced persecution and conflicts from within and without as well as assault from the Enemy.
The church was not problem-free but God did use it to advance His plan of salvation in the world through their:
The Early Church: balance
- objectives - instruction, intimacy, institution of Lord's Supper (worship), intercession
- strategies to accomplish their objectives - congregate, commune, charity
- heart attitudes as they did this - devotion, delight, depth
- end result - gratitude, goodwill, growth
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Everyday they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Note: Their fellowship was balanced with teaching, benevolence, and worship. As they functioned accordingly "the Lord added to their number..." --- If we are who we are supposed to be and do what we are supposed to do, evangelism happens.)
The Early Church: benevolence
- objectives - solidarity
- strategies to accomplish their objectives - shared with one another
- heart attitudes as they did this - selflessness
- end result - supplied all needs
All believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.
(Note: Theirs was not a social gospel making benevolence as an end in itself. But rather, "with great power the apostles continued to testify ..." --- Truth must remain central to our endeavors.)
The Early Church: boldness
- objectives - proclamation
- strategies to accomplish their objectives - prayer
- heart attitudes as they did this - plurality
They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. . . . After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. . . . On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. . . . Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
(Note: Persecution, rather than tearing the early church apart, drew them together. They provided a base of support for one another. Together they went to the One who could empower them. --God never intended for individuals to stand alone in spiritual battle.)
The Early Church: breadth
- objectives - support work going on elsewhere
- strategies to accomplish their objectives - send gift
- heart attitudes as they did this - selfless
During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
(Note: This group of believers looked beyond themselves. They were better off materially than the church in Jerusalem and so, despite impending famine, they shared of their resources. ---Each local body must remember that they are a part of a whole.)