As we look into the scriptures at the New Testament church in the first century, there are some very interesting things that we see. The church was new, vibrant, and growing by leaps and bounds. When we view the Lord’s Church today, things may not look as bright. How are we to reclaim that energy? What will bring us into that same spirit of growth and enthusiasm? Here are a few things I’ve noticed about the people that make up the first century church that we would do well to encourage in our congregations today.
The first century church was full of all kinds of new information. The physical nation of Israel was not longer the “flock” of God, but now the “called-out-ones” were His people. The requirement for entrance into this kingdom was no longer physical birth but by spiritual rebirth (John 3:3-5). All of these changes, and more, needed to be communicated by God to His creation. He chose to do this first by Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:2). After His ascension back to Heaven he left the Holy Spirit to do His work through the Apostles (Titus 1:3). Through the preaching, teaching, and writings of these inspired men we see a vast amount of communication happening from God to His people. We can learn from this fact today as well. If we want to thrive as a congregation of the Lord’s Body, we need to value communication. After all, communication is the foundation for any relationship. How important it must be then for the greatest relationships, between brethren in Christ.
Communication is important, but communication without proper understanding and application is not useful. “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). “For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end” (2 Corinthians 1:13). It is possible to take verses and concepts out of context from the communication from God. “as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16). If we want to be a sound congregation and pleasing to God, we need to be standing on a proper interpretation of God’s Word.
This may be most important of all. If we had a group of Christians who truly acted like, spoke like, loved like, and forgave like Jesus…we would be a perfect church. This is obviously ideal, so let us strive to achieve this goal! If we treated one another like Jesus treats us, there would be very few arguments, disagreements, and issues between brethren. The old saying WWJD (what would Jesus do) surely rings true and allows us to judge our own behavior in light of the example of our Lord. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). If we all showed the fruit of the Spirit and less of the works of the flesh, we would be more God-like (Galatians 5:16-26).
These three things would go a long way in making us a stronger, more Christ-like group of Christians. Let this be a reminder to all of us that we have to stay focused on the what is truly important in our lives. May God bless us as we strive to be successful in bringing glory to His name.