Posts tagged ‘Christianity’

Being First Century Christians

Where I come from, there has been a sustained effort over the years to reflect, as much as possible, the pattern left by the church of the First Century. We don’t do things we can’t find authority for in the New Testament, and by and large believe that the church today should shed 2,000 years of add-on s and extras, come out of our denominations, and just be Christians. While it is a work in progress, much has been done to that end.

But I’ve got a question for your consideration. Should we make it our goal to be just like the church of the First Century? Should our efforts be directed toward that singular destination? I submit to you that the answer to that question is a definite “no”. Before you panic, here’s what I mean.

There are definitely some things about First Century Christianity that we should desire for the church today. After the Day of Pentecost, the church in Jerusalem was described this way:

So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:41-47 NASB)

Doctrinally, we should be just like that church. We should also have a deep sense of fellowship with other believers, and we most certainly should have deep convictions about the Apostles doctrine. I even believe that if we lived it out correctly, that we would see the Lord adding to our number daily, those who were being saved. Do you want a pattern for the Church? Start with that one! But, as wonderful as that is, it’s not our goal. Being just like First Century Christians is a means to an end. It is the path we take, not our destination!

You see, the church at Laodicea was also a First Century church. The church at Corinth with its problems with carnal members and weekly chaos, was a First Century church as well. Read about seven First Century churches in Revelation chapter 2 and 3, and you will see that five of them needed to fix things, and two of those were in bad enough shape that Christ did not have anything good to say about them. But sure enough, they were singing acapella, taking the Lords supper, and baptizing for the remission of sins.

There is no virtue, in and of itself, in being a First Century church! I repeat, it is just a means to an end. Our ultimate focus has got to be Jesus. When we focus on Jesus we will aim for the correct goals. Our goal as a congregation of believers is to love the Lord our God and show that love in our obedience. And we are to love our neighbors, and show that love in how we treat others. There is a real danger in turning the route into the destination!

On the flip side, unless we take the correct route, we will not reach our goal. The two go hand in hand, but they must never be substituted for each other.
So yes, we still want to worship in First Century simplicity, and we still will teach the same doctrine as the Apostles. And if we do so in love and with zeal, we will bring many along with us on the way to our eternal destination.

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Are You Going To Eat That?

Are You Going To Eat That?
Today’s post starts with the inspired narrative telling about dire situation that ensued when Samaria was under siege by Syria and was totally cut off. No longer could they go to Jerusalem to worship at the temple and offer sacrifices to God. They were isolated and starving physically and spiritually.

“Now it came about after this, that Ben-hadad king of Aram gathered all his army and went up and besieged Samaria. There was a great famine in Samaria; and behold, they besieged it, until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a fourth of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver. As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall a woman cried out to him, saying, “Help, my lord, O king!” He said, “If the LORD does not help you, from where shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the wine press?” And the king said to her, “What is the matter with you?” And she answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ So we boiled my son and ate him; and I said to her on the next day, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him’; but she has hidden her son.” When the king heard the words of the woman, he tore his clothes-now he was passing by on the wall-and the people looked, and behold, he had sackcloth beneath on his body. Then he said, “May God do so to me and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat remains on him today.” (2 Kings 6:24-31 NASB)

This is such a heartbreaking scene, but it is typical of what happens when people are completely cut off and begin to despair of life. Desperation breeds panic, and people find themselves doing things that they would have once been unthinkable.
The Israelites had been reduced to eating dove dung and donkey heads. Can you imagine what it would be like to come home to Dove Dung Soup or Donkey Head Surprise? What type of hopelessness brings people down to that level? And during their fight to survive they keep seeing the prophet, Elisha, who had told them how to keep out of this danger by turning to God and forsaking their idols. Instead of heeding the Word of God, the wanted to kill the messenger.

In many ways, we are the same way personally. When we cut ourselves off from God, we inevitably, eventually will find ourselves doing things we never would have done before, accepting as normal things that were once an abomination, and wanting to close our ears to any who would show us the way back to God. Take a look at the things you watch and listen to. Look at the activities you see or even participate in that once would have been shocking. How desensitized have we become? How seared over are our hearts against being sensitive to what pleases God? It is like in our day, we have replaced the idols which brought judgment on the Northern Kingdom of Israel with full length mirrors. With great seriousness and piety we look into the mirror and say, “My kingdom come, my will be done” as we submit to our ideas instead do to the Word of God.

Our national conscience has also been deadened. We have a society that openly promotes that which God condemns. It stands in defiance to the commands of God, and declares that he has no place in government, as if somehow that means God will be able to leave our nation’s sin unjudged because we have declared ourselves “secular”. We are consuming toxic, filthy, garbage (i.e. dove dung soup and donkey head surprise) and calling it normal, and freedom. But in the end it will kill us as a nation! And just like in the narrative above, the children are the ones who suffer and are consumed.

We have to wake up and see our situation the way God sees it! We have to take another look and what we watch and listen to and laugh at, and measure it by the Word of God and decide one thing – if I am taking this in, is it pure food, or is this dove dung and donkey heads served on a silver platter. Because filth and garbage served in a fanciest restaurant by waiters in tuxedos, is still toxic and it will slowly kill you.

Our God loves us so much that, even while we are wallowing in the gift wrapped filth of the world, He demonstrated His love for us by sending His Son to die for us. (Romans 5:8) His desire is to give us the bread of life and living water. To fill us with things that bring life instead of corruption so we will never hunger and thirst again. God said it this way through the prophet Isaiah:
“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost. “Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance. (Isaiah 55:1, 2 NASB)

All of this sustenance is to be found “in Christ”. How do we get into Christ? By hearing and understanding the Gospel, repenting of our sin, confessing faith in Him, being baptized into Christ.
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:26, 27 NASB)

There it is. It’s simply beautiful and beautifully simple. Obey the Gospel and be added to the body of Christ. Then you can forsake the filth of the world (repentance) and follow after Christ.
Don’t delay.
The world will try to convince you that right is wrong and wrong is right.

Come to Jesus, on His terms, today!
(Acts 2:38)

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