“Pressing toward the goal”
It is not uncommon to hear someone say “We want to be a first century Church”. What we understand them (or us) to be saying is that we want to be a living replica of what we perceive to be the purity and power of the early church. Someone else has said “It is impossible for us to be a first century church for one simple reason; we don’t live in the first century!” While funny, we know that is also true, as 21st century life has changed in many of its forms. What we need then is to say “We want to be a New Testament church led and empowered by Christ in the 21st Century”.
What exactly does this mean and what would that look like? As we continue our study through the book of Acts I hope that you will hold that question in your hearts and minds. That you will join with me in praying that God will show us something of His purposes and power manifest in the life of the early church. In the coming weeks I believe we will see some of the essential marks of a New Testament Church. We will see what they did and at times how they did it. It will be very important for us to distinguish and discern between that which is “prescriptive” and that which is “descriptive”. What that means is that we will see things that God did in the lives of the Apostles and early church. The fact that He did it that way with them may simply be a description of God’s activity in their lives and have no prescriptive power that we should do likewise. Things as simple as “wait in Jerusalem” is clearly descriptive and not prescriptive for us. Other events in the life of the early church will cast a vision before us of the commitments and realities that are prescriptive and will characterize any group of believers throughout all centuries and in all cultures and parts of the world.
As we continue pursuing being His Church, may we continue to surrender to Christ authority in our lives so that we might fulfill our ultimate calling of magnifying and manifesting Christ in the world. Our joy and relief is in the fact that Christ is the One who said; “I will build my Church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it”. (Matt. 16:18) And so we say together; “Now to Him Who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen!” (Eph. 3:20-21).