Monday, January 21, 2008

Acts: The Early Church (2:42)

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
 
Theology should always be built on every passage addressing a topic in the Bible, never just a verse here or there. When discussing how to do church, one must take most of the New Testament into context and not just focus on one verse or even one book of the Bible. This is a huge temptation however. Many groups have sought to discover just exactly how these first believers did church and then try to emulate that. The problem is that there is a lot more said about what the church should be than the simple example of how it started out. Jesus had a lot to say about how His followers should behave. The epistles have a lot to teach about what church should look like in different situations.
 
That being said, what would church look like if all you had were the church from Acts chapter two? This is the kernel on which everything else must be built, the essential. There are four elements present in this early church: Teaching, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper, and Prayer. What is missing? Music, witnessing, outreach, deacons, age-targeted ministry, tithes and offerings, and buildings are all missing. Many of these elements will be introduced quickly. Some such a witnessing were already occurring, but not as a “church program,” but rather as individual practice. Some are never introduced in the Bible at all.
 
Any church should be built on these basics. There should be a total devotion to the Biblical teaching, and nothing should be added to that authority. Believers should spend time together; sharing what God is doing in their lives and building each other up. The Lord’s Supper (and Baptism) should be observed, and everything should be bathed in constant prayer. Anything else is built on these foundations.

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