To Act or Not: Part 2

Actsgathering3Is it appropriate to attempt to be an “Acts Church” today by using the book of Acts as a guide?
Yes and No… let me explain. Certainly the ten points I outlined in the last post will be a great resource to follow and I support the use of them. In fact our churches won’t be too successful without doing those 10 things. So yes, I say we should follow the guide and do our best to carry it out. We need to keep in mind however the differences in culture and their community compared to ours. Without intense study of the culture in Jerusalem at that time in history it would be impossible to understand the vast differences. The response to leadership was different and some things done today were completely forbidden. There was also specific revelation occurring from God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The early converts were praying like we can’t even imagine and God was responding. I believe this issue of prayer is one of our problems but that is another subject. ActsChurchThe early church was almost completely a made up of Jewish people before it spread to the Gentiles. (Officially in Acts 15) Our community is much more diverse. Things were done much different back then compared to now and the world mindset was different. I remember a guy saying to me, “Ok, that was the church for then but I want to experience our church for now.” We can be an Acts church but must modify for our contemporary times. It would be impossible to do everything exactly as the Apostles did in the early church.
Secondly I think there is more that God wants us to follow and the Bible provides it. I think if we add Ephesians to the Acts Church we have a winner of a blueprint to work from. We must not exclude the teachings of Timothy, Titus and others.
We know that the primary job of the Church is the ‘Great Commission’ of Matthew 28:16-20) which theoretically is a three part process. One is to make disciples, second is to baptize them, and third we must, “teach them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” The Church leaders must see to it that disciples are being made. It is their our principle responsibility.
How are disciples made? They are created through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Everyone does not do the same job in the process. Some disciple, some evangelize, some teach, etc… No need to feel guilt if you can’t do everything well. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-12)
A major part of the blueprint for Church today is Ephesians 4:10-16. The main function of the church leaders is to equip the saints for the work of service. And every Christian is a saint, just call me Saint Frank. Church leaders are to be intimately involved in equipping each and every saint. The body of Christ is built up through the process of equipping. So the purpose of leaders is to equip Christians for ministry and not to replace them. The purpose of equipping members for service is so the body can be built up and the ‘Unity of the Body’ can only be achieved through every Christian ministering and supplying the body. When each individual is functioning properly the body builds itself up in love and unity. It will be self-perpetuating because God guaranteed it. The bottom line is that Churches will grow when we as Christians use our Spiritual Gifts in service to the body of Christ.
We need to be careful because looking at other churches through the ages and how other people are doing things has led to decline in Christianity. Churches that are dying are usually mired in tradition or off the path and unwilling to change. We need to be looking at scripture and reading scripture. We need to also be on our knees in prayer. God’s word has all the answers and it is not only in the book of Acts. Albeit Acts is a great place to be and I don’t want to diminish its importance.
The basic point we must remember is that with a guide or not, the church is built up on disciples that are willing to take up their cross and die for the Lord if need be. (Matthew 16:24)
I think I will close with a thought on this church leadership issue: We will all stand before God some day and answer to Him. Many Church Leaders will stand before God and be asked what they were told to do and if they completed it. Many won’t know what He is talking about and won’t be able to say they obeyed. He will ask if they warned the disciples about their accountability for their instructions in the Word. Not many leaders are reading the Word of God any more. The wrath of God will be visited upon disobedient disciples, and will be visited upon negligent church leaders because it is their responsibility to, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:28-30) Church leadership comes with an awesome responsibility. Woe to those who scatter my sheep.
Blessings for your day through Christ,

The Tubthumper

  1 Stephen Parker, Church Growth Crisis: The Decline of Christianity in America (Oklahoma City, OK: Forever Family Publications, 2011).


Are we a Bunch of Losers, Part 3

Failing-Church-plantThe stark reality of it all…

““Millions of American evangelicals are absolutely shocked by not just the presidential election, but by the entire avalanche of results that came in,” R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Louisville, Ky., said in an interview. “It’s not that our message — we think abortion is wrong, we think same-sex marriage is wrong — didn’t get out. It did get out. “It’s that the entire moral landscape has changed,” he said. “An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them.””.  From The New York times, November 12, 2012.

Why is America increasingly secularized?  Because the ‘The Church’ has failed.  We find in the book of Acts how the church should be.  How God meant it to be.  Let’s take a look at how the church should look to us. I say should.

By reading God’s word in Acts 2:42-47, we can see the first of several assessments of the state of the church.   We should first note that the text begins and ends with a statement about the unusual growth of the church.  Growth comes from identifying disciples and helping them to discover their spiritual gifts and then equipping and training them to turn their spiritual gifts into ministry that grows ‘The Kingdom’. The church gets built on disciples who are willing to take up their crosses and die for our Lord. (Matt.16:24)

From reading in the book of Acts you can know that in the big picture the Church was meant to be a vibrant, balanced, growing community of disciples of Jesus Christ.  Discipleship comes in response to the Gospel and the Gospel Is Love.  In Verse 42 of Acts it lists four of the activities to which the church devoted itself and verses 43-47 serve to further define the four activities.  We should, therefore, consider each of the four activities along with Luke’s further description of them.

The four activities of the earliest church are introduced to us as the priorities of the church. These are the four things to which these saints devoted themselves. These were not options. These were the fruit of a genuine conversion and of life in Christ.  Here they are and they are not meant to be kept as a secret.

The Apostles’ Teaching: We should focus on one aspect of the apostles’ teaching.  The Apostles proclamation of the gospel was recognized as authoritative, due to the authentication of God through miraculous works. Please remember that Peter reminded his audience that the teaching of Jesus had been divinely accredited by the Father. The apostles’ teaching has been preserved in the New Testament Scriptures, so that we have their instruction as well as the early church.  We can never over-emphasize the importance of sound, biblical teaching. The Word of God is the foundation and starting point for every aspect of the Christian life. I need to point out that it is the unchanged and complete Word of God I am talking about.  Not the false teachings that prevail today.  At the conclusion of this series I intend on looking at evaluating your church.  If you do not attend a church that has a Pastor or minister expounding on the complete and never-changing Word, giving you the bad with the good and everything in between.  You need to find a church that does. It is time we fired the imposters.

Fellowship: The term Luke uses for “fellowship” in the text is a much broader term than our English word. Essentially, “fellowship” means “joint participation” or “sharing something in common.” It is thus a kind of partnership. In Philippians 2:1, the term is used of a common sharing in the Holy Spirit. In Philippians 3:10 and 1 Peter 4:13, it is used of sharing in Christ’s sufferings. In Galatians 2:9, it appears to be a sharing together in ministry. The most common expression of “fellowship” in the New Testament is that of sharing financial and material resources.  It was giving to one another when there was a need. One can “fellowship” with fellow believers in a number of ways, including the partaking of meals and engaging in prayer. If Acts 2:44-45 is Luke’s further description of what fellowship looked like in the newly-born church in Jerusalem, then his emphasis would fall on the fellowship of sharing one’s material goods with others.  By reading in Acts you will find that no member of the church had a need that went unmet.  If there was a need it was filled by another member of ‘The Church’. People took care of each other. That was love. It takes intimacy and closeness. Two scary words for today.

The Breaking of Bread: Breaking bread is not always a reference to the observance of Communion.  The expression might simply refer to the eating of a meal together. After he said this, Paul took bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all, broke it, and began to eat (Acts 27:35). The sharing of a meal was perhaps the most intimate form of fellowship one could have with fellow believers. In the ancient near-eastern world, when a guest was invited to a meal with his host, it was incumbent on the host to provide protection for the guest. This would partly explain the actions of Lot when the men of Sodom wanted to do harm to his guests (Genesis 19:1-8). The eating of a meal is also used as a description of our fellowship with God.

The Prayers: Luke is telling us that in its very early days the saints in Jerusalem diligently persisted in the observance of the stipulated times of Jewish prayer at the temple. These were newly-saved Jewish believers who were just beginning to grasp the significance of the things they had done as Old Testament Jews, even though they were unbelievers at the time. Throughout the four gospels in the New Testament prayer is emphasized over and over.

This text has been used by many to describe the essential functions of a church. The danger we can run into is that it becomes a “to do” list of activities.  If we do all these things, then we feel like we are obedient and in a worse case, we may even be proud that we are biblical. (self-righteous) The test for ‘The Church’ is not just doing the right things.  The test is more a matter of having the right attitudes.  The success comes from having the right heart and maintaining right relationships. It wasn’t just what the church in Jerusalem did that Luke is trying to convey in his writings.  What he wants us to know is how and why they did the things they did.  We need to be aware that in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus condemned charity, prayer, and fasting that was done in the wrong spirit, and for the wrong reasons (Matthew 6:1-18).

Join me in the next post JUST CLICK HERE and we will have a look at the responsibility of the believer.  Is that you? I know it is me.

Until the next time,



‘The Tubthumper’