To Act or Not: Should we use the Acts Church as the guide?

church-model080211A lot of people these days believe the church should be trying to do exactly what the early church did in Acts. This is actually where all the small group craze came from.  Much of the church growth movement is keyed on this principle as well. So do I think mimicking the Acts Church is how we should do things? Yes and no… You see, the Bible has a lot of information on what God wants the Church to do. We have Acts but we also have Ephesians, Timothy, Titus and more. Let us look at this closer beginning with some points about Acts.

There is no question , the early church gave a good model. Acts 2:47 says, “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Some experts have estimated the church in Jerusalem had over 100,000 members. That is larger than many cities.

There are many important principles to follow for Church government. Here are ten examples:
1) Churches should rely on the Holy Spirit’s power. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Church members should have the Lord Jesus controlling their lives. They must let the Holy Spirit take control. Leaning on the Holy Spirit is mostly what is needed.
2) Churches today must nurture a warm fellowship. “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common.” (Acts 2:42-44) With a warm, loving and inviting environment new Christians can be loved and grow in the word.
3) Church members must meet together to study the Bible. “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:46-47) They used the temple courts and they met house to house. Both types of meetings occurred. So we must meet at church and we must break bread together and study in our homes.
4) Churches must expand the vision of God. He is in Control. “And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.” (Acts 4:24) We already know the Church will survive and Satan is already defeated. Fear thou not because we have all the resources and strength we need. “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Christ will build His church!
5) Churches must harness the power of prayer like they did in Acts. From the beginning there has been a spiritual battle going on. Spiritual battles are fought on our knees. Jesus said, “This house will be a house of prayer.” Our Church is to be a house of prayer. In Acts it says, “they prayed” 48 times. Churches need to pray like they prayed in Acts. Churches need God’s power to make us different from the world. (Acts 1:3-4, 14)
6) Churches should be united, generous, loving, and charitable. Our church should be a giving church. The church in Acts was a giving church. “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold.” (Acts 4:32-34) We all need to be united and with one mind. Our church should be the place that the needy are cared for. We should learn how to sacrifice for others like the early church did. We should be a powerful testimony to our community. (Acts 2:44-45)
7) Churches must involve everyone in ministry. We find in Acts chapter 6 how this was done. The apostles found men that were specifically shaped and called for ministry. An example is ‘Greek men to minister to Greek widows.’ No one pastor can do everything. God and the Holy Spirit gifts the entire church. The Pastor feeds the flock through preaching and teaching. The rest is up to others. Our churches need to be able to help people discover their Spiritual gifts and then plug them in. The early church sent people out on mission is the community to add to the growth. Don’t allow people to come and just sit on the sidelines. Use the talents and gifts they bring. Not just any people can minister, however, as the position of Deacon is to be filled with men who are currently full of the Holy Spirit. Not one that was filled at one time, but one filled with the Holy Spirit now. Deacons can bless the body and they can bless the Elders by allowing the Elders to devote more time to the Bible and to prayer. Deacons are “hands on” – somewhat a “Buildings and Grounds” people. As they grow they could be appointed to Elder positions. God wants leaders full of the Holy Spirit, wisdom, unity, prayer and to stand in agreement. God raises these people up.
8) Churches need to read the Bible and be devoted to the word. It should be heard from the pulpit, it should be read, it should be memorized and it should be meditated on. The only thing that can change lives in our churches today is the Gospel and the Word of God. We need to be devoted to reading the Bible. (Acts 2:14-40)
9) Churches should love and worship with joy. In the early church they practiced Koinonia. What that means is they would fellowship with one another. They were committed to one another and loved one another. Our church members need to protect, care and help one another unlike the world. We also should celebrate Christ together. Church should be enjoyable and we should express our emotion in Church letting go and worshiping with joy. (Acts 2:42, 46-47)
10) Churches should be reaching out to the community for Jesus Christ. The early church reached people for Christ daily. “And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:40-41) Evangelism is commanded and we are told to be a witness throughout the world.

Can it work to try and mimic the Acts Church? In the next post I will give you my opinion and expand on what I think we should doing with our church structure.

To go part 2 just click HERE. 

In Christ,

The Tubthumper



Steve Davis, Spiritual Leadership Examples from the Book of Acts.,
Rick Warren, How to Have an Acts Church, (accessed May 1, 2014).

Are we a Bunch of Losers, Part 4

church-wallpaperWhat about us?

I can’t leave this subject without pointing out the responsibility of the believer.  God uses the believer in many ways to build His church.  For this position I will turn to the 6th chapter of Acts and look in verses 1-7. In verse 1 we see that disciples were multiplied which is our commandment.  We are to go and make disciples.  The number of disciples was multiplied: Multiplied meant to them that souls were added to the kingdom and the church was growing.  I need to mention here that growing pains were felt as the church was growing just like it happens now-days.  There were two sides involved in this church, the Grecian Jews and the Hebrews.  Apparently the Hebrews were being slighted and there was some complaining going on.  We see in verse 2 the Apostles were responsible for the church and they had to carry out both a spiritual ministry and a material ministry of helping the needy.

The church then lived very close. They shared everything and knew what everyone was doing.  They had everything in common and probably had something like a commissary. When the Bible mentions “tables” they are actually stations where money and food was distributed.  Each day the food and other things were given out according to need.  This is where the problem arose regarding some of the widows allegedly getting more than others.  By the way, all widows were completely taken care of by the church.  What a great concept!  Oh, one other thing, we must realize that we are not apostles. Apostleship was unique and not something we can repeat.  We are not apostles.  This is one of the “river of differences” between then and now.

The church was to look among the congregants to appoint seven men that were spirit-filled to act as “deacons”.  The word deacon literally was not present and I use it as descriptive. (They were to look for men of honest report and men full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.) This will allow the apostles to continue in the ministry they were appointed to and continue steadfast in prayer and the ministry of the word.   The Apostles wanted to remain devoted to the most important duties.  Notice the priority of prayer first.  Pray steadfastly!  They appointed Stephen, Philip, Prochurus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas.  All seven men have Greek names showing that they came from the Grecian numbers to represent them fairly.

In verse 6 they prayed and laid hands on the men.  Laying on of hands was used in the Old Testament to confer blessing, transfer guilt from sinner to sacrifice and to commission a person for a new responsibility.  I notice they prayed first and then laid hands on them.  Most of the time today we do it in the opposite pattern, we lay on the hands and then pray.

The last verse, verse 7, shows the number of disciples multiplied and a great number of the priests were obedient to the faith.  This meant they were accepting the preaching of the apostles that proclaimed a sacrifice that made the old sacrifices unnecessary. They became obedient to the faith.  Luke pauses throughout his story to summarize the progress of the gospel and the growth of the Christian community. This last verse was one of five summaries he gave.

We can see a theological principle here. God makes his will known to believers in the book of Acts.  God uses a variety of means to guide his people. In this passage he uses other believers.   Theology of work is evident in this passage.  It is service… Serving God, serving society and serving wherever needed.  The spirit filled men that were chosen as “deacons” to take care of the tables did not complain because they couldn’t do what the apostles did.  They served where they were needed. Overseeing the food distribution was just as important as the work of preaching the word of God.  Commitment to service needs to be our foundation.  “The one constant is that God directs our paths in a variety of ways—of this we can be confident!”

So then, how should individual Christians apply this principle today?

We should all be willing servants of the Lord wherever we are needed.  We need to understand that being filled with the spirit and having wisdom equips us to heal any division in our communities or churches. It allows us to assist in the growing pains that will naturally occur from church growth. Every job is reliant on the Spirit to do good work.  Every work we do has the capacity to be a means of participation in God’s plan for the world by the power of the Holy Spirit. Believers’ need to serve where we are needed.  If we are obedient to the Lord and follow His word then He will do the rest.

There is so much more in the Bible about what we are to do as believers and I could do over 100 posts on this subject alone. I probably will before I am done.  If we take the big picture it comes down to one concept once we are part of the Kingdom and it is ‘The Great Commission’.  You can find it in Matthew 26: 16-20. Simply stated, ‘The Great Commission’ is comprised of three parts: 1) Make disciples, 2) Baptize them, 3) Teach them to observe all things that I have commanded you.  That is Divinely Authoritive and The Great Commission is job number one of ‘The Church’ and so it is job number one for us. This is the umbrella under which all of our functions should take place.

Over the years man has distorted what God’s word has brought forth and people go to organized churches today that are miles away from what God intended.  People are getting false teaching and heresy and the only way they can see the difference is to read and listen to the truth.  The truth is God’s word as it was written.  As I mentioned in the first post, the message has been dumbed down, changed by mankind to suit their needs and watered down to draw crowds and not offend anyone.  The truth is needed!  True disciples of the Lord are never offended by the truth!  We seek it, and we want to get to the meat of true spirituality.

We are to be intimately involved with each other and every saint to insure that others are equipped for ministry and then they can go on and minister to others.  We are to equip others to the building up of the body of Christ.  The body of Christ, wow!  That is ‘The Church’ we have talking about.

I am out of space today and need to close by asking you to go to the Word and read these scriptures: Proverbs 3:5; Colossians 2:8-11; Proverbs 1:25-30; Proverbs 8:14-17; Isaiah 5:21; Isaiah 30:1-3; Isaiah 40:13-14, Job 38:2-7; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Romans 3:18; timothy 3:16-17; and last but not least 2 Peter 1:2-4.

Do not rely on the wisdom of men for it will let you down.  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding”, Proverbs 3:5.  

(Click Here to) –  Join me in the next post as we look at the necessities of being a healthy “New Testament Church”.

May God bless your day today,

“The Tubthumper”

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’