Like to see an example of love among Christians?
Or hear just a sermon about it?
FROM CHILDHOOD I HAD THIS FEELING THAT SOMETHING WAS TERRIBLY WRONG WITH THE CHURCH SYSTEM: It just wasn't reaching the people who needed Jesus most, and it didn't even slightly resemble the things I read about the Early Church in the New Testament!
MOST OF THE CHURCH MEMBERS WERE A BUNCH OF OLD HYPOCRITES WHO WEREN'T THE SLIGHTEST BIT INTERESTED IN GETTING THE GOSPEL TO THE LOST but were much more interested in getting a fancier church building, a swankier preacher, a fancy choir and organ music, and showing off fancy clothes at fancy meetings. Most of them were whited sepulchers full of dead men's bones, and the only way they reached Heaven was by their spiritual stench.
WHAT I WANTED TO SEE THEM DO WAS BECOME LIKE THE EARLY LITTLE BANDS OF CHRISTIANS who met and lived together in homes, spent most of their time out witnessing and winning souls to Jesus, and setting the whole world on fire with the Love and Spirit of God.
HOWEVER, WHEN I USED TO DISCUSS WITH RELIGIOUS LEADERS OF THE PAST how the Early Church subsisted by sharing all things, dropping out of the System and having all things in common, forsaking all in order to preach the Gospel--and that they all did it, not just the preachers, pastors, evangelists and missionaries--they always said, "Yes, but that was a different day, and it didn't last and besides, it wouldn't be possible today".
NOBODY WANTED TO TRY IT--UNTIL I FOUND YOU! And it's working just like it did for the Early Church, and we're doing it! And they hate us for it because they didn't want to do it! They had to say it couldn't be done or they would have had to do it!
NOW WE'VE EXPOSED THEM and they have no cloak for their sin, no excuse for their failure.
NOW THE QUESTION IS: How can we keep from happening to us what happened to the churches?
WELL, FIRST OF ALL, WE MUST BUILD ON THE RIGHT FOUNDATION--the Man Christ Jesus, the Cornerstone! "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1Co 3:11)
SECOND, WE MUST BUILD THE BUILDING HE WANTS! A building of young and living stones, made alive by His spirit, founded on His Truth, and melted together in His Love. 7 For "Ye are God's building...Ye are the temple of God." (1Co.3:9,16)
SO LET'S USE THE BEST CHURCH, THE BEST SPIRITUAL BUILDING, HE EVER CREATED AS OUR PATTERN. Let's use the Early church in the Book of Acts as our blueprint. Here was the ideal! How did they do it?
IN YOUR STUDY, THOUGH, REMEMBER THAT WE ARE NOT THE EARLY CHURCH. We're the Latter Church! The latest Church, and the pattern God wants us to live by today is not exactly the pattern they lived by 2,000 years ago.
HOWEVER, HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF and I'm sure you can see the parallel to us. 10 As Solomon said, "The things that hath been, it is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun." (Ecc.1.9)
JERUSALEM AND THE BEGINNING-- ACTS 1-7 (30-32 A.D.): OBEDIENCE AND UNITY--Result in God's blessing and power:
THERE WERE TWO THINGS THAT BROUGHT DOWN THE BLESSING AND POWER OF GOD ON THE EARLY CHRISTIANS. Number one, there was obedience and number two, there was unity."
"THEN PETER...SAID, WE OUGHT TO OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MEN...(for) we are His witnesses... and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him." (Ac.5:29,32)
"AND ALL THAT BELIEVED WERE TOGETHER, and had all things common... continuing daily with one accord...with gladness and singleness of heart...the multitude to them that believed were of one heart and one soul." (Ac.2:44,46 ; 4:32) "And with great power gave the apostles witness and great grace (or blessing) was upon them all. (Ac.4:33)
THIS WAS JESUS' LAST PRAYER: "THAT THEY ALL MAY BE ONE;...AS WE ARE ONE". (Jn.17:21,22) And when they stuck together, worked together, and cooperated together, He blessed them, strengthened them, made them mighty, made them rich, made them powerful and made them a testimony to the world that in spite of being nobody they had become somebody through the power of God in obeying Him and loving each other, working together and having that tremendous unity of the spirit. (Continued in part 2)