Summary: In the life of Christ and the New Testament Church in Acts we see a clear picture of the purpose of the church and why the church exists.
“Becoming a Biblical Church”
Acts 2, 3, 4
As we enter the New Year 2003, we find ourselves reflecting on the past year and looking forward to a joyous New Year. Many of you have made new commitments and new resolutions and set goals for the coming year. A New Year brings renewed hope. Because of the grace and love of the Lord God wants the coming year to be the best you have ever had.
At the beginning of every year I make similar commitments: read three chapters of the Bible every day, read devotional book and spend time in prayer and writing in a prayer journal. If you do not have a regular devotional time I encourage you to read three chapters of the Bible every day and you will read through the Bible in one year.
The New Year is a reminder that God wants to do new things in your life. The Lord wants to make all things new for you. The risen Lord says, “Behold, I make all things new…” Rev. 21:5 Throughout the Bible we learn about new opportunities and new things:
The Psalmist tells us about a new song the Lord has given
him. (Psalm 42:8)
Isaiah writes of new things to be learned and a coming new heaven and new earth. (Isa. 42:9, 65:17)
Jeremiah proclaims a new covenant and new mercies every
morning. (Jer. 31:31)
A new life (Rom. 6:23)
A new self (Eph. 4:24
A new commandment of love ( John 13:34)
A new creation (II Cor. 5:17)
A new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1)
As we look forward to a New Year as a local church let’s make a commitment to “Becoming a Biblical Church.”
Our model and example in becoming a Biblical church is the early church in Acts. Our mission as a church for the coming year is to become a Biblical Church.
In the life of Christ and the New Testament Church in Acts we see a clear picture of the purpose of the church and why the church exists.
Jesus said He came to “seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) Jesus also gave the church two commands: First, “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Teaching them to obey all that I have taught you. I am with you to forever.” (Matt. 28:19-20)
Jesus gave his final command in Acts 1:4 and 8, “Tarry in Jerusalem until you receive the promise of the Father. You will receive power after the Holy Spirit is come upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and unto the ends of the earth.”
From these Scriptures and others we draw several characteristics of a Biblical Church.
I. A Biblical Church has an Outward Focus. (Acts 2)
The church does not exist for itself. The church exists for others. Jesus said: “Tarry in Jerusalem until you are endued with supernatural power from heaven.” For ten days following the ascension of Jesus into heaven the disciples waited and prayed for the fulfillment of the promise of the Father.
The promise was fulfilled in Acts 2 when on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came and filled the disciples with power to witness.
Jesus came to earth as God’s Savior and the Promised Messiah. Jesus came to call, develop leaders and sent them out to continue to work He started.
Bishop Azaiah of India once addressed a large gathering of Christian workers. He told them of the conversion of a Hindu to the Christian faith. The Hindu was a seeker after Truth. He first read the Gospels in the New Testament and was impressed with the life, death, miracles and teachings of Christ. Then he read on into the book of Acts of the Apostles. He felt he was in a new world. In the Gospels Jesus as everywhere in the foreground, but in the Acts the disciples were in the foreground. It seemed to the Hindu reader that the disciples were carrying on in the flesh from where Jesus left off. He said: “I must belong to the Christian Church for it seems to be carrying on the work that Jesus came to do.”
As a local church we want to be committed to having an outward focus and carry on the work Jesus started. We want to reach out in love and witness to our Jerusalem, our Judea, our Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the world.
A study of the history of the people of God in the Old and New Testaments reveals an interesting fact: the well being of the believing community was directly proportional to their obedience to God’s mission for them. When the people of God have a sense of mission things go well and the church is strong and healthy. When the church becomes introverted and loses its desire to minister in Christ’s name to those who are in need, problems set in.