Summary: A study on the New Testament Church.
Many have dismissed the church as being outdated and irrelevant. The world says that there are many groups or organizations that you can belong to, that they believe are serving the world’s needs much more effectively. You can explain the church’s worship and be told that you can worship alone. You can boast of the church’s social services, and others will quickly point to the Red Cross and other agencies that seem to be much more effective at meeting the needs of people. You can speak of the peace of mind and stability that the church provides only to hear of the marvelous things happening in psychology and mutual help groups. So we are faced with a large dilemma. How does one begin to effectively explain the continuing importance of the church? Especially to people who live in a world that is skeptical about the church and trying to escape what society terms as organized religion? Probably the best approach will be to start by discovering where the church came from. The church may superficially resemble other organizations, but nothing even begins to compare because the church was designed and conceived in the mind of God. Think of any club or organization the world has to offer, and you will soon discover that nothing can hold a candle to what our Heavenly Father created. The task ahead of us is to learn to make our church relevant to the culture so once again it will be returned to place of prominence that it once held in our society. Today let’s begin our journey by going back and discovering the church’s roots.
I. The Church was conceived in the mind of God.
A. The events of Pentecost were without a doubt was God’s doing – of that Peter was certain.
1. Positively, Peter explains the phenomena taking place among the early Christians at Pentecost as being the fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32
2. Peter responded to the questions and accusations of the crowd by calling attention to the Old Testament prophet Joel. He would not let stand the uninformed charges of skeptics.
3. Peter had been an unstable leader, but Christ had forgiven and restored him, now Peter is not only bold but humble as well.
4. Peter assures the people that the life of Christ, His death and resurrection, the miraculous events happening on Pentecost were a sure sign of God working in their midst.
B. The church did not spring to existence as the brainchild of men; it came from the mind of God.
1. Both Paul and Peter agreed that God didn’t work according to sudden whims; He always has an eternal plan. (Ephesians 3:7-11)
2. The growth of the church and through their ministries and those of others were in accordance with God’s eternal purpose.
3. This is what makes the church so vital, because God didn’t choose to display His wisdom and purpose through any government but through His church.
4. He didn’t choose to announce His message through angels, but He entrusted His church to make sure His message was broadcast to the people of every century.
C. On the day of Pentecost Peter announced the way men could come into an eternal relationship with God through the grace of Jesus Christ.
1. As recipients of the Grace of God they were received into the fellowship of Christ’s body.
2. Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (Acts 2:41)
3. Added to what? The following verses make it clear they were added to Christ and each other.
4. They became the church!
5. The emphasis on the dawning of the age of the Messiah, the universal appeal of the gospel, and the hope of restoration by a merciful God are themes which appear again and again throughout the history of the church.
II. The church didn’t just appear out of nowhere, its roots were deep in the people of Israel.
A. Just as we can trace our blood lineage back generations we can do the very same thing with the lineage of our faith.
1. We can trace our the ancestry of our faith back through the Restoration movement, the Reformation, the early the days of the Roman Catholic Church, the New Testament Church, Jesus Christ clear back to the Ancient Hebrews.
2. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is our God as well. (Genesis 12:1-3)
3. The final promise to Abraham was fulfilled when Christ opened up membership to the family of God to those who were not necessarily blood descendants of Abraham.
4. It was through Christ that I who have no Hebrew blood, could become a member of the Family of God.
5. In the nation of Israel God’s promise was handed down from generation to generation while God prepared for just the right moment. (Galatians 4:4-5)