Summary: "42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."
"The Healthy Church"
Part 1 "Study"
Last week we began to look at what a healthy church should look like. We had noted that there are many books about growing the church available out there. Many written by pastors of huge churches, so obviously they must know something about growing churches. But I often wonder about the people that attend these mega churches, if they go to be entertained or fed. I wonder if they go to watch or take part in the worship. I wonder if they are anything like what God intended the church to be like. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are many small churches that claim that the reason they are small is because we are in the last days and people will turn away from sound doctrine and that is why the church is in decline. I got tired of figuring out who was right, so I went to the source of all truth, God’s word. And although, if we are in the last days men will turn from sound doctrine, there is something to be said for church growth. The church that does not grow, will eventually die. That is a fact! So God has lead me to examine the health of CBT. We are not nor do I believe that God wants us to be a mega church. But we do not appear to be growing much either. So, we need to examine and evaluate CBT’s health based upon the Word of God, not some man made formula for growth. Last week we read the end of chapter two of The Book of Acts. It was verses 42-47 and we noted in those verses we could see signs of a healthy church. Those signs included a church where God was working in miracles and in peoples hearts. We noted that they were a unified church, not a church of strife and confusion but of a unufied mind and spirit! We also noted that this was a church where people praised God! They had reason, He was doing great things in this body of believers. The last and most telling sign is that God was adding to their numbers daily, those who needed to be saved! If ever there was a healthy church this was it. Let’s see what it was that the church was doing that contributed to it’s health. Verse 42 says...
"42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." Last week I gave you a preview of the direction we would be taking in this short series and it is contained in this verse. Let’s begin this week by looking at the first thing that the church was doing. It says " And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine"
a. The Apostles’ Doctrine
What exactly is meant by the apostles doctrine here? We know who the apostles are,(those who were hand selected by Jesus and were closest to Him). But what is their doctrine? A doctrine simply defined is a teaching or instruction. What could the apostles possibly be teaching or instructing the early church about? Oh, well there is only one thing, Jesus! they were teaching the church what they had learned from Jesus. They were teaching the church what Jesus taught them, and what they had seen with their own eyes, and heard with their own ears. The apostle John writes in first John chapter 1 "1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. " They had the apostles there among them teaching them. Wow, what a privelege, next to having Jesus there, this was the next best thing. It is no wonder that that church was healthy. It’s two thousand years later, we don’t have the apostles to teach us. There are those who claim the title of apostles and use it as a position of honor. Do you remember way back when we did our study on the apostles, there were some things that set the apostles apart, that gave them that title and position. 1. They were chosen by Christ, Hey wait so are we! 2. They were given gifts to do The work of God, hey, wait so are we! 3. They were eye witnesses to the resurrection, oh wait, I didn’t experience that, how about you? I don’t believe that any of those today who claim the title of apostle were eye witnesses to the resurrected Christ. Again remember what John said... He shared what they actually experienced, saw, touched, heard. This was not a two or three times removed doctrine, but first hand. OK, so we don’t have the apostles, but what about their doctrine? Where could we find the apostles doctrine? If only we had their doctrine! Oh, wait, we do! It is recorded for us in God’s word. Any thing we need to know about Jesus, faith, salvation, is in here!