Summary: Pointers from the New Testament Church
“The Ideal Church”
August 19, 2012
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all, that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”
Did you hear about the guy who found the perfect church? They had the perfect pastor. They had the perfect church board. They had the perfect Sunday school superintendent and perfect teachers with perfect students. Unfortunately, when he tried to join them he couldn’t! He wasn’t perfect!
Of course that’s just a story – because we know there is no perfect church; there is no perfect pastor and no perfect teacher. We all, at our very best, fall far short of perfection – at least perfection of acts. Although, we can have a perfect heart – which means it is our hearts desire to do and say everything perfectly. Of course we will not achieve that goal – but that should be our desire. Our aim should be for perfection, 2 Corinthians 13:11 says. That is what we should strive for. This early New Testament Church seems to have come about as close as you can get to being a perfect church. Look at some of their characteristics.
1. They were all in one accord. They were united in heart and mind. That’s pretty amazing. How many organizations have you been a part of that could say that? How many families could say that? We usually have to agree to disagree. But their thoughts and intents were all united. WOW! That’s pretty unusual.
2. They all shared equally all their possessions. Do you realize what this is saying? It is saying that they gave up their individual houses and businesses and each one had an equal share. Talk about socialism or communism – this is it at its very best. Each individual sacrificed for the good of the whole. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? But this wasn’t socialism or communism. It appears to be a theocracy. God was in control. The apostles were continuing to spread the Word that Jesus had died for our sins and had come back to life again and God’s grace – God’s enabling power - was so powerfully at work within them that there was no needy person among them. From time to time someone would bring the money from selling their home or their land and lay it at the apostle’s feet in a wonderful act of sacrifice and faith. Then the Apostles would have it given to those who had a need. Notice the great faith they had. Notice the great love they had for one another. They certainly seemed to believe that Jesus was going to be coming back soon. It wouldn’t be so hard to be so sacrificial if you believed Jesus was coming back in a few months.
Doesn’t everything seem ideal and perfect in this church? Wouldn’t you like to belong to a church like this? Everyone giving their all for one another? Everyone living without worry about a need? Sure seems perfect, doesn’t it.
It would be like Harold and Dean and us and Tina and Leon just cashing in our homes and giving it to the church. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it – especially if you don’t have lands or property. Especially if you didn’t have to sacrifice and scrape to come up with the down payment.
But not so fast! Things were not as ideal as they seemed. Skip ahead a little bit. You will see that some gave out of pride. Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead because of it. They said they gave all -when in reality they kept a little bit for themselves. They lied about it and God struck them dead. Seems pretty sever for lying, doesn’t it? But you don’t lie to God. God knows. And you will reap the punishment for lying. But check out what happened next.
“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.” Acts 6:1
There were some people getting overlooked. There was complaining going on. As the food was being divided up, some people were being overlooked. They were going hungry. That doesn’t seem so ideal – does it? Some people were disgruntled and unhappy – even in this Apostle led church. I guess as long as we live in enemy territory on planet Earth – we are going to have problems. As long as we have these selfish bodies and limited minds – we are going to have problems. It is very unrealistic to think that we won’t. The challenge is to solve the problems as they come up – and that’s what they did. The apostles organized the first church board. There was no perfect church with perfect people. So they organized a group of godly, Spirit filled men, to lead the church and solve problems as they came up. And that is kind of what the job of the church board is. It is to solve problems as they come up and to lead the church into holiness and Christlikeness and ministry. Our church board states this in our mission statement. It says, “The Purpose of the Mount Shasta Church of the Nazarene is to bring Christ to the Community.” And the word Christ is an acrostic. It stands for,