Summary: The Church at Jerusalem serves as a model for every church on what God expects His churches to look like.
Acts 2: 41-47
The Marks of a Great Church
The Church at Jerusalem serves as a model for every
church on what God expects His churches to look like. The Church at Jerusalem was not seeking after greatness, but she attained it because each member did what God called them to do.
In the Bible we see two extremes: the Church at Jerusalem and the Church at Corinth. The Church at Jerusalem did things right while the Church at Corinth did things wrong. Inside the Church at Corinth there was contention, carnality, and corruption.
The Church at Jerusalem was very different: everybody was involved and interested. The members gave, prayed, witnessed, and worked.
Tonight, may we make the Church at Jerusalem our pattern and seek to be that kind of Church.
In our verses tonight we are gong to behold what the first church looked like at beginning. I want you to see how our text defines what it is that makes a church a church. There are a few defining characteristics, or marks, or essentials of the church that this passage lays bare. So let’s go back through the passage and see what are the marks of a great church.
I. It was marked by TRUTH - “continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine”
“Continued steadfastly” - persistence, it means, “to be earnest toward, . . . to persevere, be constantly diligent, . . . to adhere closely to.” These disciples were wholeheartedly committed to, passionately dedicated to, zeroed in on and focused upon the things mentioned.
Here was a church based on the Word of God. It says they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine. They were a church that taught and preached the word of God.
Don’t ever, ever allow anybody to stand in this pulpit who
is not committed to teaching and preaching of the word of God. That’s a vital thing.
When Paul writes to Timothy and Titus he says the same
thing over and over. Preach sound doctrine. Preach the Word. Preach the word.
It is no accident that doctrine comes first. It should always come first. Precept should determine practice. Experience must always be tested by doctrine not doctrine by experience.
We live in a day where churches often minimize and even disdain sound doctrine. Instead, emphasis is placed on emotional
experience and feelings.
In the last three letters that Paul wrote to his younger pastors, Timothy and Titus, you find him emphasizing again and again the need for sound doctrine (1 Tim. 4:13, 16; Titus 1:9). In his final appeal to Timothy, just before his martyrdom, Paul gives the strongest possible admonition (2 Tim. 4:1-2a). He goes on to warn Timothy that the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but will accumulate teachers who tell them what they want to hear.
A great church must be devoted to sound doctrine.
A great church places a high premium upon the truth of the Word of God.
Has not downsizing become a major factor in business
economics? Major home staples such as coffee, soap bars, washing powder, napkins, paper towels, frozen foods, and dozens of other items have been downsized in recent years. Practicing commercial deception, the manufacturers’ packages oftentimes still look as large as they formerly did but do not contain the same amounts, having been gradually reduced in content. Purchasers are paying more while obtaining less, without clear notification.
On a religious scale, the same tragic process is occurring today, as the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3) is being downsized by many church leaders.
A. DOWNSIZING THE SCRIPTURES
In many churches, modern translations are
gradually replacing the accurate, reliable KJV. In some churches, the saints are getting less and less of the KJV and more and more of the new translations based on the apostate liberal critical text.
The NASV and the NIV are just two of the many
versions available to a gullible religious public today. Yet the average Christian believes he still possesses the same content as his former KJV.
The verbal preservation of Scripture, the triune God, the deity of Christ, the blood atonement of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, and the old fashioned doctrine of repentance are representative of the truths that are being downsized, diminished, and deleted.
B. DOWNSIZING THE SERMONS
Many sermons today have been downsized with
regard to doctrine. Solid Biblical exposition of Scriptural doctrines is being diminished, neglected, and ignored. A feel-good easy lifestyle Christianity that emphasizes happiness rather than holiness is replacing sound Bible teaching.
The "elders" in a rapidly growing "Bible" church in
Southeastern Maine were asked by a newspaper reporter to define the reasons for the swift attendance growth the church was experiencing. Believe it or not, the elders in this "Bible" church reported that one of the major reasons was the "de-emphasis upon… doctrine!"