Summary: My brothers and sisters many in the church and out of the church, have some kind of idea of what we consider a healthy church.
THE MARKS OF A HEALTHY CHURCH
My brothers and sisters many in the church and out of the church, have some kind of idea of what we consider a healthy church. To the churched a healthy church is the church that have many members and ministries. To the unchurched the healthy church is a church that take up no offerings and the entire service lasts only fifteen minutes. And although we all cannot agree on what a healthy church is, we should agree that a healthy church is the church that follows God’s Word. In the case of this text we find the church at Jerusalem following in the footsteps of Jesus. It is making sure that the poor and the needy is taken care of. It is not consumed with church size, and ministries, or no offerings, and lengths of services. The church of Jerusalem was determine to do the Lord’s will for the needy. I remember when the church used to do that, and it was called missions. But since then our effort in missions have changed from caring for the needy in our own country to sending millions of dollars into foreign countries. Now don’t get me wrong because there are some countries that need our help. But it was the church that believed that charity began at home and then spread abroad, but now we feel that it is someone else’s job to take care of our poor. The reason the old church cared for the needy was because the church came from within the community and the community because of its people was part of the church. In other words when the community would hurt the church would hurt and visa versa. I hear from time to time Tr. Samuels speak of his birth place being in the building where Grimes Hall is. He would show me where his bed room was. And I would listen as he talked about the history of the community. I would also hear Tr. Samuels and Tr. Overton as they mentioned with loving memory those that lived in the community like Ms. Lewis who lived across the street. The community was the people that kept a watchful eye not only on the church but they watched over the children too. Even our neighbors across the street recall seeing Rev. Travis and many of the members coming and going and they felt like the church was a big part of the community because they remembered that many of their neighbors were members of Salem. And it was Salem that helped those in the community from time to time. That was truly the trademark of the church, helping those that were in need.
As we have seen in the Book of Acts so far we’ve seen how the Lord had empowered the church with the Holy Spirit to be a witness of Him to all men. We heard Peter in Acts 2 as he declared unto the religious leaders that Jesus in whom they had crucified was Lord of all, and saw how three thousand souls were saved through the words that he spoke. In chapter 3 we witness the power of the Holy Spirit in Peter and John as they were going to the temple to pray, heal a lame man. And this act was instrumental in the start of the persecution of the church. And in this 4th chapter is the continuation of that persecution. Peter and John was arrested for preaching the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but they could not formally charge or punish them because everytime they mentioned the name of Jesus something wonderful happened, thus giving the people hope where there was no hope. The religious leaders felt if they had punished Peter and John they would cause an up rising then the Romans would’ve come down on them. So all they could do was to forbid them from preaching in the wonderful name of Jesus and to threaten then serious consequences if they did.
In this lesson we see the church of Jerusalem coming together as one. They knew that they were in for some harsh times because of their belief in Jesus Christ. They also knew that they had a good chance of being persecuted for the cause of Christ and the church had to come together as one. So come with me as we examine The Marks of a Healthy Church.
First of all...
1. THEY HAD ALL THINGS IN COMMON (v.32)
“And the multitude of those that believed were of one heart and one soul; neither said any of them that any of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.”
The text said that they were of one heart and of one soul. As a pastor I find it hard to get everyone to have the one heart and soul for ministry. Just recently I asked for ten men to be part of a Discipleship group and I only got three people to sign up so far. But as I look at the church in Jerusalem that is in it’s infancy, I find encouragement in knowing what can happen when the people of God get on one accord. And even as we stand in this newly renovated Sanctuary my heart finds joy in Salem because many that have gone on and some that are here now were of one heart and soul to either buy a church or renovate the one we have. And in-spite of all the opposition Salem faced, and leadership breakdowns. Salem persevered to this beautiful edifice unscathed. Likewise the New Testament church in Jerusalem although it face strong opposition from the religious leaders. Knew that if they band together with their new faith in Christ Jesus they could make it.