If We Really Modeled the Early Church Today …

… when there was a question about new leadership, we’d consult God by rolling dice in complete faith that He would speak in the outcome of the roll. (Acts 1:23-25)

… we’d preach powerfully in many languages so that people, near panic, would ask what they should do to be saved. (Acts 2:37)

… the church would gather every day instead of just Sunday (or Saturday evening). (Acts 2:46)

… we’d sell our stuff and provide for those among us in need. (Acts 2:45; 4:32)

… we would, therefore, enjoy the favor of the people around us. (Acts 2:47)

… we’d fear lying to the Spirit and the church about our giving on pain of death. (Acts 5:1-11)

… we’d fear trying opposing proclaimers of good news on threat of blindness. (Acts 13:6-12)

… we wouldn’t hesitate to hop a ride with a foreign stranger and explain perplexing scriptures and we’d baptize folks in whatever body of water God provided when they asked. (Acts 8:26-39)

… we’d make sure that foreign widows didn’t go hungry. (Acts 6:1-7)

… we’d witness to both Jews and Gentiles. (Acts 10)

… we’d benefit from the prayers and prophecy of women as well as men. (I Corinthians 11:1-10; Acts 21:8-9)

… if we were of good character, we’d study the scriptures daily to double-check what our ministers told us. (Acts 17:11)

… we’d have visiting ministers who stayed, at most, only about three years; who would have a self-supporting job on the side; who might be highly-educated in religion or fishery management or medicine or not. (Acts 20:31; Galatians 1:18; Acts 18:3; II Corinthians 11:8; I Corinthians 9:11-13)

… those traveling ministers would select our elders. (Titus 1:5)

… we’d pay the really good elders. (I Timothy 5:17-18)

… ministers would resolve to preach nothing but the crucified Christ. (I Corinthians 2:2)

… some would travel the known world to do so. (Matthew 20:18-20)

… some would risk arrest and death to do so. (Acts 7:54-60; Acts 4:1-30)

… we’d pray with unshakeable faith to speak boldly anyway (Acts 4:31)

… when we had questions of doctrine, we’d convene to discuss them – probably at Jerusalem, since we’re such sticklers for detail, then we’d agree on a response, and stick to it consistently. (Acts 15:1-35)

… we’d select missionaries and mission fields by consulting the Holy Spirit, then commission missionaries by praying and laying our hands on them. (Acts 16:6-10; 13:1)

… we’d do the same with others who serve (Acts 6:1-7)

… we’d greet one another with a holy kiss. (Romans 16:16; I Corinthians 16:20; II Corinthians 13:12; I Thessalonians 5:26)

… at our potlucks we would all wait to eat until it was certain that everyone was served. (I Corinthians 11:33-34)

… we’d ask our elders to anoint the sick with oil as well as pray for them. (James 5:14-16)

… we’d give no special honor or regard to the wealthy among us. (James 2:1-7)

… we’d probably be banished as an organization by the government and jailed and executed for disloyalty to it, so some of us would be meeting secretly in catacombs among tombs and on the lam when we had to. (Acts 8:1-3; 9:20-25;

… the rest of us would be meeting in homes and synagogues. Acts 20:20; Romans 16:5; I Corinthians 16:9; Colossians 4:15; Acts 14:1; 17:2; 18:7)

… some would be tried before high government officials, giving them the chance to talk to them about Jesus. (Acts 5:17-32; 21:11, etc.)

… we would do the good that we know ought to be done, to avoid sinning. (James 4:17)

… people who would accuse us would see the good we do and praise God. (I Peter 2:12)

… we would be eager for Christ to come quickly. (Revelation 22:20; II Peter 3:11-12)

… miraculous things might well happen among us. (Galatians 3:5; Romans 15:18-20)

How are we doing so far?

20 thoughts on “If We Really Modeled the Early Church Today …

  1. Hey Keith! Thanks so much for your encouragement on my blog-it was a very exciting and encouraging experience!!Great post-I’d saw that would get a failing grade on this one…

  2. Wonderful post! Those are the EXACT kind of examples in the New Testament that the author of that little book I was telling you about yesterday, “The role of New Testament Examples as related to Biblical Authority” used, along with scripture, to come to the conclusion that they were all merely examples of how we could do things, but not specific commands to do them all that way, and only that way. In other words, we can, and should, follow many of them (okay – a whole lot MORE of them), but cannot, and don’t have to, follow all of those which are not appropriate or applicable in today’s world. It has been our (cofC) history, along with many other groups, to “choose” certain ones we want to tag to be taken literally, followed devotedly and defended to the death, while leaving other, more important ones, aside, which we should be following, too (or instead of).Thanks for listing them all so concisely and pointing out all of the things that the first Christians truly did as the church was established and grew.

  3. But Keith, we would also be rebuked for immoral sexual practices. We would be expelling immoral brothers, and refusing to eat with sinners within the body. The early church did many things right, but there were also things that they were rebuked for. Sometimes when I hear people say “we need to be the First Century Church” I wonder, like you did in your blog, if they really realize the weight of that statement. There is much good that they were able to accomplish. But, in many respects they were still infants. In addition, they also did not have the NT in their homes. For many many years “common men” were not entrusted with scriptures. But they had been with Christ. They were being converted by those who were his friends.So while we have come “far” (?have we?) in understanding, and “knowledge” through access to the written word of God, has it benefitted us?

  4. Kara –That’s often been my thought and question – exactly which early “congregation” or “church [in which city or place]” should we try to imitate in everything they did (and didn’t do), anyway?!

  5. Kara – and Dee – I’m not trying to contradict my earlier post. You’re both right; it’s important to figure out in which ways we want to imitate the church of the first century.Many of those ways are probably beyond our ability. Others are outside the realm of gracious behavior.My point, poorly made, is that while we’ve chosen to imitate the church of century one in some ways, we just haven’t in a lot of other ways. How do we pick and choose? Have we chosen wisely?Have we perhaps even failed to recognize some choices that we should have seen and made?

  6. Keith –Don’t get me wrong – I totally agree with you. Your “point” in your original post and in your last comment were well worded. Let me repeat – I DO agree with you. I made my last point poorly. I was speaking of those who want to imitate the “first century church,” but haven’t thought through, at all, it seems, what it is we really should be imitating or emulating. You’re right, how do we pick and choose? And, have we chosen wisely? And, have we perhaps even failed to recognize some choices that we should have seen and made?Absolutely!

  7. I think you have “picked” a list of things that we should seriously consider why we haven’t “chosen” to emulate. JB

  8. …we’d believe so strongly in what we prayed that the building around us would shake. That one always gets me. Great post as always.

  9. Wow. Was that just off the top of your head? Heh. Great post bro! Your blog and The road less travelled is a blessing.

  10. Keith, please continue to be a prophet amongst us! Wanta know the one I liked best? Getting together EVERY day instead of just Sunday or Saturday!! Hebrews 3:13“But encourage one another DAILY….” (Emphasis mine)Thanks bro! I will be reading you next week from Malibu! 🙂DU

  11. I didn’t want Shaun or anyone else to think these were “off the top of my head” in the sense that I just made them up, so I’ve gone back and edited and cited them … and added a great suggestion from Brandon. Thanks, friends, for tuning in!

  12. mmmm… good stuff Keith… keep it up brother.By the way, are you planning a trip to Bloomington anytime in the near future? Whenever you’re in town again, let me know.Brian

  13. “off the top of your head” – wondered if you even had to open the Book. Heh. Not in one moment did i think anything you wrote wasn’t from the bible.

  14. The first one, about “rolling dice in complete faith” believing that God “would speak in the outcome of the roll” has actually gotten easier over the years in my church. I think, though, people would pack up and leave in droves the moment our pastor starting preaching seriously about “selling our stuff and giving to those in need.” Just a feeling.

  15. Keith, Thanks for the list. I used several of these references this morning in my Bible class discussion.I actually sounded smart.–Lee

  16. Your post was great. Makes me want to focus more on what the Lord’s true plan was for the ministry of the church family is. Can you answer a question for me? From Adam to John(as he finished writing Revelations), chronologically speaking since the beginning of time, what is the longest period of time that we have recorded, that God did not speak to his people either directly or through a prophet? The reason for my question is that I often wonder how to cope in this age because our inspired book was written about 2000 years ago during a completely different culture. We now have to translate and make a present day application and its often difficult to do. I guess I want an “easy button” to push. I value your response. Often Week in my FaithKeith

  17. Keith R., the classic answer is to say that God did not speak to his people for about 400 years during the intertestamental period (432-5 BC), though some would argue that He inspired the Maccabeans in their revolt against the Greeks during that time.I think it’s worth pointing out that in the at-least 2600 years leading up to Moses, He spoke to <>very few people<>, though often very powerfully and personally.But does God speak to us today outside of what is written? That’s a tough one. I pray for it frequently; for a deeper understanding of what is written – as a listener/reader and as a teacher/writer. I pray for it on behalf of those who speak at church, that they will speak His very words through His Spirit. I still feel I have to weigh carefully the words I give or receive, because they are shipped through a person – and the only scales I have are the written word.No easy buttons there, huh?

  18. Thanks for your encouragement and thoughts. I have been teaching I Corinthians to 11th graders in a home bible study format the last few weeks and have yearned for a way to make proper applications to the teens comparing the Corinthian’s proplems with ours present day. We haven’t sacrificed food to idols lately, long hair-short hair issues, and much deeper concerns as well. Prayer will help. Thanks for your comments.Keith

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