Learning from History
by Bobby Bruno 5/07/2014 / Christian Apologetics
The early church was, I believe, more committed to spreading the gospel of Jesus than the church is today. Sure, there are many churches today that are eagerly committed to leading people to know the love and grace of God and Jesus Christ, but because of the 2000 year gap between today and Jesus' time many men have interpreted Jesus' message in many different ways, not all of which are correct in their teaching. The early church had just witnessed with their own eyes and ears the teachings of Jesus and many had watched Him die on the cross and then had seen Him three days later after He rose from the dead. Without the benefit of today's technology, the early church reached many souls for Christ. If we did not have the technology we have today, could we say the same thing?
All the early church had was snail-mail, their own voices, and their own behaviors that showed people the love of Christ and proved to others who watched them that Jesus' message was true and did bring peace to those who followed Him. How did they show Jesus to their surrounding world? First, they sold their possessions and gave to all who needed; they pooled their resources and gave to the needy be it money or possessions; they greatly loved their neighbors and gave to each who had need. ("All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need" (Acts 2:44-45)). How much of this goes on today? I have seen people sell their possessions to give money to church building programs which is fine and good. But, how many of these same people would do the same thing for the homeless person in town they live in? The church of today needs to see that an open hand is the only hand that God will accept from His people. I have heard that most churches of today can't even get their congregates to tithe as they should, which is hurting and keeping their churches from being all God wants them to be.
Second, the early church met at each other's home and in the Temple consistently and studied and what they had learned from the Apostles and teachers that knew of Jesus' time, or had seen Jesus with their own eyes. ("They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer", "Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people" (Acts 2:42, 46-47)). The people were so full of joy and love that everything they did was for the sake of Christ. They studied together and they worshipped together every day in the Temple. Today, we usually only go to church once a week (if that) and call it fellowshipping. On the good side, many churches today have home-based bible studies that meet usually once a week in a host home where everyone studies a topic from scripture and breaks bread together afterward, worshipping Jesus in song and in prayer. In America, we have yet to feel the honor of persecution as they do in other countries of the world where Jesus is not welcomed but by a few of its members who have been jailed, or even killed, for proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord. We consider ourselves lucky that we can proclaim the truth and still keep our heads. Jesus said it was an honor to suffer for Him. How many American Christians would believe that to be true?
Lastly, the people worshipped Jesus even though there was persecution around every corner. ("And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria" (Acts 8:1)). But even though they were being persecuted, the early church kept on following Jesus command to make disciples of all nations. He told them that they would suffer for His name ("Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also" (John 15:20)). In Acts, it says a few times that numbers were being added to the church daily. If the church of today were continually fulfilling the mandate of Christ to make disciples of all people then this country should now be under the control of the Holy Spirit through His people, because Christians would outnumber all of peoples of this land. If we in America would get back the zeal we all felt that first year after we were saved, we could turn this country and this world around for Christ. The early church faced just as much persecution and as many anti-christs as we do today, yet they made a huge difference for the world around them. What's our excuse?
Life in the spirit study bible, new international version. (1992, 2003). Life Publishers International.
Comment: "Today many leaders are saying what they feel the people want to hear."
Author Response: I agree, especially, for me, I feel that those who are what is called "prosperity preachers" are doing just that -- telling there church what they want to hear. It's a shame that too many people think that God is nothing more than a banker, a gift giver, a healer, etc... They teach that God will give you everything you ask for if you just ask Him in the right way, or do the right thing. For example -- tithing. Many are taught that if you tithe then God will pay you back in dividends like it's a lottery -- you give to God and He'll make you rich. Before the Reformation, this is what the Catholic Church was doing by selling Indulgences to their people, making them pay for right to get out of Purgatory with their sins forgiven without having to accept Jesus as Lord. The Catholic Church made money based on the fears they put into people for their salvation and entrance in heaven. Thankfully, men like Luther tried to set them straight.
Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.