Serving an international
Vol. 10 No. 8 August 2008
Almost every person who claims membership in the church, whether the most liberal in doctrine, or the most conservative, apparently wants the church to be a triumphant, dynamic church. One group seems to want it to be victorious by having it change in both message and method to suit the changing social conditions of the age. Some may think it can be victorious by going on in the usual humdrum, lackadaisical way it is going in most localities, opposed to any change. Many of us who are adamantly opposed to what is sometimes called the “change agents” in the church are not opposed to any change that will bring us closer to the pattern approved in the New Testament when the church grew the most rapidly. In fact, we urge all persons to examine themselves and make whatever changes are necessary to get closer to that pattern. Let us at this time examine a few of the marks of the church as pictured in the first few chapters of Acts that made it a triumphant, dynamic church. If we want to make changes, let us make them in that direction instead of assuming that the kind of significant changes that should be made is to snap the fingers, clap the hands or wiggle the hips to show more spirituality or involvement in the worship.
Besides the simplicity, boldness, earnestness, purity
of life and doctrine and unity with which they proclaimed the message,
are at least three qualities first century Christians had that we must
order to reproduce their triumphant growth. First,
there was an unquenchable motivation. There is something
intensely gripping and inspiring in the statement in
Second, this unquenchable motivation stems partly from a complete conviction of several key points. They had no doubt that Jesus was the Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that no man could come to the Father but by Him, in His appointed way. There are an increasing number of preachers among us who teach that one does not have to understand and obey the Gospel to be saved, but that good, honest men of all religious persuasions are all equally satisfactory. The expressed idea is that we all are imperfect, and must be saved by the grace of God. So we may teach, believe and practice all sorts of false doctrines and still be saved. Well-known and influential brethren now teach that one does not even need to understand that he is lost before he obeys the Gospel. That is, he may think he was saved at the point of faith when he accepted Jesus as his personal Savior. However, if he goes ahead and submits to some rituals, such as baptism, the purpose and nature of which he does not understand, he is saved anyway. Instead of “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” the doctrine now is, “Ye may believe error and still be made free.” How can a man speak with power and conviction, if he does not believe that his message really makes any difference?
Third, they had
an irrefutable message. There were no wavering or uncertain
said, “Let all the house of
Another thing closely related to the irrefutable
message is suggested in
I preach a message that Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you a fisher of men.” Then there are thousands who are claiming to follow Him, but are not fishing for men, nor give any evidence that they intend to try. When one cannot see the man healed, then the message tends to lose its power.
If we are interested in changing the church, let us make sure it changes in the direction of having preachers and teachers that have the same kind of message, compulsion, resolution and conviction that marked the first century Christians. Let us make sure that as members we know the difference in sensuality and spirituality in worship and life. Let us make sure our worship is directed to God, and not for the purpose of showing off or demonstrating for man. Let us make sure that we are striving to develop the mind of Christ and that when persons see our lives they think about Jesus.