In this show I introduce my friend Tony Rose, who is a systems administrator at a private university in NC. We discuss what we believe are the signs of a healthy church. I discuss the first church in Jerusalem with Tony, from Acts 2, and we talk about these points:
- They were saved. Who does the “they” in verse 42 refer to? Those who were included in verse 41. Those who gladly received the Word from Peter. The church continued to grow as we saw in verse 47, as “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” John Stott said the New Testament knew nothing of an “unchurched believer.” Neither does the NT know anything of a “churched unbeliever.” There may be unbelievers who come to a building and participate in church activities, but they are not in the church. There is no scaffolding in the church. Just living stones. There are no prosthetic limbs in the church. Just living, organic body parts!
- They assembled faithfully and regularly. Notice in verse 46 that they met daily in the temple and they met from house to house. Nothing was more important to them than the Lord and His church. Did it last? Hebrews was written about 30 years after Acts 2 happened. Look at the warning in Hebrews 10:24-25. You see? Our tendency is to move away from faithfulness, not toward it. That’s why we need reminders, and encouragement from the pulpit AND from the pews!
- They continued steadfastly in the Word. There is no other standard necessary or sufficient. Only the Word of God.
- They continued steadfastly in fellowship. You see this in verse 42 where the word is koinonia, and it means “to share all things in common.” You see it in verse 44. And again in verse 45. They were family, and they loved each other in tangible ways.
- They worshipped. We see in verse 47 that the church was found “praising God.” We were created for the purpose of worship. Paul says it in Ephesians 1:5-6, “having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the beloved.” He says it again in verse 12, “that we who first trusted Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” The history of God’s people from the song of Moses and the song of Miriam after the parting of the Red Sea to the new song of the 24 elders around the throne of God in Revelation 5 is a history of worship. Worship is much more than singing praises to God, but it is not less.
- They observed the sacraments. We have already seen in verse 41 that three thousand people received God’s Word and were baptized on the day of Pentecost. Now we see that they also devoted themselves to “the breaking of bread” in verse 42. These are the two sacraments of the evangelical church. Jesus commanded us to remember Him in observing the Lord’s Supper when He took the bread and the cup and shared it with His disciples in the upper room. Then in the Great Commission He commanded us to make disciples of all nations, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19) A home Bible Study or a parachurch does not practice these sacraments. But a church does.
- They were led by godly and duly-appointed leaders. We have already seen that they devoted themselves to the apostles’ doctrine (not to the apostles!). But inherent in that relationship is one of submission to God-ordained authority.
- They continued steadfastly in prayer. You see this in verse 42. We saw this in Jesus’ ministry with His disciples. They watched Him pray and saw His passion for the father and His compassion for the people, and they came to Him and said, “Teach us to pray.”
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…because healthy church matters!
In this episode:
Tony Rose has been married to Audrey for twenty-one years and has two daughters, ages 16 and 9. He grew up going to a Methodist Church but now attends a Baptist church in Mebane, NC, where he has been a member since 2006. Tony plays the piano at church, teaches a teen Sunday School class, and is in training to serve as an elder. He has worked in the IT industry for 23 years, at a private higher educational institution for the last 15. Tony has gone through NANC counseling training and done extensive personal study in apologetics. He was elected to the local school board 2 years ago and is currently serving as chairman. Finally, Tony likes to run with his dog, but the dog just has to walk to keep up.