PART 12 THE CHURCH OF GOD OR CHURCH OF MAN
PART 12 THE CHURCH OF GOD OR CHURCH OF MAN
THE CHURCH OF GOD
This is the ultimate place where we’ll grow to full maturity. The gospel of Christ is preached. Most, if not all, of those who attend, have received the indwelling Spirit. Foundational teachings of the faith are solid. Teachings about who we are in Christ and how to grow spiritually are clearly delineated. There’s no pressure to work for God but a desire to become all that He has made us be.
As we learn the Word of God, memorize and meditate upon it, and apply it, our weaknesses, addictions, regrets, etc., will no longer have control over us. One day at a time, we’ll replace each of them with a particular divine perspective that will set us free from looking at them with earthly glasses on. While the fruit of the Spirit is developed, we’ll become more and more aware of His leading, guiding, and prompting in our life.
I’m glad to say that I support a church that’s basically what I’ve just characterized. I’m currently participating in one that checks most of the boxes. The only aspect of it that I disagree with is on financial giving to which they believe tithing is the protocol for the New Testament church. What I’ll say in defense of this is that they don’t implement certain conditions that require proof of such by its members, and neither do they embarrass them if they have chosen to give financially in some other manner.
Well, just like the two previous examples of church types, I’d like to leave you with an article that characterizes this one. As I was perusing many of them on the internet while typing in a google search entitled something like “A Spirit-filled church,” there were many which were displayed. Most of them were very informative. The one I chose seems to express what we’ve characterized such a church to be.
8 CHARACTERISTICS OF A HEALTHY CHURCH
by Rick Warren
B. H. Carroll, a famous Bible scholar, in his commentary, [estimated] that there were probably a hundred thousand members in the Jerusalem church after [twenty-five] years. Peter Wagner and many have agreed. G. Campbell Morgan [estimated] a minimum of [sixty thousand]. In any Bible [dictionary,] it will tell you that in New Testament times that the city of Jerusalem was approximately [two hundred thousand] people. What we have here is a church with [one hundred thousand] members in a city of [two hundred thousand] people. Half the city had come to Christ. No wonder they said, “[You’ve] filled Jerusalem.”
When you look at the book of Acts, you’ll find at least [eight] characteristics of the early church that positioned them for this kind of blessing from God. If we echo the actions of the early church, we can expect God’s blessing on our church as much as those ancient leaders saw a blessing on the church in Jerusalem.
- We must minister in the Holy Spirit’s power.
Acts 1:4 says, “Don’t leave Jerusalem but wait for the gift My Father promised which you’ve heard Me speak about. John baptized with water but in a few [days,] you’ll be baptized with the Holy Spirit…” If you’re a Christian, you already have the Holy Spirit living inside you, but we must rely on His power on a [moment-by- moment] basis. The power of God is given for witnessing, [ministry, and] mission. To minister in the Holy Spirit’s power means to have Spirit-filled, Spirit-controlled members. One of the characteristics of people who try to minister in a church without God’s Spirit is simple – tiredness, fatigue. You end up running on your own steam rather than running on the power of God’s Spirit. [So,] the starting point is to minister with the Holy Spirit’s power. He said, “Don’t leave Jerusalem. Wait until you’ve got My power.”
- We must maintain a warm fellowship.
Next, according to Acts 2:42-44, “They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to the fellowship and the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with [awe,] and many wondrous and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All believers were together and had everything in common.” This is a perfect example of fellowship. They loved each other. When God has a bunch of baby Christians, He looks for the warmest incubator He can find. [A] church that has warmth and fellowship and harmony, God blesses that church with new believers because He wants them to be in an environment where they can grow. Ten times in the first five chapters of [Acts,] it says, “they were [unified.”] He uses phrases like, “they were of one accord… one heart… one purpose… one spirit… all united in thought.” God can overlook a lack of facilities, a lack of programs, and a lack of leadership. But one thing He [won’t] overlook is disharmony in the church. [Harmony and unity] must be maintained at all costs because the church is a fellowship. We need to build fellowship into each other. Notice the results of fellowship: v. 47 “The Lord added to their number daily.” The result of people being close to each other and celebrating warmth and harmony was that other people wanted to get involved.
- We must multiply small groups.
There are four advantages to meeting in small groups house to house:
- [It’s] infinitely expandable.
- [It’s] unlimited geographically.
- [It’s] good stewardship.
- It promotes relationships.
There’s benefit, wisdom, in God’s way of multiplying small groups. As a [result,] the Lord added to their number daily [to] those that were being saved.
- We must magnify our vision of God.
In Acts 4:24, the apostles were essentially praying, “God, there are [rulers,] and there are [leaders,] and there are people against [You,] but You’re in control. You’re the sovereign Lord. You made everything in heaven and on earth.” [We’re] children of the king. We’re on the winning side. We’ve read the last chapter. We know how it’s going to end. Jesus Christ has broken our [chains,] and Jesus says in the Bible, “[I’ll] build my church and the gates of hell [won’t] prevail against it.” We’re attacking hell with squirt guns! And we’re trying to snatch people right out of the jaws of hell. There are [many] churches that want to play it safe. They get as far away from unbelievers as they can so they don’t get tainted. I want to get so close to hell that I can smell it! That’s where you set up your rescue station. Don’t be afraid to rock the boat if Jesus Christ is the [captain]. We need to magnify our vision of God.
- We must maximize the power of prayer.
Forty-eight times in the book of Acts it says, “they prayed.” [We’ll] have the power the early church experienced when we pray like the early church prayed. Spiritual warfare requires the use of spiritual weapons. Notice Acts 4:31, “After they [prayed,] the place they were meeting was shaken.” When was the last time you were in a prayer meeting like that? “They were all filled with God’s Spirit and they spoke the word of God boldly.” We must maximize the power of prayer if we’re going to be like the church of Jerusalem.
- We must model Christlike generosity.
The New Testament church in Jerusalem was a giving church. Acts 4:32-37 says, “All the believers were one in heart and one in mind [there’s unity again]. No one claimed any of that which was his possessions as his own, but they shared everything they had. With great [power,] the apostles continued to testify of the resurrection of the Lord [Jesus,] and grace was with them all. There were no needy persons among them.” Notice there were three results of their generosity. – v. 32 says there was unity in the church. – v. 33 says it was a powerful testimony to the community. – v. 44 says there were no needy people.
- We must mobilize every member for ministry.
Acts 6 describes a problem that arose in the early church between the [Greek speakers] and the [Aramaic speakers]. One felt that the other was receiving special treatment and needs were going unmet. So, they chose seven guys to oversee this area of ministry to people. They presented these men to the [apostles,] who prayed and laid hands on them. Then the Bible says, “So the word of God spread and the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly.” When every member is a minister, discovers their God-given SHAPE, and serves someone else, the church moves from just a leader “adding” more people to the church “multiplying.”
- We must move out with God’s mission.
Acts 8 records God’s reminder to the apostles of the Great Commission, “Go! Go into all the world and make disciples!” They initially started sharing the [faith,] and the church at Jerusalem started getting bigger and bigger. But God never said, I want just the church in Jerusalem to be big. He [said] I want you to go [not just to Jerusalem] but Samaria and to Judea and to the uttermost parts of the world. But they didn’t do it. They didn’t spread the gospel. [So,] God applied pressure by allowing persecution to get them to spread. The Bible says, “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church of Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered through Judea and Samaria.” Notice that: the pastors stayed [home,] but all the people were scattered into Judea and Samaria. Why? Because that’s where He wanted them to go. They scattered everywhere and shared the good news. Jesus never said, “I came that you might have meetings.” He said, “I’ve come that you might have life.” Where is life lived? In the marketplace and in the family.
[We’ll] be the New Testament church when we magnify the vision of God, pray like they prayed, when we’re filled with the Spirit and when we’re generous with each other. [I’m] a [believer,] and I know I’m going to heaven. Nothing can take that away from me. But between now and when I go to heaven, I want to take as many people with me as possible. I hope you’ll commit to that same thing.139
So, there we have it. Where do we go from here? I have some parting words to leave you with.
139Rick Warren. “8 CHARACTERISTICS OF A HEALTHY CHURCH,” VISIONROOM 20 February 2022