God's Design for a Blessed church
God's Design for a Blessed Church (Acts 2:42-47)
Every sincere believer wants to belong to a fellowship that God blesses. Men do not determine what God can bless. God Himself has made simple and clear the quality of church life that He will honor. Any church may enjoy God's blessings if its members respond to His priorities.
Several chapters of Acts reveal the principles that God uses to bless His people as only He can. We have always believed that the ideals of the early church reflect God's eternal standard for His people. What kind of fellowship can God bless?
A Church that Understands Clearly its Priorities
God could bless the Jerusalem church because that fellowship keenly understood its priorities. There were four priorities to which that church devoted itself. Literally, "they adhered continuously with all their strength" to these priorities. Nothing else was allowed to stand in the way.
They gave priority to teaching the word of God. The word for teaching underscored both the work of teaching and the content of the teaching. They honored the office of the pastor-teacher and they absorbed the content of his teaching. God can only bless a people with a teachable spirit. Closely related to the priority of teaching is the priority of devotion to the fellowship. The early church fellowship was based around the teaching of the risen Christ. A church only experiences authentic fellowship when it places emphasis on teaching the word of God.
Following the first pair of priorities there is a second. The church adhered absolutely to the priorities of worship. This was expressed in the breaking of bread and in both public and private prayers. The church gave itself to the ordinances and practice of worship. The result of this was that the non-Christian fellowship in Jerusalem was in awe of the Christians (v. 44). When churches cease to worry about their "public image" and give themselves to God's appointed priorities, the public takes care of itself. This church understood the distinction between means and ends, the processes and the purposes. We would like to know the mechanics of the church in Acts 2 (where they met, how they were organized, etc.). God blessed them because they were more interested in His priorities than their own mechanics.
A Church that Trusts Absolutely Its Members
"All the believers were together and had everything in common" (v. 44). This passage concerning early Christian "communism" has often created difficulties for believers. We are curious about the mechanics of such intimately shared communal life. We may never understand this side of heaven exactly how they shared their goods. But what we can understand is the practical significance of that sharing: they trusted one another absolutely.
This mutual trust drew them together not only in public worship but also in private worship. It left them with undisturbed hearts. Externally, it brought them favor with the unchurched of the city (v. 47). We see the severity with which God responds to the breach of trust introduced by Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. Nothing was to be allowed to breach the trust and the confidence of the people toward one another.
How many churches do not enjoy God's blessings because their members do not trust one another? God has sovereignly chosen that He will bless only those people who live in a spirit of mutual trust and confidence.
A Church that Enjoys Daily Its Growth
The only numbers that really count are the numbers that God adds. He is unimpressed by how many bodies may be in a building on Sunday unless they are there under His priorities. When our priorities are right internally, we cannot even imagine how God would bless us. The church bold enough to be dedicated to His priorities cannot keep people away. May our church seek to discover and maintain His priorities in 1990.