Vision for the Perfect Church
by Dennis Michelson
Introduction: The curse of church today is often the challenge of seven days of worldly living tugging against two hours of Bible preaching. In some respects we Baptists may hope to be first in the resurrection since the Scripture says "the dead in Christ will rise first."
This passage gives us the essentials for a biblical church according to God's standard. Sadly, many who are looking for a church might flee from such a place since it had no building; no programs for the young people; no professional musical program and all of the "essentials" people seek. The passage before does tell us what this prototypical church did have.
1. They Had Power to Persevere (2:41-43)
2. They Had Power to Part
- They persevered in their obedience to the Lord (2:41) They received the Word gladly. They were baptized and added to the church.
- They persevered in their fellowship in the Lord (2:42). Doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers? Not exactly food, fun and fellowship. The term fellowship means having things in common and genuine fellowship means much more than overeating at a big church dinner. Why do more people show up for the church supper than the church prayer meeting?
- They persevered in their fear of the Lord (2:43) It is far better if the people fear the Lord than merely fear the pastor. A godly fear will keep you away from the edge of compromise.
3. They Had Power to Praise
- There was unity (2:44) So many churches work hard at uniformity and very little at endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is plenty of uniformity in a well-kept cemetery but it is not unity.
Psalm 133 teaches us that where God sees biblical unity He will command the blessing. Not only that but the psalmist points out that it will stir up a sweet-smelling fragrance which will be readily "smelled" by others.
- There was charity (2:45) The Lord did not want them to simply rid themselves of property. He wanted them to rid themselves of selfishness.
One of the greatest evangelistic tools is a display of loving brethren so profound that the unbeliever exclaims "Behold, how they love one another." One of the greatest hindrances to evangelism is when the world witnesses God's people tearing each other apart.
- There was private praise (2:46) There will either be house-to-house gossip or gladness but never both. See I Timothy 5:13-15. The fires of Pentecost will never rest where the fires of hell are burning (James 3).
- There was public praise (2:47) When a man's ways please the Lord, then his enemies may even be at peace with him. This has more to do with daily praise than debating whether or not you sing out of a hymn book or have become one of those "off the wall" churches. The world cannot witness your praise unless you take it to them.
- There were plenty of people (2:47) God adds people to an incubator, not a refrigerator. How would you like it if it could be said of your church "And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily." (Acts 16:5)
This church had assurance, baptism, unified membership, sound doctrine, prayer, loving concern and steady growth. If that is not enough for someone looking for a church then perhaps their real goal is entertainment and not edification.