The Acts Church
Reading about the church in Acts is exciting, but also convicting. Comparing the church then with the church now can be quite the contrast. This isn’t to say the church in Acts was perfect (Acts 5:1-11; 9:26; 12:15; 15:1-35, 39; 18:25-26), but it definitely represents a church that was unashamedly denying themselves, picking up their cross, and following Jesus.
Consider Acts 2:42-47. These six verses early in Acts give a brief summary of how the church operated. Instead of merely listing out the characteristics, they’re presented as questions to ask oneself:
– Am I devoting myself to good teaching from the Word of God?
– Am I devoting myself to friendships among other Christians, and making an effort to gather with them?
– Am I devoting myself to participating in the Lord’s Supper with others?
– Am I devoting myself to prayers – both with the church and by myself?
– Am I finding myself in awe of the Spirit’s evident work in the church?
– Am I conscious about the needs of brothers and sisters in Christ around me? Whether physical, spiritual, or emotional needs?
– Does my financial budget look different than the world’s?
– Am I daily finding myself worshipping God and fellowshipping with others at the gathering point of the church, in other’s homes, or my home? Am I doing this gladly and generously?
Going through these questions regularly is helpful for the Christian. What it can do is help bring Christians back to what the church should look like.
Being the Church
However, it’s not just about looking like the church in Acts. It’s about being the church. There are some things a Christian must internally understand and believe before a real commitment to and progress of living out the church can happen.
4 Key Characteristics of a Christian
Before Luke (the writer of Acts) gives the summary of the early church, he explains the sermon Peter gave at Pentecost and the outcome it had on the people. From this explanation are four key characteristics that give evidence of a true Christian.
They’re, again, stated as questions:
1) Do you have true remorse for your sin? (Acts 2:23, 37-38)
2) Do you understand the exaltation of Jesus and the infinite chasm between His perfection and your imperfection? (Acts 2:24, 31-36)
3) Have you repented and received the grace of God found in the gospel? (Acts 2:38-39, 41)
4) Do you desire holiness and to be set apart from the world? (Acts 2:40)
Notice how these four actions were either stated or implied before the summary of the church in Acts 2:42-47. This means that the 3,000 souls added to the church that day (Acts 2:41) weren’t just outwardly the church, but inwardly the church. In fact, it was each individual Christian’s inward understanding and belief that enabled all of them to live in such a radical way.
The same applies to the present day church. If we want to see our church look more like the Acts church, it starts with you.
Interested in listening to more about the church? We recently chatted with author and journalist Brett McCracken – the author of the new book Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community.
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