35: What Church Could Look Like Today
Subscribe Where You Listen the Most
Second Verse, Uh… Should Be Same as the First
In Matthew 10, we see this amazing account of Jesus sending His disciples out without Him to do what He was doing while He was with them. It was almost a picture of what life would be like after Jesus was physically removed from their presence and the Holy Spirit was given to them to “abide” with them forever (John 14:16). This was their first mission trip, their first job as His apprentice, the first time they flew solo. And He didn’t send them out unprepared. He gave them the same power they would later receive when the Holy Spirit came upon them in the upper room, as recorded in Acts 2. This was just a taste of church life to come.
He “gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of diseases” – Matthew 10:1.
Jesus also gave them strict instructions to minister while away from Him in the power they had just received. Not in their own power, but the power of the Spirit. For there is no way they could do what Jesus asked in their own strength. No one can.
He commanded them to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit, much like the early church did in the book of Acts after they received the Holy Spirit.
“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” – Matthew 10:7-8.
In other words, they should expect their time away from Jesus to be filled with miracles and the moving of the Spirit, just like it was when they were with Jesus. And this is exactly what we see in the early church after they received the Holy Spirit. The early church obviously took seriously the promise of Jesus that, once He returned to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit in His place, His followers would do greater works than what they had seen Jesus do (John 14:12). But is that really possible? Could Jesus be over exaggerating? I mean, when ordinary people encounter the Holy Spirit and surrender their lives totally to Him, what does it look like?
This is one reason why God included the book of Acts in our Bible. Let’s see how the Spirit moved in the lives of these unassuming men.
Chapter Two – After the Holy Spirit falls on the church, Peter stands in their midst and preaches a short, unprepared sermon, only 297 words long, excluding Scripture, and 3,000 people get saved. Then the infant church, made up of 120 friends and 3,000 strangers, single-mindedly devoted themselves to the “apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). Everyone was in a state of awe. And “many wonders and signs were done by the apostles” (Acts 2:43).
Amazingly, the young church “had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need” (Acts 2:44-45). All needs of the church were met by the willing, generous sacrifices of all they had for the good of people they just met.
Unlike us, there was no Sunday morning worship service or Wednesday night prayer meeting. They did not go to church; they were the church. The Spirit of God lived in them, and they were now temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Everything in their life had changed. And what did that look like in real life?
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people – Acts 2:46-47a.
Note the keywords, “continuing daily” and “one accord” and “house to house.” This church was nothing like many of us have ever experienced. They seemed committed to the Lord and each other in ways we don’t fully understand. They were “all in” and held nothing back. And for us, in our selfish, independent, “I can take care of myself” mindset, this seems intimidating and, quite honestly, frightening.
But note what happened? Look at how the Lord responded to their reliance on the Holy Spirit.
And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved – Acts 2:47b.
That’s daily. Every day. How long has it been since we’ve seen people saved in our worship times together? Exactly.
It’s OK to Dream
What would you give to live in a church like the one revealed in the book of Acts? Do you realize what we have just read is possible, even expected, for those of us today who have the same Holy Spirit living in us as they did? God does not play favorites. He shows no partiality. And remember, the authority Jesus gave His disciples (Matt. 10:1) to minister in the Spirit is the same authority we have in Him, right now, by virtue of the Holy Spirit living in us. We have everything we need to experience the Higher Christian Life right now, in Him. There is no power greater than God. There is nothing that can thwart His will. And there is nothing this world could offer you that is better than what you already have. Look at what the Spirit says about us:
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together – Romans 8:16-17.
So be encouraged today. The early church has shown us what the Higher Christian Life looks like. The Holy Spirit now indwells us to empower us to live the Higher Christian life. And the Higher Christian Life that may seem so far away at times could be just as close as reading the book of Acts.
So let your faith tell you this life is possible, even expected, when you Let Go and Let God… be God.
Note: We only looked at Acts 2 today. There are still twenty-six chapters to go.