In my last entry I posted an article about the Church, and it contained one of the greatest analogies I have ever heard: You can’t love Jesus and hate his wife. That is, you can’t love Jesus and hate his bride, the Church. So many young people today are ALL about Jesus, but ironically hate the Church. They conveniently overlook the fact that the Church is both Christ’s bride, and his body. Jesus probably appreciates this kind of slander about as much as a man would appreciate someone talking smack about his wife.
When it comes to the Church, our generation desperately needs a smack upside the head, because this behavior is unacceptable. And these next few blogs are meant to serve as just such a smack. 🙂 I am going to take some time to look at the marks of the Church, not only because we should know what the Church looks like, but because we are the future leaders of the Church. The Church in America is dying, and if young adults continue to approach the Church with such apathy and complacent consumerism, then we cannot expect the trend to change. We will seal its fate.
If, however, you desire to see change, revival, and growth in the American church, then take these marks to heart, because it will be your responsibility to guard them in the very near future.
The passage I’m going to draw from in this series of blogs is Acts 2:42-47. Here we observe a healthy church that is engaging in intimate fellowship, but not to the point of becoming a clique. They have a heart for the poor, and God is also adding newly converted individuals to their number daily. This is the kind of church we should emulate.
That being said, the first mark of the Church that I want to discuss is found in verse 42:
“They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching.”
What is the first mark of a church? –>Preaching Gospel-centered doctrine. Yes, this seems obvious, but it’s importance cannot be understated. We live in a culture that tends to rank sincerity over truth–“as long as I believe something with all my heart, then it must be true, right?”
Wrong. I can sincerely believe that I can fly when I jump off my roof, but that doesn’t mean I will. Not only does sincere belief NOT make something true, but it can actually be deeply harmful, especially in matters of eternity. I can sincerely believe I can fly…all the way down to splatting on the ground.
That is why the church CANNOT be based upon sincerity alone (though sincerity is important!). It must be based on truth. More specifically, it must be based on the Gospel. It is truth, not our emotions or sentimentalities about the truth, that form the Church’s foundation, so we must work hard to guard that foundation.
That being said, we must be sure to serve in a church that believes the Gospel completely, not just parts of it. This means you need to listen for what your church teaches, as well as what it does NOT teach. As D.A. Carson says, “Error is truth out of proportion,” so take note that your church is preaching ALL that is in Scripture, not just the parts of the Gospel that make them comfortable. Part of the Gospel is not the Gospel at all–it is more likely legalism or works-righteousness.
That is what it means to “devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching.” Devotion is whole-hearted, uninhibited, and faithful adherence. That is the kind of commitment to the Gospel that we should see in our churches. It is also the kind of legacy we ourselves should be leaving. Don’t be arrogant, but be true. Our time as leaders is coming, so fight for right doctrine.