Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Church Simply: The N. T. Model

One foundational principle of simple church life is that God has provided for us what we need. He has done this through the Holy Spirit and through the bible. The Holy Spirit guides us all throughout the day, and also specifically when we read the scriptures. Since we are New Covenant people, we look primarily to the pages of the New Testament to see how God wants us to live church life. We don't need or want man's traditions. Rather, we believe the bible - through the illumination provided by the Holy Spirit - is sufficient for us.

The New Testament shows us a church of imperfect people who do some great things and make some mistakes. That sounds like us today. This makes sense since they were regular people learning to live for Christ in the midst of a pagan culture (something like ours). We have an advantage over those first believers: we can learn both from what they did well and from their blunders. We owe those first believers a deep debt of gratitude.

The gospel accounts show us Jesus is all his glory. We also see his earliest followers trying to figure out who he is. As we turn to the book of Acts, we read of the coming of the Holy Spirit. This is when church life really begins to take off. We see a church feeling its way through living as followers of Christ empowered by the Spirit. We also see them living simply. They gather in homes to edify one another. They eat together. They pray together. They serve one another. They live holy lives. They share the gospel generously.

Most of the remainder of the New Testament provides us with letters to churches dealing with specific issues. Many of these are "occasional" letters," meaning that they were written for specific occasions or reasons. The writers encouraged the new believers in enduring in the face of persecution, and also challenged them when they were living in a manner inconsistent with following after Christ. These letters are a treasure trove for us. We learn a massive amount about how we should be living today. One thing we continue to see is a simple manner of church life.

God has given us all we need to live as the church he desires. We have the Holy Spirit and the bible. We don't have to invent anything. We have all we need.

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