Restoring First-Century Christianity
How would you describe today’s religious world? We live in a world in which religious division is not only prevalent but perceived as normal and acceptable. Pick up the phone book in any local community and you will find dozens, if not hundreds, of different religious groups meeting. If there were a phone book with listings for the entire world, the “churches” section of those yellow pages would catalog thousands of varieties of “churches.” Interestingly enough, almost all of these groups claim to be serving the same God and reading the same Bible, but their beliefs and practices differ greatly.
Many people are searching for a church home, and some folks who have a church home wonder if they have made the right choice. For the average person, the search for “the right church” can be very confusing and even frustrating. Is there a way to make the search easier? Is there a guidebook that could be used to navigate through the various teachings and practices? Is it possible to know for certain that you have found “the right church”?
May we suggest a very simple solution: Let us go back to the Bible and restore first-century Christianity in the twenty-first century. The Bible is the inspired (2 Timothy 3:16), complete (2 Timothy 3:17), eternal (1 Peter 1:23) and final (Jude 3) revelation from God. Have you ever considered that the Bible is the original and only book that tells us about God, Jesus Christ, the church and eternal salvation? Thus, would it not make sense to simply go back to the Bible and do Bible things in Bible ways and call Bible things by Bible names? If we will do that, we can restore first-century Christianity in the twenty-first century.
Restoring God’s Design for Unity
Before His betrayal and crucifixion, Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20-21).
God made His desire for unity very plain in 1 Corinthians 1:10—“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
God’s design was for everyone to “speak the same thing” and to be united “in the same mind and in the same judgment.” A casual look at the religious world today makes it quite apparent that everyone does not speak the same thing and everyone is not united in the same mind and same judgment. This is the reason we plead with everyone—Let’s go back to the Bible and restore first-century Christianity in the twenty-first century. Let’s speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent.
Restoring God’s Design for the Church
During His earthly ministry, Jesus announced, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). The church was not a building with bricks and mortar but a body of “His own special people” who had been “called…out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). The church was not a secondary purpose in the coming of Christ in the first century but was the very reason that He left the splendor of heaven. Jesus came to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21), and this He did by dying on the cross and shedding His blood “for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). The Bible says that Jesus “loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25), “the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). The same blood that was shed so that people could be saved and have the remission of sins was the very blood shed to purchase the church. It should be no wonder then that in Acts 2, when people on the day of Pentecost obeyed the will of God and obtained the remission of their sins, that “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). Those whom the Lord saves are the same ones that the Lord adds to His church.
It is that same church that we seek to restore today—the church that Jesus came to establish, the church that Jesus gave His life to purchase, the church that the Lord put on this earth in the first century. When the church came into existence on the day of Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ, there were not thousands of denominations to make a search for the church confusing and frustrating. In fact, there were no denominations at all. There was one church (Ephesians 4:4; 1:22-23), and it is that church that we should all want to restore today and be a member of today.
That is not just some hypothetical idea that cannot be done. It can be done and it is being done all around the globe. In His Word, God told us everything that we need to know about the church that He established in the first century. He left us a pattern. And by going back to the Bible and using that pattern, we can restore first-century Christianity in the twenty-first century.
Restoring God’s Design for Worship
What a great honor God has been bestowed on us that we can worship Him! David recognized this privilege when he said, over 3,000 years ago, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1). With this privilege comes great responsibility. As God is the One who created us and the One who created worship, He is the One to whom our worship must be directed, and He is the only One who has the right to regulate what is done in worship.
Concerning the sacred privilege of approaching the throne of God, Jesus said, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). Above all else, we ought to seek to be true worshipers, those who worship God according to His will. We must have God’s authority for what we do in worship, for He has said, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).
In the New Testament, the Lord’s church gathered together to worship on the first day of every week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Through the New Testament, we know that God authorizes His church to worship Him through the following five avenues. To be the first-century church in twenty-first century, we must honor these God-given avenues of worship.
We must sing as a congregation. “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). Congregational singing is the only music that God authorizes in His worship.
We must pray together. “And they continued steadfastly…in prayers” (Acts 2:42). Jesus said our prayers are to be directed to the Father. “…Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you” (John 16:23). “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed by Your name” (Matthew 6:9).
We must give back to the Lord as we have been prospered. “Now concerning the collection for the saints…On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside…as he may prosper” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart…for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
We must have the Word of God proclaimed. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine” (Acts 2:42). “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together…Paul…spoke to them and continued his message until midnight” (Acts 20:7; see Acts 5:20). To Timothy the command was given, “Preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2).
We must observe the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week. The purpose of the church gathering for worship is to eat the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:20). The church gathered together every first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Therefore, the church must commune with our Lord, commemorating His death (1 Corinthians 11:23-26), every Sunday, just as the church in the first century did—“Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…” (Acts 20:7).
We come together each Sunday to worship our loving God. Knowing that God is the object of our worship, we seek to do and say only those things that will bring honor and glory to His name, for of such He is so worthy (Revelation 4:11).
Restoring God’s Design for Salvation
Jesus came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), in order that His blood might wash “us from our sins” (Revelation 1:5). God “desires all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4), and “gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16) in order that we might have that opportunity. Through His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus became “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). It is His Word which tells us what we must do to be saved.
We must have faith that Jesus is the Son of God in order to be saved. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). But faith alone will not save. “Faith by itself…is dead” (James 2:17).
We must repent of our sins in order to be saved. “God…now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).
We must confess our faith in Jesus in order to be saved. “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
We must be immersed into Christ in order to be saved. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us” (1 Peter 3:21). And when we have done this, we immediately become a part of the church, added by the Lord Himself (Acts 2:47).
We must live a faithful life of service in order to be saved. “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
If we will do exactly what they did in New Testament times then we will be exactly what they were—New Testament Christians. No more, no less. Let us go back to the Bible and restore first-century Christianity in the twenty-first century.
Come visit with us.
We have Bible classes for all ages on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. Our worship services on Sundays are very simple and uplifting as we strive to “worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
Sunday Bible Classes 9:00 a.m.
Morning Worship 10:00 a.m.
Evening Worship 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday Bible Classes 7:00 p.m.