At a recent church retreat I was approached by an older lady selling CDs of her folk music. She said she was from Bolivia, and I invited her to stay and be a part of our study that was about to start. She stayed, but she asked a lot of good questions, all of which were directed at finding out what kind of Christians we were. It was important to her that we were not a denomination. I told her that we are just the church of the first century. Here are the characteristics of that church (Acts 2:40-47).
The church is a learning church (Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 2:15; Heb. 6:1-3). “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostle’s teaching” (Acts 2:42).
The church is one of fellowship (1 John. 1:7; Eph. 3:8-9; 2 Cor. 8:4). “They were continually devoting themselves to… fellowship” (Acts 2:42).
The church is a group that prays (1 Thess. 5:17; Luke 18:1; Acts 4:23-31). “They were continually devoting themselves to… prayer” (Acts 2:42).
The church is grateful (1 Thess. 5:18; Acts 28:15). “They were continually devoting themselves to… prayer” (Acts 2:42).
The church is active (Gal. 5:6; Acts 4:31). “Many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles” (Act 2:43).
The church is benevolent (Acts 4:34-37; 1 Cor. 16:1; 2 Cor. 8:1). “Those who had believed were together and had all things in common” (Acts 2:44-45).
The church is unified (Acts 15:25; 4:24). “Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple” (Acts 2:46).
The church is a happy group (Rom. 12:12; Phil. 4:4). “They were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart” (Acts 2:46).
The church is a growing church (Acts 16:4-5; 12:24). “And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
The church is comprised of only Christians (Matt. 16:18; Acts 11:26).
There are other verses that teach about the characteristics of the church, the bride of Christ. The Bible clearly states that there were certain things that separated the early church from other religious groups. They were not just one of many and everyone was not alright believing whatever they wanted. Those in the first century taught a distinct gospel that described a specific group. We should not be watering it down.