What would the church of the first century, the church Jesus built, the church the apostles worked with – what would it look like if it existed in our community today? Through Scripture we can go back in time and see what the church was and what was taught and believed. Let’s take a quick look at what it was…
We would notice that the church wasn’t about buildings – they met in everything from the temple to family homes. It’s not wrong for churches to have buildings, but since it wasn’t about buildings we aren’t told much about where churches assembled. The word church means “group” or “assembly” – so, the idea is that a church is a group or assembly of people who belong to or follow Jesus Christ.
We would notice that the church was Christ centered. Jesus, not men or councils or leaders, would be the Head.
“…He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” – Ephesians 1:22-23
The idea of Jesus being Head is that He is the One who decides, controls, directs, and gives life to the body – the church (Ephesians 4:15-16). And the church, as His body, submits to Him as head (Ephesians 5:23-24). A group of people may claim to be His church, but if they rebel against what Christ said, if they follow the will of men rather than the will of God, they are not the true body of Christ.
The original church had a heavy emphasis on the word of God. It was preached, taught, studied, spread, confessed, believed, and obeyed. Even though it was at times controversial and counter-cultural, the message never changed to please or attract people (2 Timothy 4:1-4; 1 Corinthians 2:9-13). The word of God is what made believers (Romans 10:16) – and it is what makes believers now.
Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). That is His true group of followers. We want to be that group today. To do that we begin by submitting to Him as our Head – letting Him be our authority, following His word in all things. That’s what the original church looked like, and that’s what it must look like today. dd
Next Week: Christ centered sacrifice and forgiveness