In Matthew 16, Jesus asked His disciples who they thought that He was. Peter replied in verse 16, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus then said that upon the rock of Peter’s confession, “I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18). The church that Christ built began on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 and it was “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:20,21).
When the church of Christ began, the first members, having been added to the church by the Lord following their baptism for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38,41,47), became the model for the church throughout the ages. The first Christians were devoted to the teaching of the apostles; in unity they had all things in common; they met together daily in fellowship and on Sundays to worship and they praised God and had favor with all people. As a result, these Christians grew spiritually and numerically like at no other time since. In fact, the first church literally had a growth explosion!
Your elders and I believe that the church today can experience the exact same kind of growth that the first church did by simply following the blueprint that the Lord gave them. That plan wasn’t something they came up with after meeting with consultants and experts. No, their strategy for the church originated with God before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) and was shared with the apostles by Jesus over a period of 40 days prior to His ascension into heaven (Acts 1:3). In other words, the first Christians did exactly what God wanted them to do and the results were amazing! Why would we want to do or be anything different than that first church?
As we begin the new year of 2016 we unveil a new theme for the Lord’s church in Jersey Village, which really isn’t all that original at all: “Being the church that Jesus built.” How we can accomplish such a goal? It’s really quite simple…we just need to focus on what that first church did as described in Acts 2:42-47. Because that is exactly what those first believers were and that is all they desired to be – the church that Jesus built!
Our focus this year will be to encourage us all to grow in spiritual maturity through daily study and prayer, through a renewed commitment to Bible class and worship attendance, to involvement in Life Teams (the exact model of the first church), to participation in more fellowship opportunities, to getting involved with each other’s lives to the point that we take unity to a new level and so that no brother ever be in need. As we become more and more like the first church we will see the same results: we will enjoy the favor of all people. The closer we grow to God by being the church that Jesus built, the more our lives will reflect the light and love of Christ and the more people we know in the world who will want what we have.
Sunday morning we will take a closer look at that first church and begin a year long journey of reapplying their tried and true methods to the church today. One thing we will note: when something has proven to work, don’t change it. Trying to improve on what doesn’t need improving is never a good idea, yet over the years many have become convinced that times have changed so they need to as well. Certainly some things are indeed different than in the 1st Century, but people are still people and the church that Jesus built is still the kingdom that will never be shaken (Hebrews 12:28) and will never be destroyed (Daniel 2:44).
May God bless each and every one of us in 2016 with the desire and commitment to be the church that Jesus built. After all, what greater goal could we possibly have than that?