What Does a New Testament Church Look Like?
A BIT ABOUT THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH What do you think of when you consider “the New Testament Church”? Many people have a variety of answers for this, but let’s take a look from a Biblical
A BIT ABOUT THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
What do you think of when you consider “the New Testament Church”? Many people have a variety of answers for this, but let’s take a look from a Biblical perspective. We have the very descriptions of what the New Testament Church looked like, available to read for one all, free in most cases. So why do we bother seeking worldly opinions of what the Church should look and act like, when we actually have God’s own words to show us? Let’s go ahead and dive in to some of the most obvious facts now.
Jesus is the Rock
The actual beginning of the New Testament Church came on the day of Pentecost. On that day, not long after Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, one hundred twenty people, including both men and women, received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. And so the Church officially began.
The word “church” is actually of Greek origin and means “the ones called out”. This particular version of the word occurs more than three hundred times throughout the New Testament. The Church, then, formally consists of those that have been called out of the world and transformed by the Holy Spirit in power. It is through the true Church that Jesus makes Himself known to the world at large. Or at least, that’s how it should be.
The True Rock
The Catholic faith teaches that the Church was actually built on Peter, and they claim that he was the very first pope. They go on to say that he was succeeded by popes all the way to the pope of our present time.
The truth, however, is that the Church is built on Jesus Christ and Him alone. In Ephesians chapter 2, verses 19-22, it becomes very plain: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together growth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
When Jesus made the statement, “…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”, He was talking about Peter’s words, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”. Jesus went on to say that it wasn’t flesh and blood that had revealed the truth to Peter, but rather the Father in heaven. The revelation was a kind of foundational rock, not just for Peter personally, but for everyone who would become a member of the One True Church. This is the truth, or the rock, that mankind is saved by and Jesus IS that rock, and He is known through revelation from God. God would never have purposed to build his Church upon any human being.
The fact that Catholics teach that Peter is the one on which the Church is built, shows that they don’t even take into consideration the rest of the conversation that Jesus had had with Peter. Over the course of the rest of the conversation, Jesus went on to describe the necessity of His going into Jerusalem to suffer at the hands of the priests and scribes. He told them that He would be killed and that on the third day, He would rise again.
Just like all the other disciples, Peter had not yet been sanctified so there was no way he could fully understand what Jesus was saying. He showed his ignorance of the overall plan when he said, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” Jesus then turned to Peter and told him to get behind Him, calling Peter “satan”, and further saying that he, Peter, was an offence to Him.
Catholics easily interpret the eighteenth verse literally, in that Jesus would build His Church on Peter. But if they were to take the rest of the conversation literally, they would have to admit that their Church was actually built on the devil himself. They make no claims that the Church is built on Jesus, when the Bible teaches that Jesus is, in fact, the only true foundation.
The truth is that Peter was neither satan nor God, just a very ordinary man. When Pentecost came, and he received the Holy Ghost baptism, he became completely sanctified and established on the one true Rock.
The Catholic church further teaches that the pope carries the keys to the Kingdom, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The true Apostolic Church has the keys, which is closed to both the Roman Catholic churches as well as the fallen Protestant churches.
“And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19)
False Prophets and Their Doom
Catholics are so taken with the heresy that they represent the only true Church that it is likely that only the judgment of God will cause them to open their eyes to their true condition. One of the most important truths is that no one can be educated into a place of grace. Only a truly radical transformation will open blinded spiritual eyes and deafened spiritual ears.
The best remedy for this situation is for the purest form of God’s Word to be preached and proclaimed through the power of the Holy Ghost, which will then lead sinners to repentance. From there they will obtain knowledge of salvation through the blood of Jesus. Once the supernatural work has taken place in a person’s heart, then they can be further instructed in the things of God and further, become grounded and rooted in the Truth.
True Apostolic Doctrine
The apostles bravely preached the old doctrines, even to the point of death, if necessary. Today, Apostolic preachers continue to preach throughout a wicked and perverse generation. It is this Church, and its preachers and teachers that dare to lift up a standard, that dare to preach the Word of the Lord in all its simplicity. Traditions of men and laws created by man are in no way in accordance with the written Word. No, the true Church is a repairer of breaches. The true Church is a restorer of those paths to dwell in. Just look at what Isaiah 58:12 has to say: “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.”
In actuality, this is speaking of a restoration that will come to Israel. However, the Church must stand ready to lift up the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They must be ready to repair any breaches that have been created by apostate denominations. In the initiation of the New Testament church, at Pentecost, had people so taken in the Spirit that they brought everything they owned on this earth, laying everything down at the apostle’s feet. In fact, they were truly expecting Jesus to return at any moment, to catch them away. Because of this, they lived every single moment of every single day, ready for that catching away to happen. In truth, no one is really ready to meet Jesus unless they hold this same attitude right now.
The “tenth” that many people think is their duty in tithing is actually only the first step in Pentecostal giving. In fact, it isn’t until that tenth has been exceeded that true “giving” can actually happen. Look at what Jesus said in Luke 14:33 – “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”
This can be seen in the story of the Widow’s Mite and also in the case of the increased oil and meal when Elijah visited the widow in Zarephath. In fact, this widow is actually very symbolic of the New Testament Church. Her husband had passed away. Afterwards, she was left to find a way to provide not only for herself, but also for her son. In taking Elijah in and ministering to his needs, her own spiritual and temporal needs were met as well. To turn the prophet away would have been just like turn away Jesus Himself.
Even though he held a fullness of blessing, many people in this day and age would easily have turned him away. They would have explained that “family comes first” and that it would have been like committing suicide to take the child’s portion and give it to the prophet. They would have had many good reasons and a great deal of support from those around them, for turning Elijah away. The fact that her oil and meal never ran out only serves to prove that true wealth is only finally laid hold of by forsaking everything else for Jesus.
The Freedom of Laboring for God
Before finally being delivered from the bondage of Pharaoh, the Israelites had their labors greatly increased. Taskmasters showed them no mercy as they were beaten and as they were forced to serve under harder and harder conditions. When they cried out for deliverance, though, God sent Moses and most all of us know the story well.
There is amazing freedom in fully surrendering to God and allowing Him to lead anywhere He sees fit. Being under excruciating bondage to the world’s powers, and being unable to break away from that, is nothing short of legalized slavery. However, God is more than able to break any chain and liberate any captive. However, that person who has been made free must make a strong effort to stand fast in that liberty that Christ made him free with. To be entangled in that bondage yoke again ends with the last state of the person being much worse than the first, after all.
On the other hand, there have always been those who only follow Jesus for the loaves and the fishes they might get. Selfish motives move many people who only serve the Lord as a means to get their shelter and their food provided for them. As the old rumor goes, even John Wesley preached a full ten years before being, himself, converted.
A Preacher’s Job
Anyone who is truly called to preach the Gospel must always show the difference between what is true and what is not. In failing to do this, he gives people a chance to take sides and then, that ministry fails. Worse still, though, the blood of those souls will then be on his hands.
In the world we now live in, it is plainly an age of compromise. It is truly hard to find someone with Elijah’s spirit, who would be willing to cut down false prophets with the unsheathed Gospel sword. Some begin the race well, but enter into treaties with the enemy. One who is truly a New Testament Church member would never compromise the Truth, even if they might lose their reputation or yes, even their life. In fact, in this very day and age, we still see people in certain areas of the world, who are dying for the sake of the Gospel.
Even in cases of sickness and disease in the church, many denominations are never found to call the elders of the Church to pray for the sick, or to anoint them with oil, in Jesus name, as is found in James 5:14 – ”Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:” In times of family sickness, in many cases, even those who claim that they are fully given to God run as hard and as fast as they can to the “medicine man” for their relief.
The Great Authority
Our great authority IS the Word of God. But will those who profess to be Christians ever be wise enough to recognize it? Will they be wise enough to ACT on it? No one has been left out, when it comes to cases of sickness, as to what they should do, especially if that person is a Christian. Those who are not believers, of course, it is only natural that they would lean heavy on the flesh in times like this. The fact is, claiming belief in the Bible is an utterly useless venture unless that person actually practices the teachings of the Word. James 5:15 says that a person who says they believe, but still has no faith, is inconsistent at best.
When Jesus walked the earth, no leper was left uncleansed, no blinded eye remained blind, and no dumb tongue was left silent. No one was beyond the ability to be cured with Jesus. He cast out demons, He healed the demon possessed, He showed that He had power over the power of death. Jesus was never a funeral preacher because when he met a procession, the funeral was immediately over.
The fact is, we can look at these examples of the miracle working power of Jesus and know the type of world we will inhabit once the curse is lifted and all things are subject to Him: “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that it is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)
Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
But to Your name be the glory
Because of Your love and your faithfulness!