OUR MODEL – The Early Church

“With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”

– Acts 4:33-35

Jesus Followers of the First Century had it right. They didn’t idolize or unduly elevate any of their leaders, nor did they look to anyone but the Holy Spirit to teach them the ways of God. Jesus left them a very clear model – teaching them to learn from His Spirit, and minister to those around them who were in need.

And all the needs of the Early Church were satisfied, because no one claimed to be the Leader – the Ruler – over the others.

Where we’ve seemed to go off track for well over a thousand years is in the area of elevating men and heaping praise upon them until they become haughty and arrogant. As a result, men fall. This is a story retold tens of thousands of times – a story that mimics Adam instead of Jesus, and one that brings shame upon the Church of Jesus Christ.

When will we learn? What will it take for us to return to the humility of our spiritual forefathers? They loved God with all their hearts, and loved each other to the point where they sold all they had and shared with one another so that there was no lack amongst the brethren.

Can we say that today? In these incredibly tough times, can we say that there’s no lack in the Church?

What an amazing witness it would be if church leaders unselfishly adhered to the model Jesus left us, and sacrificed for the people under their care instead of ruling over them. Rather than pulling down salaries in the $100,000 range while many of the people who are paying those salaries have lost their jobs and maybe even their homes, how about sharing with those in need?

Are church leaders worried that they’ll be setting a dangerous precedent that people would take advantage of? What would that be – emulating the actions of the Apostles? Jesus Christ Himself appointed these men to carry His message to the world, and they did so with stunning success. How did they do it?

“With great power … and great grace was upon them all.”

Is it any wonder why there’s very little power in the Church today?


Posted on April 18, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Here, Here sgiman2,,,,,I agree with you completely. I completely believe that the community that I fellowship with is a James 1:27 group. We seek to better those less fortunate than ourselves and simply lead people to the Good News of Christ. As for your question “what can be done to change this mindset?” 1) keep on practicing and acting on the message that we have heard through the Gospel and 2) keep on talking. I see that the one thing that inhibits people from change is their resistance to discuss difficult topics. Especially when it comes to “someones” church. Folks get real defensive when leaders and or doctrines are questioned. I have personally been on the receiving end of this and its not pretty. I hope that you keep coming back to Dennis’s blog and join the discussions. Some have gotten pretty heated, but most are very tempered. (we get edited)….

  2. Newmission and others,
    Interesting perspective: “People go to the weekly communal gatherings, feed off of the milk that is provided and put their checks in the basket as it makes its rounds. This makes people ‘think’ that they are ‘responding’ to the ‘call’.” I agree with you. I will say however that certain programs(bad word, although some are just that) / ministries do meet the needs of some and are part of what James refers to as “pure and undefiled religion” (James 1:27 NASB). I believe that many involved in them have the right heart. That being said, the majority of today’s ‘congregations’ probably THINK they are ‘responding to the call’ as they go to the meeting and put the check in the basket. The Pareto Principle comes into play here which states that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I wonder what that ratio is as God looks down from heaven, that is, what percentage are practicing “pure and undefiled religion”? of 1) those regularly attending congregations or 2) those claiming to be Christians. More importantly what can be done to change this mindset? I guess I’ll just keep trying to practice the pure and undefiled and hope that others pick up on it. ya think?

  3. “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

    New Living Translation (©2007)
    “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative–that is, the Holy Spirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”

    English Standard Version (©2001)
    “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

    New American Standard Bible (©1995)
    “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”

    King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
    “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

    International Standard Version (©2008)
    “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything that I have told you.”

    Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
    “But he, The Redeemer of the accursed, The Spirit of Holiness, whom my Father sends in my name, he will teach you all things and he will remind you of everything whatsoever I have told you.”

    “When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (John 16:13)


  4. excellent and thought-provoking, thank you Dennis!

  5. Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches Heaven. Let’s make ourselves famous.” Genesis 11.


    Bigger, better, more, greater, closer, more intimate. These are the terms that have sucked the power from what started out as the most powerful movement this planet has ever known. This is the mindset that Nimrod put on the people when they built the Tower of Babel. “They” could build a Heaven-bound tower. They are said to have been trying to ‘make a name for themselves,’ and this is why God came down and confused them. The accounts of this event vary from faith to faith as the Kabbalah says, that not only did He confuse the language, He transformed one-third of them into a semi-demonic state and sent them to live in three different parallel dimensions. WOW, He must have been pissed. Sorry, I’m getting off subject.

    I agree, Dennis with the whole premise of your post. We were never to build up the leaders and bolster their personal finances and career motivations. We see that this can have a very adverse effect on how the Gospel is delivered, especially when communities are built up to a point that the most important part of the community is keeping salaries paid and expanding the ‘building’. Most communities equate this to ‘kingdom’ thinking or seeing the ‘bigger’ picture. When I (again my opinion) read the accounts of the Messiah and the Apostles I see nothing resembling what we see today in most communities. (It is important for me to say that there are communities of followers who ARE doing the right thing. Communities that are building for the betterment of those less fortunate than themselves, not just building for their own desires or ego-driven motives).

    To go a little deeper, I think that the leadership positions create a communal mindset that reduces the need for the individual response to the Gospel and discipleship. People go to the weekly communal gatherings, feed off of the milk that is provided and put their checks in the basket as it makes its rounds. This makes people ‘think’ that they are ‘responding’ to the ‘call’. The ‘call’ is for an individual response to the Gospel associated with individual actions. Actions such as responding to the ‘teaching’ of the Holy Spirit as you said in your post Dennis. It is an individual response that requires living the Gospel by caring for those less fortunate, washing feet as The Messiah did. It requires caring for the orphans and widows. An individual response that requires us to love and pray for our enemies and to oppose injustices such as war, poverty and racism.
    The early church did meet together and had “church”. But it was not under the “vision” or “purpose” of a ruling elder, Bishop, regional overseer, Reverend or Doctor apostle prophet. They met together, one brought a song, one a Psalm, one a message, one a word. They then broke bread together (as Jesus did with the (real) Apostles) by eating a meal together – not choking down a piece of dry tasteless stale bread with a thimble full of grape juice.
    “As they were gathered together (EATING – sharing a meal together) he broke bread and took the cup ….”

    Sorry Dennis, I don’t really know if this got off topic or not. I don’t mean to sound like I’m a bitter person, I just know that the ‘model’ that is given in the Scripture is not what has become what we know today as “church”.

    Let’s get real serious here. An organized church is a “NON-PROPHET (oops) -Profit CORPORATION. It’s a business with tax credits and loopholes. It was originally designed to help the less fortunate, not to allow people to ‘PROFIT’ by paying themselves huge salaries, drive fine cars and not have to share in the burden of the common man.

    We are called to respond to the Gospel as individuals. We are called to live the Gospel as individuals, and when we gather together we do it as individuals responding to the Spirit of God. Instead, we are likened to the BORG from Star Trek, we are “assimilated” into the church culture and taught to put our trust in the leader’s vision and guidance.

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