Church Profile – Pt. 3

We’ve been looking at the description of the early Church in Acts 4:23-37, and seeing how we measure up.  We’ve seen the 1st Century Church as one of Passionate Prayer, and of Charitable Community.  Today I want to consider the early Church as a place of POWERFUL PROCLAMATION.

saint-paul-preaching-in-athens-3511-mid1And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, …” – Acts 4:33.

The early Church was marked by a steady emphasis on the resurrection of Jesus.  It is the event which transforms doubting, shaky apostles into powerful preachers.  It is the event which Peter proclaimed at Pentecost, declaring “You crucified Him, but God raised Him from the dead, and by so doing, has proven that He is both Lord and Messiah.”  It is the event which Peter preaches to the crowd when the lame man has been healed, saying again, “You crucified Him, but God raised Him.”  It is the same message which Peter takes to the Supreme Court of his day, the Sanhedrin, and by the powerful proclamation of this message, the early Church experiences an explosive growth.

And yet there are those who would tell us in our day that if we want to experience church growth, we must move away from the powerful proclamation of the truth.  I believe this has led to an unhealthy phenomenon—we are seeing greater numbers of people in the church, but fewer disciples of Christ.  We are seeing conformity to the culture of the world rather than transformation of our society by the power of the Holy Spirit.  In short, in a misguided attempt to be relevant, we are making ourselves irrelevant.

I remember interviewing with the law firm for which I eventually worked.  I was in the office of the senior partner, a kindly, old school, genteel Southern lawyer.  At one point, our conversation turned to “client development.”  I was a Christian, I explained, and while I might be good for dinner parties and the like, I could not engage in drinking or clubbing or other forms of entertaining clients that would violate my conscience.  He said something I will never forget.  “Well, that’s fine,” he said.  “I’ve learned that if you have to throw a party to gain a client, somebody can always throw a better party than you.  We’ll just be the best lawyers they can hire.”

I think there was wisdom in that, and I think it applies to the Church.  If we have to entertain people to fill the pews, Hollywood will outdo us every time.  If we have to be glitzy or glamorous to draw people, well, 5th Avenue is going to clean our clocks.  But we have one thing they can never compete with—the power of truth.  Jesus Christ is raised from the dead.  How are you going to top that?!? 

There is subtle but real pressure in our day to water down the gospel, to sanitize the offense of the cross, to allow people the vain attempt to keep one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom.  But Jesus has a way of demanding that we follow Him.  He winsomely but unapologetically says, “I am the way, the truth, the life.  No man can come to the Father except through me.”

Let’s strive to maintain faithfulness to this church profile.  Let this be a place of powerful proclamation of the truth that is in Jesus.

Father, may I not fear the face of men.  May those who come behind me find me faithful.  May I strive to please only You.  Make me wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove in proclaiming the truth that Jesus is Lord and Savior, and may His praises thunder from the pulpits of His people across this globe.

gkr1996 posted at 2009-10-9 Category: Theological