he title is not a misprint . . . even though it is natural for us to think about what’s wrong before we think about what’s right. As long as there are people in the church, it will never be a perfect place. However, many things are right with the church.
The early church was founded on simple truths that have been misinterpreted, debated, and tested throughout the ages. Yet, these truths remain the foundation of what is right with the church today.
- The Right Message (Acts 2:40-42)
The church’s first leaders spoke the Word of God instead of the calamity of human philosophy (2 Tim. 4:1-5). They believed in the doctrine of Christ (John 7:16-17).
Prior to the announcement of the birth of Jesus Christ, prophetic voices had been silent for 400 years. During His ministry, Christ’s words were life-giving, forgiving, loving, and kind. No one else had ever spoken like He spoke.
The apostles adopted the language of Him who called them to become fishers of men (1 Peter 4:11). The words they spoke were powerful, life-giving, and provocative; thus people asked, “What must we do to be saved?” (see Acts 2:37; 16:3).
The perseverance of sound doctrine is essential in a postmodern culture that no longer believes in absolute truth. People’s ears are itching to hear what they want to hear. With nearly 300 religions in America today, people are being tossed around like waves of the sea (Eph. 4:14).
It is important that biblical doctrine be taught to every age. The earlier we root people in a solid belief system, the greater our success of keeping children, youth, and young adults grounded in the church. French Arrington proclaims four main reasons we must adhere to and declare sound doctrine:
1. Many doctrinal currents and cross- currents are present today.
2. The set of beliefs is vital to our identity as a denomination and people of God who follow the Bible as our guide for living.
3. It helps us to focus our ministry on the person and work of Jesus Christ.
4. It has a global application.
- The Right Motive (Acts 2:42)
The first Christians went from house to house “breaking bread.” Not only is bread a physical food; it also represents the Word of God (John 6:33-35).
The idea of “fellowship” comes from the word koinonia—a uniting of kindred spirits between one another. True Christianity is reflected in how we treat each other. Jesus said people will know we are His disciples by our love one for another (John 13:35). In our fast-paced postmodern culture, we easily become more consumed with
the business of church in the 21st century rather than being the church God has called us to be since the first century.
In parallel with the first century, our secular culture breeds discord, confusion, and self-centeredness. As the world sees a genuine move of God in the church, the spirit and mind-set of another world can invade their chaos.
- The Right Method (Acts 2:43)
The first Christians, perplexed with life’s circumstances, countered with the supernatural activity of heaven—the fire of God. The apostles did signs and wonders. Once they left the encounter of the Upper Room, where the power of God was witnessed and experienced, the power was evidenced in the church through the apostles. As Jesus promised in Mark 16:17-18, signs followed the believers.
A hurting world is still in search of the supernatural. We are bombarded with sights and sounds from the entertainment industry promoting magic and mysticism. Popular culture glamorizes vampires by placing attractive celebrities in the role. With man-made religions based on false philosophies and phony prophets—along with the popularity of palm readers, tarot cards, crystal balls, and horoscopes—the world needs a church that understands our need for the power and methods of the Holy Spirit.
A world in crisis deserves a church in revival. Real revival is a relevant relation- ship with God. The Holy Spirit does not encourage a relationship of power among us just so we can boast about being Pentecostal. The Holy Spirit came that we might share Christ with others (Acts 1:8), bring comfort to the comfortless (John 15:26), healing to the broken (Luke 4:18), and produce the fruit of a Spirit-filled life (Gal. 5:22-23) among a hungry, curious world. Christ poured miraculous gifts and influences upon His disciples, and the world witnessed the effects.
My wife and I are living examples of the healing fire of God. Twenty-two years ago, the doctors pronounced Jackie—nine months pregnant with our third child—dead on arrival at the Humana Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. Exactly one hour after arriving at the hospital with zero lives . . . God gave us two lives!
I have learned miracles do not only come for those waiting and trusting in Him but as testimonies enabling others to see and believe. God continues to heal today, which causes me to believe the fire of God is still the right method for His church.
- The Right Manifestation (Acts 2:47)
The early believers worshiped God and enjoyed the “favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (NIV). Their worship was reflective of their newfound joy in God. Their countenance was visibly changed. Jesus Christ had brought everlasting life into their lost, dying, empty, and hateful world (John 3:16-17).
The word favor means the church was something good and it appeared to others like something good. Combined with their message of hope and faith, the motive behind their treatment of one another, and their method of operation, the church manifested the presence of a loving, peaceful, powerful God. The church was a manifestation of heaven on earth.
Today, as we refer to God “adding to the church,” we think of membership. Membership in the body of Christ should mean more than the numerical addition of people to a group or statistics on a report. Although numbers are one measure of a church’s accomplishments, people are more than mere numbers. Membership reflects our identity and the One we represent (Eph. 1:22-23).
While we anticipate that great and glorious day when we shall be like Christ, it is possible to be a reflection of Him right now through His church. Becoming part of the body of Christ is more fulfilling than anything else we could join.
The first church is indicative of all we should strive to become in a world that needs the realities of the kingdom of God. A church complete with the message of Christian faith and doctrine; full of godly motives, fellowship, and behavior; and empowered with the fire of God and its benefits as its method will be a healthy church, manifesting the heart of God.