LESSONS FROM THE CHURCH AT JERUSALEM
A. On the Pentecost following the resurrection and ascension of Christ, “there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven,” plus numerous proselytes (Acts 2:5, 10)
1. One historian estimates that the residents of the city normally numbered approximately 100,000 at the time of the events described in Acts 2.
2. Of course, the pilgrims at the feast swelled its population to perhaps many times more than this number.
3. The faithful from all parts of the world converged on the city for the Passover, and, due to the vast distance from which many of them came, they would doubtlessly stay the fifty days until the Pentecost before beginning their homeward trek.
B. It is not mere happenstance that the first gospel sermon was preached in Jerusalem at this time.
1. Seven centuries earlier Isaiah identified Jerusalem as the place where the word of the Lord would be proclaimed … Isaiah 2:2-4
2. Jesus verified this … Luke 24:46-47
3. The establishment of the church in Jerusalem was a culminating step in God’s plan for the redemption of mankind. For this reason some have considered Acts 2 to be the pivotal chapter in the Bible.
C. Let us now consider some exemplary characteristics of the early church in Jerusalem.
A. IT WAS A CHURCH THAT WAS DOCTRINALLY SOUND
1. Notice the first description we read of them … Acts 2:42
a. The “teachings” referred to here was not the private opinions or philosophies of the twelve
b. They had received the promise of the Spirit … John 14:26
c. The emphasis on both teaching and obeying the inspired word in overwhelming in the Bible, especially in the New Testament
1) Matthew 7:15
2) Galatians 1:6-10
2. It does not matter how sincere people may be or how many “good works” they may do – if they do not abide in the doctrine of Christ – they have not God and strive in vain
a. Matthew 7:21
b. 2 John 9
3. Our day is cursed with hundreds of congregations that have sold their soul for public approval, denominational fellowship, numbers, and dollars – at the expense of truth
a. The cause of their behavior and change of direction are easily discovered – they cease to love the Truth and seek its authority for their practices.
b. Colossians 3:17
c. Proverbs 23:23
B. IT WAS A CHURCH WITHOUT DISTINCTION
1. The church in Jerusalem was composed of all classes of people
a. There were the apostles, who were spiritual giants
b. There were those who had murdered Jesus, who must be classified as spiritual pygmies
c. There were Palestinian Jews, Hellenistic Jews, and even some proselytized Gentiles from various areas, languages, and cultures of the world
d. There were the wealthy (Barnabas) and the poor (widows)
2. In the early days of the church at Jerusalem there seemed to be no consciousness of class, economic level, or race.
a. Unfortunately, an element eventually arose within the Jerusalem church that separated themselves from other brethren based on race, but it was soundly rebuked by the apostles (Acts 15:1-5; Gal. 2:11-13)
b. James, the 1/2 brother of Jesus apparently was an elder in the church in Jerusalem, and he too, was among those who rebuked this action.
c. James would later write … James 2:1-9
d. Galatians 3:28
e. Acts 10:34-35
3. Since God does not recognize social, economic, sex, or racial distinctions when it pertains to redemption from sin and fellowship with Him, we dare not!
C. IT WAS A UNITED CHURCH
1. In the early days, the Jerusalem church was bound together in a unity of purpose that must have been a source of great joy to all the brethren
a. Acts 2:44, 46
b. Acts 4:32
2. The Jerusalem church was characterized by a:
a. Unity of place
1) Acts 2:26
2) In the temple – no splinter groups
b. Unity of prayer
1) Acts 2:42
2) Acts 4:23-24
c. Unity of practice
1) Acts 2:37-38, 41- everyone had been commanded to repent and be baptized
2) In their worship (Acts 2:42)
3) 1 Corinthians 4:17
D. IT WAS A COMPASSIONATE CHURCH
1. Luke repeatedly describes the compassion of the Jerusalem church in the early days:
a. Acts 2:44-45
b. Acts 4:32, 34-35
2. Of all people, the Lord’s faithful church, not only as individuals, but also as congregations, should be compassionate and generous in responding to the needs of those who are helpless
3. Consider a few cautions:
a. Congregations should not mimic the “Salvation Army,” seeking to become primarily a “benevolent” institution
1) The principal work of the church is to preach the gospel
2) Philippians 2:15-16
b. Not everyone who seeks help is worthy of it
1) 2 Thessalonians 3:10
2) Many make a living begging
3) Other squander the money alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and gambling
E. IT WAS AN EVANGELISTIC CHURCH
1. The had a simple procedure – they taught privately and publicly … Acts 5:42
2. Notice what the church did when they were being persecuted … Acts 8:4
3. We must fulfill the great commission to be a church well pleasing to God
a. Matthew 28:19-20
b. Mark 16:15-16
A. As great as the church in Jerusalem was – there is a sad ending, the Lord’s church is no longer found in Jerusalem
1. If it is there, there must only be a handful
2. A church once with thousands of members – now non-existent
B. This is what happens when one does not continue in the apostles’ teaching
1. I am reminded of the words of Paul … Galatians 5:7
2. Let us do all we can to keep the church here in Hamilton without spot and without blemish
3. Remember, apostasy is always only one generation away … Judges 2:10
Park Heights church of Christ
P. O. Box 107
1300 East Boynton Street
Hamilton, Texas 76531
“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”