​​The Kind of Church Jesus Had In Mind
Acts 2:42-47

We’re continuing our series on The DNA of Maranatha Church of God of Prophecy.”  This series is my vision of “The Genetic Makeup of Maranatha Church of God of Prophecy.”

We’ve covered Maranatha and Evangelism, and God’s Power in the Believer. Today our focus is going to be on the kind of Church Jesus had in mind. I pray this church will become that kind of church. 

The word “Church” in the New Testament was to identify the community of believers in Jesus Christ. It literally means “assembly,” “congregation,” or “meeting.” A similar term was used in the Old Testament referring to experiences such as “the day of the assembly,” “the Lord’s congregation,” or “meeting before the Lord.”

Thus, when Jesus declares in Matthew 16: “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18), it did not come as something unfamiliar. Shortly after, in the New Testament, the word is confined strictly to refer to the congregation of believers in Jesus Christ.

So first of all, the New Testament church looks like common people doing everyday jobs at work and at home. They are business or self-employed people; they were married, single, widowed; they are young, old, middle age. Those folks, then, looked like you and I today, common people from all walks of life.

However, God’s people (the church) have an uncommon Spirit about them; it’s the Holy Spirit of God. The Bible says that the same Spirit that lived in the first church lives in each and every follower of Jesus Christ today.

It is worth mentioning that in the New Testament, no synagogue, temple, chapel, tabernacle, building or any other meeting place was ever called a “church.” The term always referred to the Christian assembly and, in the New Testament, it was used for both the local community of believers and the overall collection of Christian’s world wide.

In John 17 Jesus emphasized love and unity among believers as being central to the mission of the church. He prayed that His followers “may all be one” just as He and the Father are one (John 17:21).

This oneness comes through the Holy Spirit who enables believers to love one another just as Jesus loved them (John 13:34-35). Such love and unity enable the church to reveal God’s love to the world and testify that Jesus was sent by God. (John 17:23).

In Philippians 2 Paul stressed the importance of unity, exhorting believers to live in harmony, be sympathetic, love one another, and look not only to their own interests but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:2-4).

In 1 Corinthians 1 He implored the Corinthians that there should be no divisions among them but that they be united in the same mind and judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Therefore, love and unity are essential to the church fulfilling its God-given mission. Petty divisions, selfish ambition, and lack of love undermine the church’s witness.

Jesus said, in John 17 this visible love and unity testify to the world of His love and the truth of His identity as the Son sent from the Father (John 17:21, 23).

In John 13 Jesus demonstrated that “greatness” in His Kingdom is attained through servant-hood and humility rather than domineering authority. He washed His disciples’ feet, presenting Himself as an example for them to follow, humbly serving one another (John 13:1-17).

In Mark 9 He taught that the first will be last and the last first (Mark 9:35). In Matthew 20 He instructed His followers not to lord authority over others as the Gentiles do but to serve one another in humility (Matthew 20:25-28).

The early church embodied this spirit of mutual service. Believers shared meals, supported those in need, and used their gifts to build up others (Acts 2:42-47).

In 1 Peter 5 Leaders were to be examples to the flock, not domineering over it but proving themselves humble servants (1 Peter 5:1-5).

In Philippians 2 Paul echoed Christ’s teaching that each member should look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4).

Therefore, the church is called to follow Jesus’ model of humble, selfless service toward one another.

Pride and selfish ambition have no place. Each member serves others in humility and love, the church functions as a unified community of believers.

Jesus scandalized the religious establishment of His day by welcoming those who polite society and religious elites scorned – tax collectors, prostitutes, Samaritans, and other “sinners.”

In Matthew 9 and 21 He embraced all who sought Him with open arms of love and mercy, often noting their faith (Matthew 9:10-13, 21:31-32).

In Luke 10 His parable of the Good Samaritan illustrated the importance of loving those across ethnic and religious divides (Luke 10:25-37).

The early church struggled to realize this welcoming aspect, often needing reminders from the Spirit and leaders not to show favoritism as we read in James 2:1-9, but to welcome Gentiles into the fellowship.

In Acts 11 Peter had to defend his association with Gentiles before Jewish Christians who still clung to their prejudices (Acts 11:1-18).

But the church recognized that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female but all are one in Him (Galatians 3:28).

Therefore, the church must follow Christ’s example of tearing down walls of division and welcoming all who come to Him.

The primary purpose of the church is to worship God. Jesus said in John 4:23, “True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.”

Gathering together as believers to pray, sing praises, hear preaching, and celebrate communion all serve to glorify and honor God.

Public worship reinforces our love for God and reliance on Him.

Recent surveys show that over 80% of church goers say worshipping God is their main reason for attending church services. Worship brings believers into God’s presence to focus on Him instead of themselves. Unfortunately most of those never worship Jesus outside of Church.

In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus commanded His followers to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” So a core mission of the church is evangelism – spreading the gospel and making new converts. Covered that a couple weeks ago.

The church also nurtures spiritual growth in believers through discipleship programs, Bible studies, mentoring relationships, and ministry training. These activities aim to produce mature disciples who can teach and lead others.

My vision is that Maranatha is going to have an intentional system for making disciples. I’ve printed it on our sign.

Jesus consistently showed compassion and cared for people’s practical needs – such as feeding the hungry and healing the sick. He calls the church to serve the less fortunate through acts of mercy and justice (Isaiah 58:6-7).

In Galatians 3 we learn the early church treated all believers equally despite differences in ethnicity, gender, or social status (Galatians 3:28). Similarly, in Romans 12, modern churches should value each member’s spiritual gifts and role in Christ’s body (Romans 12:4-8).

So the church today, in general, is not operating in God’s principles. A lot of people in the world have a messed up idea of what the church is.

Some think that church is a place where people can go and meet with their friends, a kind of social club.

Some view church as a place they can go so they can feel better about themselves.

Some view church as a place that will help them justify their sinful lifestyle and then pacify the guilt of their sins because they were in church.

Then there are the those of a really shallow Christian lifestyle. Just because I know and love Jesus doesn’t mean I have to obey Him, people can have some really messed up thoughts about church.

As we learn what God intended the church to be then we will get a better idea of the direction that Maranatha should be going.

So we understand the church is made up of all the people throughout the world and throughout history who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

In Ephesians 1:22-23 and Colossians 1:18 The Apostle Paul calls the church the Body of Christ. We see in these Scriptures that the church is an organized entity.

If we look at the first church as a model we can understand that the church is something that Jesus established making it important for us being a part of it and supporting it.

Getting together with like minded people was a no brainer to Jesus and it was a no brainer to His disciples. They got together often to learn, to pray, to worship, and to change their world.

Jesus didn’t have to tell them to meet together; it was something that they understood as being important. The reason it was important was because when Jesus was alive, He was always meeting with them and with others.

They understood that once Jesus went back to heaven, meeting together was going to be a part of what and who they were.

And that is just what they did. They got together and they encouraged each other, they helped each other, they exhorted each other, they shared with each other, they did things together, they worshipped together, prayed together and learned together.

The church was so important to the Apostle Paul that he agonized about staying on the earth and/or going to heaven.

We rarely see that kind of dedication today. David T. Olson, in his book, The American Church in Crisis, cites current church attendance for all churches in the US at about 17% of the population.

Simply put, our society no longer sees church attendance as necessary to live a good life, or be a good citizen.

Add to that fact, the increasing multi- spiritual thinking of our nation is the fact that there are so many different beliefs in our world so you can “choose your own spirituality.”

The secular has replaced the sacred at the center of our lives. It has been noted that Christians are right back where they started, as a minority in a culture hostile to what we believe and the way in which we live.

We have people asking, “Why should I go to church?” When we should be asking, “What can I do to help build the body of Christ?”

One Sunday morning a married couple woke up as usual to get ready for church. She was ready to leave when she noticed that her husband was not dressed. So she asked, “Why aren’t you ready for church?”

He replied, “Because I don’t want to go.”

“Why don’t you want to go?” she asked.

“I have three reasons why I don’t want to go,” he responded. “1. The people are cold hearted. 2. No one likes me. 3. I just don’t want to go.”

She wisely replied, “Well honey, I have three reasons why you should go to church. 1. The people are warm hearted. 2. There are some people there who like you. 3. Because you are the pastor!”

My point is this, if the church was what Jesus intended the church to be then even the pastors would want to go to church.

Jesus intended for the church to be something that would change the world.

You may think that this is a no brainer, but somehow, somewhere the church lost its focus.

Nearly 2000 years ago there was a group of believers that was led by 12 men and all they had was the Gospel message and this group of people turned the world upside down, rather right side up, for Jesus.

This group was a bunch of ordinary people just like you and I who made a decision to live their lives by what Jesus Christ taught them.

They began in an obscure upper room. They did not have the benefit of mass media advertising, television, news papers, radio, or the internet. They did not have a sound system or a multi-media projector. They did not have Women of Faith, Promise Keepers, Youth Camps, or Billy Graham.

And yet the first church not only survived but it flourished! In one day it grew from 120 to 3000 and it continued to grow daily.

Today we have 3000 worship services where no one gets saved and we say ho-hum.

The first church was attacked spiritually and physically and still this group of people took the message of salvation that God offered through Jesus to the world. They performed miracles, they helped others, and they made a difference.

Our denomination started the same way, but today are we changing the world, performing miracles, helping others and making a difference?

You might think that this first church was full of radicals, a group of people who were willing to go to extreme measures to get their message out.

One commentary stated, “What we consider to be radical behavior was nothing more than a sincere attempt to live obediently to the commands of Christ.”

Again I’ll mention their behavior was normal Christian behavior.

Sadly, the church of today does not act the same normal Christian way.

Listen to what the people of Thessalonica said when Christianity was introduced to them.

“These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. ”Acts 17:6b

This was not a compliment. This was an accusation, it was criticism. The Christian message was upsetting the normal.

They were changing the way people looked at religion, at life.

They were changing the way people looked at politics.

They were changing the way people looked at worship.

They were changing the way people looked at personal relationships.

They were turning the world upside down and in turning the world upside down they were actually making it right side up.

The first church was attempting to bring the world back to the place God desired the world to be since the time of Adam and Eve.

But their opposition was loud and large and they inflicted a lot of pain and suffering on the early church.

Not much has changed in 2000 years. There are still people in this world who are resistant to the Gospel message.

As Christians we want to see the world turned right side up but who are the ones making the most noise today in regards to change?

It is those who support same-sex marriage and those who support abortion and those who decide what sex they want to be and those who support a multiple religion society where all paths lead to God!

The church today is not operating in God’s right side up principles. Many will agree with what Jesus taught but they are not teaching it or preaching it.

Today in many churches you have what I like to call a “Gospel lite.” Instead of preaching that God should be first, instead of preaching take up your cross, instead of teaching sin is sin they proclaim it’s a disease, some have compromised the message of the cross and as a result have sent mixed messages to the world.

That is not the kind of church God desires for Maranatha Church of God of Prophecy to be.

To fully understand what kind of church Jesus intended the church to be we need a Biblical description of the church. This is found in Acts 2:42-47. I’m going to read this again.

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.   

This was the church that was upside down according to the world's standards. It was a church that was operating fully upon God’s kingdom principles.

It was a church that was rooted in the Word of God. It was a church that was founded upon Jesus Christ. It was a church that was full of the Holy Spirit.

It was a church that was not afraid to stand up with Godly morals and principles. It was a church that loved each other; in fact they loved everyone and took care of the needs of the people.

How did they do it, and can we do what they did?

First, the church devoted themselves to the teaching of the men who God had ordained to be the leaders of the church.

These were men who had spent time with Jesus, and they were teaching the very things that Jesus taught them. He taught them the truth of God and they taught that to the people. We have their teachings; it’s called the Bible, the Word of God,

Secondly, not only did they devote themselves to the truth but they also lived it out. They put into practice the very things that Christ commanded them to do.

They put God first. They put the needs of others before their own needs.

They met together regularly to learn and to pray to fellowship and to worship.

The result of the first church putting these things into practice was that God added to their numbers daily.

In Revelation 3:6-8 the Lord said, “See I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut…”

We are living in a time of unprecedented opportunity. God has opened the door for us to make a difference in this world and especially in the greater Copper Basin area.

Today the church has a greater opportunity to reach more people for Christ than at any time in history. We have the technology to project the Gospel message around the world.

The problem with the church as a whole in years past is seen in Revelation 3:8 when the Lord says, “I know that you have a little strength…”

The church as a whole has been sick; it has not been operating like it should.

God is calling the church to penetrate the world with His principles. He is calling us to take the life changing message to the world. He is calling us to be the church He intended the church to be.

The door is open for us to be the kind of church Jesus had in mind. Let’s resolve today to make Maranatha Church that kind of church.

In summary, Jesus emphasized unity, love, service, worship, disciple-making, and meeting people’s needs as central to the identity and purpose of the church.

While church structures may vary, Jesus’ teachings remind us that churches should ultimately be communities that glorify God and reflect His love to the world.

Father, as we go through this series, we ask that You would help us be open to the pattern that You have set forth, let us be the example of the first century church. Help us to understand that church is not this building, and it is more than just a service on Sunday.

Help us to demonstrate Your love seven days a week. Help us to show that You are active in our lives and passionate about us. Help us to walk the talk. Help us to step out of our comfort zones. Help us to love each other as we do life together. And God, help us to turn our world right side up as we unleash Your love and compassion upon our communities, in Jesus’ Name AMEN. 


 When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible on-line, please click here and may you be blessed by the song, "We are the Church."