Workers in the First Church
Workers in the First Church
As Kim learned what it meant for him to be a member of God’s family he began to understand what God’s plan for him included. As he thought over these things, his desire to be a part of God’s work continued to grow. But he realized that there were many other believers too.
Kim started to study the church in the book of Acts more carefully. What was it that brought those first believers together? he wondered. What kind of people were they? What happened when they met with each other?
As he found the answers to these questions his understanding grew of what it meant to be a part of the church. He discovered why it was important for him to meet and work with other believers. He began to see God’s purpose for the church.
As you study this second lesson, I hope that you will make the same discoveries!
The First Church
The first church was made up of ordinary people, ordinary people who had needs. They had problems, fears, and burdens. They were ordinary people, but they had received Christ as their Savior. They were believers.
Jesus’ followers were common, ordinary people. They were not perfect at all, but they were all believers. Peter was a believer, yet he denied knowing the Lord (Mark 14:66-72). Thomas was a believer, yet he doubted that Jesus had risen from the grave (John 20:24-25).
From the day that John the Baptist announced, “There is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), many people followed Jesus. But just as quickly, He had enemies. His teachings did not always agree with the teachings of the rulers and priests. From the beginning they planned to do away with Him. The same people who treated Jesus badly also mistreated His followers.
In Acts 9:1-2 we read that before he believed in Jesus, Saul (later called Paul) received permission from the priest to destroy the Christians. Why did Christians meet if they knew they might be taken and put in prison or beaten? They came together because they needed each other.
In Acts 12 we read that Peter had been put in prison for preaching. After he was set free by an angel, he found the believers together praying for him.
The need for teaching often brought the believers together. Aquila and Priscilla, for example, took Apollos to their home so they could explain the way of God to him more correctly (Acts 18: 26). Paul told the believers in Colosse to teach and instruct each other (Colossians 3:16).
It is rare for members of a family to refuse to help each other. Those first believers who were members of God’s family didn’t! When some of the widows in the church thought they were not receiving what was due them, the disciples found a way to take care of their need (Acts 6:1-6). We know that Dorcas sewed clothes for the needy widows (Acts 9:39). Others shared their hospitality (Acts 16:15). The church was made up of believers who worked to help other people.
Paul was one of the best-known Apostles of the church. When he had material need, the church at Philippi shared with him, and Paul thanked them for it (Philippians 4:14-16). These people must have been just ordinary believers who reached out to help. But what ministry they had to Paul!
Paul told the Corinthians that God comforted them in their sorrows so they could do the same for someone else (2 Corinthians 1:4). This was another way the believers helped each other.
As we read the book of Acts we see that the believers taught, encouraged, comforted, and helped one another. The church was full of workers. They worked to meet people’s needs and so the church was strengthened.
We can see from our study that the members of the first church worked together like a body. When someone was in need, the believers prayed, sent food, provided clothing, or gave comfort. If someone did not understand God’s way, the believers taught him. If someone failed in some way, the believers helped him to follow the Lord.
There was cooperation and caring. At one time the believers shared their goods so that everyone had enough (Acts 4:32-35). When there were dangers, they protected one another (Acts 9:29-30). The ministry of the body of Christ in the first church was to help each other and anyone who was in need.
The Church Today
We use the word church to mean the assembly or gathering of those whom God has called out of the world to belong to Him. Because the church is not a building but the people who gather together, you are a part of the church if you believe on Jesus, even though there may not be a special building for you to worship in.
The church includes people from every race. We may be of different language groups but we are one body. God wants the world to see Jesus through His church. It is to be a continuation of the work of His Son on the earth. Believers are to bring the message of life and healing to the nations. This is God’s purpose for the church in the world today.
We know that people’s needs do not change. Thus the ministry of the church is much the same today as it was at the beginning. We know that all need to be saved, so the church preaches Christ as the one who forgives sin. Believers need God’s power in their lives, so they are urged to be filled with the Holy Spirit. There is need for encouragement and comfort, so the church offers times for sharing and fellowship. Many people need healing, guidance, or advice. The pastor and leaders are there, appointed by God, to be of help in all these ways.
We can gain strength when we are with the church body. This strength will help us overcome Satan, our enemy, who tries to discourage us and tempt us to sin.
When we gather with our brothers and sisters we are helped as the Word is preached and as we sing and pray together. Do not try to live the Christian life without the help of the church. It is there to minister to our needs.
In the church truth is explained and people pray together. It is a place where believers serve one another in the love of Christ, where burdens are shared and sins confessed (James 5:16).
Not every meeting is alike. We read in 1 Corinthians 14:26, “When you meet for worship, one person has a hymn, another a teaching another a message in strange tongues, and still another the explanation of what is said.”
If each one has something to say or do, who should lead? In Ephesians 4:11-16 we read that God has given gifts to the church. These gifts include leaders. In almost every church we find a pastor or a leader who leads the service. An evangelist or teacher is also God’s gift to the church. No one works alone. “We are partners working together for God” (1 Corinthians 3:9).