July 8, 2001
Volume 11, Number 27

The 1st Century Church - How Do We Measure Up?

In last month’s issue of POWER, we initiated an examination of whether the present day church measures up to the first century church? Again, we clarify that the plea to restore the New Testament church is not a plea to imitate every single thing that a particular church is recorded to have said or done. It is to say that whenever a first century church acted in such a way as to receive approval from God, we should seek to duplicate their act/acts of excellence.
The specific aim of our first article was to ascertain whether we measure up to the first century church in the realm of disseminating the seed of the kingdom (which is the Word of God, Luke 8:11)into the hearts of men and women. In short, are we getting the gospel message into the hands of the lost with the same enthusiasm demonstrated by the first century church? Whereas certain churches of Christ are at various levels of evangelistic outreach (some are doing better than others), we would have to confess that very few churches among us are duplicating the evangelistic outreach of the early church. We must do a better job of reaching the lost with the saving message of Jesus Christ! Having said that, there is another question that needs to be asked as we compare ourselves to the first century church.


Careful examination of the great commission reveals that there are two major prongs to the great commission as given by our Lord in Matthew 28:18-20. Our first article emphasized the first part of these instructions: to go into all the world, preach the gospel to every creature, and baptize those who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. However, the mission of the church is not merely to baptize the lost. Jesus expected first century believers to teach, baptize, and then teach those who had been baptized "to observe all things" commanded by Christ (Matt. 28:20). In recent years certain missionaries have returned from certain mission fields with glowing reports of hundreds of baptisms. One team reported 1500 baptisms. Certainly, every child of God would rejoice at the thought of 1500 souls being baptized into Christ. However, in far too many mission campaigns, there is no plan or organization for the follow-up work of teaching the baptized to observe all things commanded by Jesus (Matt. 28:20). What good does it do to baptize individuals into Christ only to leave them floundering behind as we head back to the states?

The first century church did not practice a "dip ‘em and drop ‘em" sort of approach to evangelism. Rather, the first century church gave great emphasis to developing the faith of those who had been baptized. For example, Acts chapter two records not only the fact that about 3000 souls gladly received the word and were baptized, but also the fact that after the 3000 were baptized "they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine" (Acts 2:42). The early disciples "ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42).

First century missionaries did not consider their work to be accomplished after they had preached the gospel and established the Lord’s church in a particular region. Instead, we read that after their establishment, the churches, throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, were edified (Acts 9:31). Moreover, a careful study of the missionary journeys of Paul demonstrates the importance attached to developing the faith of those who had already been immersed into Christ Jesus. Paul and Barnabas made a special effort to confirm the souls of the disciples and to exhort them to continue in the faith (Acts 14:23; 15:41).

Another evidence of the importance of developing Christian faith is seen in the structure and make-up of the New Testament. Whereas we have one book (Acts) which has as its primary goal the teaching of how to become a Christian, we have over twenty books which were written for the express purpose of strengthening the faith of those who had already been saved and added to the Lord’s church. Some statements from the inspired pen of Paul show us just how significant he believed it was to develop the faith of his readers. Paul was not satisfied with the mere knowledge that his readers had been baptized. He wanted them to grow! Consider:

If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; (Col. 1:23).

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving (Col. 2:6-7).

I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain (Gal. 4:11).

For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain (1 Thess. 3:5).

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).

These passages (and countless others which could be mentioned) show that a tremendous emphasis was given by the first century church to developing the faith of those who became Christians! How are we doing in "keeping the saved, saved"? So many times we see churches advertising the number of baptisms they have had during a given year. However, a close look at the attendance does not reveal significant increase. This is because while some are being converted, some are falling away, or, it is because some obey the gospel, believe for awhile, and in time of temptation fall away (Luke 8:13-14). We must endeavor to do a better job in fulfilling the second part of the great commission!

B.J. Clarke, POWER


July 14, 2001

South Florida Avenue Church of Christ
1807 South Florida Avenue
Lakeland, FL 33803

Church Directory

Coming Soon!

For Our Youth

Central Florida Bible Camp
July 22-28, 2001
Eustis, FL

Bible Bowl 2001
September 8, 2001
Pinellas Park Church of Christ
6045 Park Boulevard
Pinellas Park, FL 33780

Annual Bible Reading Program

This week’s Bible readings are:

Sunday, 8th: ... Mark 14:32-72, 1 Kings 9, Hosea 11:1-11
Monday, 9th: ... Mark 15:1-20, 1 Kings 10, Hosea 11:12-12:14
Tuesday, 10th: ... Mark 15:21-47, 1 Kings 11, Hosea 13
Wednesday, 11th: ... Mark 16, 1 Kings 12:1-31, Hosea 14
Thursday, 12th: ... 1 Corinthians 1:1-17, 1 Kings 12:32-13:34, Joel 1
Friday, 13th: ... 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, 1 Kings 14, Joel 2:1-11
Saturday, 14th: ... 1 Corinthians 2, 1 Kings 15:1-32, Joel 1:12-23

The will of God will never take you
where the grace of God cannot keep you.

Ghana Campaign
July 2-28, 2001

Schedule for this week:

Monday-Tuesday (July 9-10) … Ted will be going with Paul & Matilda Addo for their interview at the U.S. Consulate as they try to obtain a visa to visit with the church here in August.

Wednesday (July 11) … Ted, Ernest Apeadu & Edward Owusu-Ansah will leave Tema and make the day-long trip to Yendi, Northern Region.

Thursday-Sunday (July 12-15) … Work in the Northern Region. During this time the group are tentatively scheduled to work with the churches in Bunkpurugu, conduct mobile clinics, evangelize some new areas, follow up on the well-drilling & help some of the brethren who work on the well-drilling team to establish a church in their hometown, Akatsi, and help with the program for malnourished children.

Note: Ted will be trying to send campaign updates via email whenever he can.


A Special Welcome to our Visitors

Please fill out a blue visitor card so that we might have a record of your visit. If needed, there is a nursery available at the rear of the auditorium. Bible classes for all ages are available Sundays at 10:00 am and Wednesdays at 6:30 PM. We hope that you will join us for these studies. Please come and worship with us again soon.

Jane Bowman - Bill Sherman & Jeanne - Leslie Johnson

Viola Morinier - Virginia Law - Naomi Morton - Lurl Card

Mary Kaupilla


Guest Speaker:

Jackie & Joyce Stearsman are with us today. Jackie will be speaking for us this Sunday morning at both the Bible class and worship hour.

Service Opportunities


Time of Services


 Wayne Vowell




 Walt Thompson


Bible Study:

10:00 am

Morning Services



11:00 am

Bible Reading:

 Clarence Riggenbach  

Evening Worship:

6:00 pm


Delbert Leavens




 Jackie Stearsman


Bible Study:

6:30 pm

Closing Prayer:

 Carl Rigney


Evening Services



Opening Prayer:

 Jim Dougan



 Jim Treece


Our Record - Last Week


 Delbert Leavens  

Closing Prayer:

 Wayne Vowell



Larry Jenson
  Weekly Budget:
$ 1500.00
Jim Dougan
Wayne Vowell

James Bowman

Copyright © 2001 Church of Christ of Venice. All Rights Reserved.