B ECOMING A F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH N EW D URHAM B APTIST C HURCH P ASTOR F RANK C UOZZO L ESSON 1 “T HE F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH ”
L ESSON 1: T HE F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH. Matthew 16:13-20, “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.”
L ESSON 1: T HE F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH. The word “Church” was never used to describe a denomination or group of churches or a national church. Every church is to be directly accountable to God. The church is a group of baptized believers who have voluntarily joined themselves together to carry out the Great Commission. Jesus said, “I will build my church.” He did not say, “I will build your church or you will build my church.” Church members really have one responsibility and that is to be obedient to the Lord and His commission. As we obey the Lord, the Lord will build His church.
L ESSON 1: T HE F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH. #1) T HE C HURCH STARTED W / C HRIST AND H IS DISCIPLES AND WAS EMPOWERED AT P ENTECOST. The Lord gave the Great Commission to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature to the Church and not simply to a group of believers. The ordinances of the Church, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, are not ministerial ordinances, they are local church ordinances. We need to place the emphasis in the Bible where God places the emphasis and He places the emphasis in the New Testament on the Local Church and it’s commission.
L ESSON 1: T HE F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH. #2) T HE F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH HAD A S AVED M EMBERSHIP. Acts 2:41-42, “ Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Baptism is the first act of obedience for the new believer. It identifies him or her with a local body of believers. (Church) They also identified with a body of doctrine. Biblically correct baptism involves three things: A) The right authority : The Local Church.
L ESSON 1: T HE F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH. B) The right Mode of Baptism- By Immersion, which pictures the death, burial and resurrection of our Savior. (The gospel) C) The right Candidate for Baptism- A saved person. People must be saved before they follow the Lord in Baptism and so the name “Believer’s Baptism.” Example of Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:35-38, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.”
L ESSON 1: T HE F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH. #3) T HE F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH HAD C HRIST AS THE O NLY H EAD. Colossians 1:18, “And he is the head of the body, the church : who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” One Headquarters- Heaven. One Head- The Lord Jesus Christ. Same Body of Doctrine down through the centuries that Christ gave to His disciples. God has always had a people. Jude 3, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
L ESSON 1: T HE F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH. We have a book, the Bible, God’s completed revelation of Himself, and winding through the centuries, people have had the same body of doctrine to hand to the next generation. Jude says that our faith was “Once delivered” but it must be contended for in every generation. #4) The First Century Church was declared to be The Pillar and Ground of the Truth. I Timothy 3:15-16, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” In our world there is no lack of knowledge, but a great lack of truth.
L ESSON 1: T HE F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH. #5) The First Century Church was always an Independent Congregation. Acts 13:1-4, “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.” Who sent out the first missionaries? The church or the Holy Ghost? They both did! This local congregation acted independently of any other congregation. Each congregation was autonomous & indigenous.
L ESSON 1: T HE F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH. #6) The First Century Church took responsibility to Evangelize the World. Acts 1:8, “ But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Ambition is from the flesh, Vision is from God. Our Vision is simply doing what God has already stated clearly in His Word that needs to be done. It’s a World Vision. Mark 16:15, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world (kosmos), and preach the gospel to every creature.” It is the responsibility of churches to start other churches and to reproduce after their own kind.
L ESSON 1: T HE F IRST C ENTURY C HURCH. #7) The First Century Church was Pastor Led. Sheep need a shepherd. The pastor is the under-shepherd and he loves the sheep. I Timothy 3:1, “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop ( episkope /overseer/superintendent), he desireth a good work.” Bishop, elder, overseer and pastor are words God uses synonymously for the same office. You have two groups of people in the church, the pastor and people who help the pastor. The Pastor is accountable for the spiritual well-being of the members. Hebrews 13:17, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”