It’s difficult to believe that 24 years have passed since that first summer of 1986 when Terrie and I first came to Lancaster Baptist Church. Today our church celebrates our 24th anniversary, and we praise the Lord for the victories and blessings He has given us. He has far exceeded our grandest imaginations.
As our church now begins our 25th year of ministry, we’re asking the Lord to continue to use us and to reignite our passion for His work. Like the early church in Jerusalem, we desire to continue steadfastly (Acts 2:42), consistently moving forward in the work of the Lord.
Last Sunday night, I shared with our church family three reasons, given in Acts 2:42–45, that the early church continued on. Any church who follows these principles can stand strong for the Lord in the years ahead.
Doctrine was a priority.
The young Christians saved on the day of Pentecost “continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine….” The early church cherished the doctrines of the faith, so much that they were willing to suffer for it rather than to compromise.
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:27-29)
Another evidence that the early church held doctrine dear was that they propagated it. The passage above notes that they “filled Jerusalem” with the truth of the Gospel.
Churches who place more value in drawing crowds than seeing lives changed are willing to water down doctrine with unscriptural, but socially pleasing, methods. These methods, however, can never replace the biblical model of soulwinning and sound biblical preaching seen in Scripture.
Devotion was prevalent.
The doctrinal emphasis of the church at Jerusalem was balanced with a genuine love members had for one another. Continuing discipleship is always based on love for the Saviour and for other Christians in the church family.
The devotion in the early church included fellowship—stimulating one another to holiness, the Lord’s Table—providing scriptural accountability, and prayer—interceding on each others’ behalf. Acts 2:42 says, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
Dedication was persistent.
The dedication of each member in the Jerusalem church was persistent—not based on passing feelings. Their love for each other was more than words. It was so great that as needs arose in the church body, members were willing to sell what they had in order to meet the needs of others. As Amy Carmichael said, “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”
I thank the Lord for a church family who is bound by Bible doctrine, encouraged in God’s love, and dedicated to Christ’s service. And I’m eagerly anticipating seeing what God will continue to do through our church as we continue by His Spirit.