Real Church

November 16, 2016 Randy Bushey

genuine-christianity-badge-1428314by Randy Bushey, November 16, 2016

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it (1 Corinthians 12:27)

Authentic. Genuine. True. Real.

In an age of knock-off imitations, carefully controlled “image projection” and shameless rip-offs it’s often difficult to untangle the knot: what is true from what is not?

Example: last week’s US election saw candidates spent US$4.4 billion on TV advertising alone – and that’s just in 2016! Much of what was spent was intended to distract from the truth of what she had done, and what he had said – to change the perception of “reality” in minds of the voters.

So in a world inundated by media spin, we all sense some empathy with the lamenting voice asking, “what then is real?”.

In our Bethel Blueprints series, we’ve returned to the 1st century to understand the principles on which the apostolic church — the Body of Christ — was founded. We believe the apostolic writings provide the authentic prototype. In every era and every culture, this template must be maintained to please Christ, the Head of the church.

This pattern differentiates the real from the forgery.

  • The authentic church declares and lives out the Gospel. When Paul visited Corinth on his second missionary journey, he remained for 18 months (Acts 18). His laser-like focus was on Christ’s sacrifice and the response of faith as the only way to deal with sin before a holy God. Every true local church experiences God’s transformative power – the process of “being saved” – as the Gospel is lived out in community. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).
  • The authentic church lives out Acts 2:42. The mother church of Christianity was in Jerusalem, and living under the imposing shadow of cultural Judaism, pervading almost every dimension of daily life. That church lived in simplicity, but demonstrated concentrated attention to Bible teaching, koinonia fellowship, the Lord’s Supper and corporate prayer. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachingand to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42).
  • The authentic church recognized as essential, an accurate understanding of Christ. John the apostle was the last living disciple, and may have been the final living eye-witness to the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. He was unyielding in his defense against later distortions, as the koinonia fellowship we experience with the Lord and with His people, must be predicated on truth. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life (1 John 1:1).
  • In addition to the Lord’s Supper, the authentic church practiced believer’s baptism. In His final words as He ascended to His coronation, the Lord Jesus’ final message included these words, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28, 18,19).
  • The authentic local church lives out a low judgment/ high grace culture. Spiritual maturity strives to walk in the light of truth and  righteousness – to live out the Gospel. Confession is practiced; forgiveness is readily dispensed. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

Takeaway:  John the Apostle, now a wise, old man provides 3 tests measuring my level of Gospel sanctification:

  • how I think – this is the theological component, understanding that Jesus is the eternally pre-existent Son of God Who became man, adding humanity to His divine nature.
  • how I live – this moral component increasingly loves godly justice, wanting to attain to God’s absolute, eternal, moral righteousness.
  • how I love – this social component involves striving to live in unity with other believers, particularly those I may not have naturally chosen to love. Loving always involves confession and forgiveness, low judgement and high grace.

~ graphic by Jim Stewart, freeimages.com