THE ACTS 2 CHURCH: In Acts 2:42-47 we see an awesome picture of what the early church in Jersalem was like, right after the coming of the Holy Spirit. The church we are shown looks ideal, and I think that it typifies what Heaven is like in certain aspects. However, I don't think it's appropriate to take this picture we're given and extrapolate from it a "model" to recreate in modern churches. Why not?

It's important to realize the spiritual and cultural work that God was doing in the lives of those early Christians. The church had exploded from 120 of Jesus' closest disciples to over 3,000 new believers virtually over night. The New Testement had not yet been revealed, and the only source of teaching was the apostles who could tell new Christians what Jesus was all about and what God intended for them to do. Because of this (as well as the looming persecution by both Jewish and Roman authorities), the early church in Jerusalem was extremely tight by necessity, and essentially socialistic in nature and governed directly by the apostles. Everyone "gave to anyone as he had need" because many of these new believers were visiting Jews from foreign lands. They met together every day because, basically, they were on the ultimate "camp high". God was doing extraordinary things among them, new believers were being added daily, and it would have been impossible for all of this to occur if they had attempted to maintain their previous lifestyles.

Is this a model for how modern churches should function? In some ways, yes -- the Spirit of love and devotion that underlies the actions of the early church should still be the foundation of our churches today. However, the manifestation of that Spirit will be different. We have the teachings of Jesus and the apostles written down for us to study wherever we may go; indeed we should be in God's Word daily, but we don't need to meet at church daily to do so. We should take care of the needs of other believers, but it would be impractical and unsustainable for church members to all sell everything they possess -- this would simply lead to more need in the long run.

Eventually, the early church in Jerusalem was broken apart as persecution drove wave after wave of Christians out of the city and out of Israel altogether. This persecution was all a part of God's plan, as there was no way for a church that stayed in Jerusalem to "go to all the world" and preach the gospel. The example we are shown in Acts 2 tells us much about the Spirit with which a church should function, but if we are to fulfill the purposes that God has called us to we cannot attempt to recreate the exact same structure.



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