In the PREVIOUS post, we saw the first 4 of the 12 commitments of a godly church, namely: (1) Saved Membership (2) Growing in Bible Knowledge (3) Practicing of Ordinances and (4) Fellowship. In this post, we will see the next 4 commitments.
Commitment #5. Loving One Another
In John 13:35, Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” If one thing stood out among the early church, it was the love they had for one another. This commitment is closely linked to the previous one, which is fellowship. In fact, we can say their fellowship was strong because they had a genuine love for one another.
And this love was not merely in words but came out in actions. Acts 2:44-45 says, “44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” Verse 46 says they “broke bread in their homes and ate together.” This means they opened their homes for others to come. That’s an act of love. Where there is no love, there will not be an open door for others to come in!
Historians tell us that those who came to Jerusalem for Passover and later got converted just stayed behind as believers in the fellowship. Plus, those who became believers would have been cut off from their Jewish people and thus would have faced losses in businesses and in employment. All this would have led to a severe strain in finances for many.
And those believers who had were willing to share whatever they had with others. Imagine, selling off properties just to help others eat! They knew this is what the Christian life was about. And this was not a one-time thing with them. They showed continual love.
We read later in Acts 4:32-35, “32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”
They showed that whenever they saw a fellow Christians in need, and they were able to help, they did not hesitate. They showed by their acts of love that the possessions of the world did not drive them, but relationships!
A godly church should be marked by its members actively seeking to know the struggles people are going through and help out in practical means where possible [1 John 3:16-18].
Commitment #6. Prayer
One thing that you may not be aware of the fact that Luke, in his gospel, as well as in Acts, gives so much attention to prayer. In Luke’s gospel, he records much of Jesus’s prayer life and his teachings on prayer as well. And in Acts, he records much of the praying life of the church.
Acts 2:42 tells us the early church was, “devoted…to prayer.” They were continually given to prayer. This would have included specific prayers as well as general prayers. Perhaps they had set times for prayer as well [Acts 3:1]. Prayer was like breathing to the early church. They did not do anything without prayer.
In fact, Acts 6:4 tells us that even the apostles had this resolve to “give [their] attention to prayer” and then to “the ministry of the word.” They knew all their preaching was useless unless the Holy Spirit used the word to save people. Simply put, the early church had a praying leadership and a praying membership!
A church cannot be called a godly church if there is not a high priority given to prayer—starting from the leadership. We must be desperate for the Spirit’s power to work through us, and that cannot happen apart from persistent prayer—in our private lives and when we come together as a church! Those in leadership should organize regular prayer meetings, and these meetings should be attended by the members as well. Even if attendance is low, these meetings should go on. In due time, God will bless the whole church to be marked by fervent prayer.
Commitment #7. Praising God
While there was the horizontal commitment to love people, the early church also had a vertical commitment in that it loved God. And this love came out in their constant commitment to praising God. The first part of Acts 2:47 refers to them, “praising God” continually as they met together. Songs and prayers of praise and thanksgiving flowed from hearts that loved God. Even when they went through suffering as we read later in Acts, they never ceased to praise God.
A godly church should give a high priority to praise God as people come together in worship. Those involved in the music ministry must carefully select songs that teach biblical truth. Worship should be not be viewed as a means to entertain people, but to praise God with minds informed by precious truths of the Bible. God delights when his people come together to praise him!
Commitment #8. Evangelism
All 4 gospels stress the words of the resurrected Jesus who, before leaving this world, talked about the church collectively as well as individual Christians being called to proclaim the gospel to the lost [Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46-48; John 20:21].
A fervent zeal marked the early church for proclaiming the gospel to the lost. This can be seen clearly at the end of Acts 2:47, “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” How does one get saved? Through the hearing of the gospel before accepting it!
The very fact that the church kept growing as a result of being saved tells us that there was active evangelism going on! Both the leadership and membership were active in sharing the gospel. Even when there was persecution, they kept preaching the word [Acts 8:4].
The book of Acts begins with the call to be witnesses and ends with the gospel being proclaimed even as far as Rome. Why? They were committed to evangelism!
A godly church should be marked by a commitment to reach the lost in its neighborhood as well as overseas—through missions. [More on missions in the next post.] People should be encouraged to bring lost friends and family members to hear the gospel. They should also be encouraged to share the gospel on their own with family members as well as in their workplaces.
Prayer times should be marked with prayer for the lost—for people to whom the gospel was shared as well as prayer for the Lord to open up opportunities for sharing in the future. Leadership should set the tone by being personally active in evangelism. That sets the tone for others as well!
In addition to the first 4, we have seen the next 4 commitments of a godly church in this post, namely: (5) Loving One Another (6) Prayer (7) Praising God and (8) Evangelism. We will see the last 4 commitments of a godly church in the NEXT and FINAL post.
Until then, why not prayerfully reflect on how you can help your church strive to be a godly church?