Topic: Does Church Need to Go Back to Apostolic Age?

A picture of a cross over the sea with a bird on it
A picture of a cross over the sea with a bird on it (photo:
By Esther TianMarch 14th, 2023

The apostolic era was a special period in the history of Christianity, and many miracles happened at that time. Many people are also very envious of the lives of the apostles. In today’s society, it is no longer realistic to live a life that “Having Everything in Common”. However, more and more pastors are calling on the church to return to the apostolic period, with reasons for doing so.

Pastor Hua (a pseudonym) serves in a small church in south China. He began to know Jesus in college and studied all kinds of religions. He claimed that the gospel that many pastors today preach has diverged from the gospel that the apostles shared.

He stated, "Many times, the gospel we hear is that we can go to heaven after death as our sins have been redeemed by Jesus, who was crucified for us. However, this is not the gospel that the apostles preached. We need to go back to the book of Acts and see what Paul and Peter proclaimed, for they didn’t say that sinful men could go to heaven after believing in Jesus.”

Hua pointed out that when facing different audiences in different places, Paul preached the gospel with different words that conveyed the same message. Paul didn't just talk about the death of Jesus Christ for our sins; he also talked about the resurrection of Jesus: "We now bring you the good news that Jesus has risen from the dead". Paul spoke of the resurrection of Jesus, who would be King. Because God promised that he would raise up a king (Jesus Christ) from David's descendants to establish the kingdom of God, and Jesus would rise up and ascend to heaven as the king of the kingdom.

Hua also pointed out that many churches today lack the concept of a kingdom. A kingdom must have a king, and when we believed in the Lord, we went to seek refuge under him, a new king in a new kingdom. God created the world in the beginning and redeemed the world to gain a group of people headed by His Son, Jesus Christ. This group of people was the bride of Christ, who would inherit all things with Christ in the kingdom of God and share the glory of God together, Hua continued.

Many people didn’t understand that Jesus is the king and that they should take refuge in His kingdom and obey the laws of the kingdom of heaven. Many people just understood that they have been saved by His precious blood, and then they could do whatever we like, Hua added.

Hua said that many people had a wrong understanding of rebirth. He explained that the newborn people were those who were moved by and were willing to have the heavenly life of Jesus, who became obedient to death, was resurrected, and ascended to heaven. Seeing the beauty of a God-centered, self-sacrificing, and humble life, they envied such a life, dedicated their lives to the Lord, and let the peace of Christ rule in their hearts.

James said that faith without works was dead. In Mr. Hua's view, deeds were the soul of faith. "Faith without action is no faith," he declared, and a truly regenerated person would surely repent.

Hua stated humans had thoughts, emotions, and wills. One person may believe in a certain idea but not act accordingly. People's beliefs and thoughts must change their emotions, influence their will and transform their actions, then the belief grows into faith and a person can be changed. Therefore, if the belief has not been lived out by deeds, they are not a person of faith, Hua said.

Apostles were a group of people who are separated from the world and walked on the way of the cross, following the Lord who died and resurrected. But because people deviate from the pure truth of the gospel and the church has become secularized, Christians are now unwilling to suffer for the Lord.

Many pastors criticize the church for being too secularized today, with little distinction between the church and the world. Many pastors said that God is a God of blessings and that people should strive for good marriages, families, and jobs. Therefore, many Christians became secular and pursued the world. Even some pastors planned their children’s future work and live in ways that were contrary to the values of Christ.

Hua pointed out that Christians should know that faith benefits both their spirits and bodies and that they can get both heavenly and earthly blessings. He mentioned that if they only focused on their bodies and lives on earth and the benefits of believing in Jesus, it was a secular gospel, not the holy gospel.

The original apostles and the later desert fathers all lived for the Lord. Many people simply pursued, longed for, and martyred for the Lord, not afraid to suffer for the gospel. On the contrary, today’s Christians are more likely to sway in difficult circumstances and avoid suffering.

Pastor Chen, who has shepherded for more than 20 years in south China, also advocated that the church should return to the apostolic age, when Christians got together, sometimes broke bread, and worshiped God at home.

"It is important to pass on the faith in the family. With old people and children, the family is full of love and a good place to practice the gospel. While the church is a big family, members in small families also live according to the teachings of Christ."

The church Chen serves has been doing couples camps since 2006. He found that the church grew rapidly through family ministries, as family members and friends are attracted to attend private gatherings in families where there is love and trust.

In the church led by Pastor Chen, husband and wife serve together in the church, and Chen believed that such a family is more stable.

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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