I was once talking with a "clergyman" from a mainline Protestant denomination, and he was asking what church in town I worked with. I described the location, and the name on our sign, and he replied, “Oh yes, I know you guys. You’re the ones who believe we should do things like they did in the New Testament!” Um, yes! That would be us!
It’s surprising to me that so many churches do NOT feel the call to follow the design God revealed in holy scripture, and instead go their own way with goals they themselves feel are worthy.
The Lord taught the apostles. Before His crucifixion, He also said that they weren’t quite ready for everything yet, but that He would send the Holy Spirit to them to reveal the rest of His will (John 16:12-15). We come to Acts 2:4, the Day of Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit fell on those apostles to preach the gospel. They continued to teach that message, still inspired by Christ through the Holy Spirit, in the decades that followed. They preached, and they wrote letters to churches and to individuals. We have those letters today as the books of the New Testament.
In those letters, they present the doctrines of the Lord, they present what a Christian life is to be, and what churches are to be. Jude, the brother of the Lord, appeals to his readers to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered” (Jude 1:3). Paul addresses churches in Galatia which were already adopting other doctrines than what he had taught them, saying that their new teachings were not another acceptable version of the gospel, but that their teachers had distorted the gospel: “But even though we (or an angel from Heaven!) should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed!” (Galatians 1:6-12). Jude says the gospel was delivered once for all, and Paul says that anything different than what was originally delivered is a distortion. There simply is no room for us to be adding our own ideas and plans to the original design of God!
Our aim, then, is exactly what that denominational clergyman said, to do things like they did in the New Testament. We see the church revealed in the pages of scripture, and we model ourselves after that image. If someone comes up with new ideas that aren’t part of what the New Testament teaches churches to do, then we don’t want to do those things. Paul tells us, “whatever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord” (Colossians 3:17). How can we approach the throne of judgment on the final day, and say, “Lord, we didn’t really have any reason to think that You wanted the church to be involved in this activity or that activity, but we decided on our own that it would just be a great idea!”
We want to be active, we want to be zealous . . . but we want to be led and controlled by the Word of our Lord.
Come join us. Come study with us. Come help us see things we may not have seen. Come follow the Lord with us!