The Apostolic Church Arising: God’s People Gathering and Contending for the Glory Today
Chuck Pierce and Robert Heidler
In the past two years, I have enjoyed the opportunity to read a lot. Writing gives me a platform for reviewing thought-provoking books.
The Apostolic Church Arising is a must read for people who care about this church age and the new era of the apostolic movement. (It’s actually not that new!)
In chapter four of the book, The Change that Must Come, the authors describe what a visit to a gathering of the early Church might have looked like. I hope you find this story as delightful as I did. The story is found on pages 39-42.
A Visit to the Early Church
By Jewish reckoning, the first day of the week began at sundown on Saturday. The early church met in a variety of settings, but primarily the worship place was in the home. As you walk into the courtyard of a typical Roman house, you see people playing lyres, flutes and tambourines while others are singing, dancing, and clapping their hands and praising Jesus. It was a free and joyful celebration with people getting into a circle and dancing Jewish-style circle dances. After singing and dancing and worship, a wonderful meal is enjoyed. Go to the book of Jude and I Corinthians and read how Christians participated in communion. Part way through the meal one of the leaders stands and reads a letter received from an apostle or teacher.
As the meal progresses and worship continues, a sense of the Presence of the Lord descends in the courtyard. In I Corinthians 5 Paul writes that when the church assembles, the power of the Lord comes and is present with them. As God’s power and glory come, ministry begins to take place. In I Corinthians 14, Paul describes what takes place when believers come together. Almost everyone is taking part in ministry. A father brings his blind daughter for healing, because he has heard that elders pray and miracles happen. The elders anoint her with oil and pray for her and she is healed. “I can see. I can see!” the little girl proclaims.
The meeting runs late in the night because no one seems to notice the hour. Finally, people leave and head home after a wonderful night of worship, fellowship, teaching, and ministry. This is what a first century “church service” might have looked like. There would have been hundreds of meetings all over Rome, Jerusalem, Corinth, Antioch, and Ephesus. It’s the kind of church the apostle Paul planted when he went on missionary journeys.
This is how the Church might have looked for 300 years and it spread everywhere. Some scholars estimate that by the year 300 AD as much as half of the Roman Empire had converted to Christianity.
But then the New Testament Church died and ceased to exist in its original form. By the year 500 AD, the Church had turned into something Paul and Peter would never have recognized. God has always had a remnant of believers, and during these dark ages Christians could no longer worship and gather like New Testament believers. (This story was taken from pages 39-43).
Tomorrow’s post will be about the death of the early church when Constantine became emperor.