New Testament

by MW Cook

The denomination I grew up in is fond of calling its churches New Testament Assemblies. The idea is that our churches follow more closely after the pattern that the New Testament Church followed. We point to the book of Acts where it talks about the four ‘meetings of the assembly’ (2:42) and other passages like it. We try to take our cues from the early church and the early writings. We are so obsessed, in fact, with the idea of an ideal New Testament Church, that we go into towns where there are already evangelical churches and plant our own because Baptists and Pentecostals are not so nearly New Testament as we are.

But I had a realization the other day. We, also, are not nearly as New Testament as we think we are.

Here are some interesting characteristics of the church in the time of the New Testament that I don’t quite think we are pulling off:

  • They hung out every day (2:46).
  • They sold their possessions and gave to the poor (2:45, 4:34-35).
  • They performed miracles (5:12).
  • They had no private property but held everything in common (2:44, 4:32).
  • They had no building set aside for ‘church’.
  • The church spent its money on the needy (4:35).
  • They risked and lost their lives to help other.
  • It’s interesting how we don’t do most of this. But I think that the most interesting thing is that, by and large, we don’t think these things should be done at all. Which is a shame, really, because it seems like a wonderful system. So wonderful, in fact, that I think this is why the early church grew by the multitudes (5:14) while the modern church … doesn’t.