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Seeking the Family of God

  1. Am I In Christ?
    7 Digging Deeper
  2. What is the Kingdom of God?
    3 Digging Deeper
  3. What is the Church?
    5 Digging Deeper
  4. Why Are There So Many Different Christian Religions?
    6 Digging Deeper
  5. How Can I Know the Will of God?
    4 Digging Deeper
  6. How Do I Pray?
    5 Digging Deeper
  7. What is Worship?
    6 Digging Deeper
  8. What is the Significance of the Lord’s Supper?
    5 Digging Deeper
  9. How Do I Become Like Christ?
    6 Digging Deeper
  10. What if there is no New Testament Church Near Me?
    5 Digging Deeper
Lesson 4, Digging Deeper 3
In Progress

Jesus, the apostles, and the early Christians emphasized unity and oneness when discussing the church. Where is this unity based and how is it achieved?

Unity is in Jesus Christ. He is “the vine and we are the branches” (John 15:1-10). The branch must be connected to the vine if it is to live and bear fruit. This means that we must be connected to Jesus or we have no spiritual life. The most important question is, “Am I connected to the vine?” How do we get connected to Jesus? We accept the claims of Christ, we trust our lives to him, we turn from our sins and we are baptized in his name (Acts 2:38). This response meant that these newly-baptized believers were the first church, the group of people following Jesus. All those connected to Jesus are connected to one another.  “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. . .. We have many members, but one body” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 14, 20).

After baptism, the first church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). They loved each other, helped each other, met together and shared the good news of Jesus with others. The church grew more and more in number (2:43-47; 4:4). Over the next thirty years, the book of Acts gives the story of how the church grew throughout the Mediterranean world. As people everywhere were hearing the same gospel (good news) truth of Jesus, believing and obeying it, congregations of believers (churches) were formed.

Two thousand years later, does this church exist today? Yes, it exists where people (1) hear the same message of Jesus that the apostles preached, and (2) give the same response of obedience in faith, repentance and baptism. That’s what makes the church of Jesus Christ. This is the church that Jesus said he would build, that he purchased with his blood and of which he is the head (Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 1:20-21).

After baptism, this group of believers (church) should worship and serve the Lord as the first churches did as recorded in the New Testament. This is true worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). They met together on the first day of the week (the day of Jesus’ resurrection, commonly called Sunday) to “break bread,” a term referring to the communion of bread and fruit of the vine (Acts 2:42; 20:7). This was commanded by Jesus when he said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). The churches sang “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19), prayed (Colossians 4:2), gave and received teaching (Matthew 28:20), and encouraged and built each other up in the faith of Jesus (1 Corinthians 14:1-35; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22). The members shared love and resources and helped one another (Acts 4:32-34). They shared the good news of Jesus with everyone they could (5:28; 8:4); 28:23-31). The churches were led by spiritual men called overseers, or elders (14:23; 20:28; Philippians 1:1). They were committed to following Jesus in everything.

These churches in New Testament times were united by their obedience to the teachings of the apostles. Jesus prayed that all his followers be united through the apostles’ words (John 17:20). Since Jesus “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrew 13:8), his word remains forever true (I Peter 1:23-25). When we today listen and obey the teachings of the apostles as found in the New Testament, we are united to Christ and to everyone else who does that.