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L’Église selon les Écritures (John MacArthur)

The Church According to the Scriptures (John MacArthur)

In many ways the contemporary Church in America is more like a large corporation than what it is described in the New Testament. Even church leaders sometimes look more like business leaders than meek and humble pastors. Unfortunately, the Good News that a sinner can obtain forgiveness of his sins from a holy God by trusting and devoting his entire life to Jesus Christ is often overshadowed by programs aimed at success and by a concern for profits.

As a result, many churches have become mere entertainment centers with effective tactics to attract people, but which are unable to truly serve those people once they attend church.

It was not God's will for his church. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus declares: "I will build up my Church, and the gates of Sheol shall not prevail against it" . Note the Lord's condition to this great promise: “ I will build my Church [1] ”. Christ's guarantee is only valid when he builds the Church in his own way. By following his plan, we can be sure that he is doing his work through us and that nothing, not even the gates of hell, can stop him.

So what's the plan? It seems logical to start at the very beginning, when the first church was created, that of Jerusalem. It all started on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to dwell in 120 believers who had gathered for a prayer meeting. Later that same day, the Lord added 3,000 souls (Acts 2.41). These novices of the faith had no idea what it was like to build a church. This was an unprecedented situation; they didn't have a book on the church, or even the New Testament. Even so, the Church was founded according to Jesus' desire and we should follow the same pattern today.

Back to the basic model: Bible studies, communion and prayers

Acts 2.42 presents the plan they followed: " They persevered in the teaching of the apostles, in fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers." These are the essential elements which constitute the function and the life of the Church. They are all presented in a single verse!

It is obvious that a Church built according to the Master's plan will be made up of the appropriate raw material - a redeemed congregation. Verse 41 defines the Church as "those who accept his word [Peter's]" and those who endure. The Church in Jerusalem was filled with true Christians, that is, people who persevered in the teaching of the apostles.

If the Church is built in Christ's way, it will be redeemed and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. A church whose members are not saved and which is devoid of the Holy Ghost will not be able to overcome the obstacles of satisfaction, self-esteem, selfishness, and the grip of sin. Only believers have divine power to put these things aside and allow the Spirit of God to be manifested.

Although the early church did not have the New Testament, it did have the Word of God through the teachings of the apostles. The Church in Jerusalem received this Word with devotion. Doctrine is the foundation of the Church. You cannot experience what you do not know or understand.This is why Paul gave the following instruction to Timothy: " preach the word, insist on all occasions, favorable or not, convince, reprove, exhort, with all patience and instructing C there will come a time when men will no longer endure sound doctrine. "(2 Tim 4: 3) . This time has come. If your church does not teach the truth directly from the Bible, how will you spot the error when it does occur? How will you mature? Never allow a person who is not ready to lead the congregation by careful and diligent study of the Word of God to stand behind the pulpit.

The main object of communion in the days of the early Church was the breaking of bread, or the Lord's Supper. It was the most appropriate symbol of fellowship for members of the churches, as it reminded them of the foundation of their unity, that is, salvation in Christ and respect for the doctrine taught by the apostles. If you share these elements in common with other believers, the Lord's Supper (the Lord's Supper) is also the most appropriate symbol of your fellowship.

We eat and drink in remembrance of Christ's sacrificial love that brought him to the cross. As part of your fellowship, make a habit of practicing the same type of love that Christ showed to you. You can concretely give your life to those whom God puts in your way. Do you have a habit of praying for other believers? Do you encourage them, uplift them, and meet their physical needs? Do you love them enough to confront them when they fish? These are the hallmarks of true Christian fellowship. This is what the Church should look like.

Acts 2.42 states that believers persevered in prayer. Unfortunately, that same dedication is often overlooked these days. Churches can fill their pews with entertainment, but when it comes to a prayer meeting, only a small group of the most faithful come together. The early Christians remembered Christ's promise: “ If you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14). By depending on Christ they have achieved amazing results (Acts 2.43-47).

Churches built according to the model: wonder, love and joy

What happens when true believers persevere in Bible teaching, spiritual fellowship, and prayer? In Acts 2:43 it is written: “Everyone felt fear”. Fear, according to the Greek word, refers to reverence. The term is used at special times when people are struck with wonder at something divine or powerful that defies human reason.

Your church should instill fear within your community, just as the first church did. Verse 43 explains that all were in awe "for God did many wonders and miracles through the apostles." Although the miracles and wonders of the apostle's time are no longer needed now that the Word of God is complete, the power of God is still being brought out. What is more miraculous than giving life to people who have died to sin? God heals wounds, reunites torn families, and frees Christ from bondage to sin. In short, it transforms lives. When a church follows God's plan, it works wonders in everyone's life and the world witnesses it.

The early Church was filled with love - its members “shared among themselves all that they had” (verse 44) Members of the early Church had property rights - believers did not live in common , but no one kept an asset to the detriment of his neighbor who was in need. The Greek verbs in verse 45 translated as "sold" and "divided" demonstrate that they sold and shared their resources as needed. This type of sacrificial love is the result of God’s work in the hearts of faithful believers who follow his plan.

The Lord blesses those who work according to his plan. First, he fills his faithful church with joy (verse 46) and praise (verse 47). How can we not be happy when we are witnesses of the work of God in our midst? How can we not rejoice when we watch God use our church to make an everlasting impact in the world? Second, the Lord adds members to the Church. Acts 2.47 ends thus: “the Lord added daily to their group those whom he brought to salvation”.

I want to see the Church grow and I know you share that same desire. I pray that we will let God build His Church His way while we look forward to the Lord's return. If you want to get the most out of your church, all you have to do is follow the plan and encourage your church leaders to do the same.

[1] Italics come from the author

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