Jerusalem Church

The restoration is made up of the church of Jesus Christ that has regained its purity of the original ideal. We are the children of this last generation and those of the early church are the Fathers that we are to be reconciled to. The Jerusalem Church is the Mother Church of the first Christian fathers.

The idea of Jerusalem as the Headquarters of the Holy Ghost may have already developed in the early stages of the church but with similar phenomenon occurring in Samaria, that notion was put aside. Up to this point the Church had made no effort to carry the gospel outside Jerusalem. Many people from surrounding communities in Palestine had come into the city, had heard the message and had been saved and healed and filled with the Holy Ghost. The Word, however, cannot be contained:

But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Jesus did not just leave changed individuals, he left a community, the Church, and still does. To think of Jesus is necessarily to think of the Church; He is our one foundation that the church is built upon.

The apostle Peter was the acknowledged spokesman in the Jerusalem Church, but before many years, presumably as the missionary travels of Peter carried him ever more frequently away from Jerusalem, James, the brother of Jesus became what was later to be regarded as the first bishop. There were many congregations in Jerusalem, most of them small and would meet together for special meals and services in various homes, private rooms or small chapels, and organized themselves on the model of the synagogue. Each congregation was called an ekklesia - the Greek term for the popular assembly in municipal governments. Slaves were always welcome and no attempts were made to free them, but they were comforted by the promise of a future kingdom in which all could be free. Early converts were primarily working class with some middle-class, and a few among the rich. The house of Mary, the mother of Mark would serve as the headquarters of the Jerusalem congregation. This was the same place that Jesus conducted the last supper in its upper room. It must have been quite large and probably held at least 500.

The most important event of the Lord's Day in the early church was the celebration of the Lord's Supper. The Eucharist lay at the very heart of its life. These early worshipers of Jeshua continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread and of prayers. They had no church buildings yet, church would be held in private houses, probably in well-to-do member's homes, since they were large enough; a place for prayers, for the reading of scripture and for the singing of hymns. Psalms would be used as well as the new Christian hymns that were beginning to appear. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." They also went to the Temple for prayers on the Sabbath but from the beginning, the Lord's Day was established.

The Jerusalem Church was a worshiping church, they never forgot to visit God's house. Great things will happen when we come together in spirit and in truth. The spirit of God moves mightily upon God's worshiping people when we come together in brotherhood and unity. The Jerusalem church was a happy and joyful church, gladness was there, when they raised up holy hands, the spirit of the Lord filled them, it was the joy of their salvation. Others could not help but be attracted to a church like this. These things will happen for us and I for one cannot wait, I am impatient, I am anxious, I am confident that it will come but believe that it will happen only as we do it together, then Jesus will come for us. Maranatha Jesus. It will happen, please make it happen for everyone that reads these words.

Early services would consist of a formal address or sermon by the bishop or elder in charge of the church, or by some visiting apostle who happened to be passing through. The apostles proclaimed the Gospel to those who would listen, in the name of the Eternal, and they must believe, because we are endowed with miraculous power and restore health to the sick. The Epistle of James is a good example of this type of preaching. It was informal, members would partake of the service, there were brief sermons or expositions and spontaneous, even highly emotional utterances. A visitor to one of these services would have been struck by a feeling of contagious enthusiasm and exuberant vitality. The early church was confident that Jesus was coming quickly. The first Christians saw little need to write down Church history and doctrine, verbal transmission would suffice for their short time on earth.

The Jerusalem Church was a united church. From the very first, the Jerusalem Church considered themselves a brotherhood in unity, not in word only but in deed - a living realization of what was given to us as an example through the life of Jesus. In calling themselves brothers they felt obligated to live up to that ideal, not out of a sense of legalism but of their own accord and servitude of Jesus and the brethren, each according to their need and according to the gifts that the Lord had given to them. The common comment among the pagans watching them from the outside in bewilderment and hostility at the new religion, was "see how these Christians love each other." It was the duty of each and every disciple of "the Way" to be united, sympathetic, fraternal, compassionate, humble, giving good for evil and blessing for abuse and as being heirs of the kingdom.

The Jerusalem Church was a loving church, a giving and sharing church. There were no beggars among the believers, although the Jews as a whole had many. The goal of the community was that there be no poor among them. The members were especially united in the apostle's instruction and the communal life. "And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need."

As we see, the members of the Jerusalem community voluntarily shared their possessions with one another, even selling their property from time to time as funds were needed to help the poor. What it practiced was the struggle against mammon, against the cares of this world, against selfishness; it demanded of themselves the type of self-sacrificing love that serves others. Because they believed in the quick return of the Lord Jesus and the end of the age, they were indifferent to earthly possessions. The relief of the poor was an identifying characteristic from the beginning. They had a common fund and the proceeds were then given to the apostles for distribution. What was practiced was a voluntary community of goods out of this love for each other but it bears no relation to the totalitarian practices of communism today. The principal of stewardship was made clear to them early. What they had was not their own, but they themselves belonged to God and all they possessed were His. The more fervent converts pooled their money and labor for the general welfare. The welfare of others were more important than merely their own family. This is the social gospel that was instituted from the beginning and what makes the apostate church of today so obviously recognizable in that this type of worship is considered demonic. There was an intense feeling of responsibility for each other. A true Christian in those days could not bear to have too much when others had so little. Some made heroic sacrifices in order to share fully in the life of the commune, some had to leave families who would disown them and jobs that would no longer be available. Baptism meant initiation into a community that shared this distinctive lifestyle.

The Jerusalem Church was a preaching church. In the early church there were four types of preaching which fit perfectly together with the five-fold ministry today:

  1. Kerugma: A herald's announcement, a plain statement of the factual fundamentals of a Christian message, about which, as the early preachers saw it, there can be no argument and there can be no denial. This is the evangelistic gift.
  2. Didache: Literally means "teaching" and the teacher would clarify and work out the meanings, significance and the implications of the facts which have been proclaimed.
  3. Paraklesis: Exhortation - which is the prophetic office and spiritually urged upon men the duty and the obligation of fitting their lives to match the kerugma and the Didache which had just been given.
  4. Homilia: which means the treatment of any subject or department in life in light of the Christian message.
Fully rounded preaching should have something of all these four elements.

The Jerusalem Church was a teaching church. There was an urgent need to tell of the resurrection and the teachers among them were outstanding men who could initiate new members. To be an inheritor of eternal life, a soul must repent and believe in the Gospel, must do the will of the Father, believe in the heavenly Jesus, and confess Him openly here on earth. We as Christians were taught in those days to have the grace of humility, if covetous, we must renounce earthly possessions and even family, must do works of mercy in the name of Jesus, and for the Gospel's sake, must bring joy into the lives of the oppressed, must be baptized and be a communicant, must have the wedding garment, must make use of the means of grace and must not sin against the Holy Ghost. These are the ones that have the right to partake of the Tree of Life.

The Jerusalem Church was a praying church. These early Christians knew that they could not live under their own power and they didn't have to either. They always spoke with God before they spoke to men. It was a church with a reverence, fear of God and awe that each revival of history must compare itself to. It was a church where things happened just by them being there with Jesus among them. Signs and wonders were evident everywhere they met. When this type of faith died, we lost our first love for Jesus. Do we want it back? Those in the true restoration do but there will always be those in the church that think they have it already and will oppose us, every time. This is why the children cannot be reconciled with the fathers, pride and self-righteousness is in control of the church. When this faith died, the church became the giver of salvation, instead of Jesus. If we can only believe that Jesus can make these things happen again, we can be revived, we can be restored and we can be reconciled unto these early Fathers. But it takes action, not just faith, it take being doers of the word, not just hearers, it takes living for Jesus enough to carry His cross, put away our pride, crucify the flesh and let Jesus live through us like never before. Then we will we be as these early saints who lived as the whole world was the temple of God, we will fill the stadiums, the Jews will be jealous for us and we will have the power to really love each other as Jesus loves us, proving to the world that Jesus Christ is Lord.

The Jerusalem Church was an evangelistic church. Evangelistic supervision was never questioned in the Jerusalem Church but it was done in the power of the Holy Ghost and not as a class of people. The evangelistic work was begun from the first - first in Jerusalem, then in Samaria, and then in Antioch. No one made the decision to be called of God, they were called by God. It is not enough to want to serve the Lord, we must be called to it as a response to our initial faith. You cannot seek to be an apostle, God will seek them out and call them. Apostles and missionaries are sent, many are not sent but go anyway. And each one of us should have the deference to the Lord in all things in that "many are called but few are chosen."

For several years after the death of Jesus, the "good tidings" were spread exclusively by word of mouth. this method was used by Jesus Himself who preached only. The Christians called this method catechesis, that is, "re-echoing" because the teacher made his words re-echo in the presence of His disciples. Thereafter, the disciple who had completed his course of instruction was the catechized, that is one to whom the good tidings had been re-echoed.

The Jerusalem Church was a democratic church. The rule of the churches was democratic from the beginning, to be a republican as the Romans were would never have entered their mind. Decisions were made from the will of the majority, the sense of assembly, prophets bearing witness, no clergy, no laity and the members spoke as the spirit led them to speak. All the churches, the different congregations, were at first autonomous, the only bond linking them to others was fellowship. This ideal condition did not long endure. For the better administration of these early churches that were growing so fast, the early Christians chose among them at first deacons and then bishops to feed the church. This started out not as first among equals but servants among the flock. It was not until later that the church became republican and introduced the idea of clergy and laity, diluting the authority of Christ among them by destroying the unity of the five-fold ministry with Jesus as the Head.

The Jerusalem Church was a serving church. Christianity needs no governing system outside of the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. A general working system was established for mutual care, evangelism, catechetical instruction, protection and unity. Those from the Jerusalem congregation ordained elders in every church, knowing that one of them would some day "exalt himself above all that is called God." They did not regard this supply of needed help as lording it over God's heritage but as servants and ministers of the Gospel.

During the first few decades of the early church, Christianity appeared as another sect of Judaism by Roman officials, who failed to distinguish the church from the synagogue. They continued to use the Temple as a place of worship and observed the Jewish law, including its ceremonies, circumcision, and the dietary regulations. Even some Pharisees joined them. The Christians were predominately Galilean in membership and only distinguished from other Jews by their belief as Jesus as their Messiah and by their expectation of an early return. Christians were able to use this to their advantage and enjoyed a freedom from interference from the Romans that greatly facilitated the spread of the gospel. Early on, there were those who believed that Jesus would render the temple obsolete and do away with the distinctively Jewish customs. If it were to be true to its founder, a religion quite distinct from Judaism must emerge. With the rapid growth of the Christians, new converts were gradually deprived of their original immunity from state interference. Romans gradually made the distinction between the Christians and the Jew out of Jewish interference in publicly disavowing any connection to the Christians whatsoever and repudiating them. As the antagonism grew, so did the controversy surrounding the differences. Persecutions came later, such as Nero.
[291, Acts 1:8; 4:32-35, Colossians 3, 293, 309, 323, 324, 326, 329, 330, 332, 333, 334, 364, 367, 345, 355, 356, 23, 15, 374, 377, BD, 401]

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