Contrary to popular belief, the First Church in the book of Acts did NOT spend their time doing a lot of evangelizing. What we do know is that Jesus commissioned His eleven disciples (later 12) to go out and spread the Gospel, heal, baptize, and deliver people from demons (see Mark 16:15-20 and Matthew 28:19). These were the same men Jesus had trained for three years; equipping them with power to do the work.
Fast forward to “after the Cross,” where instructions were given through the Apostle Paul to the New Covenant church. In 1. Corinthians 12, Paul outlines the different gifts in the Body of Christ. They were gifts the believers could use to SERVE within the church to help one another.
“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.”
1 Corinthians 12:7 NLT
“To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing.
He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said.”
1 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT
“Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages.”
1 Corinthians 12:28 NLT
Further, Paul instructed the believers to live “quiet lives:”
“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.”
1 Thessalonians 4:11 NLT
“Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.”
1 Timothy 2:2 NLT
Why is all this so important?
In the light of how the Charismatic Christian church leaders teach that coming back to the First Church model means going out evangelizing, casting out demons, baptizing, healing, and prophesying, we are reminding people that this is simply not the case! According to these work-based “reformers,” you are not doing God’s will until you get out on the mission field. That is also not true. Jesus was speaking to His disciples when He sent them out, He wasn’t speaking to the entirety of all believers! Until we read the so-called “Great Commission” in context, we will continue to miss the mark and make a display out of Christianity it was never meant for.
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 NLT
It is important to understand that we are not all commissioned to go out and evangelize! Only those who have that particular gift and calling are! The rest serve within the church in various ways.
“Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? Do we all have the gift of healing?
Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts.”
1 Corinthians 12:29-31a NLT
So, what were the First Church believers doing?
If you want reformation in the church and bring churchgoers back to the lifestyle of the believers in the First Church, at a very minimum, you must base your message on the essence of what the First Church believers were doing! So, what were they doing? They were practicing “caring and sharing”!
“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity — all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”
Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47 NLT
“All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.”
Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35 NLT
To cement this case even further, consider the words of Jesus Christ talking about what was important to Him on the Day of Judgment.
Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
Matthew 25:41-43 NLT
In fact, a warning goes out to those who think they are doing God’s work by prophesying, casting out demons, and performing miracles!
In the end, Jesus will not appreciate any of these actions.
He will only remember the times you were feeding people, taking care of strangers, clothing the naked, tending to the sick, and visiting people in prison. Isn’t that something?
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.”
Matthew 7:21-23 NLT
To those who have been following these Christian leaders who base the Gospel message on works of evangelistic outreach only: Please do not let them mislead you into a hyper-radicalized practice of Christianity, which does not include and prioritize feeding and sharing and caretaking! It is a deception!