What do I do Now?

After a person obeys the gospel, the most oft asked question is, “what do I do now?” However, this question is asked by both the new convert AND the members of the local congregation. The new convert, full of joy and gratitude, has a desire to serve and to do what is right. The older members want to help them, but where do you begin?

For the answer, let us turn to Acts 2, the place where the church of Christ began.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. That’s where we are with Margie, and all others who obeyed the gospel recently (a young man named Nick, was also baptized into Christ on the same day.) Nobody joins the church; the Lord adds to the church [47].

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Here’s where we find our answer to the question, “what do I do next?”

Continue in the apostles’ doctrine. The Apostles’ doctrine is Christ’s doctrine. Jesus said to the Apostles, that in addition to making disciples, as one who has all authority, teach them “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” [Mat 28:19-20]. Paul said about his letters, “let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” [1Cor 14:37]

So, the first thing we need to do is to continue to learn through study of the Scriptures what Jesus expects from us. The most effective way to do this is for the new convert and the “old” members to get together and study the scriptures. We need to note that “continue” means to do them. It’s not enough to learn what Jesus wants, we must obey Him [John 14:15]. We can also learn when we gather to worship on the first day of the week.

And Fellowship and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. The new Christians worshiped together. They had fellowship, which means that they were in partnership with one another. This partnership begins when we, “all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” [1Cor 1:10]. The partnership also includes the collection of money for the work of the church. (As you continue to study, you’ll begin to understand the work God has given the church is to spread the Gospel, Teach the saints and practice limited benevolence). The Philippians gave money to spread the gospel, and were in fellowship in the gospel [Phil 1:3-7].

One of the parts of worship (there are 5 activities in sound worship) the disciples ‘broke bread’ which is to remember the death of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Supper” the first Christians met on the 1st day of the week, Sunday, where they would take unleavened bread and fruit of the vine to commemorate His death. The Apostle Paul wrote the early Christians how to properly observe this important part of our worship [1Cor 11:23-34].

 

They also prayed. Prayer is the privilege of the saints. Christians are called saint in the Scriptures [Rom 1:7; Eph 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1]. In obeying the gospel through baptism, we have “put on Christ” [Gal 3:27] and have been given access through Him to the “throne of grace” [Heb 4:16]. Prayer is an incredible part of becoming a child of God. We know that God does not listen to sinners [John 9:31] but He hears us!

God is not our “genie in a bottle,” to gift us with everything we want like a spoiled child. Rather, He wants to help us in our time of need. It says in Hebrews 4:16; “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Temptation doesn’t stop when we become Christians, neither do troubles & pains, “but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” [1Cor 10:13]. So, all Christians need to pray.

Finally, let us note one more thing from Acts 2…

47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. As you begin your journey as a new Christian, and every Christian, let us never forget from whom we received the gift of grace. We received it from God through Christ Jesus [Eph 2:8-10]. May we never forget, may it never grow old and may we never grow tired of praising God for His indescribable gift.

Thanks be unto God for his indescribable gift.

2Corinthians 9:15

What church do you go to?

I live to get that question, only so that I can ask that question back. The answer reveals much, and gets us onto my favorite subject. Recently I received an answer that I had heard about, but never heard directly. This person I had asked said that they went to church so n so. (name covered for privacy) I immediately recognized who it was, it was the TV preacher from a neighboring state!

That story brings me to the thrust of this article, can you go to church at your TV and what is the church?

What is the Church?

If we look to the scriptures, we will find a reference for two churches. The first would be the universal church, and the second the local church. Let’s take a look at both.

The Universal Church

The church universal is that church Jesus promised to build – (Mat 16:18). It is referred to as the body of Christ (Eph 1:22-23) and that there is only one church in (Eph 4:4). This one body / church, is made up of individual members (Rom 12:4-5; 1Cor 12:27). In (Acts 2:47) we see that the Lord alone adds to this church.

Those in this one church are saved because Christ is the Savior of the body (Eph 5:23). They receive spiritual blessings, among which is the forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7).

As we continue to study, we see that members of the church universal have a requirement to not lose their head. In (Joh 15:1-8) we see the branches need to remain in the true vine, which is Christ.

The Local Church

(there’s one in Borger, Tx too!)

As we continue to study, we see evidence of a local church. In (Rom 16:16) we see a reference to churches, plural. Does this contradict the scriptures? No. We notice that Paul left Titus in Crete to “ordain elders in every city” (Titus 1:5). We see Paul in his missionary work as an Apostle to, “ordain elders in every city” indicating there were local bodies, churches.

Continuing our search, we notice the local churches assembling to worship and to observe the Lord’s supper. (Acts 20:7; 1Cor 11:23-34; Heb 10:25) According to the pattern of the first Christians, they gathered together physically. How else can you “provoke one another to love” or to “admonish one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs? (Col 3:16)

This begs the question, without a local church, how would the church universal assemble? What venue, how would you administer the Lord’s supper, the language barrier, etc.?

As we look at the examples and revelation of the New Testament, we find that the autonomous local body is the largest authorized assembly of the church for the specific purpose of worship and it’s work. (Eph 4:11-13)

There is a leadership to be in the local church. There is no example, command or inference of any larger earthly organization, in the scriptures, other than the local church. We also see that members are to obey them that have the rule over them in the local body / church, (Heb 13:17; 1Cor 16:13) as well as to submit to one another.

Think about the wisdom of this method of organization. If error springs it’s ugly head up in one local work, it’s very likely to die there and not infect all of the churches worldwide. Additionally, when people study their bibles honestly, churches of Christ emerge everywhere.

To What church do you belong?

Local church membership, must align with the church universal you’re added to by the Lord. It must hold to the doctrines of Christ (Mt 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.)

One final thought, H Leo Boles offered 5 things that hinder the work of the church;

  1. Denominational Names
  2. Denominational Creeds
  3. Denominational Authorities
  4. Denominational Ordinances
  5. Denominational Tests of Fellowship