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Setting the Church Back 2000 Years

A church leader once took a bold initiative in his church and some of the locals were horrified. They claimed, “It would set the church back fifty years”.  He addressed their concerns by replying, “I do not want to set the church back fifty years; I want to set it back 2000 years”.

Society demands progress and that we look to the future but it is necessary for us as God’s people not just to look to our future (including our eternal future) but to look back at our past.

As we look through the book of Acts we have seen that the early church was by no means perfect but those things it got right we should never lose or forget.

In our passage today we see the priority of getting our teaching right as people who do follow God (Apollos and the 12 men who did not know about the Holy Spirit) come for a more accurate understanding of what this means for Christian living.

We also see the priority that they had for reasoning and proving from the scriptures the unchanging word of God. This was not an easy task and it often cost the early church dearly. It was not as if people in their society always liked what they heard and often opposition broke out.  But for the sake of gospel proclamation they were prepared to endure it all.

It has been said that where the gospel is preached in Acts either riot or revival broke out. Nothing could stop the spread of the gospel message. Not riots, not persecution, not mockery and not even the power of the Roman Empire.

I wonder if we have been challenged to rethink the priority of the gospel in our lives. Are we equipping ourselves to reason and prove from the scriptures who Jesus is and why people need to follow him and the consequences if they do not?

There is a strong warning this morning as we look at the church in Ephesus. In Rev 2:1-17 Ephesus is listed as one of the seven churches. They are rightly commended for a whole range of things where they have stood firm as God’s people but they are also rebuked because they have lost their first love…. their single minded devotion to the gospel. In Revelation 2:5 they are called to return to the things they did at first and never to move on from this.

There are many warnings in scripture to stand firm, to hold on to what they had been first taught, to not follow deceptive philosophies or false teachings, not to teach what people’s itching ears want to hear and so on. The challenge to us is to ensure that as we do this, we do not lose our first love of gospel proclamation.