The Church’s Power

I got a letter recently with some great quotes in it. Unfortunately, I don’t have it with me as I write this, so I’ll use some almost as good quotes from a book I’ve been looking at called When the Church Was Young. When I got the book, I thought Gene Edwards, who published the book, had written it. It turns out it was written 70 years ago by a man named Ernest Loosley. Here’s the quotes:

The Primitive Church had no New Testament, no thought-out theology, no stereotyped traditions. The men who took Christ to the Gentile world had received no formal or professional training, only a great experience. It was an experience in which “all maxims and philosophies were reduced to the simple task of walking in the light.

and:

It is permissible to hint that the first Christians achieved what they did because the spirit with which they were inspired was one favorable to experiment. Perhaps the line of advance for the church today is not to imitate the forms but to recapture the spirit of the Primitive Church.

It is life that matters. What was a simple truth to the apostolic churches has become a matter that desperately needs recovering if there is to be  the LIFE of the early church in the world today. A hundred years after the apostles, the churches could boast that not only were they united, but their people possessed an unworldly power. Faced with tortures and death, even women and children stood boldly in the face of emperors and governors, proclaiming  the Lordship of Jesus the Christ of God. Faced with ongoing persecution, the church expanded, so much so that Tertullian could boast that the more Christians were mown down by Rome, the more of them there were. These were not carnal believers attending meetings in a suit on  a Sunday morning, but men, women, and children who counted Christ more important than their own lives and trusted him to build his kingdom with the power of heaven. They eschewed violence, and never used a sword.

Paul describes the sound doctrine that produced this power in Titus 2. That sound doctrine did not involve teachings about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, or wrestling about once saved, always saved. Those arguments have proven to be just what Paul said they would be, tools with which learned but carnal and ambitious men use to divide the church. Sound doctrine to Paul involved denying ourselves, living in service to others, showing respect, and loving.

Read Titus 2. It’s doctrine is real power, because Jesus Christ has become the author of eternal salvation not to those who have correct theology, but to those who obey him (Heb. 5:8 or 9).

My commendations to Jason from Mexico, who wrote a comment on my blog that “the letter kills and that a life of sacrificial love is the main goal here.” So it is, Jason, and I’m longing for the day when I can join hands with you among the poor to see the immense power of sacrificial love doing its transforming work where you are.

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