Lessons From The Early Church

Introduction

We must always remember no one ever converted anyone without the Word. In every case of conversion in the New Testament, someone taught the Word to the non-Christian first.

‘Faith comes from hearing the word’. Romans 10:17

Remember the power is in the word and not in us. You really don’t have to worry about your ability, just let the word do its work.

Jesus Was Always At The Center Of Their Teaching

The central message of the gospel in the early church was Jesus. Peter’s concluding statement at Pentecost was “God has made this Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:36.

The Jews were suddenly made aware of their sins and cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do? Acts 2:37. Peter gave them the solution to their sins. He said, “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38.

From this account in Acts 2, we observe the following:

1. Peter directed his teaching directly to their needs.

2. He used Christ as the central theme.

3. Some will respond after only hearing one sermon, others may take longer.

4. They did not have much knowledge about the church. The doctrine would come later on. If one understands they are a sinner and need to repent and then be baptized for the remission of their sins, then they know enough. One does not have to have a great amount of Bible knowledge to qualify for salvation.

Old Testament Scriptures Were Frequently Used

The Old Testament scriptures were used in most of their teaching of the non-Christians. To begin with, they did not have the New Testament in its completed form. Thus, they relied on the Old Testament scriptures much of the time.

They used the prophets to prove that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that pertained to the coming of Jesus.

Prophecy is one of the great pieces of evidence that Christ was who He claimed to be, Isaiah 7:14 / Matthew 1:20. The mathematical chance that all these prophesies would be fulfilled is so astronomical that it could not have accidentally happened by pure chance. This argument is still effective today.

They Were Willing To Risk Everything To Tell The Story Of Jesus

Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin, and severely threatened. Their response was “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:20. See also Acts 5:27-29. Stephen was stoned to death, Acts 7.

They also prayed for “boldness” that they might speak God’s word, Acts 4:29. In Acts 4:31 it is said, “They spoke the word of God with boldness.” They even counted it an honour to suffer for the Lord, Acts 5:40-42.

Boldness and courage are still needed today in teaching the lost. We don’t always know how someone will react to the teaching we present.  Sometimes, we are afraid it will turn into some kind of confrontation. Some of us are shy and very reserved by nature.  Praying to God to give us “boldness” can help us overcome fear.

They Were Examples Of What Christ Living In Them Would Do

They shared what they had, Acts 2:43-47. A reading of Acts 4:32-37 demonstrates the compassion and love they had for their fellow Christians.

This example of love and concern for each other had to impress unbelievers, causing many of them to want to be Christians. They sold their land, possessions, and other things so that they might minister to those who were in need.

They Could Not Contain Themselves From Telling Others About Jesus

They went everywhere telling others about Jesus. “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” Acts 5:42.

It had to come out. Even when driven from Jerusalem by persecution, we are told, “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” Acts 8:4. The gospel is good news.

When we reflect on what the Lord has done for us and what we would be without him it could excite us and cause us to rush to tell others the good news.

Much Of Their Teaching Was One On One Or To Small Numbers

Much of the teaching in the early church was done to a single person or a small group of people in a household situation.  Paul told the elders of Ephesus that he taught them, “publicly and from house to house.” Acts 20:20. In Rome Paul “received all who came to him.” Acts 28:30. Note the following who were taught about Jesus.

1. Philip and the Eunuch in Acts 8.

2. Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9.

3. Cornelius in Acts 10.

4. Jailer and his household in Acts 16.

5. Lydia and her household in Acts 16.

6. The disciples who needed to be re-baptized in Acts 19.

They Were Not In The Condemning Business

God has not sent us to be the judge over the souls of men. In Acts 18 we read of Apollos who was “an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, who knew only of the baptism of John.” Acts 18:25. This man came to Ephesus where he met Aquila and Priscilla.

Recognizing he was lacking in the truth, “They took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” Acts 18:26. This is our responsibility to those in error, to teach them more accurately.

Some Christians have been known to tell others they were “going to hell!” God and only God is the final judge of a soul, Hebrews 8:27. Our responsibility is to teach and to teach more accurately, Matthew 28:19-20.

If one rejects our teaching, then we have done our part, Matthew 10:14. This person must then one day answer to God for their actions and not to us.

Some Conversions Began With A Question

1. Philip called out to the eunuch, “Do you understand what you are reading?” Acts 8:30.

2. Saul heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Acts 9:4.

3. Some disciples were asked “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Acts 19:2.

4. The Jailer asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30.

5. The Athenians asked Paul, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak?” Acts 17:19.

The use of questions can be very effective in leading someone to Christ. Jesus also often used questions when he was teaching people.

Questions lead a person to answer for themself what they need to know. His answers make people aware of their situation and what they must do to be saved. Matthew 16:15 / Matthew 20:32 / Luke 6:46 / Mark 8:19 / John 21:17.

Questions

1. Do you feel comfortable when teaching others?

2. Does confidence play a part in teaching the Bible?

3. What can give you the confidence you need to teach others?

4. What scares you the most about teaching others?

5. Does condemning win others to Christ?

If you need help in how to teach others, or what to teach others, then please get in touch.

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