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Meeting God's People

The First Church (when the apostles lived)

(Acts 4:32-35 NKJV) Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. {33} And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. {34} Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, {35} and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.

A New People - A People of God

Being a Christian means being part of a "new people" (Ephesians 2:15, 2 Cor 5:17) we are introduced to the "household of God" (Ephesians 2:19) and have brothers and sisters in the faith. This means that something wonderful and supernatural can happen when believers gather together. The Holy Spirit dwell in the midst of God's people making it a ‘temple of the Holy Spirit". (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NKJV) "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? {17} If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." These verses indicate that there are very severe consequences for people who disrupt or harm God's people - the church.

God uses different Christians in different ways. Some are powerful preachers, others can help the poor, yet others see are very good at praying while another person may possess gifts of leadership and administration. (1 Corinthians 12:1-11) We are like the parts of a body - some are "legs", others "ears", others "eyes" and so no. The Bible sometimes calls the church ‘the body of Christ" we are the visible, on-this-earth representation of Jesus Christ. If Jesus wants to care for someone He will us a part of "His body" to do it. You and I thus have important functions in this world. We are not to be jealous or envious of one another but to build one another up in love - just as in our human body the arms acre for the head etc. We are to be a team. Much hurt can come when Christians compete with one another. This is absolutely wrong, We are to "maintain the spirit of unity in the bond of peace".

A Good Church

When you look for a church check to see that it has the following four things:

1. Sound biblical preaching that lifts up Jesus Christ as Savior, Lord and God.

2. Humble , godly and wise leadership. ("Red flag" attitudes include: greed, pride, moral looseness, and disrespect.)

3. The people of the church clearly love one another.

4. There is holiness and clear standards of right and wrong.

If you are unsure about a church then talk to some wise Christians that you know and ask their opinion of it. Or e-mail me at johned@aibi.ph . I will not favor one particular denomination over another but seek to give you sound principles and advice.

A Bad Church

There are some groups you need to watch out for:

1. Avoid groups that claim their particular group is the only group that will enter the Kingdom of God. They are often full of unsound teaching and manipulative practices.

2. Avoid groups that refuse to be up front with you on the first meeting.

3. Avoid groups that are centered around a particular human leader who is often made out to be an infallible guide. Particularly if they ask for large sums of money.

4. Avoid groups that do not see Jesus as the only way to salvation or which mix together Christianity and other religions or which have "unique teachings" about Jesus.

5. Avoid groups that participate in the occult or which condone some forms of immorality.

6. Avoid groups that have "their own version" of the Scriptures or which add to the Bible.

Loving the Church

Once you have found a good church (there are no perfect churches) stick with it despite the ups and downs. Churches are full of people like you who make mistakes, aren't quite perfect and say things they do not really mean. One day someone may say or do something that really hurts you. Stick with it then - don't get bitter towards all Christians because of a foolish one or two. Remember some people who attend church are not really born again. Some are still searching, some are pretending, but the vast majority are really nice people. Here are three things you should take to church each Sunday.

1. Your heart to be filled with the Spirit. Go with an open and expectant attitude and you will receive.

2. Your eyes and your hands - to watch for the needs of the people of God and meet them in practical ways.

3. Your mind - to hear, understand and think about God's word. Some Christians think that faith and their minds cannot mix. That is wrong. Faith and a puffed up and arrogant mind cannot mix. But faith and an enquiring mind go hand in hand and create wisdom, knowledge grace and truth.

Read the next article in the series - "What About Heaven and Hell

Other articles in this series include:

1. How To Be Sure You Really Are A Christian
2. How To Read The Bible
3. How To Pray
4. What Is God Like?
5. What Has Happened To Me?
6. Meeting God's People
7. Breaking Free From Sin
8. What About Heaven and Hell?
9. What About My Friends?
10. Loving Your Neighbor

This article may be freely reproduced for non-profit ministry purposes but may not be sold in any way. For permission to use articles in your ministry, e-mail the editor, John Edmiston at johned@aibi.ph.