Dave Black is writing a new book about the church. He has tentatively (or maybe permanently) titled it Seven Marks of a New Testament Church.
Over the last few days, he’s shared several excerpts, and they’ve been really good. But the latest except was exceptional (to me) because he also refers to another book that I highly recommend.
Here is that latest excerpt from chapter 4 of his new book (from Monday, September 23, 2013 at 9:12 a.m.):
In this chapter we have seen some of the marks of genuine community that characterized the early church. What a magnificent picture of life together! Maybe theirs was an idealism that cannot be repeated today. We may talk about community, but if we continue to behave like a group of individualists, no one will believe what we say. The picture that Luke gives us of the earliest church should make us stop and think.
Joseph Hellerman, author of When the Church Was a Family, has some interesting comments to make about the vitality of the church (p. 143). “It is time,” he writes, “to inform our people that conversion to Christianity involves both our justification and our familification, that we gain a new Father when we respond to the gospel. It is time to communicate the biblical reality that personal salvation is a community-building event, and to trust God to change our lives and the lives of our churches accordingly.”
Our modern churches could learn a thing or two from the genuine love of the first Christians. Theirs is a shining example. And if we ask the secret of it, we do not have far to look: the secret lay in the presence of the Holy Spirit. His power is available to us all. And it is life-changing. Just imagine what the Spirit could do in our churches if He were allowed to have control. It could happen again.
First, I love the term “familification” that Hellerman uses in his book. It points to the fact that there is a change that happens that moves us from not being a family to being a family.
I also love that Black points out that this is a work of the Holy Spirit. If we are becoming a family, it is because we are submitting to the Holy Spirit.
And, if we are not becoming a family…