Brief report from Mexico:
The Lord truly blessed while we were in Mexico. Our missionary, Bro. Steve Harris and his wife, were truly gracious hosts. The Lord's hand was evident throughout the trip. We saw, at best count, 65 professions of faith while in Mexico. This is from door to door visitation, church services, and Pastor Ismael witnessing to his lost family. There were 8 first time visitors at the church's first service, and four of them were saved Sunday. The Lord truly blessed and we give Him the honor and glory. Most of this could not have been done without the sacrifice and time spent with us by Pastor Perez from Hermosillo and his group of Bible Institute young people. Praise the Lord!
Time to get back in the saddle though, so let us review:
The church in action in Acts 2 is an example for us today. We see that that church was a place:
1. Where Proper Gospel Preached (vs. 22-28)
2. Conviction was evident (37).
3. Proper Leadership (38)
4. Families were strengthened (39)
5. A place of Godly living (40) We continue our study now to the sixth example this church gives us:
6. A Place of Growth (vs. 41) People were being saved and baptized and added to the church. I do not believe that a church has to be large in number or buildings to be blessed of God. I do not believe that there is a magic number where when attendance reaches, the church has made it. Matter of the fact, I have met few, if any, churches that hold to strong Baptist doctrine (Salvation, church, closed communion, alien baptism, etc) that are "mega" in size. A preacher once stated, "Just because something is growing, doesn't mean it is alive and doing well. I pass many swelling opossums on the side of the road, but they aren't alive, they're quite dead." Having said all that, I do believe a church should be a soul winning church and should be seeing people saved. Should be seeing people baptized. Should be seeing people discipled. Should be seeing new faces and babes in Christ within the church. The church should be a place of growth.
7. Proper Doctrine (vs. 42) We read that the church continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine. As just stated, there are certain doctrines that a true New Testament church must hold to to be a true New Testament church. This will be a constant battle to stand as such, thus we read that they continued "steadfastly." A church must hold to the doctrine of Scriptures. That our Bible is the perfect, preserved, inspired, Word of God. That God is the Author of the Bible and the Holy Spirit moved holy men of God to give us God's Word. We believe that the only correct translation is the King James Version. We reject the modern paraphrased versions, common versions, and others that delete the pure meaning of redemption and the Deity of Christ. Our Bible is the final Authority for all faith and practice. A church must hold to the doctrine salvation. That salvation is by God's grace and that it is free to all through the Gospel. That the individual must accept by faith that salvation, and that by rejecting it, they are condemning themselves to a Devil's Hell. It is God's will that all should come to repentance and have the gift of eternal life. Repentance and faith are solemn and inseparable prerequisites for salvation; that they are inseparable graces wrought in the heart by the quickening power of the Holy Spirit, and as the sinner is deeply convicted of his guild and helplessness he turns in repentance to the Lord Jesus Christ, receiving Him as personal Saviour and Lord and is immediately born again! This salvation is eternal and cannot be lost!The church must hold to the doctrine of the church. That the church is a local, visible assembly of called out believers into a public place of worship. That service to our Lord is done through the church. The idea of a universal or invisible church is a false teaching and contrary to Scriptures. That our Lord began the church with His disciples and His Authority to fulfill the Great Commission is given to that church. Only that church has authority to baptize. The local church should observe the Lord's Supper (closed). That the church is not governed by an ecclesiastical hierarchy, and that the will of the local church is final. The church should hold to the doctrine of the second coming. That our Lord will rapture the saints before a tribulation period. That there will then be seven years of tribulation upon this earth. During that time, all saints raptured or having prior died will stand before God and experience what is called the Marriage supper of the Lamb. Here the churches (those that held to proper doctrine) will make up the Bride of Christ. The angels, O.T. saints, and saints of the present age who did not hold to New Testament doctrine will be guests at the marriage supper. Following these seven years, the Lord will return with His saints to rule and reign for 1,000 years on this earth. Satan will then be loosed and then a final judgement. We then shall forever enjoy a new Heaven and a New Earth for all of eternity.Time does not allow me to also write of other doctrines the church should uphold: virgin birth, creation, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Devil, Hell, Fall of man, giving, missions, separation, etc A church should uphold these doctrine to be a true New Testament church. A church should teach these doctrines faithfully, discipiling their members in a knowledge of God. It is a lack of knowledge of the Law of God that is destroying our churches today (Hos. 4:6). A church should be a place that upholds proper doctrine! (Scripture for above doctrines: John 3:15-16, 1 Pt. 1:5, John 1:12, Acts 3:19, Eph. 3:21, Acts 2:47, 1 Tim. 3:15, Acts 8:1, Matt. 3:13-17, 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-34, Rom. 6:34-35, 1 Thess. 4:13-18, 1 Cor. 15:51-55, John 20:27, Jude 14-15, Titus 2:13).
8. A church should be a place of Fellowship (vs. 42) The church should be a place where brothers and sisters in Christ can exhort, rebuke, strengthen, and encourage one another. A place where you enjoy your company. A place where the brethren can break bread (eat) with one another. Pray for one another. Sing with one another. Laugh with one another. A place of wonderful loving fellowship. For this is indeed what eternity will be, what a shame to avoid it now!?