The Church today is in trouble. Once we understand that the church is not the institution or the building but the people of God, we soon realize how much trouble we really are in. In many places the Christian Church is simply a sub-culture of the dominant culture of the day. Jesus designed the Church to be a counter-culture. Today we see believers whose lives apparently did not change a great deal after they were born again. It is as if they simply kept on living the way they had always lived but with an added coating of Christianity. They added prayer, Bible reading, and going to church on Sunday but literally did not change anything about who they were or how they lived. Something needs to change. And, change is starting to happen in the Church world-wide.
I believe that the main issue is that we, the leaders, teachers, and preachers, have proclaimed the gospel of salvation instead of the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14). The gospel of salvation presents the understanding of the gospel message as information for us to understand and accept. It is an intellectual understanding of the gospel. Then we pray with the person and they are told they are born again. In reality, they are not! The book of James in the Bible (James 2:19) states that the demons believe; they know who Jesus is and what He accomplished through His death and resurrection. But, they are not going to heaven. Head knowledge is not enough.
The Gospel of the Kingdom presents the same information and then pauses to allow the Holy Spirit to convict the person who has now heard the wonderful news of salvation through Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes to convict them (John 16:8-11) and they respond with godly sorrow and repentance (2 Corinthians 7:8-10). Then you pray with them and they are truly born again because their heart has been changed. Paul states without any doubt that without repentance there is no salvation.
The foundation of the Church and the New Covenant life begins with repentance. Humble repentant believers then follow Christ’s example and the apostles’ clear teaching to be baptized by immersion in water. Finally, they receive power to live triumphant Christian lives receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit in the experience known as the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
A house rests on the strength of its foundation. The one who builds a strong foundation will build a strong house. Today more than ever, Christians must build their lives carefully according to the pattern of God’s Word. Without strong foundations, they limit the size and scope of how largely they can build. If they do not build according to the pattern, their building will have cracks, crumble, and fall.
After preaching His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus illustrated the importance of building a solid foundation:
Matthew 7:24-27 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Acts, chapter 2, chronicles the birth of the first church in simplicity and power. The biblical account has preserved the design of the church’s foundation. The chapter also describes the foundation of individual Christian lives. It gives a clear pattern of coming to God, knowing Him as Lord and Saviour, knowing His ways, and walking in victory. It illustrates how converts to the faith become fruitful in their Christian walk and journey and thus help the Kingdom to expand by “going into all the world and making disciples.”
The first church’s solid foundation allowed it to fulfill the commission to extend the Kingdom of God. This pioneer group of believers carried the Gospel of the Kingdom to the farthest parts of the known world and the Roman Empire, including the capitol city of Rome.