The Church Age

The Seven Churches

The Early Christian Church “exploded into life” in their “first love.” The disciples were exuberant from their experience with Jesus, their realization of the meaning of His mission, and the joy of His resurrection. They were empowered by a outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Their lives, thoughts and words centered in Jesus Christ. Whatever they had they gave to the church (Acts 4:34). New converts joined them in large numbers.

The early sermons were quite confrontive in laying the blame for Jesus crucifixion on the leaders of the nation (1). The new converts were initially all Jewish, some local and many from the diaspora. In conviction of the Holy Spirit, they all sought repentance (Acts 2:37-39).

The disciples were not ready to understand Jesus' mission until after the resurrection. Now that He had ascended to heaven, the Holy Spirit was sent to lead them to a more complete understanding. The early sermons in Acts illustrates this growth in understanding of the apostles.

    "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." (John 16:12).

In time an issue arose between the Greek speaking and the Hebrew Christians over the division of food provided to the widows. This was solved by the appointment of deacons, with very good results.

Stephen became not only a deacon, but also an evangelist and a powerful defender of the church. This lead to his being brought before the Sanhedrin, his stoning, and to persecution of the church. As a result, the church was scattered from Jerusalem;  taking the message to many new places.

Then there were Jewish Christians who could not let go of the ceremonial law.

The ceremonial law was given to point forward to Jesus Christ. The Levitical priest was to stand between the people and God. He represents God to the people, and the people to God. In a sense he was a type of Jesus Christ.

After Jesus' death on Calvary and His resurrection, He ascended to Heaven to enter in a special way His heavenly priesthood. Instead of going through sacrificial animals for the forgiveness of sins, the sinner was now to directly approach Jesus on the throne of grace.

For Jewish Christians it was difficult to give up a tradition lasting 1500 years. The ceremonial law was so much a part of their lives and how they identified themselves as Jews. This issue was addressed by Paul repeatedly in his epistles, in his emphasis on grace and belief in Jesus Christ. It is these new understandings that make up a large part of Christian belief today.

1. Sermons by Peter (Acts 2:14-40; 3:12-26; 4:8-12,19-20, 24-31 (a prayer);  5:27-32; 10:34-44), Stephen (Acts 7:1-53), Paul (Acts 13:16-41; 17:22-32; 22:1-21; 24:10-25; 26:1-29).