The book of Acts answers vital questions regarding the definition and dynamic of true Christianity. It charts the power and the progress of the church of Jesus Christ from the time of Christ’s ascension and explains the message and the methods of the apostles as they set about fulfilling the great commission. In a very real sense this inspired record explains authentic Christianity, and therefore it is of vital importance in the twenty-first century.
The church of Christ needs to ask questions, questions that will keep her reforming and faithful for the future, questions such as, What is the church doing with the gospel?, Is the church effectively serving Christ?, Why is there so little spiritual power in certain parts of the church? and Is the church really doing what Christ commissioned it to do? These and similar questions demand an answer.
One of the greatest differences between first-century Christianity and twenty-first-century Christianity lies in the preaching of the Word. There was a time when the pulpit ministry was held in the highest regard, a time when preaching services were well attended, and when there was an appetite for the clear setting forth of the Word of God. But things are changing and part of the reason for that is that there has been a drifting away from the pattern of New Testament preaching.
A close study of Acts 2 will reveal the primacy of New Testament preaching. That fact alone should tell us something. Acts 2 records the formation, establishing, and early development of the New Testament church. It is significant that the first thing the apostles did when they were filled with the Spirit was preach. They did not set about to entertain or perform or hold a healing crusade in a needy culture: they preached the gospel.
I fear the church of Christ is losing (and in some cases has lost) that focus. The pulpit ministry is not given the priority it should have. There is not the same interest, enthusiasm, or appetite for preaching as there once was. And we wonder why the Sunday evening service has been dropped. The church of Christ has gone a different direction. The music program in some places is given greater prominence than the ministry of the word. That’s a reversal of the order of New Testament Christianity. Paul urged Timothy to “Preach the Word” and that must ever be the preeminent part of the church’s ministry. Get the preaching back in the pulpit and we will get people back in the pew.