God loves to have a lively friendship with his saved ones. He loves to communicate with them. God is love. God loves to be loved. Where there is love there is communication. Where there is no love, there is little or no communication. God is not a dumb idol. He is alive! He speaks! He loves to talk to you through His Word. Likewise He loves for you to talk to Him. In the Song of Solomon we read of the bridegroom (Christ) saying to his bride (the Church),
“Let me see your countenance, let me hear your voice!”
Yes, God loves to hear your voice praying to Him.
Thus you don’t need to envy the early disciples and wish you had been born in their time and have sat at the feet of Jesus. You also, in this generation, can enjoy the indwelling Presence of Christ. You can grow in faith by the teaching of the anointing Holy Spirit. You can become a living epistle of Christ. You can now live with God and even live in Him, inside Him, and He in you, inside you. You can freely preach the Good News. You can experience the corporate Body of Christ; you can enjoy the corporate church life. You can now and always enjoy having the daily experience, the frequent practice of personally talking with God!
Remember that for more than three centuries after our Lord Jesus Christ died, resurrected and ascended, the early, primitive church vastly multiplied. Yet just about everything we today consider essential, they did not have.
For instance, to mention a few, they did not have cathedrals nor even chapels. In fact, they even did not have meeting halls. They simply gathered in their homes, that is all. Oh, yes, there is one unique exception, in one locality only, they gathered in a school building, owned or rented by one Tyrannus, and there they fellowshipped.
It was only in the fourth century that Constantine decreed Christianity to be the official state religion and ordered that all pagan temples to be turned into Christian places of worship. He wanted all faiths to amalgamate into one big, state controlled religion of which he nominated himself as supreme head. Tsk tsk!
The simple, cozy, home gatherings, in which all spoke, sharing their personal fresh experiences with God, were soon displaced by the big, prestigious services performed at the “Christianized” pagan temples. Only the very eloquent, albeit not always very holy, orators orated. Soon that became a social event of the people, instead of a spiritual experience with God.
They didn’t even have the religious Christian terminology we have now.
Pulpits appeared on the scene centuries later, just before Luther’s time, so they did not have those either.
They had no salaried pastors. Everybody shepherded one or two newcomers, helping them to grow and coaching them by word and example to help others in turn.
They had no program of worship, no order of service, a.k.a. “religious liturgy.”
They had no pews, they used the available furniture of the home or simply sat cross-legged on cushions on the floor, if they had cushions.
They had no boards of trustees, no mission boards, no set organizations.
They had no statement of faith nor rules of conduct (except the Scriptures).
However, they did not even have the Scriptures as we know them today. Gutenberg was born many centuries later and nobody before him ever ran a printing press.
For the average believer to walk to church with his Bible in hand was impossible. The Scriptures were laboriously copied by handwriting on expensive parchment, the pages sown together, forming a long roll around a stick. At the end of the document there was another stick. Thus, books in those days were known as scrolls. To go to church carrying your Bible, meant that you led a donkey carrying a cart full of scrolls, 66 heavy parchment scrolls, at two sticks per scroll, that adds up to 132 sticks piled in your cart! Anyone owning a complete Bible in those days meant that he was very rich. It cost a huge fortune to own the entire Scriptures.
Furthermore, in those days the average citizen was illiterate, so even if you were rich enough to own the entire Scriptures, chances are you would be illiterate and unable to read them.
They had no seminaries, no Bible schools, not even Sunday schools. Sunday as a rest day was not invented yet. In the Roman empire as well as in other ethnic groups, they very occasionally rested on the few pagan holidays they had every year. Those that could afford so, took a day off when they were worn out! Jews were the only ethnic group that rested once a week, on Saturdays.
They had no New Testaments.
“Wait a minute! Now you have gone too far! I don’t believe that!”
Believe it or not, that is the case. The first century writings that comprise the New Testament had only limited circulation during the first three centuries. But, thanks to God, those writings were preserved and put together eventually, but only in the fourth century! After the fourth century, these New Testaments were laboriously hand-copied in hand-writing again and again by expert calligraphers and very expensive.
It was centuries later that Martin Luther compiled the New Testament books in the order we have them today, not chronologically, but according to the way he liked to teach doctrine.
They had no televangelists, no radio-evangelists, no mailing lists, no pre-stamped self-addressed envelopes, no fund-raisers, no building funds, no electric guitars, no boom-boxes, no tape recorders, no insurance, no credit cards, no jetliners, no jeeps, no easy way to travel to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.
And they had very little money.
In our estimation, they could not have done it.
But, against all odds, they did!
Frankly, they did a far better job than we are doing now! They were unencumbered! All they had, was God Himself!
In comparison with them, we are enormously over-equipped, encumbered with things and money yet we definitely are under-equipped spiritually.
Nevertheless, paradoxically, their spiritual equipment is just as available, powerful, operational, functional and ready for us to use! And it is all honestly and fully offered to us by God today, even now!
Yes, it is all in the Holy Spirit, the same that today abides inside all true, fully surrendered to God, born-again Christians! Inside us He is always ready, closer to us than our own hands and feet. He is over-stocked with blessings that few of us claim. He is loaded with prayer-answers that few of us even imagine of praying! If only we would repent, believe and ask!
Saint, you just can’t even imagine, how much God has prodigally blessed you and entrusted you with! If you would only use merely a tiny portion of all that God has already brought into you with His Indwelling Presence, you would be today the happiest, most blessed, victorious soul-winner and prayer-warrior that ever existed, second only to our Lord Jesus Christ Himself! Wow!
From Communing With God – Chapter 9