Acts 13 shows us that the word of the Lord is for the city. Acts 14 shows us the need for the church in the city. Paul and Barnabas brought the message of forgiveness and freedom through repentance and faith in Jesus to cities, and they left behind a church in those cities.
The Lord did not intend for the gospel to be confined within the walls of the church. Nor does he intend for the church to be walled off from the city. In Acts 13-14 we see “almost the whole city gathering to hear the word of the Lord,” and a strengthened church in every city.
God’s gift to a city is a healthy church made up of strengthened disciples of Jesus who continue in the faith, are steadfast in tribulation, and seek first the kingdom of God. These churches are served well by their leaders and kept by the grace and power of the Lord (Acts 14:21-23).
Why are churches a gift to the city?
Who else, but the church, is going to contend for the accuracy of the gospel according to Scripture? The gospel of Jesus Christ is something revealed to us by God. It is “the faith.” It is something that happened (Christ died for our sins and was raised for our life). It is communicated in words like grace, sin, cross, resurrection, repentance, and faith. This message is to be safeguarded against alteration. This is not the job of “professional Christians” like pastors and professors, but of the whole church.
Who else, but the church, is going to communicate the gospel so it can be heard in the city? Event-based evangelism certainly has its place. But regular preaching and ongoing conversations about the saving work of Christ are the primary ways a city hears the word.
Where else, but among the believers of the church, are new believers going to be established in their faith? The message of Jesus will be met with faith. In every city, some will believe. Congregations teach these new believers the promises of grace and the demands of discipleship. Local churches provide the family atmosphere for new Christians to grow.
From where, other than local congregations, are built-up believers going to be sent into the various pockets of a city to be salt and light? Christians live in relationship with other believers, but they don’t live at church. Each Lord’s day is a renewal in grace for reengagement in our callings in the city.
When people are experiencing the devastating effects on their souls of the experimentations of the culture, where, other than the church, will they find forgiveness and freedom from their sin? Be sure of this: people will grow weary of sin as the Holy Spirit draws them to Christ. Churches are waiting with the lights on. The welcome mat of the gospel is out.
This weekend, will you pray for one other church in our city? Will you pray for Grace Community Church? See you Sunday.