Is the New Testament church supposed to be the model for the church of the 21st Century?
Churches which were founded by the apostles from the beginning had serious problems with sin and false teachers. Note the seven churches of The Revelation.
The church of the First Century preached under great difficulties and persecutions, which largely continued into the early Fourth Century. But these materially poor and persecuted churches were not to be the final narrative of God’s plan for his people.
Jesus taught us to pray God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Our Lord compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a mustard seed, which is planted and eventually grows into tree with strong branches spreading throughout the earth, where the birds come and make their nests (Matthew 13:31).
The poverty and persecution of the church was not to last forever. The church was to disciple the nations and bring them under the domain of the church (Matt 28:19-20).
God wanted his church to be the head and not the tail. By the end of the Fourth Century Christianity established itself as the official religion of the Empire, which began the era of Christendom.
Alas, the church has largely turned its back on making the disciples of the nations. She seems content to be once again a persecuted minority, as if that is the more spiritual vision.
Let’s not look back for our church model but let’s look forward to a Triumphant Church, which is ruling and reigning with Christ from heaven. We need to occupy and take dominion until the Lord returns.
Some it would seem would prefer God’s people returning to meeting in homes or worse catacombs as a sign we are faithfully following Christ.