It is good to be aware of to who various scriptures refer. For example, Paul spends a considerable time discussing Israel in the book of Romans. As part of that discussion we see that Believers from the nations have not replaced Israel as to God’s promises and blessings, but have been grafted in and are fellow citizens together in Israel. (Eph. 2:19, Rom. 9-11) Just as there is a tendency to consider ancient Israel separately from current day Israel, the same tendency separates early Believers from current day Believers. Is this appropriate? Do modern means of travel, communication, and convenience separate generations with respect to God?
Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name) prayed, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one —I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23) This is a prayer from Yeshua’s heart for his disciples at that time and for us today. He is praying that we will be one in unity with those who preceded us and gave us the gospel message. Are we to be in unity with the Believers of the first century? A straight read indicates – Yes. There is to be no distinction of faith between the first and last generations of Believers. Yeshua is the same today, yesterday and forever. (Heb. 13:8) If we are to be one with Him, as He prayed, we should be one with those who preceded us.
How are we to be in unity with first century Believers? Perhaps, we should not accept the false assumption that technological advances make us wiser and better as to matters of faith, hope, love and life in the Spirit. Moreover, we should suspect doctrines or practices in faith that are based on human reasoning or secular society, rather than God’s immutable word. It might be helpful to stop thinking up reasons why miracles, acts of the Holy Spirit, and faith exhibited in the first century is different or not available in our generation. All believers are to be one, not just around the world, but through time and across the generations. The essence of this oneness is found in Yeshua and the indwelling Holy Spirit whom He gave to us when He ascended to Father God.
We must not forget the inherent blessing in Yeshua’s prayer, “… so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” If our generation of Believers are one in Yeshua with first century Believers, the world will believe that the Father sent Yeshua to earth. This is our charge to hold fast to a faith that changed the world. When Yeshua ascended Believers impacted the world such that in time the Roman Empire expressed belief. May it be when Yeshua returns, He will find a generation of Believers, who like their predecessors in the first centuries exhibited world changing faith.