Summary: A study of the first congregation of the Lord provides us with the example of a church without walls. The members did gather for worship, but they were compelled to penetrate their world to tell others of Jesus. We must do the same in this day.

“There arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

“Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.” [1]

The Risen Saviour commanded disciples to proclaim the Good News of Christ throughout the entire world. We read in the opening pages of the Book of Acts, “When [the disciples met with the Risen Saviour], they asked him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth’” [ACTS 1:6-8].

Of course, we know that these disciples were partially obedient to that charge. Soon after this, the Spirit of God was poured out on the disciples, and they were empowered to do what they could not otherwise do. They boldly preached the message of life to people that weren’t especially eager to hear that message. And when they preached, what they said was freighted with power that changed lives and glorified the Risen Son of God. They had witnessed Jesus’ power during the days He walked with them, but none of them had ever seen multitudes turning in faith to Jesus!

Filled with the Spirit of God, these disciples penetrated Jerusalem with the message of Christ the Lord. And what power was revealed as they proclaimed Christ! After the Spirit of God was given, three thousand Jewish souls were brought to faith in one day! Following that, we read of the impact of all those who gathered as worshippers of the Risen Christ, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” [ACTS 2:42-47].

Power such as described in the opening pages of this book is never without opposition. Sure enough, the response of those who heard the message of life in Christ, the salvation of souls generated push back from the religious leaders. However, the effort to push back was spectacularly unsuccessful for it only resulted in more souls swept into the Kingdom of God. So we read that when the Apostles were arrested and incarcerated, “Many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand” [ACTS 4:4].

God’s Spirit continued powerfully working through those redeemed saints. What stunning events were recorded as the disciples served God! Liars were exposed, and when they refused to renounce their lies, the Spirit of God struck them dead. Now that got some attention! Some of the Apostles were imprisoned, only mysteriously to appear in the Temple where they were found preaching the message of Christ the Lord. They couldn’t have broken out, because the prison doors were locked securely and the guards were standing watch, thinking the prisoners were in their cells. Yet here they were preaching Jesus! It was just spooky. No one could really explain what was happening, but something momentous was taking place. Even many of the priests believed and turned to the faith [see ACTS 6:7]!

However, as the power of the Spirit became more and more evident, opposition to the message and to the messengers increased exponentially. And the opposition was just getting started. Persecution would intensify, and as it intensified, the Spirit of Christ would empower His disciples to stand boldly declaring the freedom that is found in the Risen Saviour. Finally, a maddened boar by the name of Saul, a rabbi from Tarsus, would be loosed upon the vineyard of the Lord. And again, through the power of the Spirit of Christ even that enraged persecutor would be freed from his bitterness and brought into the Family of God.

Here’s a brief account of how God revealed His power through Saul who once sought to destroy the Faith. The first church needed to appoint deacons, servants of the congregation to attend to the ongoing daily needs of the assembly. The elders would attend to spiritual matters, and the deacons would distribute food to the needy. One of those deacons for the Jerusalem congregation had preached in a synagogue identified as the Synagogue of the Freedmen. In this synagogue were relatives of this Saul of Tarsus. As this deacon declared the freedom that is found in Jesus as Master over life, those wishing to argue with him were incapable of refuting him. Unable to prove their case, they resorted to the refuge of cowards, charging him as blaspheming against God and of dishonouring Moses. Things were about to get serious.

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