Summary: The early church was on fire for God, but it did have its share of problems and opposition. It was how they handled those problems that made them attractive to a lost and dying world.
A Lesson in Divine Providence
There was never a dull moment around First Church of Jerusalem! Pentecost came in a blaze of glory. Healings occurred around the city. There were lessons on hypocrisy. The wave of power was building within the Church to a great climax.
The church today must learn to live like the Early Church in Jerusalem. We will have times when we almost seem to be invincible. We will have times when nothing seems to go right. The key to being what we need to be is to remember who we are.
That is the overwhelming lesson here in our text.
Today I want for us to take a look at this lesson from the Early Church and notice how they were Soaring, Suffering, Surviving, and still Singing.
I. The Church Soaring (vv. 12-16)
A. The Church was respected throughout the city (v. 13)
1. Something in the Church members’ lives made them believable.
a. People believed what they were sharing, because they were practicing what they were preaching.
b. The fruit of the spirit was evident in their lives.
2. The reputation of individual members contributes to or detracts from the message of the Church.
a. How you live outside of these Church walls, will determine how will Fairview is receive in the community.
b. If you don’t take the lessons taught and apply them, you are just hurting yourself, you are hurting the church.
B. The Church was growing daily (v. 14)
1. Whether the Church kept records or not, the Holy Spirit kept up with what was happening.
2. When the Church soars, it is attractive to the people who are watching.
a. Church is not far from sporting teams when it come to people jumping on the band wagon.
b. When a church is doing great things people want to be apart of it.
C. The Church was a blessing to the community (vv. 15-16)
1. People find a way to get where something good is happening.
2. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is something so attractive that distance is not a problem.
a. If you find a good restaurant, you will drive the occasional hour to go eat there.
b. When people find a church that is on fire for God, they will drive from near and far to get to it.
II. The Church Suffering (vv. 17-26)
A. When we move into enemy territory, we can expect opposition.
B. The Early Church faced opposition.
1. Look at verses 18, 33, and 40.
18 “They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail.”
33 “But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them.”
40 “They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them.”
2. Stephen paid with his life in Acts 7
3. The apostle Paul paid dearly.
III. The Church Surviving (vv. 19-20, 34)
A. God will protect His property.
1. Sometimes he does this in ways beyond our imagination (v. 19)
2. An angel came into the jail at night and simply opened the gate and let them out.
B. Several lessons are worth learning here.
1. The Lord will not totally crush our opposition.
2. God’s people will not be immune to trials and set-backs.
3. While there is opposition, nothing can stop the gospel’s progress.
a. 2 Cor. 12:7, Paul himself talks about a thorn in his flesh.
b. That thorn was a nuisance I’m sure, but it was also a reminder that Paul needed God.
4. The message of Jesus is more important than our comfort.
IV. The Church Singing (vv. 41-42)
A. How did they maintain their joy?
1. They were uncompromisingly obedient to God’s will (v. 29)
2. They had no questions about their message (vv. 30-32)
a. They knew what the Lord had saved them to do.
b. They knew that the message of Jesus Christ love needed to be taken to the people.
3. They had the Holy Spirit living inside of them as a constant reminder of who they were.
B. So, they kept singing.
The rough experience had induced no traces of doubt or indecision in the hearts of the apostles. They wore their wounds as badges of honor.
God gave the song, and nothing could take that song away from those who kept the faith.
Divine providence is the exciting reality for those who make a total commitment of their lives to Jesus Christ.