Summary: As God Word increased, the church in the book of Acts increased.
Careful examination of the New Testament church depicts a vibrant, sustenant, and growing body, whose strength can largely be contributed to the powerful preaching of the apostolic message. This preaching, though basic in theme, was the solid foundation upon which Christ built His church. Peter’s message at Pentecost is a prime example of the Apostolic Kerygma, and clearly demonstrates the basic elements within this type of message.
One primary element in the Apostolic Kerygma, as suggested by C.H. Dodd was that, "The Age of Fulfillment had dawned". What God had promised throughout the Scriptures by the prophets concerning salvation and the Messianic Age was realized through the coming of Christ and by the power with which he would endow all believers. Correspondantly, Peter declared to the crowd that had gathered on the Day of Pentecost that what they were seeing was a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy concerning the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh--a direct consequence of Jesus’s coming. Old Testament prophecy was being fulfilled and a New Age had dawned with the coming of Christ.
The inception of this New Age, according to Peter, and his apostolic message, had taken place through the ministry, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus. In essence, God had placed His seal of approval on the ministry of Jesus by confirming His claim of being the Son of God, with miraculous manifestations. Then, despite the efforts of the religious athorities who had violently executed Him, this Jesus who had been predestined by the foreknowledge of God to be lawlessly murdered, resurrected with power from on High to a place of heavenly glorification. Further, He has been exalted at the right hand of God, as the Messianic head of the new Israel.
The preaching of both the suffering and resurection of Jesus were key components in the growth of the New Testament church. This was because salvation is rooted in both the humiliation and exaltation of Christ. Thus, preaching that Jesus is a Prince and a Savior to Israel, though He suffered a shameful execution from the Sanhedrin, and that God has raised and exalted Him to a place of power, was essential to the Apostolic message.
Also important to the Apostolic Kerygma was that the Holy Spirit in the church was the sign of Christ’s present power and glory. As Peter pointed out, Christ, who reigns in exaltation has poured out "that which we now see and hear," or, the power and glory of the church--the Holy Spirit.
Peter’s message closed with an appeal for repentance, the promise of salvation, and the offering of the Holy Spirit. In essence, because of what Christ had done, He who has Divine authority will forgive those who will repent from wickedness and will give the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Thus, the Apostolic Kerygma, as demonstrated by Peter’s Pentecost sermon, along with the annointing of the Holy Spirit, was clearly fundamental in the boom of early Christianity. Furthermore, the anointed preaching of the message of Christ, will always produce growth for the church. Thus, in order for present-day world outreach to mimick the intensity of New Testement evangelism, it is vital for today’s church to utelize the anointed preaching if the Apostolic message.
One of the greatest efforts to further the Gospel was made by the Apostle Paul in the Book of Acts. However, Paul did not merely preach of the salvation of the Lord. When sinners were converted, Paul placed them in established churches where their decision could be nurtured and strengthened, and where they could be brought into responsible service to God. Thus, the establishment of local churches, many of which were house churches, was a necessary element in the furtherance of the Gospel and in the ministry of Paul. As this gospel was spread throughout the Roman world, the early pioneers, like Paul, continued planting new churches in metropolitan areas where converts could be fed. Such church planting was fundamental in the Biblical plan for evangelizing the lost. The Apostle Paul took this area of ministry very seriously. Consequently, he developed a strategy for church planting that worked, and used that strategy repeatedly throughout Acts. As today’s church looks at these effective tactics, a similar strategy can be patterned to effectively bring in the lost.
Upon the apostle Paul’s entrance to a new city to preach the Gospel, he would make his initial contact with the Jewish synagogue. There, when given the opportunity to speak, he would present Christ as Messiah and Lord. Ordinarily, this message would be received with mixed reactions by the people. Some of the Jews would believe and accept Jesus as the Messiah. Others, usually the leadership, would reject the gospel and force Paul to leave the temple. Subsequent to Jewish rejection of the Gospel, Paul opened the Word to the Gentiles. The Gentiles had regularly attended synagogue, earnestly seeking to know God. However they had not conformed to the legalistic requirements of Jewish traditionalists. Therefore, when Paul offered salvation to them outside of the confines of Jewish law, they were receptive to the Good News and were saved. From this point, Paul concentrated his energies toward proclaiming the truth to those who responded to the message of salvation. Consequently, the gentile God-fearers were the reaped harvest.