Summary: A look at why the church in the first century grew.
Last week I gave you a little history lesson on the church and we looked at 2 very important promises. Promise number one is that Jesus is going to build the church. He is the Rock, that the church is built up and secondly we learned that Jesus gave us the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. He has given us authority!
Today we are going to look at the book of Acts as we continue to understand the church and how we all fit into it. There is a certain aspect of the early church that I want to examine.
open my eyes so I can see Your truth.
Open my ears so I can hear Your voice.
Open my mind so I can understand Your Word.
And open my heart so I may receive all that You want me to receive. AMEN
The thing about the early church is that is grew and it grew fast.
I will admit, when I read about the success rate of the early church in regards to growth, I get a little jealous.
Most pastors I know are concerned about church growth and there is nothing wrong with that. We want to grow the kingdom of God!
There was a pastor in one community who was really concerned about his church growing. He did everything he could to get the people of the community to come to his church but it just was not growing.
He was getting really tired of working so hard and not seeing any results so he decided that he and his family would take a vacation to get some rest and perspective.
The first Sunday back from their vacation the leaders of the church met that pastor at the door and said, “Pastor, we have some good news and we have some bad news.”
The pastor said, “What’s the good news?”
They reported to the pastor that they doubled in size and broke all the attendance records.
Then the pastor asked, “That’s great, so what’s the bad news?”
And they replied, “It happened while you were on vacation!”
I remember when I was graduating from Bible College, all the pastoral students had these great aspirations of being the next Oral Roberts or Billy Graham.
We all thought that we would go to a church and that church would burst forth in growth immediately and all we had to do was just preach a good sermon.
Well, even though it is true that people will attend a church that has good preaching in it more than they will attend a church that has good music, the truth of the matter is, there is more to growing a church then just a pastor who can preach.
Last week we talked about a time when that happened.
The Apostle Peter got up and preached a message and some 3000 people gave their hearts to Jesus!
When the Holy Spirit came upon Simon Peter and the others it was a like a fire that could not be contained. The zeal of God consumed them, it burned within their souls. It was that zeal of God that became a driving force for them to share the Good News with everyone.
Listen to the last part of this account in Acts 2:37-41.
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. Acts 2:37-41 NIV
In one day, with no church building, with no elected pastor, with no church constitution, with no formal statement of purpose, no hand book, or no promises of what the future held for them, the church was born.
From 120 to over 3000 in the span of a few minutes.
They grew because they had the unhindered, boundless joy of the presence of Jesus Christ to fill up their lives. And with the presence of Jesus came the ties of love that bound the people so closely together.
The church grew.
Luke, the author of Acts records, “42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”