Summary: With Peter being the spokesman for the 12 we watch the early church grow spiritually and courageous with its loyalty to Jesus.
The early church.
Acts 5:11 -- 40. 12/03/03
In the early chapters of this book we see that the man Peter was a very prominent influence in the early church. Other Saints will become prominent as you read on such as Steven, Philip, and beginning in chapter 13 is the great apostle Paul.
With Peter being the spokesman for the 12 we watch the early church grow spiritually and courageous with his loyalty to Jesus.
Now there are just two points I want us to look at in our study of the early church. They are the power of the church and the persecution of the church.
Let’s note first of all THE POWER OF THE CHURCH. The early church was a powerful church. Text like 4:33 which says, “with great power gave the apostle’s witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” Today, churches have programs, promotions, publicity, and popularity but a lack of power. Power is the one thing churches must have if they are to do a worthwhile work for the Lord.
Let’s just think of some of the conditions we, as a church must meet if we are to be a powerful church. One of the key things if the church is to be a powerful church is to be a praying church. The Bible says in chapter 4:31, “when they had prayed, the place was shaken.” But we find in our text, there are two other conditions for power. One of the two is purity.
When Ananias and Sapphira were removed from the early church it helped to purify the church. Here were two members that were a weakness to the church and God removed them. It is obvious that they early church would not tolerate sin and God worked on their behalf. Tolerating sin in the church folks is not a demonstration of love. It actually limits the power of the church and we are picking up the change of that today. That is the reason we are moving as a nation to declare the Bible, the word of God, as being hate material. If that is excepted as a law then we would violate the law to speak out against such things is homosexuality, adultery and a lot of the immorality that is mentioned in the Bible.
Now listen! It is my duty to preach against these sins but whether the church except are not will determine the power that will be granted the church.
Unity is also a condition that must be met if the church is to have any spiritual power. One of the best examples we find in this is found in chapter 1:14. It reads, “they were all with one accord in prayer.”
The arguing, bickering and disputing that goes on in some of our church’s today indicate a great lack of unity and a great lack of power. Listen, when power is present in the church, you will not be able to explain everything that goes on. You just have to say it is God. When Peter was walking down the streets, people who were sick would only want to get into his shadow and be healed. He was unaware of all those who might be touched by his shadow, yet the influence was present. We influence more than we think. The character of our life will determine the influence.
We say not only the power of the church but also THE PERSECUTION OF THE CHURCH.
Whenever God does a work, the Devil will do his best to counter it. The greater the work for God the greater the activity of the Devil. So, we aren’t surprised to read with all the great work that was going on in the early church that the Devil would attempt to counter it.
When we read about the persecution of the early church, we see it is just plain mean. Peter is going to jail again for serving Jesus. He can’t serve Jesus and not be the object of vicious attacks by the enemy.
We have a tendency to think today in a country where the gospel is unpopular and a pastor gets thrown in jail or killed, we are not surprised. We seem to think if one serves well he will be famous and have a great big church. So, if a pastor gets thrown out of the church today, we automatically think he was a failure. Now that may be the case in some situations. But I know some who have been dismissed by their church because they are faithful to God in doing their work.
Though God delivered the apostle’s here, he doesn’t always free every persecuted Saint. We cannot explain why but we must always remember God has his reasons and that is enough.
Now on first glance, it seems that Gamaliel’s advice was good but in reality he was a finance straddler. You can’t fight against God just sit back and say what happens. That is the advice of a liberal. He compared the two men with Jesus. There is no comparison to Jesus.