Summary: We are all called to use our gifts to evangelize the lost
40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls.
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
So, in the first two verses it says, ‘with many other words he did testify and exhort’ which tells us his message was a lot longer than what Luke wrote here. And it also tells us there were three thousand added to the church and yet we don’t see any invitation to get saved, sign up or join anything. But, somehow people seemed to respond and then publicly proclaim their faith by getting baptized and then continued in the fellowship. So, these weren’t emotional or one time decisions but these people were serious about the commitments they made.
In fact, the book of Acts records around 8000 conversions within a span of weeks or months and that number is more likely to be somewhere near 10,000-15,000 because most of the time the number only reflects the men that were converted.
In Acts 2:41 we have 3000 converts and then in verse 47, it says, ‘the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.’ In Acts 4:4, it says, ‘Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.’ And then in Acts 6:1, it says, ‘And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied.’ Acts 6:7, ‘And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.’
So, the church was doing what God intended it to do and being what God intended it to be and church growth was natural.
And listen, the original church had a wide diversity of people. There were different cultures, different languages and like most people groups I’m sure they all had different ways of doing things but they were united around the gospel and learning the word of God.
They had no programs, no outreach plan, no special speakers or concerts; they had no contests, no big names to draw in the crowds in and no fancy facilities to meet in. They had no bus ministry’s, no youth group activities, no media advertisements and no gospel literature. There was no such thing as church growth programs, no bumper stickers, no Christian camps, no famous sports figures, no coffee-cups and no T-shirts with Christian logos on them.
The only thing they had was the fellowship of the church and the word of God and for the most part, no one had their own copy. They’d either go to the synagogue to hear the Old Testament or they might have had hand written copies of parts of the New Testament. And yet, the church grew.
William Boice once wrote: "Dear Lord, I have been re-reading the record of the rich young ruler and his obviously wrong choice. But it has set me thinking. No matter how much wealth he had, he could not ride in a car, have any surgery, turn on a light, buy penicillin, hear a piano, watch TV, wash dishes in running water, type a letter, mow a lawn, fly in an airplane, sleep on an innerspring mattress, or talk on the phone. And yet, they called him the rich young ruler. So, if he was rich, then what am I?"
Sometimes wealth is a matter of perspective. Sally and I have been privileged to travel a bit and while we were in Barbados we had a man who worked at the beach who liked to talk and I asked him if it was a good place to work and he said, ‘It’s fantastic. I make $100 a week.’ And when I asked him if there were any benefits included; he didn’t know what benefits were. And listen, he worked, seven days a week, twelve hours a day. And he considered himself very well paid.
And when were we in Egypt a waiter at our hotel who spoke several languages told me he earned twenty dollars a week and was really glad he had a job because everyone in his family of five had to work so they could all afford to share a one bedroom apartment.