The Book of Acts is the heart of God for the church. It is a pattern of how the church should be. It is the grand witness of the Body of Christ moving out and in the power of the gift of holy spirit turning the world upside down. It should more appropriately be named not the Acts of the Apostles, but the Acts of the Holy Spirit. God wanted a record of how the gospel should be carried to the world by the Body of Believers. We see no cathedrals, no church buildings, no fund raising campaigns, no bake sales and carnivals and no religious traditions, but only hearts aflame for God with a burning desire to carry the message of Jesus Christ to the world. Signs miracle and wonders were the norm not dead church meetings and sermons. The world was shaken by this group of disciples who were seemly insignificant in the world’s eyes. The history of the world was forever changed by these committed souls. For God’s church to do God’s will it must follow the example of the Book of Acts.
The book of Acts is the action book of the New Testament, and it constitutes therefore one of the most exciting books of the Bible. There is intense conflict throughout the book, but a conflict met by a ringing confidence that is wonderful to see. It is a record of power exercised in the midst of persecution; an account of life and health pouring from a living Christ into a sick society through the channel of obscure men and women, very much like you and me. We could never understand the New Testament if we did not have the book of Acts, for it fills the gap that would exist between the Gospels and the book of Romans, which follows.
The book of Acts shows an amazing revolution in society and the hearts of men and women. Before there can be a revolution in society for goodness and deliverance, there must first be a revolution in the church. There must be radical change within the Body of Christ today before we can bring radical change to the world. Are we willing to be a revolutionary for Jesus Christ, completely devoted to Him 100 percent no matter what the cost? The book of Acts shows us men and women that were true revolutionaries for Jesus Christ that even laid down their lives for the furtherance of the gospel. Are we there yet? How strong is our devotion to Jesus Christ? Does our allegiance have a limit or a price where we can be bought or enticed away from our Lord?
Barclay: It is the whole lesson of Acts that the life of Jesus goes on in His church. Jesus Christ left an immortal name and influence; He is still active; He is not the one who was, He is the one who is.
The Church in the book of Acts was not a big building or a denomination. The word “church” in the Greek is ekklesia and means “called out for a specific purpose.” The church is the called out ones for Jesus Christ and are sent to proclaim the good news of His finished work in his death and resurrection; the revolutionary message that sets people free and rescues them from the kingdom of darkness. It is interesting that the church was never a building in the book of Acts and in fact they did not met in a building for their time of fellowship but met in the home. There was no mega-church with a huge building in the Book of Acts. Scripture is clear about the importance of the church in the home:
Romans 16:5: Likewise [greet] the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.
1 Corinthians 16:19 – The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
Colossians 4:15: Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
Philemon 1:2: And Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house.
Home fellowships are the God-inspired pattern of churches in the Book of Acts.
The first fourteen verses of chapter one constitute an introduction to the book of Acts, giving us the key to the book. Here we have revealed the essential strategy by which Jesus Christ proposes to change the world, a strategy which is the secret of the revolutionary character of the church when it is operating as it was intended to operate. I strongly suspect that most Christians suffer from a terrible inferiority complex when we confront the world around us. We have bought the idea of many around that the church is quite irrelevant, a not at all important segment of society. That view is absolutely false. The church is the most important body in the world today — far and away beyond every other body — because whatever happens in the world happens as a result of something that is, or is not, happening in the church.
Acts 1:1-5 (ESV): 1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Theophilus means “beloved of God” and is a figurative name referring to all of God’s born-again believers who love God and desire to live His Word. It emphasizes the purpose of this revelation is to bless His beloved ones and the beloved church. Luke, the beloved physician, penned the book of Acts as God breathed the words into His heart by revelation.
In John’s word, he was “the Word made flesh, who came and dwelt among us,” (John 1:14 KJV). Jesus, the man, came to begin something, “to do and to teach,” and the record of that beginning is in the Gospels. But, by clear implication, this second book is the continuation of what Jesus began to do. In a very real sense, Acts is not the acts of Christians, but the continuing acts of Jesus. It is an account of what Jesus continues to do and to teach. In the Gospels he did it in his physical body of flesh. In the book of Acts he is doing it through the bodies of men and women who are indwelt by his life. Thus, whether in the Gospels or in Acts, Jesus himself, the living Word or Christ living in the hearts of men and women is the secret strategy by which God changes the world.
Whenever God wants to get a message across to men he does not simply send someone to announce it; his final way of driving it home is to dress the message in flesh and blood. He takes a life and aims it in a certain direction and, by the manifestation of his own life through the blood and flesh of a human being, he makes clear what he has to say. That is the strategy of the book of Acts. It is the record of God birthed indwelt; men and women, radically devoted to Jesus Christ as their Lord, owned by him, and thus manifesting his life. That is the secret of authentic Christianity. Anytime you find a Christianity that is not doing that, it is false Christianity. No matter how much it may adapt the garb and language of Christianity, if it is not the activity human beings indwelt by the life of Jesus Christ it is not authentic Christianity. That is the true power of the church, as we shall see in this book.
The book of Acts therefore is an unfinished book. It has never been ended, but is still being written. The book abruptly closes with an account of Paul in the city of Rome, living in his own hired house. It just ends there as though you might turn over the next page and begin the next adventure. We are living in Acts chapter 29 now and God wants to write the story the book of Acts through our lives. .
“Stick around! Don’t go outside the city until the promise of the Father has come upon you.” Why? Because you’ll make a mess of it if you try witnessing without this. This is an essential. You cannot be an effective Christian if you are not operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. Every attempt made to advance the cause of Christianity which does not arise from that source only destroys the message God wants to convey. “It is absolutely essential,” Jesus says to these men, “so don’t try anything without it. Just wait, for, in a few days, you will receive the promise of the Father.”
What did he mean, “the promise of the Father”? He meant several things. First, he indicates that the Holy Spirit’s coming would not be ritual but reality. John, he said, baptized with water. That is a ritual, a shadow, a picture. But the reality will be the actual Spirit himself, coming to live in you.
Acts 1:6-8: When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
Turn on any Christian TV station or go to any bookstore and see hundreds of preachers or pastors trying to interpret the times and seasons that the Father has put in His power. If the Scriptures say that only the Father knows when Jesus Christ will return why do these men think they know too? There is so much speculation and private interpretation of Scripture in the fields of future prophecies and events that the great majority of it is all men’s opinions and speculations. Jesus is specifically commanding His disciples that “It is not for you to know!” There is far too much emphasis in the church on trying to interpret current events in the light of Scripture instead of focusing on the most important “Christ!” and being witnesses in power.
Acts 1:8 (NASB):But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
You receive spiritual power in such a degree that it is mind-boggling when you are born again. You are filled with all the fullness of God and the exceeding greatness of this power explodes into our lives and the world when we believe.
Receive is the Greek word “lambano” and means to “receive into manifestation.” Power is the Greek word “dunamis” and means “inherent power; power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature; to be able; inherent ability, not physical ability, but power to accomplish a task.” In Acts 1:8, dunamis is associated with the coming of the gift of holy spirit in a person, giving that person the supernatural power capable of accomplishing the task Jesus assigns. So clearly, in the context of the book of Acts, “Divine dunamis” is the power which is necessary for disciples to be witnesses of the Good News.
There can be no witness without the power, the dunamis of the gift of holy spirit living within. Today in the church there are countless attempts to witness with no demonstration of the power received at the new birth.
I Corinthians 2:4,5 (ESV): And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power (dunamis), 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power (dunamis) of God.
Romans 15:18 For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, 19 in the power (dunamis) of signs and wonders, in the power (dunamis) of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ..
The gospel cannot be fully preached outside of the power of the Spirit.
I Corinthians 1:18 (ESV): For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Acts 6:5a,8 (ESV): And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.
Thessalonians 1:5 for our Gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power (dunamis) and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
Ephesians 3:16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power (dunamis) through His Spirit in the inner man,
Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him Who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power (dunamis) that works within us,
Now what kind of power? The gift of holy spirit is the power. This is a most wonderful thing! It is resurrection power. It is the power of a risen Lord, resurrection power, a different kind of power. This power is irresistible. There is no way to oppose it, no way to overthrow it, no way to stop it. Every obstacle thrown in its path is but turned into an opportunity to advance.
It is a glorious kind of power. It does not need any props, does not require outside help, and does not borrow anything from the world. It does not even need a cup of coffee to get started in the morning! And it works best in a cemetery. It operates most visibly where everything is dull and lifeless, and nothing is happening. Anyone who is operating on holy spirit resurrection power can come in and change the whole scene. Resurrection power changes lives from within and not from without. It does not start on the outside, with the environment, or the circumstances, or the external situation; it starts within, and works out, to change the environment ultimately. And it does not separate or divide; it harmonizes, it heals, it draws together and breaks down “middle walls of partition”
(Ephesians 2:14 KJV) that have been standing sometimes for centuries. It batters them down and brings people together, in harmony. It is a totally different kind of power. That is what you receive when you receive the gift of holy spirit.
Now, says Jesus, it will not result in propaganda, either, but witnessing. The church and the individual believer first and foremost are to be witnesses. .You shall not be propagandists, but “my witnesses,” he said. Christians are not like salesmen going out to peddle a product, nor are we recruiters, going around trying to get people to join our religious club. When the church becomes that it has always become a false thing and lost its power. But this has a personal note about it. Jesus says, “You will talk about me, because you will have experienced me. What you will talk about will be what I have done for you.” That is always what a witness talks about. “You won’t be talking about yourselves,” he says, “you will be talking about me.”
The mark of the false church is that it loves to talk about itself. These early Christians never witnessed about the church at all; they witnessed about the Lord, what he could do, how we would work, what a fantastic person he was, how amazing was his power, what he could do in human hearts. The twentieth-century church is too often talking about what the church is, how great it is, what it ought to be doing. It has its eyes focused on itself. But that was not true of the early church. Its eyes were focused on its Lord, and it was a witness to him.
Richard Longenecker summarizes Acts 1:8 observing that it is:
the mandate to witness that stands as the theme for the whole of Acts is explicitly set out. It comes as a direct commission from Jesus Himself—in fact, as Jesus’ last word before His ascension and, therefore, as one that is final and conclusive.
There are two NT words that convey the idea of power, exousia and dunamis, These two words are related in one sense, for the One Who promises the power (dunamis) is the very One to Whom all authority (exousia = “the right and the might”) “in heaven and on earth” has been granted (Mt 28:18)! It follows that His promise of power can be fully trusted because He has full authority to make such an incredible proclamation. May our Heavenly Father be pleased to generate in your inner being a deep, abiding hunger and thirst to experience the continual fullness of the Holy Spirit and the power He provides to live the supernatural life as a dynamic witness for Jesus Christ and His Gospel of grace.
It is nothing else than His spiritual presence, mantling upon His servants; they live in Him; they lose in Him something of their proper personality; they are absorbed into, they are transfigured by, a Life altogether higher than their own; His voice blends with theirs, His eye seems to lighten theirs with its sweetness and its penetration; His hand gives gentleness and decision to their acts; His heart communicates a ray of its Divine charity to their life of narrower and more stagnant affection; His soul commingles with theirs, and their life of thought, and feeling, and resolve is irradiated and braced by His.
“If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode (dwelling, abiding place, resting place, mansion) with him.” (John 14:23)
A witness is one who gives testimony to an event, person or circumstance. So a witness is one who has seen something, experienced something, and heard something.
The greatest evangelist of the 1800’s (and probably of all time) was Dwight L Moody (called “Crazy Moody”) who had only a fifth grade education and yet this Spirit filled and empowered man was used by God to “witness” to more than 100 million souls! Remember that God is not as interested in your ability (to be His witness) but in your availability! Are you available? A witness for Jesus simply needs to tell others what they know to be true. What have you seen that you can relate to others? If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then you have seen Jesus change your life (2 Cor 5:17) and you can tell others what He about this miraculous supernatural transformation!
Barclay: First, a witness is someone who says ‘I know this is true’ In a court of law, hearsay is not accepted as evidence; witnesses must give an account of their own personal experiences. A witness does not say ‘I think so’ but “I know.’
God has structured the Book of Acts in a wonderful way. In the original Bible there were no chapters, and even though the book of Acts has 28 chapters, God has divided the book into eight sections with each section emphasized by a concluding, summary verse. Each one of these concluding summaries builds upon each other and is a statement of the spiritual condition of the church at that time in the book of Acts. Each summary statement is an example of the figure of speech, symperasma, which is a conclusion by means of a brief summary, and is the Holy Spirit’s God breathed emphatic conclusion at the end of each section. These are building blocks for the church to measure its current growth and rise and expansion with the Book of Acts.
The eight sections in the book of Acts are Acts 1:1:-2:47; Acts 2:1-6:7; Acts 6:8- 9:31; Acts 9:32-11:5; Acts 11:6-12:24; Acts 12:25-16:5; Acts 16:6-19:20 and Acts 19:21-28:31.
Let us examine briefly each summary and concluding statement and a few of the highlights in each section of the Book of Acts.
The first section sets forth some foundational truths for the church of Jesus Christ.
Acts 2:38-42: Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.9 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.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 stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
The Greek word rendered “continued stedfastly” – προσκαρτεροῦντες- proskarterountes- means “attending one, remaining by his side, not leaving or forsaking him; to be devoted; to give unremitting care to a thing, to be steadfastly attentive to and to preserve and not faint.” The four areas of steadfast devotion are 1) the apostles’ doctrine, 2) fellowship, 3) breaking of bread, 4) Prayers.
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
The church is to be mighty in turning people from darkness to light from the power of Satan to God and the power of God was manifested in many signs, miracles and wonders.
Mark 16:15-20 (Phillips) Then he said to them, “You must go out to the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. He who believes it and is baptised will be saved, but he who disbelieves it will be condemned. These signs will follow those who do believe: they will drive out evil spirits in my name; they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up snakes, and if they drink anything poisonous it will do them no harm; they will lay their hands upon the sick and they will recover.” After these words to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into Heaven and was enthroned at the right hand of God. They went out and preached everywhere. The Lord worked with them, confirming their message by the signs that followed.
Signs, miracles and wonders follow those who believe. The Lord confirms the witness of the gospel by the signs that follow. The book of Acts is full of amazing miracles of healing and deliverance from devil spirits. I am talking about genuine miracles from the hand of God not this carnival stuff we see today of people being “slain in the spirit.” This is a counterfeit of the true power of God that heals, delivers and sets free. The gospel is to set people free of EVERY bondage, EVERY oppression, and EVERY chain of body, soul, mind and heart. I wonder what would happen in most churches if the power of God moved like that today. We would probably have a lot of heart attacks, shocked expressions and disbelief. But this is the testimony of the Word of God that says signs, miracles and wonders are to be an integral part of the witness for Jesus Christ.
Look at the man lame from birth was healed through Peter. Acts 3:6: “If you are expecting silver or gold,” Peter said to him, “I have neither, but what I have I will certainly give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” We go forth in the church with all the authority of the name of Jesus Christ. Acts 14:33: And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. GREAT POWER and GREAT GRACE are the two great hallmarks of the church.
Acts 5:12,15,16 (NIV): The apostles performed MANY signs and wonders among the people. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and ALL of them were healed.
It was not just the apostles that performed miracles, wonders and signs but every disciple that believed. Stephen was a man chosen to “wait of tables” for the ministry but this did not stop God from working through him.
Acts 6:8 (NIV): Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed GREAT wonders and signs among the people.
Phillip also was a man chosen to wait on tables for the widows.
Acts 8:5-8 (NASB): Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them. 6 The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing. 7 For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 So there was much rejoicing in that city.
Let’s return to the first section concerning some other great truths about the heart of the church.
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
This was happening daily in the church.
FIRST SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION STATEMENT:
Acts 2:47 (KJV): Praising God, and having favour (grace) with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
The foundation of all eight of the summary statements is the phrase “Praising God.”
SECOND SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION STATEMENT:
Acts 6:7: And the word of God continued to increase (auxano-grow), and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
This should be the pattern in the church to get to the Word of God increasing in great growth and disciples multiplying. Acts 6:2-4 (NIV): So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
KEY: Prayer and the Ministry of the Word. We have so many ministries and missions in churches today but how we have neglected the ministry of the Word. We have also failed to understand the amazing power of prayer in both the spirit and with our understanding. O how the church would change if we had its pastors giving their full attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word. The ministry of the Word is often the last ministry that is given attention. But we will give ourselves continually – The original expression used here denotes “intense and persevering” application to a thing, or unwearied effort in it. It means that the apostles designed to make this their constant and main object, undistracted by the cares of life, and even by attention to the temporal needs of the church.
First usage of disciple in Bible: Isaiah 8:16: Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. “Bind up” means to bring close together, to bring the Word of God close to your heart and bind it securely. “To seal” means to keep secure as a treasure. To the disciplined ones, the Word was the greatest treasure of all to be sealed and bound in the depth of one’s heart. John 8:31 “If ye continue in my word, THEN are ye my disciples indeed”
THIRD SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION STATEMENT:
Acts 9:31 (ESV): So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
The churches were edified, had wonderful peace and walked in the fear of the Lord and walked in the comfort of the Holy Spirit were multiplied. Here it is not just disciples, but whole churches that were multiplied.
There is a spiritual crisis of immense proportion in the pulpits and churches around the world today because the fear of the Lord is absent and has long departed out of the church house door. The fear of the Lord is the essential ingredient for the church to live and move in the power of the holy spirit and manifest the glory of God in their walk before Him. Without the fear of the Lord, Christianity crumbles into a heap of spiritual deadness and hardheartedness and its message loses its impact to the change the hearts of people. How many in the church are on their face before a holy God more than they are watching television? How many are desperately seeking the presence of God more than the presence of the internet? How many are on their knees every night crying out to God in prayer for more than a few minutes. If we fear God we will be desperately seeking Him like a thirsty deer pants for water for no cost is too great when it comes to knowing, praising and worshipping our God. We lack a daily holy desperation for our God and to live and breathe our existence in His presence.
The fear of the Lord is such an in depth response to the magnificence of God it is difficult to give an exact definition. It is to have a deep, heartfelt, holy, reverential awe, respect and reverence for God; it is to have a deep reverence and respect for His holy standards of life; a deep admiration and sense of awe and wonder of His attributes, His power, His love and mercy and His greatness; it is to have an acute awareness of the presence of God in all His glory that produces in me a sense of awe and calls forth from me honor, respect and reverence. It is to be in such a holy union with God that we love what He loves and hate what He hates and dare not even think to disobey Him. It is also a holy respect for the judgment of God and a sense of trembling in awe at all of his glory and greatness. It is a deep understanding that God has entrusted much to us and we are accountable to God for our actions and the use of the divine abilities He has given us. It is to deeply understand and stand in awe of the majesty of our God. It is to be forever committed in heart to His standard of righteousness and His standard of justice and refuse to allow any impurity or contamination from the world into our heart. It is to be humbled completely and awed by His holy presence that brings us to our knees before Him.
Oswald Chambers: “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that, when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas, if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.
Also the peace of God was guarding the hearts of the disciples and the church.
FOURTH SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION STATEMENT
Acts 11:21 (ESV): And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
The hand of the Lord represents God’s power and miraculous operation, God’s purposes being carried out, God’s protection and gracious deliverance, and God’s provision. Exodus 15:6: Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power. Thy Right Hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. Joshua 4:24 That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that ye might fear the Lord your God forever. Psalms 31:15a: My times are in thy hand, deliver me from the hand of mine enemies…
There was a great turning of the heart to the Lord away from all else and away from every idol. I Thessalonians 1:9b “They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,”
FIFTH SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION STATEMENT
Acts 12:24 : But the word of God grew and multiplied.
Here it was not disciples or churches but the WORD OF GOD that was MULTIPLYING. Not man’s opinions, philosophies, doctrines, ideas and theories but THE WORD OF GOD. Oh what would happen in Christianity if once again the Word grew and multiplied in the hearts of people?
SIXTH SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION STATEMENT
Acts 16:5: So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in number daily.
Established in the Greek means “to make strong, to make solid, to make firm.” For the churches to be strong, and stand solid and firm in the faith we see the pattern or steps necessary to have a rock-like solid church that is unmovable, unstoppable and steadfast against all obstacles.
The Greek word for “increase” means “abound; come in abundance and overflow into one.” The churches were having an enormous impact in numbers, influence and area. They were overflowing into culture and the hearts of people being a monument to strong, unstoppable faith. EVERY DAY God was increasing their numbers in abundance.
I Peter 5:6-10 (ESV): 1) Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 2) Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8 3)Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 4)Resist him, standing firm (same Greek word) in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen
Only God can restore, make firm, make strong and make steadfast the church. When the churches get rid of their pride and humble themselves before God and start doing the Lord’s work the Lord’s way, casting away all their worries, fears and anxieties on Him and are ever watchful and vigilant against all attacks of the enemy, resisting every attempt of compromise of the truth and stand firm in the faith, then God will establish the church as a firm rock, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. The emergent church which is taking Christianity by storm has allowed the spirit of the world to influence and dominate it as it feels the need to change the truth of the Bible to make it more palpable for our times. It is established in the world not in the word. It has caused the church to be weak and ineffective in its mission of spreading the power and deliverance of the gospel. Jesus is standing at the door of the church and knocking but they refuse to let Him in. They have it all figured out. The church is loaded with ecclesiastical honors and theological degrees but has become the laughing stock of hell. We need a reformation in the church today where we return to Jesus the living word and the Bible the written word and stir up our hearts with unwavering commitment to our Heavenly Father.
Ravenhill: For this midnight hour incandescent men and women are needed. On the day of Pentecost, the flame of the living God became the flame of the human heart. The church began in revival; we are ending in ritual. We started virile; we are ending sterile. Charter members of the Church were men of heat and no degrees; today many hold degrees but have no heat. Ah brethren, flame hearted men and women are the crying need of the hour… the gale of end-time iniquity will blow out a mere human flame and as a dry reed cracks in a storm, will snap fleshly sectarianism’s feeble candle. At the moment a rushing mighty wind of false religion and lukewarm Christianity is lashing the world… God help the nations ruined with man-made religion, cursed with man-made cults and doomed with man-made doctrine. Was there ever such an evil hour? As the Church goes, so goes the world. If the watchmen sleep, the enemy takes the city. Charles Wesley sang: “O that in me the sacred fire might now begin to glow, burn up the dross of base desire and make the mountains flow.” Dr. Hatch cried; “Breathe on me, breath of God till I am wholly Thine, until this earthly part of me glows with thy fire divine.”
Acts 26:18: to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
SEVENTH SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION STATEMENT
Acts 19:20 (KJV): So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.
Mightily- power exerted with an impact. The Word of God was growing with might! With power! The power of God was being energized through the Word of the living God and it was having a crushing impact on sin, Satan and the world. Power was being exerted with the impact of the captives being set free, the chains of bondage being broken, the oppression of the enemy being lifted and the domain of the kingdom of darkness being obliterated. When the Church reflects the culture, watch out! The methods, practices and principles of the Church are to be devoted to God’s instruction and direction. But too often what seems to work so well in the world is simply adopted by the Church in the name of the Kingdom, and no one dares raise an objection. After all, it’s so successful! The church here was breaking the power of witchcraft that had held people in bondage.
EIGHTH SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION STATEMENT
Acts 28:31 (ESV): proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
We must continue to proclaim the kingdom of God and the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and with without hindrance. God is looking for those who will be His, not just workers. But he doesn’t find easily individuals who have given up every right to run their lives and are completely His. The battle against hunger, poverty and the woes of the world is really a spiritual battle, not a physical or social one as secularists would have us believe. The only weapon that will ever effectively win the war against disease, hunger, injustice and poverty is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To look into the sad eyes of a hungry child or see the wasted life of a drug addict is to see only the evidence of Satan’s hold on this world. All bad things in the world are his handiwork. He is the ultimate enemy of mankind, and he will do everything within his considerable power to kill and destroy human beings. Fighting this powerful enemy with physical weapons is like fighting an armored tank with stones. As a church we must rise up to the pattern of the book of Acts and have a true revolution in the church and the world. This can only be done by doing it the Lord’s way as revealed in the Book of Acts.
By Tim Rowe
Goodness of God Ministires