The book of Acts is one of my favourites. I am encouraged to read how God works through his followers to bring people of all nations to himself. The book of Acts is like a church growth manual.
How did the church grow? One example is found in chapter five. The apostles were given gifts from God to perform signs and wonders (v. 12). And “men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number“ (v. 14). Because of this, even more, “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” (v. 15).
God’s power was seen in these ways so that people would believe.
Was this church growth easy? The religious leaders of that time “were filled with jealousy…arrested the apostles and put them in jail” (vv. 17-18). God’s dramatic power was revealed when he sent an angel to open “the doors of the jail” and bring them out (v. 19). The authorities “found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors” and no one inside (v. 23). The leaders ordered the apostles to stop teaching about Jesus, but when the apostles did not stop, “they were furious and wanted to put them to death” (vv. 28, 33). They had the apostles flogged and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus (v. 40).
What was the response of the believers? Peter and the apostles told the religious leaders, “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (v. 29) Amazingly, the apostles were “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the name” of Jesus (v. 41). And day after day, “they never stopped proclaiming the good news.” (v.42)
What can our response be? Peter declared that the Holy Spirit was given by God “to those who obey him” (v. 32). Let us be believers who obey God so that his Holy Spirit will bring people to Jesus.
God, may your Spirit give us the power to help people around us. May your Spirit give us the strength to show kindness to those in need. May your Spirit cause us to rejoice when we suffer in the name of Jesus. We want all people to know about new life in Jesus (Acts 5:20). Amen.
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