In Matthew 16:18 Jesus promised to establish His Church. This glorious event took place on the Day of Pentecost. The book of Acts tells us on that day the God of Heaven launched the Church of Christ.
Our remarks for this article will come from Acts 4. In the first few chapters of Acts we are told how the early church centered her ministries in the city of Jerusalem. They had not ventured out as Jesus had commanded in Acts 1:8. The narrative centers on the ministry of Peter and John. In the 3rd chapter they had just healed the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple.
We would like spend some time on each of the five reasons for church growth that we have gleaned from this chapter. If we are willing to see how the early church existed among the Jewish, Roman, and Greek cultures, and implement their techniques, we too, can experience church growth. It will also help us work for the unity of all believers in Christ.
The Early Church Preached the Right Message
In Acts 4:2 we read the following: “being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” As the Apostles were teaching, opposition arose from the Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection from the dead. There are many today who do not believe in the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Sadly, that includes some who claim to be Christians. It took then, and takes today, boldness to proclaim the resurrection. We must proclaim it from our pulpits and with all we come in contact. The early church stressed the importance of proclaiming the resurrection of the Lord of Glory, The resurrection is the driving force behind the Gospel. It should be the basis of our message.
Jesus proved Himself to be the Christ through the resurrection. It makes the church and her mission strong. We should declare it as the bedrock of the Christian faith. If Chrsit did not rise form the dead, we are dead in our sins and have no hope of Heaven. The resurrection of Jesus demonstrated that God’s power was greater than that of Satan. The resurrection of Jesus is the most essential element of the Christian faith.
The Early Church Preached the Right Name
In Acts 4:12, we read: Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” This passage declares that salvation is in the Name of Jesus Christ. When the Bible uses the expression “in the Name of,” as used here and in Acts 2:38, it means by the authority of. Many are saying today that it does not matter what you believe in or who you believe in. This is not the case. A world that is under the sentence of death need a redeemer. In John 14:6 we read: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. The early church declared that Jesus was the hope of the world. Let’s lift up Jesus to a dying world. Let the world know what Jesus means to us. Jesus offers the only hope there is!
The Early Church Had Boldness in Defense of the Truth.
The Sanhedrin had commanded Peter and John not to preach about the resurrection under threat of punishment. In this passage we see the boldness of the apostles. They were ready to go anywhere and everywhere in defense of the Gospel. What is the “Good News?” I 1 Cor. 15, sometimes called the resurrection chapter, verse1-4 tell us that Gospel consists of the fact that Jesus died and was buried and that He rose from the dead. Let’s look at the boldness of the apostles and seek to have that same kind of boldness today.
We must know what we believe and why. We must believe that the Word of God is inerrant and infallible. If we know what we believe and why we can have boldness in presenting the Gospel to a lost world. In Jude 3 there is a passage that fits the situation, “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
The early Church was a Praying Church
After Peter and John had been released by the Sanhedrin they went back to the rest of the apostles and fellow believers to give a report o what had transpired. Verse 24-31 record that the early Chruch was a praying church. In Acts 4:29 we read: “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,” They believed in the power of prayer and also of answered prayer. Many of the great figures of the Old and New Testament were people of prayer. God has told us to pray. If we pray, knowing that God hears, and expecting that God will answer in a way that will bring glory to His Name, we can have a victorious prayer life. Remember, it is our Creator that we are talking to. If we can recapture the prayer life of the early church we can better stimulate church growth.
The Early Church was One in Christ
Verse 32 tells us that the early church was one. The Church of Christ was ready to work together in her mission to reach the lost with the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
If we are willing to learn from the experiences of the early church, we can have church growth. The early church spread across the known world. Everywhere Christians went the preached the Word. If we, today, can put the into practice the methods used by the early church, we can have church growth.