Living Like the Early Church
Within a few months to years after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, the church grew from 120 disciples to thousands of believers. The book of Acts records this growth, but the author Luke, is also careful to describe who these people were, what they spent their time doing, and provided a picture of the priorities in their hearts. As I prepared to preach on Acts 9, I found myself overwhelmed by the insight that verse 31 provides us. When I think about an example to follow, the first church is definitely on the list. But don’t think that they are doing something altogether different than what Jesus did. In fact, I’m sure you’ll find, like I did, great similarity between this early church, the 12 disciples, Jesus himself, and the faithful Christians who have followed God in the past 2000 years of church history. I pray that you would be reminded that this is not a checklist of things do to in your own strength. Even the motivation to begin to accomplish these things does not reside within you. Rather, the life of a Christian begins outside of himself, in the movement of God. And God provides the strength and desire to follow Him. Join me as, we seek to join these first Christians in the life God has created for us to live.
Acts 9:31 – 43
v. 31 “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.” This verse has major implications for us today. It is telltale in not just what the church was experiencing but also why they were experiencing it! The church was experiencing peace, encouragement & training, fear, and evangelism.
Then look at what happened:
Acts 9: 32 – 35
32 Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. 34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. 35 And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.
Consider the impact of this miracle: ALL those living in both Sharon and Lydda turned to the Lord simply by seeing Aeneas up and moving! These passages reveal Peter doing what he and the rest of the apostles had watched Jesus do and had been doing themselves since Jesus’ ascension. They are performing miracles and wonders in the name of Jesus! Lk 13:10 – 13 Jesus heals a crippled woman who had spent 18 years in that condition. Mt 9:1-8 tells the story of Jesus healing the paralytic. These are the same things we see Peter doing here in Acts 9! Look at the people’s response in Mt 9: 8. It provides a deeper level of explanation for how and why the believers were experiencing peace, encouragement, training, awe, and people coming to faith. “When the crowds saw it (the miracle), they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.”
Their response was to glorify God! That is to honor, magnify, praise, extol, and celebrate the King of kings!
This is the same thing that is going on with the believers in Acts! The church is in holy awe of God, expressing a deeper and deeper reverence for the Lord and the things He has been doing in and among them. They are loving one another in ways that had never been seen before. The peace of Christ was with them because of their receptivity to the Holy Spirit and God’s movement within each of them.
Are you and I doing these things?
This miracle done through Peter was not isolated from the church. It was brought about through the effectiveness of the church pursuing Christ! Being fiercely united! That word united, in the original language of greek is: homothymadon. It is not a dinosaur. It means being of one accord, one mind, one passion. And that central passion was: Jesus Christ
In Acts 9:36 – 43, Peter raises a woman named Dorcas back to life.
What did Peter do in raising Dorcas? The same thing he witnessed Jesus do to Lazarus in John 11, the ruler Jairus’s daughter in MT 9:23 – 26, and the widow’s son in Lk 7:11-16. Peter prayed over Dorcas body and then called her to rise, and presented her to the saints and the widows alive! The impact of Dorcas being raised from the dead became known throughout all of Joppa and many believed in the Lord.
Do you see the pattern ?
1. Pursue God by reading His word and talking to Him in prayer!
2. Stand in fear (or “Phobos”), total awe and reverence of and devotion to the Lord!
3. Receive the peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding!
4. Enjoy the blessing and encouragement of the Holy Spirit!
5. Experience salvation in the lives of others and watch the church grow!
In the next few weeks, I will be expanding how the scripture teaches us to do this. May the Lord bring us to joyful obedience and grow His church.