At the start of the book of Acts, the church is growing like crazy. The Holy Spirit has been moving among the new believers and the atmosphere is electric. Acts 2:43 tells us that many wonders and signs were done through the apostles and Luke goes into details about one of those wonders and signs that God was moving in powerful ways. Peter and John were going up to the temple at 3 in the afternoon like they always did for afternoon prayers according to their Jewish tradition. And by God’s divine providence a man crippled from birth is just arriving for his daily job of begging at the gate for money. Luke tells us the man is over 40 and has been set at the gate by family or friends for years.
Chances are that he was at the same gate when Jesus arrived in Passover. But he wasn’t healed then. If I were him I would have been discouraged. His legs were decrepit and folded underneath him. He would have known that Jesus was the healer so when Jesus passed by he must have thought he would have been healed. But he wasn’t.
When he looks at Peter and John, Peter says: “6 “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.” Acts 3:6-7
God moved and people were amazed. This guy was older than many of the people standing around. They had seen him begging for years and now the same guy with the bad legs is dancing like he is auditioning for Jerusalem’s Got Talent.
The guy clung to Peter and John after his dance and all the commotion attracted a crowd. So Peter preached to them. He explained who Jesus is, that he is the Messiah, and that he came to heal, forgive, and save. Verse 16 records Peter saying:
“16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.” Acts 3:16
Peter made it clear that this man was healed by faith in Christ. God was moving. He was moving through the apostles and moving through the people. And when God moves the enemy fights back. All that good preaching caused the Pharisees who were inside the gate to get nervous so they arrested Peter and John. They were angry that the man was healed and that Peter and John would not stop speaking about Jesus.
You need to know that the same God that healed the crippled man and empowered the apostles still moves today. Because God still moves, seek a move of God in your life. Do you need wisdom? Boldness? Reassurance that you matter? Do you need spiritual healing? Emotional healing or physical healing? Pray with expectations for God to move. That is a faith filled prayer. Lifeless prayers are prayers with no expectation for God to move.
When God moves, expect others to be curious when God moves. The crippled man who received healing drew a crowd. Why? Because people want to see God move. We all long to see God move.
Some people will respond in faith. They will develop a thirst for God just because of what they have seen God do in you. Others will respond to God moving in your life like the Pharisees. They will opposes the work God has done in you. You can expect opposition when God moves.
Don’t give up on God because your miracle may still be in process. The man who received healing was 40. He had gone to the temple every day. How many times did that guy ask God to heal him? How many times did he pray that God would let him take just one step?
If you are seeking God and praying for Him to move in your life taking a step forward to have someone pray for you might be your first step of faith towards seeing God move in your situation. Your miracle may still be in process. Thirst for God to move in your life and when he does, boldly live for His glory.
The church began to explode with growth on Pentecost when Peter preached to the masses about the resurrected Christ. As soon as he finished his message 3000 people came to faith and the church grew and grew from there. What did these new disciples do? They formed the early church and made disciples.
The church was started by Jesus to fulfill five distinct purposes that are revealed in Acts 2:42-46. And I believe that Freshwater can become healthier, stronger, and more effective by focusing on the five purposes of the church.
Acts 2:42-47 shows us the first purpose of the church is to reach people for Christ. This happens when believers share their faith reaching out with the gospel. This is evangelism. The primary purpose of the church at all times and in all contexts is to bear witness to the work of Jesus Christ. The church has a mission to proclaim the incarnation, atonement, and exaltation of Jesus Christ to all people. This is not just a historical fact it is also a present reality. The same Jesus who took away the sins of the world by his death on the cross still takes away the sins of people today. He was crucified once for all and is raised again. The church lives out this reality and you live out this reality by practicing forgiveness, showing love, and living transformed lives. The best witness is a human soul transformed by the living God into a walking witness.
The second purpose of the church is to connect in relationship with other believers.
The biblical word for connect is fellowship. Acts 2:42 says: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship.” The Greek word for fellowship is koinonia. The essential meaning of koinonia is: community, communion, joint participation, held in common, partnership, sharing and intimacy. In verse 46 we are told the believers ate together with glad and sincere hearts. Christians are called to belong not just believe.
Another purpose of the church is to equip believers to grow spiritually. In Acts 2:42 we read: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching….” This is discipleship. Discipleship is the process of helping people grow in their faith by becoming more like Christ in their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Spiritual growth happens by intention.
The fourth purpose is to serve others by ministering to them. When we serve one another we are demonstrating God’s love to others by meeting their needs in Jesus name. The church exists to minister to all kinds of needs: spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical. Every time you reach out to others in the name of Jesus you are ministering to them.
The last purpose of the church mentioned in Acts 2 is to honor Christ by living a lifestyle of worship. Acts 2:42 tells us the early believers devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, the breaking of bread as in celebrating the Lord’s Supper or communion, and prayer. In verse 47 we read the believers were praising God. These are all acts of worship. It doesn’t matter if we are with a group of people or by ourselves.
We worship God when we reach out and witness to the world. We worship God when we connect with other Christians. We worship God when we grow in our faith. When we serve others and we worship when we are generous with what the LORD has blessed us with. Worship is a way of life not an hour in the week. Whenever we worship we are honoring God.
What happened when the church fulfilled the five purposes? “everyone was filled with Awe.” Acts 2:43 “People got saved and the lord added daily to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47
Jesus loves the church! He started the church, died for the church, was raised for the church, is glorified by the church, and will return for the church. I love the church because the church is God’s chosen method of reaching the world with the Gospel. As long as there are people living apart from Christ we have work to do. This is us, we are the church and we are called to raise the spiritual climate of the community.
The book of Acts is the story of the church. This is the story of us. Jesus started his church. He is the founder, CEO, leader, and King. He commissioned his disciples to make disciples. You and I are here, here and now, because other people throughout history took Jesus command to make disciples seriously. The church today is a continuance of the church that began way back in Jerusalem around 33 AD.
At the time of the book of Acts, Jesus had been recently crucified and resurrected from the dead. Person after person had seen Jesus alive, they had heard him speak, and the disciples had even had a chance to eat with him. Enough people had seen him that they were creating quite a buzz. Acts 1:9 tells us that Jesus ascended into heaven then several of the apostles walked back to Jerusalem which was about a mile away from the Mount of Olives.
Fifty days later the Feast of Weeks is being celebrated for God’s provision of blessing. The disciples gathered again in the upper room where they had eaten their last supper with Jesus. And this was when the Holy Spirit came to bless the people with the birth of the church.
Looking back to prophecy and forward to the promise of the Holy Spirit were Christ’s last words on earth before His ascension into heaven. Pentecost signals the beginning of the church age. This was the first time they heard the gospel with clarity for the first time. The Holy Spirit enabled them to have understanding and clarity about the Word of God. The power of the Holy Spirit had come and the church age had begun.
The Bible reveals that the Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity. One God, three parts. The Holy Spirit is divine, He is fully God. He is eternal, omniscient, and omnipresent.
The Holy Spirit is a person the same as God the Father and God the Son Jesus Christ. This is a longstanding doctrine of Christian theology. The concept of a triune God is referred to as the trinity. The three are one yet distinct in form and function.
The Holy Spirit has three specific functions in the life of a believer. The Holy Spirit functions as a comforter. According to Romans 8:14-16 the Holy Spirit comes along side believers when they are down or need comfort. The Holy Spirit also functions as our counselor. The Holy Spirit is often referred to as a Counselor to guide us and direct us in our thoughts and in our actions to follow the will of God for our lives. Third, the Holy Spirit functions as our advocate. The Holy Spirit does more than just comfort and counsel us. The Holy Spirit actually gives us the courage to do what God calls us to do as our advocate. This means that the Holy Spirit enables us to live a righteous life in a world full of unrighteousness. He will give you the power to turn from darkness and flee from sin.
The Holy Spirit brings the Word alive in the life of believers. When the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, Peter preached and the Word of God resonated in the hearts of 3,000 people. Prior to this they may have been spiritually interested, but felt no conviction. They came from all different backgrounds and once the Holy Spirit came they all became one body of believers.
The Holy Spirit empowers believers to live a holy life. The Holy Spirit tugs on our heart to make the right decisions and act in accordance with God’s will and His ways. The Holy Spirit convicts us, it doesn’t condemn us.
The Holy Spirit enables believers to fulfill their holy calling. Once the Word of God becomes active in your life and you are empowered to live a holy life then you need to fulfill your holy calling. The Holy Spirit doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.
I believe that there is a God, that this God can be known through Jesus Christ, and that Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit to indwell the believer convicting of sin and helping them live a better life that brings glory to God. The Holy Spirit is part of the story of us. Without the Holy Spirit believers would not be empowered to preach the gospel and live it out.