I am personally very glad we are reading the book of Acts right now. The regular news about the state of the church in America is pretty dismal. Not only is there a steady decline in attendance and involvement, but we are witnessing the erosion of devotion and character, which should be a hallmark of God’s church. I believe some of this erosion is the result of the church, at large, moving away from Biblical fidelity and more toward convenience. When this happens, we rely less on God’s Word and His power, and more on personal comfort and political maneuvering. The early church didn’t have this option, or luxury. From the beginning, Jesus’ followers were outsiders and being faithful to God cost them dearly. As a result, the church banded together to support and encourage each other to trust God, be courageous and remain faithful. When they did this, God granted them great favor, and empowered them to stand strong. He always gives us the power we need to fulfill the purposes He has for us, even if the task ahead seems insurmountable. In the first two chapters of Acts we see this on full display. Here are a few verses that make this clear:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 (NLT)
[Soon after Peter and the others resist their fear and take the message of Jesus to the people who had Jesus killed]
Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. Acts 2:14 (NLT)
Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins, turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received forgiveness for your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” 41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all. Acts 2:37-41 (NLT)
Can you imagine if all churches in the US/world truly relied on God and His power today? I can, and it would be amazing!