God Grows His Church
Thursday - May 13th
Scripture to Read Today: Acts 2:36-41
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
When we live and love like Jesus and communicate the Gospel message to others, God grows His church! The purpose of the local body of believers is not to grow for the sake of growth, but the result of a local church being outwardly focused leads to God growing His church. We must understand the distinction.
We do not do what we do as a local expression of Christ's church to gain numbers of people. We reveal the reality of Christ through our lives being transformed into His image. We proclaim the truth of Christ with our lips. As we do, God does what only He can do. He calls people to Himself through salvation in His Son. The Lord adds others to His family. He multiplies the number of His followers. God grows His church.
The Book of Acts appropriately follows the four Gospels in the order of books in the New Testament. As the Gospels conclude with the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, Acts picks up with ascension and focuses on the church's birth and early story.
In Acts chapter one, Christ ascends to the Father in Heaven. Before He does so, He tells His disciples to wait together in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come. The Holy Spirit comes upon the followers of Christ about ten days after Jesus went to the Father. As they were filled and empowered by the Spirit, the church of Jesus Christ was born.
When they leave the Upper Room, the followers of Christ go out with energy and boldness marked by signs and wonders. As they communicate to those gathered in Jerusalem from all over the Roman Empire that day for the festival of Pentecost, what they say is understood by those who hear in their own language. Peter preaches a bold message of Jesus of Nazareth being the Messiah (the Christ) spoken of by Moses, David, and the prophets. The Jewish listeners gathered from around the world hear the message, and many believe!
The group of about 120 who had been waiting in the Upper Room for the arrival of the Holy Spirit quickly grows. They did not leave the Upper Room and start sharing Christ with others to grow bigger as a group. They merely wanted to share the good news of the hope found in Jesus! But, as they do, many are added to the church that very day. "Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day" (Acts 2:41).
The rest of the Book of Acts records how the Gospel spread and the church grew from Jerusalem to Judea, from Judea to Samaria, and from Samaria to the ends of the earth. Statements throughout the book emphasize people being added to the church. Other reports describe disciples being multiplied. As the church did what God called the church to do, it grew.
God grew His church as Christians remained focused on living and loving like Jesus AND sharing the Good News of the Gospel. Church history has proven that when a local church gets so consumed with themselves and no longer emphasizes an outward focus, growth stops. No one is being added, and no multiplication occurs. Stagnation sets in, and that local body of believers becomes ineffective for Christ! It is sad when that happens!
How about you? Are you keeping an outward focus as you live your Christian life? Do you want to see others come to Jesus as Savior and join in His Kingdom mission through the local church? If you are obsessed with you or with maintaining some Christian clique that you refer to as a church, then Satan will have the advantage.
Find someone to serve, love, help, encourage, or share Christ with today! Stay outwardly focused in your life, and your church will stay outwardly focused too!
When we do what God calls us to do as part of His church, He grows His church!