The NT365 Experiment: Acts 4 and 5

Acts 4 and 5 continue the story of the beginning of the New Testament Church. What began as a small group in an upper room in Jerusalem has quickly spread to a large group of people who are dedicated to the Way of Christ.

In their story, these early Christians modeled the three dimensions of the Christian life. Those dimensions are:

  1. Each of them had a personal commitment to Christ as their Lord. They were committed to him. Their relationship with him was deeply personal (2:37-39, 42).
  2. They had a commitment to one another. They held this faith in Christ in common. There was a uniqueness to their fellowship. It was a common life in the Lord Jesus Christ. They were accountable to one another. They were to care for one another. They were responsible for discipling one another in the gospel life (4:32-37).
  3. They were devoted to the cause of Christ in the world in which they lived. They were to be about the advancement of the kingdom of Christ on earth and the establishment of his will among all men. They were on that mission together (4:34-36;  the converse is 5:1-11).

Any attempt to live the Christian life without one of these three dimensions falls short and leaves us lacking. We are saved by Christ for Christ to be a part of his people and to work to accomplish his purposes. The New Testament Christians knew nothing of an individualized Christian faith that is to be lived in isolation. They lived, worked, worshipped, and ministered Christ’s grace together.

Further, I would note one other theme that is written all over Acts 2-5.

Spiritual Awakening

Luke wrote the theme of spiritual awakening throughout his narrative from the time of Peter’s sermon on. The formula for this awakening is: the gospel is proclaimed (either with or without a miraculous sign) + gathered people listening intently + conviction of sin = spiritual awakening in the soul. It’s that simple. Or, is it? Is there more to it? Yes!

Luke tells us that there is more to spiritual awakening than following a formula. There is yet only one active ingredient in the spiritual awakening process. It is the Holy Spirit, not any of those things mentioned above. The earliest Christians couldn’t ensure spiritual awakening any more than we can. They had to rely upon the Holy Spirit. We do too. We can prepare for awakening. We can fulfill our responsibility for spiritual awakening by proclaiming the gospel and gathering people. But, only he can convict people of their sin. Only he can bring about awakening.

These early Christians witnessed a special display of the Holy Spirit. The sought him out. They were faithful to proclaim the truth. They lived their faith. He decided to grace them with his presence. The call for us today is to imitate the early believers our faithfulness to proclaim the truth, to gather people, to live our faith, to pray for the Spirit to bring about conviction of sin and boldness (4:23-31). But, we are to wait on the Holy Spirit. We are to trust him to accomplish his purposes. Let us not be discouraged. Rather, let us be encouraged. Let us wait on him expectantly. Let us seek spiritual awakening by seeking Christ and his kingdom (Mathew 6:33).

 

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