What if a brand new local church congregation suddenly grew by 3,000 new believers, most of whom were visiting from other countries that had no churches of any kind yet? Would it be wise for us to send them all back to their homelands quickly without any time spent for their genuine discipleship?
These kinds of questions relate to what happened with the first church in Israel; which the Lord Jesus had been preparing for over three years. Who were these very first church members and what could they bring to the table to help disciple and provide for 3,000 new believers – from out of town – so they could have time to grow in the Lord’s ways? From the Gospels, we know that Jesus had 11 well trained apostles (i.e. after Judas checked himself off the list), most of whom were not from Jerusalem where the first congregation would be gathering. We also know of 70 trained witnesses that The Lord had sent out to minister two by two. Then there were the 120 men written about in Acts 1 who were probably also part of the 500 eyewitnesses to His resurrection, mentioned earlier; as well as His earthly family, Mary and His sisters and four brothers. Short story shorter, the first congregational members were no doubt compromised of folks mentioned in Luke 24:52-53, who were “continually in the temple praising and blessing God” until the day of Pentecost came.
We can learn from this congregation’s story in Acts without too much guessing as to how they lived communally for eight years; that is until persecution scattered the membership, forcing many to return to their homelands. They took the Gospel with them and no doubt planted more new congregations around the Empire.
How would we respond if such a great harvest happened here in Granbury? Would we willingly lay down our lives for those whom some may want to label as “foreigners”? Such questions are sobering but the answers may be related to why “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” This church was a safe place for them. May The Lord make us the kind of people whom He can trust to add lots of lost folks to. In the meantime, perhaps we should begin by asking what can we do for one, two or few?
Am I ready to be used by God at the expense of my own convenience?
Is there any prejudice in my own heart towards unbelievers of any race or persuasion?
Why wait on a book-of-Acts-harvest when there are needs all around that I can help meet?
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