church notes: Faith & Growth x Pastor Nathaniel Wright

“And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
Acts 2:40-47 NKJV

The ultimate measure of a church is the number of people it saves. We find ourselves in an interesting place where we want to grow our faith, but we struggle with witnessing and sharing our faith effectively with those who need to knowledge of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is always effective, but we have to make it infectious.

If faith and growth are going to occur, there has to be a seriousness of witness. The disciples were of one accord when the Holy Spirit came, but when it came, they went out into the street. When something happens inside of you, it can’t help but show on the outside. When the Holy Spirt came into the church, the church grew exponentially. Preaching just Jesus still worked then and still works now, even when gimmicks and substitutes fail. The story of His Resurrection should never get old; there’s power in the Gospel.

The Bible says that the disciples devoted themselves. The Church’s growth is connected to how much our ourselves we’re willing to give to the Lord. God is interested in you, because if He has you, He has your stuff. He has your time, your tithe, your prayer, your worship. He didn’t die for your creature comforts, just you. The apostles took the power of their witnessing so seriously that they wanted to ensure that new converts had that same power. You don’t receive this power to abuse it, you receive it to be a witness. The apostles’ doctrine enabled believers to be witnesses, and to be independent, going out to be used by God.

It’s easy to fall in love with the personality, the character behind the microphone, but Acts 2 says it’s not about who, but what. Every time people raise an idol, God deals with the idol and the people. And regardless of how people are, your commitment should be to the Lord. As witnesses, we all have testimonies. It doesn’t have to be unbelievable to be effective, it just has to be authentic. Testimonies can be simple and small, but they’re not mere stories, they’re expressions of the power and work of God in your life. Somebody needs to know that God is able to bless “even me”. Witnesses testify; let the jury do as it will.

Faith and growth are also connected to the sacredness of our fellowship. There’s more to fellowship than food. It’s an opportunity for believers to spend time together, sharing the Lord’s Supper, prayer, and testimonies. We have to build the relationships necessary to trust one another. Fellowship is sacred, which means it’s not optional. Not everything traditional is sacred, but everything sacred should be traditional. The Bible emphasizes the importance of fellowship, because signs, wonders, and miracles follow it. If the Church is going to have signs, wonders, and miracles, it needs to be unified. It needs to be maturing and growing. It’s beyond “too blessed to be stressed”, it’s the full expression of the power of God. We can’t do things on our own, broken as we are. We have to come together. The Church is made up of a variety of expressions and experiences, but we were all washed by the same blood.

If there’s sacredness in fellowship, you should be careful of who you fellowship with. You shouldn’t mind people getting to know you, asking people to pray for you. The people you fellowship with should be people who recognize that all of us will need grace and mercy. As saved as you are, you’ve had some good days and some bad days. You cannot grow into the person that God desires you to be without people of God around you, praying for you, sustaining you. And this isn’t just for the saints that you like; we’re all connected.

There is a blessing in fellowship, in getting together. Psalms opens up saying blessed is the one who doesn’t walk the evil way, but stays in the Lord. When we fellowship, God fellowships with us. Where two or three are gathered in His name, He’ll be in the midst.

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.’

There is the solidarity of sacrifice in fellowship. The church cannot grow if everybody isn’t sacrificing. The same unity in Verse 1 is in Verse 44. The addition of people to church does not change the mindset of the church. We often don’t know how to act when we get more, because we forget where and what the Lord has brought us from. For us to get more from Christ, we need more of Him, which means having less of us. We have to be good stewards and manage what we currently have. We have to make sure that the least of us has enough. It’s impossible to fellowship with believers, see a need, and not meet the need. That’s what God does for us when He fellowships with us. Nobody told the disciples to sell anything; they followed the urging of the Holy Spirit to be a blessing. Giving the way that they did was a way for them to be like God. Everybody gave something; giving is not something to do alone. When everyone’s giving/tithing/acting out of service, nobody gets burned out. You shouldn’t feel like you need time off from church, like you need to step away from where God is, but if members of the church aren’t stepping up, everybody else will get pulled down. 

God adds daily. Everyday I receive my bread. Because of His mercy, I am not consumed. Today is the day that the Lord has made, that He is providing joy, providing love, that He is adding on to me what I never thought possible. He is the one that healed me, He is the one that renewed my mind, He is the one that continues to work on me. I’m growing and going in the name of the Lord. God sees your need and responds, daily. He is a clear and present help in times of trouble, daily. He will do what needs to be done. 

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