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Why the 1st-century Church Grew as it did versus Growth Today?

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Text: Acts

Thesis: To prove that growth is just as possible today as it was in the 1st-century and that

             the key to it is commitment to Christ.

Introduction:

1)      Today, growth seems to be very stagnate.

2)      Between 1950 and 1965, the United Press International survey revealed that the churches of Christ were the fasting growth church, increasing by 135% (Christian Chronicle – July 14, 1967).

3)      In the 1st-century, 3000 were added to the church in just one day (Acts 2.41) and another 5000 on another (Acts 4.4).

4)      Is it possible to have such growth today in the year 2001? 

5)      Let us look at the reasons why the church grew then and how it can grow now:

Discussion:

I.          Christians then were fully persuaded of their faith.

A.     They lived in a time of intense persecution both from Jews and the Roman Empire; thus, they weighed the cost.

1.  “So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they  

     were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5.41).

2.      “At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem […]” (Acts 8.1).

B.     Therefore, they believed that their faith was to die for and also was convinced that others needed to hear this vital message.

1.   Even in the face of persecution, they went everywhere preaching the word

      (Acts 8.4).

2.      “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts

 4.20).

II.         Christians then faithfully proclaimed their faith.

            A.  They were not afraid to tell the truth like it was.

                  1.   Judaism was prevalent, but they did not change the message so that they

                        and those Jews might be unified in spite of Biblical differences.

2.      The meeting in Acts 15 shows us that they opposed Judaism.

3.      In Acts 11, Peter stands up and declares that the Gentiles are to be accepted.

            B.  Their proclaiming the truth was oftentimes costly.

      1.   In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were cast into prison.

2.      In Acts 7, Stephen was stoned to death for his faith.

III.       Christians then lived in unified fellowship purely.

            A.   “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship” (Acts

                   2.42).

             1.   They all believed that baptism was essential for salvation.

2.      They all believed that one had to be a member of the Lord’s church to go

 to Heaven.      

B.  “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from

      house to house” (Acts 2.46).          

     1.   They knew one another and spent time with one another.

2.      They helped each other out both physically and spiritually.

IV.       We today may follow their pattern.

           

            A.  We must be persuaded of our faith.

                  1.   We must know in whom we believe and be persuaded that He is able (cf. 2

                        Tim. 1.12).     

2.      We must know that the gospel is God’s power unto salvation (cf. Rom.

      1.16).

3.      We must be persuaded that “there is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4.4-6).

B.  We must proclaim these truths unwavering.

      1.   Men today will oppose us and call us narrow-minded, but we must speak

            as the oracles of God (1 Pet. 4.11).

2.      If we compromise the gospel message, then we are to be accursed (Gal.

      1.6-9).

C.     We must be the family of God and live in unity if we expect anyone else to

      become a member of the family.

Conclusion:

1)      We can grow even today!

2)      The key is being committed to Christ and telling others about the one through whom they may have salvation.

3)      Will we rise again to be the church that God wants us to be?

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