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“WHAT THE BOOK OF ACTS TEACHES US ABOUT CHURCH GROWTH”

04 Feb

WHY DID FIRST CENTURY CHURCHES GROW SO FAST?

Intro.

1.  Striking fact found over & over in Acts: Phenomenal spread of the gospel – 2:41; 4:4; 5:14; 6:7 – Impact of gospel on world.

2.  Even with persecution (designed to stop growth), the number of believers grew – 9:35; 11:21. Approx. 15 years after Pentecost, the number of believers was still growing – cf. 14:1.

  a.  All this from just 12 men! (Mk. 16:15)

  b.  Col. 1:23, 6 – All creation heard (30 years)

3.  Church grew fast initially & continually.  How did this occur?  Why did first century churches grow so fast?

 

I.  NOTE SOME THINGS WHICH WERE NOT IN THEIR FAVOR.

  A.  Most People Rejected The Gospel – Matt. 7:13-14. (Christians have always been in the minority.)

  B.  Moral Decadence Of The Society – Rom. 1:24-32. (Would appear to be a reasonable explanation for little growth.)

    1.  v. 24 – Lust ruled in uncleanness.

    2.  v. 25 – Man reigned supreme.

    3.  v. 26-27 – Vile passions / Homosexuality.

    4.  v. 28 – Refused to know God.

    5.  v. 29-32 – Such immorality led to this!

    6.  In spite of false religions – church grew!

      a.  Ephesus:

        i.  Diana: Ceremonial prostitution / Religious fornication!

        ii.  Yet, growth – Acts 19:20.

      b.  Corinth:

        i.  “Live like a Corinthian” – Lead a life of drunken & immoral debauchery; Bacchus (god of wine) – Drunken feasts.

        ii.  Aphrodite (goddess of love/beauty) – 1000 priestesses (prostitutes).

        iii. Typical Corinthian: “The man who recognized no superior & no law but his own desire.” Yet, growth! Acts 18:9-10

    7.  In spite of immorality – church grew!

      a.  Given today as the reason for little growth!

      b.  Matt. 9:12-13; 1 Cor. 6:9-11 – These need conversion!

  C.  Active Opposition To The Truth – Acts 4:17-18; 5:28; 8:1-3; 14:2-6.

    1.  From without:

      a.  Religious opposition / Physical persecution.

      b.  Idolatry (Acts 19:23-40); Judaism.

    2.  From within:

      -False teachers (Acts 15:1).

    3.  Reaction of disciples: Persistence / Not ashamed / Growth continued (not their excuse to do nothing)!

      a.  Moved ahead – Acts 4:19-20; 5:40-42; 8:4; 14:7.

      b.  Glorified God – 1 Pet. 4:12-16!

II.  THE NT CHURCHES GREW (Acts 9:31)…

  A.  Because Of Steadfast Faith (Persistence, firmness).

    1.  Steadfast in the word – Acts 2:42.

      a.  Studied it – 2 Tim. 2:15.

      b.  Were teaching it – Acts 5:42.

      c.  Were not ashamed of it – Rom. 1:16.

    2.  Steadfast in their fellowship – Acts 2:42.

      a.  Worshipped regularly & together! Didn’t have to be rebuked to get them to worship God! (20:7)

      b.  Dwelt continually on death of Jesus! United in faith.

    3.  Steadfast in service – Acts 2:44-47.

  B.  Because Of Personal Evangelism.

    1.  Fruit-bearers – Rom. 7:4; Jno. 15:2, 8.

      -One type of fruit is teaching others.

    2.  Took the great commission personally – Acts 8:4; 17:6; 28:22 (everywhere!).

    3.  Takes the personal involvement of every Christian!

  C.  Because They Kept The Church Clean.

    1.  Acts 5:1-11 – lst church discipline – By God Himself!

      -Result: Acts 5:5, 11, 12-14.

    2.  Acts 8:22 – New convert sinned – Immediate rebuke.   -Positive result (repented)!

    3.  Purposes: Save & protect – 1 Cor. 5:3-6.

    4.  We need to be serious about church discipline, using it constantly & consistently as a means of saving souls & to maintain the purity of the church.

Conclusion

1.  NT churches grew so fast because Christians were fully given to their faith.

  a.  Steadfast living / Personal evangelism / Kept the church clean.

  b.  They were diligent in all things – Rom. 12:11.

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1 Comment

Posted by on February 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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One response to ““WHAT THE BOOK OF ACTS TEACHES US ABOUT CHURCH GROWTH”

  1. Eugene Adkins

    February 4, 2012 at 3:18 am

    Excellent article/outline…I think I may “borrow” this one and preach it.

     

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