Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7). And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord (Acts 11:21). But the word of God grew and multiplied (Acts 12:24).
These passages, and others like them, in the book of Acts highlight the tenacious evangelistic commitment of the first century church and provide a great example for us to follow. Likewise, they encourage us by reminding us of the power of the gospel. Great lessons can be learned by taking note of the context of each of the three passages listed. All three are found in contexts of difficulty or persecution. In Acts 6 a complaint arose because the Hellenists widows were being neglected. The apostles quickly solved the problem and the work of God continued successfully. Acts 11:21 records the conversion of a great number due to the preaching of some who had been scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen. Acts 12:24 describes the aftermath of Herod’s death after having murdered James and attempting to murder Peter.
The early church was greatly challenged but they did not allow the challenges to discourage or defeat them. They had faith and kept pressing on! We must do the same. We are in the midst of a great challenge. We live in an increasingly secular culture, we have civil unrest unfolding throughout our country, and we are struggling through a global pandemic in which there has been boundless misinformation, confusion, and fear and by which some figures in government have sought to limit our ability to worship and serve God together. We cannot allow these things to force us into hiding. Rather, like our first century brethren, we should rise to the occasion and engage in the Lord’s work with more energy and conviction than ever. This is not a time to give up.
– Cody Westbrook