One cannot read the book of Acts without being impressed with the rapid growth of the church after her establishment. We see the church growing spiritually and numerically. Both are important! God wants His church to grow. The purpose of this article is to not to promote a particular method, but to suggest a couple of areas on which we must focus if we want to see the church grow. Let me suggest first that we must develop a mind to grow. I am afraid that Satan has convinced us that people aren’t interested and there is little or nothing that we can do to change that. If the church is going to grow we must truly believe that it can. We must believe that God is still able to do amazing things through His church. Do we still believe Rom. 1:16? Do we still believe Matt. 11:28-30? Do we believe that Jesus is the answer to the problems of life? Do we really believe that people are lost without the gospel? We need to develop the passion that Christ, the Apostles and the early church had for the lost. Secondly, we must have the proper message: It was a message that included the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20:27) The message of the early church was Christ centered, convicted men of sin, called them to repentance and then provided the solution for sin. Furthermore, it challenged false religions. It challenged people to make sacrifices for the cause of Christ. It was an uncompromising message. It did not reach out and embrace every religious vies and lifestyle. There was an exclusiveness about the message that made it appear “narrow minded” to many who heard it (Acts 4:12). It was a message of good news centering on Christ and especially the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. People need the good news. They need to know that Jesus loves us, left the glories of heaven, died a horrible death on the cross and conquered death that we might have the good life now and eternal life in the end. Finally; It was a proclaimed message. Early Christians went everywhere preaching the word (Acts 8:4) They had the “good news” and they wanted the world to hear it! They felt compelled to proclaim it (Acts 4:19-20; 8:4). We live in difficult times and reaching people with the gospel is not easy, but if we will develop the mind to grow taking the message of Christ to all who will listen, the church can still grow! May God help to not allow Satan to discourage us and convince us not to grow, but to practice these biblical principles and allow God to work through us and His Word.
-Steve Snyder (edited for space)
I once baptized a 70 year-old man who had learned the truth as a teen but had never obeyed the gospel. For more than 50 years he had lived a life of guilt, anxiety and fear - knowing that he was lost. So many people believe they can postpone their decision to follow Jesus. You will never find peace in your life until you resolve the matter of your soul’s salvation. Postponing important decisions often leads to tragic results. A person who is sick can put off going to the doctor until it is too late to be cured. A person who is lost can put off coming to Christ until it is too late to be saved. Many will be lost because of indecision. You may say “I haven’t yet decided about becoming a Christian.” But in reality, you have already decided - you’ve said no. The fact that you don’t want to admit it, shows that you know that your decision is wrong. There are many reasons why you should become a Christian - Today.
BECAUSE LIFE IS SHORT Those who put off their obedience make a dangerous assumption - that they will have more opportunities. But, “we know not what will be tomorrow. For, what is your life? It is a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)
BECAUSE DEATH IS CERTAIN Solomon said “the living know that they shall die.” So do we - we just don’t know when.
BECAUSE HEAVEN AWAITS THOSE WHO ARE SAVED “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those that love Him.” (I Cor. 2:19)
BECAUSE HELL AWAITS THOSE WHO ARE NOT God does not wish for anyone to perish, but for all to repent. (II Peter 3:9) He will, however, take vengeance on those who do not obey the gospel. (II Thes. 1:8)
BECAUSE THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS THE BEST LIFE ONE CAN LIVE Follow Jesus and you will know true joy, peace, and happiness. The choice is yours, “but for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
There is an old Indian proverb: “Pray to God, but keep rowing against the rocks.” What does it mean? God helps those who help themselves? Or perhaps as someone has written, “Pray as if everything depends on God; work as if everything depends on you.” I thought of this proverb as I was reading the gospel accounts of Jesus’ walking on the sea. (John 6:15-21; Mark 6:45-48) It was a very pressing time in the ministry of Jesus. He was besieged by crowds of people, some of whom wanted to hear him preach; many others who were drawn by the bread He fed the 5,000. Some things were getting out of hand. Jesus perceived that some wanted to take him by force and make him their king. Jesus needed reprieve…he went to the mountain alone, to spend time in prayer. Before he left, he saw his disciples off as they got into the boat to go before Him to Bethsaida on the other side of the lake. As they reached the middle of the sea, in the night, a storm arose because a great wind was blowing. It was dark and Jesus had not come to them. They had been rowing for hours, a distance of three or four miles. They certainly were wondering where Jesus was (on another occasion they asked ‘Master, do you not care that we perish? (Mark 4:38) But Jesus was well aware of their struggles. Mark says “He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them.” (Mark 6:48) Where was Jesus when they struggled? What was he doing? He was watching. He was praying. Then, about the fourth watch of the night, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. They were troubled, but Jesus told them, “It is I, do not be afraid.” When they willingly received him into the boat, the storm passed and they were safely on the other side. Surely there are truths here to keep in mind as we are confronted by the storms in our life. It is not too difficult to offer platitudes and prayers to God when the waters of life are still and peaceful, but when the winds blow and the waves begin to toss, we become afraid. We cry out to God; as well we should! What happens when the answer to those prayers is not immediate? Where is Jesus? Does he know about our struggles? Does he care? O yes, he cares! “My Jesus knows when I am lonely, He knows each pain, He sees each tear; He understands each lonely heartache, He understands because He cares.” So then, what is Jesus doing? When his disciples struggled in the boat – he watched, and he prayed. I must assume that is what he is doing when we are struggling. So then, what can we do? What must we do? We must keep on rowing. There is a lot about life that can be described as just keeping on rowing. It is a struggle to raise a family – a difficult economy may make it a struggle to keep a roof over our head and food on the table. The demands of raising children can be great. What can we do? Just keep on rowing. It is challenging to live the Christian life. There are times when other people (our neighbors, friends, fellow-workers, and even our family) may persecute us or give us a hard way to go. What can we do? Keep on rowing. There are times when the normally choppy waters of life turn into a tempestuous storm. A job is lost and a family becomes homeless, a child gets into trouble, we are forced to fight a disease. What can we do? Keep on rowing. All we can do is look for work, deal with the problems, seek doctors and treatments, and keep on rowing – and most importantly keep on praying. The one thing I have taken from the story of Jesus coming to his disciples in the middle of the storm is that he will also come to us. He sees our need. He cares. He prays for us and he will come in the right way, at the right time, with the answer to our prayer. Don’t lose heart, keep on rowing.
The baptism commanded by Jesus was to be administered by man in water for remission of sins. In Acts eight after the evangelist, Philip had preached unto the Ethiopian eunuch about Jesus, the eunuch said, “Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (Acts 8:37). Paul informs us that the sinner is baptized into Christ Jesus and his death (Romans 6:3). It was in his death that Jesus shed His blood, thus when the sinner is baptized into the death of Christ he contacts the blood which washes away sin (Hebrews 9:22; Revelations 1:5). In passages where baptism and salvation are used in the same context baptism always precedes salvation. 1. Mark 16:16 “. . . and is baptized shall be saved.” 2. Acts 2:38 “. . . baptized unto remission of sins.” 3. Acts 22:16 “. . . be baptized washing away thy sins.” 4. I Peter 3:21 “. . . baptism doth also now save us.” 5. Romans 6:4 “. . .buried therefore with him through baptism into death: . . . so we might walk in newness of life.” Water is the element in which the penitent believer is baptized, but baptism is the act which brings the sinner into contact with the cleansing blood of a resurrected Savior. The baptism Jesus commands is: 1. In water . . .Acts 8:38. 2. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit . . .Matthew 28:19. 3. Into Christ. . . Galatians 3:26-27. 4. Into the death of Christ. . . Romans 6:4. 5. For remission of sins. . . Acts 2:38; I Peter 3:21. 6. Those baptized receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. . . Acts 2:38b. If you have not been baptized according to the teachings of God’s word, it is our prayer that you will be obedient to God’s instructions which will enable you to be cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Copied and edited for space