This week we are going to be looking at a passage in the Book of Acts:
as you can see it is entitled “Pray, hear, accept and go.” The first
few days of this week I am in Alexandria, at Lake Geneva Christian Center
(Bible Camp), for a presbyter meeting and a few days of Prayer & Fasting
retreat. Our “Movement” – denomination – sprung directly from a group of 300
ministers doing just that. They prayed individually and heard from the Lord;
they came together corporately and prayed some more – again hearing from God.
And the amazing thing was, that group of 300 accepted God’s direction and it
became the mission of a new “Movement” called the Assemblies of God. The
“Mission” they received from the Lord was to become the greatest evangelistic
and missions sending organization in the world.
Today, 100+ years later the A/G numbers over 65 million worldwide and is growing at an astounding rate. Now before we (those of us who belong to the Assemblies of God) begin patting ourselves on the back too much, let me remind us that it is not about us, but about Jesus. If it ever becomes about the movement, or a particular church, we will die, become a byword within Christendom. It is about the power of the Holy Spirit, about His empowering of God’s people (whoever they may be, or whatever denominational flag they fly) to reach the lost around the globe with the message of the Gospel.
I am excited to be here, at this annual Prayer and fasting event, but I am more excited that I am in the Kingdom of God and get to be a part of His work. God’s heart remains the same: that None Should Perish. Each of us, as we come into fellowship with Jesus, are called to be a part of the global team, charged with reaching the lost, wherever they are, with the hope of Jesus.
Let’s look at our passage for this week’s study:
Acts 4:23-37 “As soon as they were freed, Peter and John returned
to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had
said. 24 When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their
voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and
earth, the sea, and everything in them — 25 you spoke long ago by the
Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying, ‘Why were the
nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans? 26 The
kings of the earth prepared for battle; the rulers gathered together against
the Lord and against his Messiah.’
27 “In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. 28 But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will. 29 And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. 30 Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. 32 All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. 33 The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. 34 There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them 35 and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need. 36 For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. 37 He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles” NLT.
The New Testament church was still in its infancy when Peter and John were apprehended and questioned by some of the High Priests, scribes, and rulers about their activities.
When we pick up the account in verse 23 they have now returned to the church body to report what had happened. What we have to understand here is that they still had very little knowledge of what preaching the Gospel would mean, or what the preaching of the Gospel would cause. Suddenly it has become very real to them that they could very well be persecuted.
Isn’t it ironic that the greatest message ever, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, would meet with such opposition?