Imagine that you had 3,000 people join your church on one Sunday morning. How would you react?
Would you immediately concern yourself with practical matters such as where to put everyone? Would you stop and praise the Lord for what He had done? Would you go on a national speaking and book tour telling others how they could accomplish the same results at their churches? Would you try to figure out how to disciple them and exponentially increase the ministry of the church?
I think that the easiest route would be to step back, take a breather, and enjoy what the Lord had done. But that’s not the biblical route. The biblical thing to do would be to deepen our commitment to His plan for the future.
Look at the church in Jerusalem. They were fresh from Pentecost, where God had just infused this 120 member church with 3,000 new converts.
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).
It would have been easy to enjoy their new growth and rest on their laurels, but they did not. God had just done something amazing in and through them, and they resisted the temptation to take a break and committed themselves to preparing for the next step in God’s plan.
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (v. 42).
“Continued” means that they kept going. All the preparation that they had made, the things that enabled them to be useful in God’s service early, continued. And one can rightly assume from the text that this also included the new believers. They too were taught and discipled so that they could become mature followers of Jesus Christ.
“Steadfastly” means that they did not waver from this. They were absolutely committed to doing whatever they needed to do to advance God’s agenda of transforming lives through the Gospel of Christ.
The mention of “the apostles’ doctrine” means that they were teaching the truth. Yes, they preached the Gospel, but one’s Christian instruction did not cease when he accepted Christ. Believers were being instructed and strengthened in all areas of God’s word.
They had real fellowship, as well. Today, too many of us see church as someplace we go to sit a few times each week, sing, listen to some preaching, and go home. For many in local churches, there is either no connection or a shallow connection with the church and the others in it. In such cases it becomes just another place to feel alone in the crowd. If that is the kind of fellowship we have, why would anyone else want to be a part of it? People, by and large, are looking for a place to belong, and the church needs to be a place where we are bonded to each other, involved in each other’s lives, and invested in each other’s spiritual development (but not in cliquish or intrusive ways.)
“Breaking of bread” means that they observed the Lord’s Supper together. They met regularly to remember together what Christ did for them. That raises the point that in everything we do, the focus must be on Christ and His message of redemption through the cross.
And they continued in prayers. They prayed for one another. They prayed for the lost. They prayed for God’s will to be done.
They were committed to Him, and so continued doing the things that prepared the way for God to work. As a result, God continued to prosper the church.
“[…] And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (v. 47).
A church should be so committed to God that it develops a godly ambition. Selfish ambition says, “I want to do more for me.” Godly ambition says, “I want to do more for God.” Godly ambition means that we are never satisfied with what has been done before. It means we are never ready to rest from our labors. It means we realize that as long as there is breath, God’s plan for us continues. And it means we will do anything to be a part of that plan.