The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Spirit Built Church is Friendly and Growing

“Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:47

All that we have seen as byproducts of a Spirit built church culminates in these last two aspects. We have seen that the Spirit built church has a passion for: God’s word and it’s teaching, fellowship, worship, prayer, and is reverent, miraculous and giving. These Spirit built qualities flow into a friendly and growing church.

The Spirit built church is friendly. Verse 46 says:

  • Acts 2:46-47a – “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.   

When the Spirit comes He pours His love into our hearts and that promotes a friendly spirit. That friendliness leads to a desire to reach out to the lost. What a glorious blessing it is when brothers and sisters in Christ enjoy each other’s fellowship and come together spontaneously and frequently to worship the Lord and enjoy one another in the Lord. It’s a powerful magnetic force to reach a lonely world.

The church is too frequently unfriendly. This is because the church is often divided. Where there is disunity and division, the Holy Spirit is grieved and the sense of His presence quenched. Paul wrote about this when was inspired to write:

  • Ephesians 4:30-32 – “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” 

The next time you are tempted to gossip, backbite, or be the party to a division causing act, remember, you will hurt the church of God that Jesus died for and calls His bride (Ephesians 5:25-26), and you will grieve the Holy Spirit. Don’t be a part of anything that would cause division whether you are directly or indirectly involved. Rather, “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” That’s the way God’s church functions in the Spirit. And that is the church that is winsome and that reaches the lost and lonely.

The Spirit built church is a growing church.  It states in Acts:

  • Acts 2:47b – “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” 

These people were not concerned or worried about the growth of the church; all they could do was praise God for all He was doing. The reality of Jesus was so great in their hearts that they were brimming with the love of the Spirit that overflowed into the lives of those around them (Romans 5:5; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15). How couldn’t they find favor with “all the people” around them, wouldn’t you look favorably upon those who had a loving servants heart and a Spirit produced glow?

You don’t see any “Church Growth” programs in this church do you? These early disciples didn’t go to any church growth seminars and the early apostles didn’t hold any either. The apostles didn’t rush out of the upper room or after the tremendously impacting Pentecostal event and try to duplicate what had happened. What we see in Acts is an ongoing, living, relating to the Holy Spirit. Here in Acts 2:42-47 we do see products of the Holy Spirit working in the life of God’s people and we can draw certain characteristics of God’s church that should be common in all of His churches, but we should never attempt to put God in a box or make hard and set ways in which we limit the acting of the Spirit. The creativity and varied nature of the way the Holy Spirit works in and through the people of God is far more exciting.

When the Spirit comes upon people He instills in them a burden, a passion for the salvation of the lost. John Wesley knew this passion and instructed his ministers accordingly:

"You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go always, not only to those that want you, but to those that want you most. Observe: It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many souls as you can; to bring them to repentance, and with all your power to build them up in holiness without which they cannot see the Lord."

A.W. Tozer described this passion to win lost souls in the following way:

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. --Psalm 126:5-6

The testimony of the true follower of Christ might well be something like this: The world's pleasures and the world's treasures henceforth have no appeal for me. I reckon myself crucified to the world and the world crucified to me. But the multitudes that were so dear to Christ shall not be less dear to me. If I cannot prevent their moral suicide, I shall at least baptize them with my human tears. I want no blessing that I cannot share. I seek no spirituality that I must win at the cost of forgetting that men and women are lost and without hope. If in spite of all I can do they will sin against light and bring upon themselves the displeasure of a holy God, then I must not let them go their sad way unwept. I scorn a happiness that I must purchase with ignorance. I reject a heaven that I must enter by shutting my eyes to the sufferings of my fellow men. I choose a broken heart rather than any happiness that ignores the tragedy of human life and human death. Though I, through the grace of God in Christ, no longer lie under Adam's sin, I would still feel a bond of compassion for all of Adam's tragic race, and I am determined that I shall go down to the grave or up into God's heaven mourning for the lost and the perishing. And thus and thus will I do as God enables me. Amen. [1]

That is a passion for souls. And that passion is from the Holy Spirit. That is what happens in the heart of the Christian when the Spirit comes on them. And that results in a church that God adds to regularly. The Spirit filled church is a growing church.

Years ago at a Moody Bible Institute Missionary conference a large TRAFFIC SIGNAL was hooked up with lights that flashed:

·         AMBER LIGHT - Flashed every 35 hours to signify a missionary being sent out.

·         GREEN LIGHT - Flashed every 24 hours to signify $.02 cents spent on missions in this country.

·         RED LIGHT - Flashed three times every two seconds to signify a person dying without Christ.

That’s a sobering illustration of a sobering truth. The baptism with the Holy Spirit breeds a passion for the lost. There is work to do; souls to be saved. Let’s pray for the Lord’s empowering. Let’s pray the Spirit comes upon us and lights a fire within that burns with a passion for the teaching of God’s word, fellowship, worship, prayer ,reverence, the miraculous, a giving spirit, a friendliness and passion for souls. That is what we need. That is what a lost world needs. Come Holy Spirit we need You!

The Lord wants His house full (Luke 14:23). And He wants us to make every effort to reach the lost and bring them to Him (Mark 2:1ff). In our own strength the task is insurmountable. We need the Holy Spirit’s power. We need the Holy Spirit to come upon us. We need a revival.

Wesley Duewel in his book Revival Fire [2]which is an overview of various revivals concludes his book with some valuable and informative words for anyone interested in seeing the Spirit come and revival manifested. In the last chapter of his book, Revival is Coming Duewel writes:

God at His own initiative voluntarily gave us, His people, the covenant of revival in 2 Chronicles 7:14. He must be true to His covenant word, and He waits for us to fulfill our part of this revival covenant. Thousands of times God has fulfilled the revival covenant for a family, a local church, a community, a region, or a nation. The more deep, widespread, and total the prayer and obedience of His children, the more widespread God’s outpoured revival through the power of the Spirit can become. [3]

We need the Holy Spirit to come upon us today. That is true for the church. That is true for our world. Pray for the Holy Spirit to come upon you and His church. Pray the Lord use the Spirit filled church to reach a lost world that is perishing at an alarming rate. Come Holy Spirit we need You!


[1] A.W. Tozer, The Next Chapter After the Last, p. 36

[2] Wesley Duewel, Revival Fire, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1995)
[3] Wesley Duewell, Revival Fire, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995) pgs 354-357

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