The Power in the Early Church
E. L. Thornton
(Acts 4:7) “And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?”
Before beginning his sermon, one Sunday morning, a pastor explained why he had a Band-Aid on his face. He said, “This morning while I was shaving I was thinking about my sermon and cut my face.” At the end of the service he was shaking hands with the people and was handed a note. Thinking it was a compliment he read, “Dear Pastor, Next Sunday, while you’re shaving, think about your face and cut you sermon.”
The power of God was very evident in the early church. The apostles, nor the believers intended for it to be, but it was on display with signs and wonders, coupled with miracles. After studying the scriptures concerning the power of God, in the early church, I feel that the modern day church is in appalling need of a touch of God with real power.
I fear that this modern ecclesiastical church has mistaken glamour for power, and accepted the fantastic for the real. We are a generation of Pentecostals that have settled for less because we don’t want to pay the price for the greater, and I speak of the touch of God on our lives and on our churches.
You will never see a counterfeit Seven Dollar Bill because there is no real Seven Dollar Bill. But the devil has concocted many counterfeits, to the power of God, in order to draw people away from the real. That the power of God is real there is very few that would argue.
The Book of The Acts of The Apostles, is saturated with the supernatural. Take away the miracles out of the Acts of The Apostles and there is little left. But take away the power and there are no miracles. Behind every miracle there is a force that drives, that pulsates, that trobs, and that is the power of God. Without that power the Apostles become ordinary men, with that power they become ministers of God.
The Church with the power of God becomes a force to reckon with, without the power of God it becomes the laughing stock of demons. Without the power of God the Church is nothing more than a social order, with the power of God it is a hell shaking, demon scaring force in the hands of the Almighty.
Seminaries, may produce intelligent men that have knowledge of the word of God, Colleges, may produce men that are effective in the education of others, Societies, may give us men that are astute and sagacious, Men, may give us men that are ingenious in the way they get things done, but nothing, and I say nothing, but the power of God can give us men that can move sinners to an alter of repentance, or do for the Church what needs to be done.
The talent of singing is very valuable to the work of God in our modern day, but it will never take the place of the power of God, although it can have the power commingled with it. Preaching alone has never done anything to build the Kingdom of God, But it’s the power that’s behind it that counts.
I hear testimonies that the power of God is moving in some overseas works, But I’m afraid the North American Church has substituted it’s glamour for God’s power. We look good to man, but do we look good to God? There is something wrong in the Church today. Either we have Preachers that refuse to be in a place with God that they can be used, or we have a constituency that are not committed to Jesus in a way that He can move among us.
I long for a take over of the power of God.
Apostasy, a desertion, of the Bible plan for the Church is the Church’s biggest problem today. Apathy, indifference, unconcernness, follows hard on the heels of apostasy. We are not what the early Church was and it is our fault.
We need men, both in the pulpit and the pew, that will revert to the old and tried ways of Pentecost. We need Elisha’s that will face the problems of the day with “where is the Lord God of Elijah.” Men today are too busy trying to be somebody instead of being somebody’s, mainly belonging to God. (Jer. 6:16) “Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.”
If it worked at Pentecost, If it worked at the turn of the century, It will work today. I long for a take over of the power of God!
If we want the power of God among us, as was evident in the early Church, then we must try to duplicate what the early church did.
I. THEY WERE ALL INVOLVED:
It all started, for the early church, after Jesus went away. Notice the word “they” in this reading at Acts 1:12-14 “Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” The believers were all involved.
Acts 2:1 “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Acts 2:42-43 “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.”
Acts2:46 “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple,”
Involvement makes a big difference in serving God. When one isn’t involved there is a tendency for one to doubt the move of God and even to be critical of things others are doing for the Kingdom of God. Such was the case of Michal, King David’s wife, when they were returning the ark of God to the City of David.
David said, 2 Sam. 6:21 “It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD. And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour. Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.”
He did it, not to be pleasing to man, but he did it before the Lord. And because of her non-involvement she criticized him and God judged her for it.
Involvement in a project will make it more enjoyable. We should be enjoying the work of God, if not, maybe it’s because we are not involved enough.
Matt. 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” If God is with two or three that are together, how much more will He be with the Church if there is total involvement.
II. THERE WAS AN ABUNDANCE OF PRAYER AND FASTING:
It started as soon as Jesus ascended Acts 1:14 “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”
Acts 4:31 “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”
Acts 6:4 “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”
Acts 12:12 “And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.”
III. EVERYONE WAS ENTHUSIASTIC:
We have many things today to help spread the gospel that the early Church didn’t have, But the early church had some things that we don’t have. Boldness, great faith, gifts of the Spirit. The one thing they had, that was most beneficial to the propagating of the gospel, was enthusiasm. The one thing they had, that we so desperately need, was enthusiasm. There is nothing that will excite others, about something that you have, than for you to be enthused about it.
You may not have great wealth to spread the gospel but you can be enthusiastic.
You may not have beautiful talents but you can be enthusiastic.
You may not be well versed in the Bible but you can be enthusiastic.
You may not be a preacher of the gospel but you can be enthusiastic.
You may not be ingenious but you can be enthusiastic.
There are some people that are saved, sanctified, and petrified.
Sometimes we preach sermons that’s as powerful as a mother-in-laws kiss. And sometimes we give testimonies that are as enthusiastic as a match in an asbestos factory.
One man, talking about how dry it was said to his friend, “Don’t breath hard you’ll start a dust storm.” And I’ve been in church services that have been just that dry.
I know that sometimes the reason we have icicles in the pew is because we have polar bears in the pulpit, but maybe we have polar bears in the pulpit because there are to many igloo’s in the pew. We’ve heard saints say, “We need better preaching.” We’ve heard preachers say, “We need better listeners.” But it takes two to make a good sermon, the person in the pulpit and the person in the pew. If we ever get together there’s no telling what will happen.
Enthusiasm, about the work of God, is contagious, it is infectious, it is catching, and I wish it would reach epidemic proportions.
I long for take over of the power of God!
2 Tim 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Luke 10:19 “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”
We need a baptism of the power of God. We don’t need a squirt of energy that will fade away when the revival is over, but the kind of power that will be here night after night, day after day. Power that you can feel just by walking through those doors. Power that the citizens can feel when it’s about church service time at the old Pentecostal church. Power that will get your healing, Power that relieves you of your problems, Power that will make sinners squirm and twist under the anointed preaching of the Word.
Power that will make sinners fall in these alters crying and screaming for forgiveness.
I long for a take over of the power of God!