What Made the Early Church Great by Eddie Foster

Acts 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.

People look for models to go by for every facet of life. It’s pretty much the same for churches. Every church wants to grow and see more of the lost saved. Some have exploded in numbers. They put out info on what they did. I’ve been to seminars on it and gotten plans to implement. Many plans fizzle out. Plans seem easy, but they are hard to implement and get people to buy into. I want to share six things that made this early church great. They had no modern technology, no radio, no television, no Facebook or Zoom. They had no means to grow but the place they were by sending people out. On the Day of Pentecost Peter preached and 3,000 souls were saved. The best model of a successful church is this one. I wish and hope we would apply these to succeed and be what God wants for us to grow in numbers and grow spiritually. 

(1) Every church was doing the work of the ministry. It wasn’t just the preacher. In my years of pastoring it’s been hard to get everyone involved. There have been a few, but not all. Evangelism takes place within the walls of the church or home. This building has been dedicated to the work of the Lord, but you and I are the church.  The church at Antioch came into being from a lay ministry. Verse 1 of this chapter tells us the people were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. People began to get saved in Antioch because the people who were scattered spread the gospel, the lay people not the apostles. 

(2) The early church was concerned about one thing: bringing people to Christ. They were unconcerned about their safety. Whether in jail or out, the concern was reaching the lost. That’s being sold out. Some say it’s fanatical. How much is too much? We cannot praise, or thank, or say too much about the Lord. In Acts 4 Peter and John were arrested and threatened for preaching the gospel. They said Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.  They couldn’t help it. Jesus was so much a part of them. In Acts 8 we see that under Saul’s leadership Christians were arrested and persecuted, but then he had his Damascus Road experience. If you were put on trial for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you? Those not imprisoned fled and preached the gospel everywhere they went.  Persecution is bad. We are blessed here in the U.S. We can come to church, but this isn’t so everywhere. Had it not been for persecution the people would not have scattered, and the gospel would not have been preached in other areas. If an emergency happened in the early church, people would sell their property and give it to the church to help out. Many cults today demand that. The early church’s all-consuming desire was to win people to Christ.  Lord, help us. For many years we have helped send missionaries to foreign lands. Now America is swiftly becoming a mission field, even in our area. Shame on us. The early church did some things we should do. (a) They brought people to Jesus. Keep inviting people. God can reach those we think are not reachable. (b) They felt the need to get the gospel through foreign support. Small mission teams went for short trips to help out somewhere else. In the Free Will Baptist,  the Master’s Men’s groups are good support for this. The Mormon church grew quickly because of this. I don’t believe in that group or the Jehovah Witnesses. They are not of God, but they sure do knock on doors. Think of what we could do. 

(3) The solution to every problem in the early church was prayer. They took everything to God. When a problem arises the best thing for us to do is pray. When the Sanhedrin arrested Peter and John the people prayed. While Peter was in prison, did they write the governor or picket the courthouse. No. They prayed. They had an all-night prayer meeting. Abraham prayed for a son, and the nation of Israel was born. He prayed for Ishmael and a great nation was born. He prayed for Lot, and he was delivered. Jacob prayed for a favorable reception when meeting his brother Esau: he did. Elijah prayed and got an answer by fire. Joshua prayed and Acan’s sin was revealed. Daniel prayed and the lions were muzzled. All this happened through prayer. The book of James says the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. We can go boldly to the throne of grace. Let’s do it a little more. It has a great effect and still works today. 

(4) The early church depended on one source of power. This should be the norm for us. They depended on the Holy Spirit as the sole source of power. He’s not changed. That means the change must be you and me. We settle for far less than what God intended for us. Shouting is still in order. Following the reign of Solomon came Rehoboam. The nation suffered. The Bible tells us that the nation who forgets God will be turned into hell. The early church knew what it was to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 4:31 says 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. The shaking was not an earthquake as at other times. Everything doesn’t have to be on Cloud 9 in order to praise God. In stocks and bonds Paul and Silas still praised God. Church is not a religious pep rally with the preacher as the leader. Programs are not power; we cannot substitute the power of God with a program. 

(5) The early church was a loving church. The most attractive power in the world is the character of love. They loved everybody. We have trouble loving the unkind and downright ugly, but we are to do it. Jews and Gentiles are as different from each other as you can get, but they worshipped together in the early church because of love. 

(6) The early church had one message: Jesus Christ. They didn’t preach about him; they preached him. First Corinthians 15:1-4 says Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. The gospel is the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is no power in lifting up the pastor or power in lifting up others. Jesus said in John 12, And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. Lift him up to a lost and dying world. Believe in Jesus. John said that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life. Make Jesus real in your life. Don’t just know about him. Know him personally. We can be as powerful as the early church.

If we do these six things as a church, we will be successful.

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