The depth of the early church contrasts the superficiality of the modern church!
The depth of the early church never ceases to amaze me: as soon as persecution came it was not an opportunity for them to take shield, rather they took heed to the words of the master and spread the gospel like wildfire. It was recorded in the book of Acts: 'Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.' Acts 8:4 KJV
The persecution brought expansion and not trepidation! The church at the hour of persecution took leverage of the situation and preached the gospel bringing about its expansion!
Before Acts 8, it was the death of Stephen in Acts 7 that sent Saul on a wildfire of persecution! Remember Stephen was described as a man "full of faith and power" and did great miracles among the people! And yet he was a layman! Let's look at Stephens life more, which was the typical life of the average believer then!
- Stephen preached a classic sermon that even the most powerful of preachers will have to strive to match. In one swoop he summarised the whole Bible in a chapter
- At the point of death, he was still preaching the word. How many believers can preach the word at the point of death today?
- Even on so-called social media, the posts that get more shares and likes are stories and jokes. Any post with word depths gets ignored, especially like this one you are reading. And that is if you have read this long. Even on many so-called Christian WhatsApp forums that I belong to, believer’s forum, stories, and jokes get more response than word intense post like this! Even the pastors are guilty; many share jokes and stories rather than share the world.
This is a generation with many spiritual expressions but no spiritual experience! There are a lot of information and books today, but really no depth. Spiritual looking on the surface but dried on the inside! It’s like having a form of godliness, the appearance, but denying the power thereof!
Yes, Jesus shared stories in his message, but they are kingdom related stories and mind you he was preaching to unbelievers! Every other book addressed to the believers from the book of Romans carries depth and not just human fables or stories!
This generation professes godliness but lacks the power and substance thereof. There is much talk but little depth. No wonder that despite the fact that we were ordained for greater works still, we are struggling to imitate the footsteps of the Apostles!
But like the Apostles, nothing must matter to us than giving ourselves continually to "prayer and the ministry of the word". That is where we cultivate spiritual depths! For when the Apostles devoted themselves to this lifestyle we were told in Acts 6:7 that the church exploded, but much more in verse 8, the deacons appointed to serve tables experienced a change of spiritual status, they became full of faith and power. Their spiritual depth increased, serving tables was not enough, and they too began to do great signs and wonders among the people. Indeed Phillip could not be contained in Jerusalem; he went on to Samaria to preach the word!
Without spiritual depths we cannot raise believers to become ministers, what we will have at best is consumer Christianity where believers are only raised to receive but not to give! The purpose of the fivefold gifts to the church is made clear in Ephesians 4:11-12, it is to prepare believers for the work of the ministry wherever they find themselves. The church is meant to raise believers as ministers and not as consumers who wait only on the church to receive! We must not compromise spiritual depths for popularity and acceptability which today depicts the state of the modern church!