In the midst of great breakthrough, growth and the miraculous spreading of the Christian faith, we come to a point in Acts where there is ‘a complaint’! The apostles and the disciples had to handle the reality of real people forming family and community together - a setting for conflict, grumbles and disagreement!
This passage is a window into the authentic relationship and real hurdles that the church has to navigate. How do we handle disagreements in a Godly way? What role does diversity play out in such communities? How can we avoid distraction while also hearing peoples genuine concerns? This and more are the themes of Raj’s talk today as we unravel what change looks like in a flourishing church!
The Apostle Paul next to Jesus, is probably the most influential man that has ever lived. His church planting, teaching and writings legacy continue to change the world today. Early church father John Chrysostom said this of the Apostle Paul “Put the whole world on one side of the scale and you will see that the soul of Paul outweighs it.” Yet like many of the early Christians who encountered God the Holy Spirit after Jesus ascended to heaven, we can learn quite a bit about how ordinary people are changed by an extraordinary God. This case study allows us to explore how the grace and wonder of our God transforms even the most toughest of men. Will this true story fuel us with faith to share the gospel that changed us - the greatest gift possible?
The miraculous story of the growth of the early church in the book of Acts happens through conversions. The stories of these conversions of thousands of people isn’t known individually. But Luke in Acts gives us some details of a few. They are extraordinary windows into how people come to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. What we learn is that the gospel comes with wisdom and power. That it is ‘joy news’ not just good advice. That is it is much bigger than we often make it. That it is a nation shaper, person transformer, community builder, and joy bringer!
Why? Because ultimately is not about a set of values or a list of ‘do its’. Its about a relationship….a friendship…a trust…with Christ. Bottom line - its all about Jesus!
The book of Acts tells us a handful of details about Stephen’s life and focuses more on the moments before his death. We can learn much from him and his courageous stand for Jesus.
Under normal circumstances, opposition from authorities may lead to surrender, However, in the case of the early church, it lead to growth of the church and spread of the Gospel. Just as the authorities were trying to silence the apostles (sometimes resorting to violence), it becomes clear that no door can be closed to God.