Today's Bible Reading: Acts 5
Selected Biblical Text
And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon's Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women....
Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. (Acts 5:11-14a; 42-45, ESV)
Reflecting and Thinking
This chapter describes two major problems that arose in the early church--one internal and the other external. First, the church had to deal with the situation concerning Ananias and Sapphira and their deception concerning the sale and gift of their land. Their sudden deaths brought great fear to the church, but believers were continually added to the Lord.
The second problem was more persecution from the Jewish leaders. The apostles were arrested and jailed, miraculously released from jail by an angel with the admonition to go preach and teach, returned to appear before the Jewish council, and given a stern warning not to preach. Their response was, "We must obey God rather than men" (5:29). Although their claims before the council resulted in more fury from the Jewish leaders, Gamaliel's wise advice to the council prevailed, and the apostles continued preaching unceasingly.
What hinders the church today? Are most of our problems and challenges internal or external? Can the church grow in the midst of problems? What does it take for the church to grow when there are severe challenges? What do you think it means that they were teaching every day? How many days a week does your church teach and preach Jesus as the Christ? If there is a difference in your answer and what the Bible says, might that difference explain why the church often fails to grow today?
Heavenly Father, we marvel again and again at the experiences of the early Jerusalem church. The story is astounding--many of us have become unimpressed as we have heard the story repeatedly. Teach us how to avoid the distraction of internal problems, and how to surmount external problems, so that the church might spread the Good News again. May believers be attracted and added to your kingdom, through Jesus we pray, amen.