The Church: Remarkable Transformation
In Acts 4: verse.2: we read, "They (the priests and Sadducees) were greatly disturbed because the Apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead."
Further on in verses 19 and 20 we read, “but Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you (the Jewish leaders had commanded them to not speak in the name of Jesus) rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard" (NIV).
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Just days before, these apostles had been scattered and in retreat. At one point, Peter goes back to the family business of fishing. Maybe John had done the same. Now these same men are taking on the entire Jewish religious and legal system. The reason for this surprising transformation is that they had been with Jesus; notice the difference. The difference is remarkable. These men have been changed and now they are making a change - a transforming change. What does it mean that they had been with Jesus? There seems to be three distinct stages to their life with Jesus.
Stage 1: The Gospels tell us that they were called by Jesus (Luke 6:13). They left all and followed Him to be His disciples. For three years they lived and worked with, listened to and learned from Jesus the Master, yet even to the end they had doubts, fears and many misconceptions about Jesus.
Stage 2: Scattered and afraid, the Apostles were now being gathered back to a post- resurrection Jesus. Acts 1 teaches us that for 40 days Jesus gave convincing proof that He was truly alive. Jesus instructed them in the true meaning of the Kingdom of God. Yet, in Acts 1:6 we read that they remained somewhat confused about the message. They needed more.
Stage 3: This period shows the Apostles living in the power of the indwelling Spirit of God. Luke records the words of Jesus in Acts 1: 8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Remarkable people and remarkable churches are marked by a remarkable presence and power that is far more than just knowledge or earthly experience. The disciples had been with Jesus and had witnessed His person and His power, but they needed more. They needed to be reborn from within by the Spirit of God dwelling, reigning and ruling. No wonder they said in the face of death: "we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard." They had to walk in the Spirit!
That was then, but what about today. Is the church today remarkable? Is our proclamation remarkable? Is our love remarkable? Do we see remarkable transformation in the lives we influence? Where the Spirit of God is present and at work there is remarkable change. It is transforming.
God bless you all as you pray this month.
Well stated Bill. Isn't it amazing that this is still the only prescription for a healthy church some 2000 years later.