How Does the Church Grow?
The book of Acts records the establishment of God's kingdom, the church, and its explosive initial growth just as Jesus proclaimed in Acts 1:8. In Acts 9:31, Luke provides a snapshot in time of how and why the early church of Jesus Christ expanded into more and more hearts: "So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied."
The early Christians had peace in the midst of trial. Paul had just converted to the faith he once persecuted, but now his life was in danger. And there were still plenty opponents of the Way in the first century without Saul of Tarsus. Despite this counterproductive culture, Jesus' followers chose peace even in the midst of a volatile and even dangerous time (Philippians 4:4-7).
The early Christians were being built up by the apostles' teaching. This is a continuation of what we see happen during the initial explosion of the church's birth in Acts 2:42, where the very first baptized believers devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship. The apostles wrote down all that pertains to life and godliness as directed by divine guidance, so we too can build on our faith with those holy words.
The early Christians walked in the fear of the Lord. Certainly the spiritual gifts that were gradually revealing the full revelation of God in the first century would inspire fear, that is, awe and reverence, for God. Yet this fear went beyond the immediate signs; it was saturated in the wonder of God's power and majesty evidenced in nature and through His redemptive history. It is that same evidence and those same accounts of God's activities that can fan the flame of devotion in our hearts today.
The early Christians walked in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. This first part of the history of Christianity was not a cake walk. Persecution, internal debate, personal battles with sin and many more hurdles lines the disciples' pathway to faithful living under King Jesus. But their God, our God, is the God of all comfort, and this allowed His disciples to comfort one another as well (2 Corinthians 1:3-7). The Holy Spirit offers comfort for the faithful children of God by acting as a seal, a guarantee of the hope of eternity with God in heaven (Ephesians 1:13-14).
If we would see God's kingdom continue to multiply into more and more hearts today, we must do as the early church did: let God's peace guard our hearts and minds, drink deeply from God-inspired instruction, and walk in harmony with a God who deserves our respect and our deepest affections.