Success is something that many, if not everyone desires. Why is it that so few actually achieve success? There are a lot of reasons. However, I am convinced that one of the biggest reasons is because we tend to overcomplicate things. I’ve seen it in sports, business, entertainment, and other areas of life. Unfortunately, the church is not immune to this problem. If I could define the reasons the early church was so successful, I think it would actually be pretty simple. They relied on the Spirit of God and the Word of God. One of the best examples of this was on the day of the church’s birth, the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. There was a lot of commotion happening in Jerusalem as the Holy Spirit came upon the church. It lead many people to marvel at what was happening, and it lead others to mock. However, Peter stands up and delivers the first sermon of the church to a large crowd. Acts 2:37-39 says, “Now when they (the crowd) heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off; as many as the Lord our God will call.'”
Here was the pattern, the Holy Spirit came, and Peter spoke the Word of God. Much of what Peter preached that day came from the Old Testament. The result was that 3,000 souls were saved that day. We can go a little further in the book of Acts and see that the Lord added daily to the church those that were saved. Later in Acts 2 it says that they continued in the apostle’s doctrine. The pattern is simple, they relied on the Spirit of God to use the Word of God to produce conviction which led to repentance which resulted in people being saved. It is that simple. I can’t help but sit back and laugh but also be grieved at all the money churches spend on programs, and trying to launch new ministries. It is always done with pure motives and sincere desires to see the church grow. Yet, we are not seeing the same results that the early church did. It has to lead us to ask the question, why is this? For all the technology we have, the access to the Bible, all the innovation; we are not seeing people come to the Lord in salvation as often as they did in Acts or even in our own nation just 30 years ago. On Sunday mornings over the last month here at Westlake, we have studied through the book of Ezra. There in Ezra 9, all they did was teach the Word of God, and people came forward confessing and repenting of their sins. If you want to see spiritual growth in your life, then you must learn to rely on the Holy Spirit to do the work. And know that He is going to use the Bible as the textbook. I long for the day that disciples of Jesus and churches alike trade in our technology and innovations, and simply rely on the Holy Spirit to do His work in us and through us, and we learn from the Bible. Are you relying on the Spirit of God to change you? Are you daily reading the Bible to see how you should live, and to learn what God wants to change in you? If not, let today be the day you pray and ask God to use His Word empowered by His Spirit to begin changing you from the inside out. Then, see how and where God works in you. Then, I would encourage you to compare your spiritual growth over the past six months with what God is doing in your life since getting back to the basics. I bet you will be amazed at the power of God. May we get back to the basics, and forsake trusting ourselves so that God can work in us and through us for His glory, our good, and the building up of the kingdom of God.
By His grace and for His glory,