July 22, 2013

Acts 2:43 - The Power of Doing it Right

And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

Acts 2:43

This is a cool enough verse in its own right. Wonders and signs are always good. But while the content is very important, the first thing to notice about it is the context. At the risk of pointing out the obvious, this verse comes right after the one before it. And this is what makes it special.

The proceeding verse, as discussed in Modeling The Early Church, explains how the early church operated. It provides for us the four key elements they operated by. This verse then, reveals to us the natural outcome that should be expected from operating an Apostolic church carefully, according to the scriptural guidelines provided.

Not only is there a right and a proper way to operate a church congregation, but there is also a proper and expected result of so doing. Any congregation that abides by the apostle's doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer can expect a certain outcome. And that outcome includes the fear of the Lord coming upon every member of that body of believers and the presence of signs and wonders done by the leaders of the congregation.

Let's examine both of these expected results. And let's start looking for them and expecting them in our normal operations. As a spiritual entity, the church is not like the world. We must stop measuring ourselves by the world's yardstick. We are a supernatural organization and we should expect both the supernatural and the power of the Spirit of God to be in operation during every gathering. To expect anything less is to fail to live up to the apostolic heritage that we strive to carry forward from the book of Acts.

Fear Of The Lord

The Greek word behind "fear" is phobos and it has two seemingly different and unrelated meanings. The first is "fear, dread, terror". And certainly, this seems to fit well with the English word "fear". Yet the second meaning is "reverence for one's husband". How do these two very different definitions both fit the same word at the same time, yet seem to be appropriate?

The Lord is a powerful God. He holds the capability to create or destroy in his hand. He can even speak creation and destruction into being. A God of this power should be feared and there should be a healthy quantity of dread or terror in his presence. This dread is appropriate in those who do not have a right relationship with him, but it is also appropriate in those who do, because of the sheer power he holds over us.

Yet, the Lord is also described as the bridegroom of the church. The church, as the bride of Christ, should be understood for holding a deep reverence for the one who watches over it, provides its power and is waiting to spend eternity with it.

So I see through this apparent contradiction and see that those who are described in this verse having a deep reverential respect for the Lord, as their savior, edged with an appropriate amount of dread in recognition of his mighty power and authority.

Signs And Wonders

The challenge that the church has always had is to be more desirable or interesting than anything that the world offers. This seems harder than ever these days. The world offers technology and special effects to increase the appeal of everything that it does offer. Some of these can seem to be difficult to top.

Yet, even with the advantages that the world seems to offer, the church has one serious advantage in that it has genuine power. The world's technology is cool and the special effects possible today are truly astounding. But cool and astounding can hardly cover the fact that what the world offers is fake.

As the world pushes a more and more brazen version of reality, people tend to start seeing through the facade. People when aware of the choice will strongly tend towards the more genuine of any options. People are jaded. They need to see something genuine.

I believe this is why the Lord provides signs and wonders at the hands of his ministers. He confirms the preaching of his word with power. Because even in this day and age, nothing gets peoples attention like a display of genuine power.

Whether it is a tongues and interpretation, a prophetic word or a miraculous healing. The power of the moving of the Spirit of God never fails to command attention. This is how the church overcomes the false promises of the world ... with the true power of the Spirit.

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