Acts 2:1-2 (NKJV) 1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
I am going to depart a little from what I normally do in this space. As I was preparing to minister last week I felt that the Lord wanted me to go into the things that I wrote about last week. I usually expand upon the current week’s message here, but since I did that last week, I have nothing from this week’s message to cover. Instead, I am going to look at the topic we have been dealing with in our Wednesday night teaching time. I have been asking our church a question. What does it take to have a book of acts ministry in our area and in our day?
To give you a bit of background, we had studied the gifts of the Spirit from 1 Corinthians 12-14. In these three chapters, Paul gives us the definitions and descriptions of the nine ways the Holy Spirit manifests himself through believers. As I was praying about what to teach on next, the Lord led me to the book of Acts.
1 Corinthians is Paul’s theoretical study of the gifts of the Spirit. I knew that Acts was the place that we would see them at work in the church. I reasoned that Acts would be the practical application study of the gifts of the Spirit. We began to look at this book from the perspective of learning how to function in these gifts. I reasoned that if we could find out how to minister these gifts in our daily lives, we would release miraculous ministry in our community.
I began this study expecting to see the gifts in action. I assumed we would be able to analyze how the first church ministered the gifts. I was looking for methodologies and techniques. In a sense, I hoped to find some step-by-step instructions on how to minister in healing, deliverance and all the other aspects of releasing the power of the Holy Spirit in our area.
I believed this to be very important for the future of our church. We live in a time when people do not seem to be interested in the things of God. Recent developments in our country have led to a greater sense of need and a greater fear for the future than I have seen at any time in my life. However, this has not yet translated into people seeking the Lord. I know that something needs to change and a manifestation of the supernatural power of God would certainly help.
I am almost sixty years old but I do not spend my time thinking about the “good old days.” I believe the only relevant days are the ones we are living in right now. However, it is valuable to compare where we were with where we are so we can find the solutions to the problems we face. When we first were saved, God was moving in a powerful way. They were the days of the charismatic renewal and people were hungry to know more about the Lord.
Although there were many ministries that emphasized things like healing and deliverance, a greater influence was the general seeking nature of the people of our generation. We wanted to know what was real. As we progressed in our relationship with God, there was a wave of teaching that swept through the earth. People all over were interested in learning about God. Those who knew him through the New Birth were hungry to know how to grow in the things of God. Many came to churches to experience the healing power of God and to learn how to walk in God’s ways.
Today that does not seem to be the case. In many ways that is the fault of many of us who carried the torch of ministry during that time. We found that we could believe God for better jobs, better homes and better lives. The knowledge that God loves us and wants to bless us was right and powerful. It also allowed the devil to bring an unhealthy focus to many of those who came to the Lord in those days.
Some of us failed to remember that the blessings of God were a result of seeking God’s face. We learned principles of prosperity, healing and success. I have no doubt in my heart that our Heavenly Father wants all those things for us. However, there was a subtle shift in our emphasis from seeking to learn how to walk with God to seeking to learn how to receive from God. Where we used to want to know how to reach others with the power of God we began to be more concerned with how to obtain what we needed and wanted with the power of God.
It is not wrong to believe God for the things we need. He commands us to do that. It is not wrong to access faith in God in order to build successful lives. Any father wants that for his children. Our Heavenly Father is no different. However, when our own blessing or success becomes the point of our Christian growth, Christianity itself breaks down. We were never meant to live for self. We were meant to live for God and for others. Remember what Jesus taught in Matthew 6.
Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
He said to seek the Kingdom of God and his righteousness first. If we do that, all the things we need will be added to us. I believe seeking the Kingdom of God first will change our desires so that our desires will also be fulfilled. When we seek blessing first, we wander far from the kingdom of God, our desires become self focused instead of God and others focused.
I believe this has led to an atmosphere surrounding the church that causes us to try and reach out to people from the wrong orientation. We try to draw people to the church and to God by appealing to them with the blessings and prosperity that God promises. However, God does not want people who come simply for what they can get. God wants a family. He wants people who want to grow to be like him. He wants people who desire the things he desires and to work with him to enlarge his family. He wants people who will work to rescue the lost for eternity not just for prosperity. I believe in Godly prosperity but we need eternal salvation.
In realizing that people do not seem to be hungry to know God, I began to be concerned about the future of the church. The people in the world are kept distracted by the drug of entertainment and pleasure. They seem to be looking to forget the problems of our day instead of looking for solutions to them. There is a increasing attitude that says, “I deserve to be taken care of and someone will do that. I don’t have to work for what I need. The society, the government or someone will give it to me. In the mean time just give me distractions. Give me games and movies and music to help me forget the problems of the future.”
Eternity is coming to everyone. We will all die. I know that might be seen as a morbid view of life, but it is still the truth. Ignoring it will not make it go away. Eternity awaits and that should be the main concern of every Christian and the question the church should be bringing before the world.
The problem as I see it is that the world is so distracted they cannot see that far ahead. They have no concern for eternity or for any relationship with God. Unfortunately, the combination of our entertainment culture and the focus on teachings that major in how to get our needs met has caused the church to become ill equipped to communicate the message of eternity. In this mindset, I asked the question, what does it take to have a book of Acts ministry today. I thought what I would find was how to release the supernatural into the earth. In a way I did find that. However, not in the way I thought I would.