Those programs from church growth gurus have nothing on the Holy Spirit’s plan for building His church. His plan was strategically organized . . . but I admit I never saw it before.
I can picture Him laughing at our pie charts, grids and spread sheets. His steps were simple: Build on the foundation Jesus’ life and ministry laid. Then add to the plan the baptism of fire on a group of 120 committed followers! And, follow up with a commission to them to take this new power and become witnesses of Christianity in Jerusalem, all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8, 2:4)
Networking is a favorite tool in the Holy Spirit’s arsenal. To spread the faith, He will use circumstances – who you are; places – where you are; and people – who are your contacts. Let’s trace the expansion of Christianity and look at how the Holy Spirit networked to spread the good news from Palestine to Italy.
It all began in Jerusalem with Jews as the first recipients of the gospel message. As persecution against the church broke out, believers scattered, spreading the gospel everywhere they went. Judea and Samaria burned with on-fire disciples and new converts.
According to the book of Acts, most of the continued increase in church building can be attributed to the Holy Spirit’s selection of a man named Paul and a network of his associates.
Paul bloomed where he was planted. He was an educated Jew and a Pharisee. He was a Roman citizen with status and respect. Fluent in Aramaic and Greek, he was also well-trained Greek and Jewish thinking. He had a trade that traveled. He was single. Circumstances promoted Paul to the top of the Holy Spirit’s list. He was in the right place at the right time for God’s purpose.
How about you? What qualifications do you have that God could use? What circumstances are you in that God has planned to use for all eternity? What about that marriage, that job, that family?
One of the right places Paul traveled to was Corinth. There he met other disciples including the power couple, Priscilla and Aquila. (Acts 18) Most leaders were married but this couple stands out for making their impact together. They were equal in every respect, including preaching and teaching. As a couple they sponsored churches in their home. Hospitality was crucial to believer’s fellowship. They ranked as some of Paul’s closest friends and were tentmakers together.
How did the Holy Spirit use their circumstances? Priscilla and Aquila were business people, church leaders, church planters. They had an effective ministry together. Their home was a valuable tool for evangelism. It was a warm place for training and worship. The Christian home is still one of the best tools for spreading the gospel. Listening carefully to sermons and evaluating what they heard, they made the most of their spiritual education.
Are you in God’s continuing education program? Are you learning new foundations of faith? Do guests find Christ in your home? Is Christ welcome there?
Apollos (Acts 18:24) is another disciple whose circumstances fit with the Holy Spirit’s purposes. He was a Jew from Alexandria who came to Ephesus where he met Priscilla and Aquila. A learned man with a thorough knowledge of the scriptures, he spoke with great fervor and boldness as he powerfully refuted the Jews. But he only knew half the story!
Priscilla and Aquila took him home and explained the rest of the story. He knew the Old Testament and John the Baptist’s message. He probably taught repentance and preparation for the coming of the Messiah. Priscilla and Aquila filled him in on the life and ministry of Jesus including his death, resurrection and coming of the Holy Spirit. Apollos must have seen scripture after scripture become clear, filling him with new energy and boldness. Nonetheless, he humbly submitted himself to his friends and was not too proud to learn. He then went out into the world as a witness with the full gospel message.
How much does your willingness to learn affect God’s efforts to help you become all He needs you to be? Is pride, laziness or closed-mindedness keeping you from being the witness the Holy Spirit needs to build the church?
Jesus said in MT 16:18: “I will build my church . . .” He sent the Holy Spirit to be the general contractor to do the job. They are still building. Are you on their construction crew?
The book of Acts is the story of the disciples receiving what Jesus received in order to do what Jesus did.
Go and Do Likewise!