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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Witness to Christ (Why We Need the Church, Part 4)

Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. Acts 6.7

The first Church

It is unlikely that believers, even really sincere and growing believers, practicing their faith as individuals only, could have had the kind of impact in the first century that we see in the Book of Acts.

Part of what convinced so many people that the message of the Church was true was that they saw so many people participating in so many surprising expressions of a reality they had never seen before. Let’s consider just a few of these.

On the first Christian Pentecost, 120 people suddenly poured into the streets from an upper room, joyously and boldly declaring the “mighty works of God.” Before the morning was over, 3,000 people had become convinced of their testimony, received the word of Christ’s resurrection, and united with this first expression of the Church, the Body of Christ.

So hungry were these people for the spiritual life of Christ that they began gathering day by day in one another’s homes, to hear the apostles teach, to take meals and worship together, and to care for one another’s immediate needs. Day by day, Luke tells us, as they gathered with joy and shared with gusto, the power of Christ, risen from the dead, began to give them favor with all the people of Jerusalem, and to add to their numbers daily such as were being saved (Acts 2.42-46).

Thousands more came to believe in the power of Christ’s resurrection as they witnessed an act of never-before-seen grace upon a man lame from birth (Acts 3 and 4). Not even a threat from the local religious authorities could contain the witness of these early believers. Filled with the Spirit they continued to speak the word of God with boldness and to share generously of their possessions with one another and any who had need (Acts 4.31-37).


Threats and persecution could not stop them, as the ranks of Christians continued to grow and “believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (Acts 5.14).

But in Acts 6 a crisis emerged which threatened to divide the Body of Christ and betray the power of the Gospel. Inequity had arisen in the care of widows, and the thousands of believers were becoming divided as to what should be done.

But, in a patient, forbearing, and thoughtful manner, they brought the concern to the apostles, who resolved it to the delight and satisfaction of all.

Then comes the text which opens today’s column.

Consider: That great company of priests had perhaps all heard Jesus Himself. They certainly had heard the apostles, and doubtless many of their friends had become believers and were eagerly seeking to persuade them of the power of the resurrection. Not the witness of Jesus, not the preaching of a few followers, and not the testimony of an occasional believer could persuade them. But when, on top of thousands converting and bearing witness, and the whole community of believers sharing freely with one another and worshiping, the entire Body of Christ peacefully, joyfully, and generously overcame a potentially major obstacle of faith and life – well, that was the straw that broke the resistance of the camel’s back: “great many of the priestswere obedient to the faith.”

Not even the most determined enemies of the Lord could stand against the power of the Church, living out the resurrection life and love of Jesus Christ.

Far more power

There is power in each individual church member’s witness to the resurrection of Christ – both our lives and our words. It is the power of the Holy Spirit, making us witnesses for Jesus in the everyday situations of our lives. It is real power, and power which every believer should know and wield.

But there is more power, far more power, when an entire community of the saints, a whole household, neighborhood, city, county, or nation of believers – all these together show the reality of Jesus alive in His Body, making known His truth and filling the world with His glory.

There is real, life-changing power in the Church’s witness to Christ. And that’s why we need the Church!

Next steps

Talk with some believers from other churches. How do their churches bear witness to the surrounding community? What about your own church? In what ways do the people in your community see and experience the resurrection power of Jesus Christ through the churches in your community? After you’ve talked with these Christian friends, share what you lean with your pastor. How does he respond?

Additional Resources

Download this week's study, Why We Need the Church.

Sign up for ViewPoint Leaders Training and start your own ViewPoint discussion group.

The Church is the flash point for revival, but only if we prepare for it as we should. Order a copy of T. M.’s book, Preparing Your Church for Revival, from our online store.

And men, download our free brief paper, “Men of the Church: A Solemn Warning,” by clicking here.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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