1. Striking fact found over & over in Acts: Phenomenal spread of the gospel - 2:41; 4:4; 5:14; 6:7 - Impact of gospel on world.
2. Even with persecution (designed to stop growth), the number of believers grew - 9:35; 11:21. Approx. 15 years after Pentecost, the number of believers was still growing - cf. 14:1.
a. All this from just 12 men! (Mk. 16:15)
b. Col. 1:23, 6 - All creation heard (30 years)
3. Church grew fast initially & continually. How did this occur? Why did first century churches grow so fast?
I. NOTE SOME THINGS WHICH WERE NOT IN THEIR FAVOR.
A. Most People Rejected The Gospel - Matt. 7:13-14. (Christians have always been in the minority.)
B. Moral Decadence Of The Society - Rom. 1:24-32. (Would appear to be a reasonable explanation for little growth.)
1. v. 24 - Lust ruled in uncleanness.
2. v. 25 - Man reigned supreme.
3. v. 26-27 - Vile passions / Homosexuality.
4. v. 28 - Refused to know God.
5. v. 29-32 - Such immorality led to this!
6. In spite of false religions - church grew!
i. Diana: Ceremonial prostitution / Religious fornication!
ii. Yet, growth - Acts 19:20.
i. "Live like a Corinthian" - Lead a life of drunken & immoral debauchery; Bacchus (god of wine) - Drunken feasts.
ii. Aphrodite (goddess of love/beauty) - 1000 priestesses (prostitutes).
iii. Typical Corinthian: "The man who recognized no superior & no law but his own desire." Yet, growth! Acts 18:9-10
7. In spite of immorality - church grew!
a. Given today as the reason for little growth!
b. Matt. 9:12-13; 1 Cor. 6:9-11 - These need conversion!
C. Active Opposition To The Truth - Acts 4:17-18; 5:28; 8:1-3; 14:2-6.
1. From without:
a. Religious opposition / Physical persecution.
b. Idolatry (Acts 19:23-40); Judaism.
2. From within:
-False teachers (Acts 15:1).
3. Reaction of disciples: Persistence / Not ashamed / Growth continued (not their excuse to do nothing)!
a. Moved ahead - Acts 4:19-20; 5:40-42; 8:4; 14:7.
b. Glorified God - 1 Pet. 4:12-16!
II. THE NT CHURCHES GREW (Acts 9:31)
A. Because Of Steadfast Faith (Persistence, firmness).
1. Steadfast in the word - Acts 2:42.
a. Studied it - 2 Tim. 2:15.
b. Were teaching it - Acts 5:42.
c. Were not ashamed of it - Rom. 1:16.
2. Steadfast in their fellowship - Acts 2:42.
a. Worshipped regularly & together! Didn't have to be rebuked to get them to worship God! (20:7)
b. Dwelt continually on death of Jesus! United in faith.
3. Steadfast in service - Acts 2:44-47.
B. Because Of Personal Evangelism.
1. Fruit-bearers - Rom. 7:4; Jno. 15:2, 8.
-One type of fruit is teaching others.
2. Took the great commission personally - Acts 8:4; 17:6; 28:22 (everywhere!).
3. Takes the personal involvement of every Christian!
C. Because They Kept The Church Clean.
1. Acts 5:1-11 - lst church discipline - By God Himself!
-Result: Acts 5:5, 11, 12-14.
2. Acts 8:22 - New convert sinned - Immediate rebuke. -Positive result (repented)!
3. Purposes: Save & protect - 1 Cor. 5:3-6.
4. We need to be serious about church discipline, using it constantly & consistently as a means of saving souls & to maintain the purity of the church.
1. NT churches grew so fast because Christians were fully given to their faith.
a. Steadfast living / Personal evangelism / Kept the church clean.
b. They were diligent in all things - Rom. 12:11.