The Formation of the Church: What Empowered its Development?
by Bobby Bruno 5/08/2014 / Bible Studies
Empowered by the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and others, and by Jesus Christ Himself to Paul, the early church spread like wildfire. Even though it was under constant persecution it continued to grow. In a book entitled "The Complete Book of Christian Heroes" (2005), the authors exclaimed, more than once throughout their book, that for every one Christian that was martyred, a thousand more rose up.
When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples during Pentecost, as Jesus said He would (Acts 1:8), they began boldly to proclaim the gospel that Jesus had taught them. With the Spirit leading the way, the early church grew in numbers daily and the gospel spread throughout Jerusalem. With the newly acquired Holy Spirit as his guide, the apostle Peter was the first person to proclaim the salvation of the Lord. His bold statements to his fellow Jews about this Jesus they had killed and who rose again from the dead, lead 3,000 to be baptized in the name of the Man they had once persecuted (Acts 2:14-47).
As time went on, the Holy Spirit continued to lead the apostles in their quest to make the Name of Jesus known to all who would listen to them. Still, the Holy Spirit allowed the apostles to be jailed and persecuted at times, as Jesus prophesized they would. Peter himself would know the insides of a jail a couple of times, but the Spirit rescued him to show that this man of God was in fact just that (Acts 5:12-42). Through many acts of healings and the salvation of many Jews, the Holy Spirit let it be known through men that Jesus was God, and that Jesus was the only way to salvation and forgiveness from the One True God.
Five reports in Acts where believers were first filled with the Holy Spirit (From The Berean School of the Bible: Acts The Holy Spirit at Work in Believers (p. 43).
Acts 2:1-4 The day of Pentecost: 120 people spoke in other languages no their own.
Acts 8:14-19 Believers in Samaria: Something happened that caused Simon to offer money.
Acts 9:17-19 The conversion and filling of Paul: Paul often spoke privately in other languages.
Acts 10:44-46 The home of Cornelius: They spoke in new languages.
Acts 19:1-7 Believers at Ephesus: They spoke in new languages and prophesied.
And then there came Saul. Leave it to Holy Spirit to choose a man such as Saul to carry the Word of God to the Gentile nations. Saul was a man who killed Christians because he felt that he was doing God a favor by getting rid of those who were worshipping this man Jesus instead of God, a Jew's proper object of worship. Saul was also afraid that the Christians would destroy the power that the Pharisees held over the Jewish nation, and that just would not do (Philippians 3:4-7). But the Jesus Christ had other plans for this zeal that Saul carried with him as he put innocent Christians to death.
In every one of his letters, Paul gives Jesus Christ the glory for his work in spreading the good news to the Gentile nations of the then known world. Never once did Paul take any credit for anything he did that brought another person to repentance and salvation. Through the Holy Spirit, Paul started churched in many of the areas he visited. Especially close to his heart were the churches in Philippi, Colossus, Thessalonica, and Galatia. His letters to them showed his heart for the truth of the gospel, it's being taught correctly, and it's being followed to the letter.
The Holy Spirit sent Paul on three long journeys to start churches and to build up the ones he had begun earlier trips. The Spirit gave Paul the strength to walk the thousands of miles that he did during his lifetime; the strength during great persecution, shipwrecks, and life-threatening issues; and the words to say to those who believed that their gods were the ones to follow. From his conversion until his death, the Holy Spirit used Paul as an instrument of change -- change that continues to spread throughout the world today. If it had not been for the God-given zeal that Paul utilized throughout his life in the Name of Christ, along with his fellow apostles and their work for the Lord, the world would be a different place today. Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit have fulfilled their promises to give us life everlasting. Give praise to the Lord!
Jackson, D. & N. (2005). The Complete Book of Christian Heroes: over 200 stories of courageous people who suffered for Jesus. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Life in the spirit study bible, new international version. (1992, 2003). Life Publishers International.
Wood, G. O. (2005, 2006). Acts: The Holy Spirit at Work in Believers. Springfield, MO: Berean School of the Bible, a division of Global University.
Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.