Faithlife Sermons

Peace and Prosperity

Acts | Unfinished  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

Acts 9:31 (NKJV)
Acts 9:31 ESV
So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
Acts 9:31 NKJV
Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
One commentator compared this to a bird’s eye view of the early church.
When you are hiking up a mountain there will be times you will rest and look around.
Take in the view and acknowledge your progress.
There are many of those in Acts.
This is one of those.
Though short, no less significant than the others.

1. The church enjoyed peace.

God uses persecution to build the church.
Notice the mention of local churches.
Not just disciples, but organized churches.
So, how does persecution build the church?
Persecution bonds believers with Christ.
1 Peter 4:12–13 (NKJV)
1 Peter 4:12–13 NKJV
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
Persecution spreads the gospel.
Philippians 1:12–14 (NKJV)
Philippians 1:12–14 NKJV
But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
12But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,
13so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;
14and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
It took the gospel to new places.
It gave courage to others to witness.
Persecution scattered the church.
The church started in Jerusalem now it has spread through from Jerusalem, through Judea and Samaria, and Galilea.
Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 1:8 NKJV
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
James writes to the 12 tribes scattered abroad.
God uses peace to build the church.
The persecution that took Stephen’s life and continued to grow died out slowly with the conversion of Saul its leader.
Persecution likely did not fully end when Saul was converted.
Remember we are reading 3 years after his conversion.
Prosperity in peace does not always happen.
Someone once said: “as in cities where ground is scarce men build high up, so in times of straitness and persecution the Christian community, and the individuals who compose it, are often raised to a higher level of devotion than in easier and quieter times”
But it seems that the storm of persecution had shaped these Christians.
Now they are taking every advantage of this opportunity!
We should too.

2. The church was built up.

We are to build ourselves up through scripture.
Sin tears us down.
We fight sin and temptation every day.
We become weary and beat down.
2 Peter 1:4 says we have escaped the sin and corruption that is in this world
2 Peter 1:5-9
2 Peter 1:5–9 NKJV
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
It is the responsibility of every believer to edify.
Themselves and others.
We are to build others up through scripture.
The world does a good job of tearing people down.
Just jump on social media for 5 minutes.
Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV)
Ephesians 4:29 NKJV
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
29Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
We should be working against the world.
We need to be building each other up.
1 Thess 5:11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NKJV
Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
What is this idea of edification?
It is orderly continuous spiritual growth.
The idea Luke had was that of building.
Laborious and tedious work.
Brick by brick, course by course.
A skillful intentional task.
Stretch a line as a guide for each course.
Mix the morter just right
Make sure the brick was just right
Put the perfect about of morter down
Tapping the ends to make sure the brick is just right.
W.E. Vine says that it is used “metaphorically in the sense of edifying, promoting the spiritual growth and development of character of believers by teaching or by example, suggesting such spiritual progress as the result of patient labour.”
A superstructure raised on the proper foundation - Christ.
Becoming local groups of mature believers.
Outward peace brought inward progress.
In the calm they had space to breath and they were not wasting their time.
Too often American christians drift away from God when things start going their way.
Ephesians 5:16 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:16 NKJV
redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
NOT then the church had rest and grew lazy.
NOT then the church had rest and became complacent.

3. The church walked correctly

It walked in the fear of the Lord.
Walking is a continuous progressive motion.
“walking” in scripture is used to talk about manner of life.
Mature believers have a right view of God.
Hebrews 12:28–29 (NKJV)
Hebrews 12:28–29 NKJV
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.
28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
29For our God is a consuming fire.
Treating God with reverence and understanding He is a consuming fire.
A right view of God produces action.
Serving God acceptably.
Isaiah saw God sitting on the throne.
He saw his sin...
He was moved to action.
Walking in the fear of the Lord is...
Loving what God loves and hating what God hates.
Proverbs 8:13 (NKJV)
Proverbs 8:13 NKJV
The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate.
13The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate.
Being aware of His presence every day.
Psalm 8:3–4 (NKJV)
Psalm 8:3–4 NKJV
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?
3When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
4What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?
Trusting Him with everything even when it doesn’t make sense.
Prov. 3:5-6
Repenting of sin quickly and specifically.
It walked in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
They were not grieving the Holy Spirit
Ephesians 4:30 (NKJV)
Ephesians 4:30 NKJV
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Galatians 5:16–18 (NKJV)
Galatians 5:16–18 NKJV
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
16I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
17For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
They were comforted.
The Holy Spirit ministered to them.
They knew they were forgiven.
They lived in joy and peace.
The fruit of the Spirit was evident.

4. The church multiplied.

This is the end result of inward growth.
When the church functions the way God designed it to, numerical growth will come!
I love that Luke doesn’t say the church grew.
But it multiplied.
It is easy to get caught up with numbers.
We want to see the church getting bigger - isn’t that what the church is all about.
Not if you understand that Ephesians 4 is a strategy for church growth.
When we understand Ephesians 4 then we see that this is...
This is biblical church growth strategy.
I am not against strategic planning.
It is wise, but we don’t see it in Acts.
They just did what God designed them to do.
We don’t see anything about programs.
We don’t see anything about evangelism.
Yet the church was multiplied.
The church enjoyed peace.
The church was built up.
The church walked correctly.
The church multiplied.
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