ADDED TO THE LORD
Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon's Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed. (Act 5:12-16)
What does it mean to be converted? Does it mean getting a new cap of religion? In this book of Acts we have been interested in the conversions that took place in the history of the early church. We have seen how the Spirit moves in the hearts of people to bring them to a saving faith in Christ. We have also discovered the means that He uses to bring about these important changes in the lives of people. These means are brought to fruition through the ministry of the gospel which is effectual even during difficult times.
God is always working among His people to transform them and make them what they can never be by themselves. He works so powerfully to conform them to His likeness. This always has an effect both among them and among others. Therefore we need always to ask how our Christian living in our church is affecting our fellow believers and but even more especially among the unbelievers. How has the ministry of the gospel changed you and what has this transformation in you accomplished in others? We would like to meet with each of the categories of people who are exposed to the gospel.
Signs and wonders were done by the hands of the apostle (vv12,15-16)
Spectacular events always attract attention. The general account of the miracles which the apostles did is given here together with the effects of the apostolic ministry. The gospel spreads mightily although there is opposition from within and from without. The religious people like the Scribes, Pharisees and the Sadducees rage as they persecute the Christians; and from within the professing Christians are hypocrites like the couple, Ananias and Saphirah. Nevertheless the gospel is spreading and is bearing fruits.
The responses are diverse: some believed and were added to the Lord, others remained non-committal and therefore so many were left just as they were – sinners!
The miracles they did proved their divine mission. There were many miracles of different kind and often repeated. They were signs and wonders to prove divine presence and power especially in His mercy and grace. They were not done publically among the people so that they would be free to enquire and ascertain if there had been any fraud or collusion in them.
What were the effects of the apostolic ministry?
1. THERE WAS UNITY IN THE CHURCH (V12)
We read that they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. Isn’t amazing that the Sanhedrin would let them meet in the temple? How could they tolerate such a mob that they thought were blasphemers? It is because God is in control and allows what will bring a profitable honor to His Name. In this case it was convenient for the gospel to be spread. The convenience was especially in the continuity of public worship.
They were together in unity. They were there with one accord, unanimous in their doctrine, worship, and discipline. There is no indication of grumbling among them even after the death of Ananias and Sapphira, as there was against Moses and Aaron after the death of Korah and company: You have killed the people of the Lord, (Num.16:41). The separation of hypocrites, by distinguishing judgments, should make the sincere cleave so much the closer to the Lord and to each other and to the gospel ministry.
Their unity did not attract those who were not willing to give themselves fully to the work of the Lord. We read that, “None of the rest dared join them...”
Just like the plants and animals produce plants and animals after their own kinds, hypocrites produce hypocrites. But because this first church did not have a place for hypocrites in their roll, the Bible says that none of the hypocrites dared to join them. The coming of hypocrisy in the church is twofold – birds of a feather flock together. The church that does not have hypocrites in its roll of membership will not attract hypocrites. You realize what had just happened; two hypocrites had just been killed in order to be purged from God’s people. This is what awaits every hypocrite – to face eternal death.
Are we united as a church? Are we in one accord and in harmony in the service of the Lord? Do we seek to bring honor to the Lord through our unity? We need to know that our union in Christ is the major reason why we should star as one. Where there is unity the Lord clearly says that He will command a blessing (Psalm 133). God has no place for those who claim to be united in Him and yet divided – Is Christ divided? (1Cor.1:13)
2. THE CHURCH WAS HIGHLY ESTEEMED (V13)
The outsiders came to discover that there was something outstanding among these people and so they honored them highly. They sensed that what they had was not from men but divine. This is why they remembered that although these men were unlearned yet they recognized that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).
They also understood them to be favored by God the Mighty Maker. They got to know them and even represented them as the favorites of Heaven, and unspeakable blessings to this earth. What great blessings Christians are to the world – providing light and salting the world?. It is the Christians who have to give illuminating influence among sinners; otherwise God would destroy them all in a spur of the moment. It is because of the Christians that both the evil and the righteous are preserved together as the Lord said, “let both grow together until the harvest...” (Matt. 13:30)
Being together with a good Christian ought to bring wonderful blessing to you for he ought to teach you the way of the Lord and bring eternal blessings. Christians need to beware that their conduct ought to attract people to the Lord. Unbelievers, be advised that your eternal good can only come from Christians – not the angels or animals! Christians are God’s agents.
But also note that they did not exalt themselves. These were people who had nothing to boast of their own except Christ and Him crucified. They were those who did not think of themselves more highly than they were. They transmitted the glory of all they did very carefully and faithfully to Christ.
Notice that the church as highly esteemed by both the Christians and none Christians. Christians esteemed the church by the virtue that they had come to be part of it. The unbelievers esteemed the church in the sense that they came to witness what was happening in the church. They even brought their sick to be healed by the apostles. This shows a lot of respect for what the church was doing.
Are you proud to be a member of this church? How much honor have you brought this church? You need to evaluate how much honor people have over the body of Christ generally because of your influence. You need to ask yourself every day whether you have brought honor to the Body of Christ or disgrace. You also need to be well versed in scripture in to come up with more ways to bring esteem to the church. Every time when joining a local church, look at the situation in terms of what you have to offer to the church, than what you have to gain. That way you would be profitable both to yourself and to others.
3. THE CHURCH INCREASED IN NUMBER (V14)
We read that “more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,” and no doubt joined the church. When they saw that God was working among the apostles and disciples of Jesus, they also wanted to be part of it. They were not deterred by the example that was made by Ananias and Sapphira that they were rather invited by it into a society that kept such a strict discipline.
• Believers are added to the Lord Jesus.
What it means to be added to the Lord is to be joined to Him, the Saviour and the Redeemer off our souls. The One who has so expensively bought us at the cost of His own life. Being saved is being added to the Lord and consequently joined to his mystical body the CHURCH. Being added to the Lord means that we are permanently made to be part of Him, in Him, to be with Him forever. For in Him nothing can separate us or cut us off or pluck us off. He is very clear and categorical that is there nothing – neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Rom 8:38,39).
Is it nothing to you that Christ is willing to make you part of Him forever? He is willing to save to the uttermost those who will draw to Him by faith and repentance. What are you waiting for? If you are not saved, let it be clear to you that you have yourself to blame for it. And those who have been saved have Christ to thank for it.
Thankfully, although many have been brought to the Lord, yet there is room for others to be added to Him, added to the number of those that are united to Him. Moreover, more additions will still be made till the mystery of God shall be finished, and the number of the elect accomplished. The Lord of all mercy is calling out to you. And the call has gone out very clearly – “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Mat 11:28
• Salvation granted without distinction
Both men and women were saved. This is to say that people of both gender divide were brought to salvation. Men and women means all categories of people were saved. God does not discriminate, for He saves both men and women. Therefore no one is saved because he is either a man r because of being a woman. In the sa,e way there is no one who is not saved because he or she was in this gender or the other. Notice is taken of the conversion of women as well as men; more notice than generally was in the Jewish church, in which they neither received the sign of circumcision nor were obliged to attend the solemn feasts; and the court of the women was one of the outer courts of the temple. But, as among those that followed Christ while he was upon earth, so among those that believed on him after he went to heaven, great notice was taken of the good women.
Who were added? Believers only are the ones who have a portion in the Lord – it is neiother everyone nor any one. Only believers are added to the Lord. The bible is very clear that it is as many as believe are made to be children of GOD. You realize that they were added to the Lord. Union with the Lord for believers is a permanent offer. The opportunity to be with the Lord will last for all eternity. But still there is a question: Who added them? If you think keenly you will discover that that these new people did not add themselves to the Lord – they do not have that capacity for it was lost during the fall. Again they were not added to the Lord by the apostles. They did not add themselves but God did.
4. THE CHURCH SERVED THE COMMUNITY (vv.12,15,16)
There have always been people suffering from one sickness or the other. There are those who will die out of those sicknesses. However, the Lord moved Himself to beat witness to Christ’s power and goodness in order to attract men to Himself, by the power of HIS grace. So because the apostles had many patients they brought to the church a lot of reputation both to themselves and their teaching by the cure of them all. The many signs and wonders were done by the hand of the apostles brought to the people all manner benefits of them, both in city and country.
In the city: They brought forth their sick into the streets. It might be that the temple rules could not allow the sick to enter in. it might be that the apostles were too busy to go to their houses. And they laid them on beds and couches (because they were so weak that they could neither go nor stand), that at the least the shadow of Peter, passing by, might overshadow some of them, though it could not reach them all; and, it should seem, it had the desired effect, as the woman's touch of the hem of Christ's garment had; and in this, among other things, that word of Christ was fulfilled, Greater works than these shall you do. God expresses his care of his people, by his being their shade on their right hand
Peter comes between them and the sun, and so heals them, cuts them off from a dependence upon creature sufficiency as insufficient, that they may expect help only from that Spirit of grace with whom he was filled.
In the country towns: Multitudes came to Jerusalem from the cities round about, bringing sick folks that were afflicted in body, and those that were afflicted with unclean spirits, that were troubled in mind, and they were healed every one; both sick bodies and minds were made whole.
Therefore, the apostles were given opportunity to convince people's judgments by these miracles of the heavenly origin of the gospel they preached. It was also an opportunity to engage people's wills by giving them an example of its beneficial tendency to the welfare of this lower world.
What is it that we are doing as a church to serve the community? At least we are helping in the schools in Pokot North and Rendille. What is that we are doing here in Nairobi to serve the community? This would be a natural way of evangelizing and in so doing we would reach those who would otherwise remained unreached.
But most important is to seek to bring all honor and glory to the Lord who is the source of all the blessings that we give to the world freely. We should give freely just as we have received, that all praise and honor may go to the Lord.
May we seek as a church to be a church that has been influenced by the ministry of the gospel in these four ways that Christ may be honored.