Smoke & Mirrors: The False Message of Unity & Healing Protests, Riots, Demonstrations, Rallies & Conventions Presents

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament account of the spiritual body of Jesus Christ of Nazareth which is the church as it was written by Luke in the book of Acts. More specifically today’s passage is found in the sixth chapter of this New Testament book. “And in those days, when the. Number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:1-7).

 

            “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. And there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, and set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel” (Acts 6:8-15).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the narrative within the days of the early Church shifting in quite an astonishing way. In the first and opening chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ  and the period of time the apostles, Jesus’ brethren, the women which were a part of their company and the others who made up the other one-hundred and twenty in the upper room abiding together in one place in one accord as they gave themselves to prayer. It would be in the first and opening chapter of this New Testament book we encounter and come face to face with the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ unto the right hand of the Father and the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. In all reality there are essentially four distinct mysteries found within the opening chapter of this New Testament book beginning with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the grave on the third day as He declared would take place. The second mystery would be the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ unto the right hand of the Father as He would lead His apostles and followers out as far as the mount called Olivet where He would give them final instructions before being taken up into heaven and received out of their sight. The third mystery which is also found in the first and opening chapter of the book of Acts is that of the return or coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ for two men clothed in white apparel would appear unto those gathered at the mount called Olivet and speak to them of Jesus returning and coming again in the same manner in which they saw Him ascend. The fourth and final mystery that is found in this passage of Scripture is that of the arrival of the Holy Spirit as Jesus would emphatically declare unto them how they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.

 

            As you come to the second chapter of this New Testament book you will encounter the events which transpired on the day of Pentecost ten days after the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. It would be as the apostles, Jesus’ brethren, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary the mother of Joses and Salmon, and other women and brethren were together in one accord in the upper room that a sound as of a mighty rushing wind would fill the place where they were gathered. Directly accompanying the sound of the mighty rushing wind would be a distribution of cloven tongues of fire which would not only rest upon each of those present in the upper room but would also give them the ability to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. It would be the events which took place on the day of Pentecost that would set in motion everything that would transpire in the days of the early Church from that day on for the arrival of the Holy Ghost would be the catalyst that would embolden and empower the apostles and followers of Jesus to continue and carry out the work which Jesus left unto them unfinished. Oh I continue to be absolutely astonished and captivated with the fact that despite everything the Lord Jesus Christ did during those three and a half years He walked among us on the face of the earth He did not complete everything that needed to be done. Despite the fact that Jesus healed all manner of sickness and disease and despite the fact that He went throughout Galilee and Judaea teaching and preaching in their synagogues on the sabbath days there would be more that would be preached and proclaimed unto the house of Israel. The message which the apostles preached in the days after the arrival of the Holy Spirit would be of an entirely different nature and language than what Jesus Himself preached for the heart and foundation of the apostles’ message would indeed be the death, the burial, the resurrection and the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            What you find in chapters two through five of this New Testament book is an incredibly powerful picture of healing in the name of Jesus as well as preaching in the name of Jesus beginning in the days after the arrival of the Holy Ghost. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for as early as the day of Pentecost itself we find the apostle Peter standing up together with the other eleven apostles and preaching the gospel unto all those who were present in the city of Jerusalem on that day. It’s actually quite interesting to think about and consider how many men and women the apostle Peter could have very well preached to on this particular day for it was at the time of one of the Jewish feasts and we know there were men and women from other tongues, tribes, nations and languages present in Jerusalem at this time. We know from the second chapter of this book how when the Holy Ghost gave those in the upper room utterance to speak with other tongues they spoke the wonderful works of the living God in the tongues and languages of those from the nations and lands round about Judaea and Jerusalem. On the day of Pentecost the apostle Peter would not only use the prophetic words spoken by Joel to describe what took place on that day but would then transition to preaching about this Jesus of Nazareth whom they delivered to be crucified yet who the eternal God and Father raised up from death to life by the power of the Holy Spirit on the third day. Not only this but you will also find the apostle Peter preaching unto all those present on the day of Pentecost that God had not only raised up this Jesus of Nazareth but how He had also exalted Him unto the right hand of all power and glory in heaven.

 

            If there is one truth found within the opening five chapters of the New Testament book of Acts it’s the tremendous multiplication that took place in the midst of the days of early Church. It is absolutely impossible to read the words found in this New Testament book and not be drawn to the fact that there was a tremendous amount of multiplication and addition which took place as what would begin with one-hundred and twenty souls gathered together in the upper room would begin to increase in an exponential fashion in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. In the first chapter of the book of Acts we find the number of those who would be the first members of the early church totaling one-hundred and twenty who were gathered together in the upper room. On the day of Pentecost, however, that number would increase in an absolutely incredible way as the physician Luke writes and records how there were added three-thousand souls to the number of those who were originally present in the upper room. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that in a single day and after hearing the wonderful works of God spoken in other tongues as well as the gospel preached by the apostles Peter three thousand souls would indeed be added to their number. On the very first day of the Holy Spirit’s arrival and presence in the earth there were three thousand souls which were added to the Church. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for I am convinced one of the greatest testaments and witnesses to a healthy church body is indeed its ability to multiply and metastasize in the earth. Please note that when I speak about multiplying and metastasizing I am not speaking about churches growing through transplants from other churches but rather the unreached or the hardened of hearts turning to the faith and believing on the name of the Lord Jesus. The early church would on its very first day increase by three thousand souls and I can’t help but wonder what would happen in many of our churches if such a manifestation of the Holy Spirit and such preaching as was preached by the apostle Peter took place among us. Consider if you will the words which are found in the latter portion of the second chapter concerning the multiplication which would take place in the midst of the church on the day of Pentecost:

 

            “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved(Acts 2:37-47).

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of what is found within this portion of Scripture for within this passage of Scripture we are brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the multiplication and metastasizing which took place on the day of Pentecost—and not only on the day of Pentecost but also in the days which were to come. In the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts—not only do we encounter three thousand souls being baptized and added to their number in a single day but we also find the Lord adding to the church daily such as should be saved. In essence there was the initial multiplication and addition which would take place and total three thousand souls while there would be a continued addition and multiplication that would take place. Pause for a moment and consider how incredibly powerful it is to read the words found in the second chapter of the book of Acts and consider how the Lord would add an initial three thousand souls to the church who were baptized and believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ but each day thereafter the Lord would continue to add unto the church such as should be saved. It is absolutely necessary for us to recognize and pay close attention to this for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that what Jesus declared unto the apostle Peter and the other disciples in Caesarea Philippi would indeed begin to be manifested during those days. It would be in Caesarea Philippi where Jesus would speak directly unto Simon Peter in the company and presence of the other apostles and declare that upon this rock He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Oh that we would recognize and understand these words which were presented in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew for when we come to the second chapter of the book of Acts we not only find the Church being birthed in the earth but we also find the Church being built and increased by the Lord as three thousand would be added in a single day. What’s more is that the Lord would daily add to their number and unto the Church such as should be saved.

 

            If you continue reading the New Testament book of Acts you will find this multiplication continuing for it wouldn’t be enough to merely increase the number of those who made up the early Church by three thousand. When you come to the opening verses of the fourth chapter of this New Testament book you will find certain events which took place after the apostles Peter and John had offered healing unto an impotent man who was lame from his mother’s womb. This man who was above forty years old and was lame from his mother’s womb would be completely healed and his body made whole and would enter into the Temple together with the apostles Peter and John leaping, worshipping and praising the living God. The opening verses of the third chapter describe this healing and miracle which would take place in the days after the arrival of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost as this would be the first recorded miracle performed by the apostles and followers of Jesus Christ during those days. What we must needs understand is that in the second chapter it was the events surrounding the manifestation and arrival of the Holy Ghost as evidenced through speaking with other tongues as they were given utterance that would capture the attention of those which were present in the city of Jerusalem. In the third chapter, however, it would not be tongues that would capture the attention of those which were present in the city of Jerusalem but rather healing in the name of Jesus that would do so. In the third chapter of this New Testament book we encounter and come face to face with healing in Jesus’ name and how a man who was lame from his mother’s womb would indeed receive healing and would made completely whole in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

            It would be on this particular day when the first recorded healing and miracle performed by the apostles and followers of Jesus during the days of the early church that the apostle Peter would once more stand up in the company and presence of the people who marveled at what had taken place among them. I have to admit that there is something to be said about the words which are found in the second and third chapters of the New Testament book of Acts for there were essentially two things which would capture the attention of those present in the city of Jerusalem during those days. On the day of Pentecost it would be the arrival of the Holy Spirit and those in the upper room speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance that would capture the attention of those who were present in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. Those who were present in the city of Jerusalem would think that the men and women in the upper room who came forth speaking with other tongues were made and drunk with new wine. When the Holy Ghost arrived the evidence and manifestation of His arrival would capture and arrest the attention of those which were present in the city of Jerusalem during those days and would create the audience of those who would hear and listen to the words which the apostle Peter preached. Not many days thereafter there would be another event that would capture and arrest the attention of those present in the city of Jerusalem as a man who was above forty years old who was lame from his mother’s womb who was daily laid at the gate of the Temple called beautiful was healed in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. We must needs stop and consider this and how absolutely incredible it is for on this particular day the Holy Ghost would use the healing of one who had been lame since his mother’s womb to capture and arrest the attention of those which were present in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. With men and women wondering in amazement at what had taken place among them the apostle Peter would once more stand up in their midst and preach Jesus of Nazareth who was not only delivered up to be crucified but whom the living God raised up from death to life before receiving Him unto Himself at His right hand in heaven.

 

            When we come to the fourth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find that while the apostles spoke unto the people the priests, the captain of the Temple and the Sadducees came upon them being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead. Moreover we find in the opening verses of the fourth chapter how those who came upon the apostles laid hands on them and put them in hold unto the next day for by that time it was evening. What we find in the fourth verse of this chapter is absolutely remarkable for within this verse we find the physician Luke writing how many of them which heard the word preached by the apostle Peter and the other apostles believed. Not only this but we also find and read how the number of the men was about five thousand—another increase from the originally one-hundred and twenty and the three thousand which were added on the day of Pentecost. Oh pause and consider that as a direct result of the manifestation of the Holy Ghost as evidence by speaking with tongues, as a direct result of the healing of this impotent man who was lame from his mother’s womb, as well as from the preaching of the apostle Peter and the other apostles many believed, were baptized and were added to the number such as should be saved. Although we begin to see the opposition of the religious system beginning to rise up against the apostles during those days we find the number of those present in the early Church continuing to increase. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for you cannot read the words found within these chapters and not encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the multiplication and addition that would take place in the midst of the early church as the Lord would continue to add daily such as should be saved.

 

            The more you read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts the more you will find the increasing of number as well as the increase in compassion and community. You cannot read the words which are found in the book of Acts and not encounter the tremendous presence of the compassion and community that was fostered and created by the Holy Spirit. Within the first five chapters of the New Testament book of Acts you will find a palpable and powerful sense of community that was fostered and created by the Holy Spirit—something we must needs recognize and understand. There would be those who would argue and contend that the main evidence and manifestation of the Holy Spirit is speaking with other tongues as the Holy Spirit gives utterance. There would be those who would argue and contend that speaking with other tongues is the main and underlying evidence of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit among us and during the days of the early Church and would seek to present this is perhaps the most vital element within the early Church. With this being said there would be others who would argue and contend that healing and miracles is the ultimate evidence and manifestation of the arrival and presence of the Holy Spirit. There would be those among us who would argue and present their case that healing and miracles is the ultimate manifestation and demonstration of the Holy Spirit. Still there would be others who would argue and contend that preaching in Jesus’ name—preach the gospel of the death, the resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ is indeed the hallmark of the church and the underlying manifestation and evidence of the presence of the person of the Holy Ghost. The truth of the matter, however, is that I would dare say that one of—if not the greatest evidences of the Holy Ghost in the midst of the church is not necessarily healing, nor necessarily preaching, nor even speaking with other tongues but rather community, fellowship and relationship.

 

            I sit here reading the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts and I can’t help but think about what a tremendous act of the Holy Ghost it would be to unite and make of one heart fisherman, tax collectors, priests, Levites, and even women, harlots, widows, orphans, and so much more. I am convinced that it is nothing for the Holy Ghost to offer healing in the name of Jesus to that one or those individuals who need healing in their physical bodies. It is a small thing for the Holy Ghost to anoint one to preach in the name of Jesus and raise them up to preach boldly the gospel concerning the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more is that it is a light thing for the Holy Spirit to grant utterance unto men and women to speak with other tongues as they proclaim the wonderful works of the living God in the tongues and languages of other nations, tribes and peoples. What, however, is so much more difficult to accomplish is the unification and bringing together of various different peoples across gender lines, across socio-economic lines, across religious lines, and perhaps even across political lines. What’s more is that it is also truly something to not only cause men and women to be united together in one place with one heart, with one mind and with one soul but fill them with compassion towards each other. I would dare argue and contend that one of—if not the greatest works of the Holy Ghost in our midst is not only fostering unity among the brethren but also producing within our hearts and souls a genuine compassion and love for others. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the latter portion of the second chapter as well as the fourth chapter of this New Testament book of Acts:

 

            “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:41-47).

 

            “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:32-37).

 

            These words must be carefully considered for they bring us face to face with what is perhaps the most difficult act and work of the Holy Ghost in the earth. Lest you think that this is somehow incorrect or inaccurate I would invite you to consider what the social climate has been within this nation over the past year. If you have paid any attention to what has taken place within this nation over the past year you will undoubtedly encounter the tremendous truth that there has perhaps never been a time when we have been more divided. Over the past year—perhaps more than ever before—we have encountered and come face to face with the fact that we are divided across gender lines, we are divided across racial lines, we are divided across religious lines, we are divided across political lines, and we are even divided across socio-economic lines. You cannot look upon this nation of the past year and not come face to face with the fact that we have been incredibly divided—perhaps more than at any other time in the history of the nation. We know that this nation was indeed divided during the days of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, and were even divided during the days of Martin Luther King, Jr, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Malcom X and others, however, I would dare say that this nation has never been more divided than it has been over the past year. Adding to this another mode of division we are also divided along lines of sexual orientation and preference coupled together with a redefinition of what genders truly are.

 

            I am absolutely and completely convinced we are living during days of tremendous division within and throughout every fiber of our culture and society. You cannot convince me that we are not a nation who is perhaps more divided than it ever has before. There is absolutely no denying the fact that this nation is and has been completely and utterly divided over the past year and that the divisions which have been mounting and building up over the years have reached a head over the past year. In all reality I am convinced that one of the hardest things to foster within our culture and society right now is not miracles, is not preaching, and is not speaking in tongues but unity among the brethren. As I have sat back and watched and witnessed the events that have taken place over the past year I have become increasingly convinced and aware of the fact that perhaps the most difficult thing to manage, pull off and accomplish within this nation and our culture and society is that of uniting men and women across the various dividing lines that are and have been present among us. We would like to think that our joining together in protests and rallies and the like are signs of true unity and yet I am absolutely convinced that such realities are nothing more than smoke and mirrors and do nothing more than build upon the emotions and feelings within the hearts and souls of men and women. Rallies, protests, demonstrations and the like are nothing more than shallow manifestations of a unity we think we have created and would like to have and fall far short of the type of unity that is spoken of in Scripture. I don’t care how big your sign is, I don’t care how loud your voice is, I don’t care what cause you are protesting for, I don’t care how many people you might protest with for at the end of the day protests, riots, demonstrations, rallies and the like are facades and smoke screens of what true unity is and should be like.

 

            In all reality I would dare say that there are many within our nation—many within our culture and society—who are desperately longing and yearning for unity. There are countless men and women within our nation who are hungry for unity and are sick and tired of the dividing lines that have caused us to be separate from each other for far too long now. The very fact that we have protests, the very fact that we have riots, the very fact that we have demonstrations and marches and the like are palpable and powerful declarations that men and women truly desire unity with each other. The trouble is that unity that is not and has not been fostered by the person and presence of the Holy Ghost is nothing more than smoke and mirrors and is short-lived. We would like to think that when we witness protests, and riots, and marches, and demonstrations that we are beholding healing and unity within the nation and yet the truth of the matter is that this is nothing more than man-made attempts to do what only the Holy Spirit can do. What’s more is that I would dare say that there are and there have been many men and women who have been misguided and deceived into thinking that protests, riots, demonstrations, marches and the like are actual signs of healing and unity within the nation and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not and has not been the case. The underlying danger with such things as protests, riots, demonstrations, marches and the like is that it is man’s futile attempt to do what only the Holy Spirit can accomplish. It is with this in mind I would like to invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written unto the Philippians, the words found in the thirteenth chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthians, and the twelfth chapter of the epistle written unto the Romans:

 

            “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven ,and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:1-16).

 

            “…But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity evnieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth. Not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoke, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophecy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Corinthians 12:31-13-13).

 

            “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distribution to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you; bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).

 

            I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words which are presented before us in these three passages of Scripture for within them we encounter and come face to face with the necessity of love, with compassion, with unity, with affection one toward another, and the like. Within these passages of Scripture we are brought face to face with the awesome and powerful sense of community and fellowship that is indeed an outworking of the manifestation of the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truth for it brings us face to face with what I am convinced is the single greatest work of the Holy Spirit—namely, that of fostering and creating unity, community and fellowship among brethren from all different types of walks of life. I have watched and witnessed over the past year as men and have not only rallied behind but also stood behind and supported protests, marches, demonstrations, riots and the like thinking and believing they are somehow palpable and powerful manifestations of unity within the nation. There are men and women who would like to think and believe that such realities within this nation are signs of unity and community among us—and not only signs of unity but also signs of healing. There are and there have been men and women who might even feel a certain sense of connection and camaraderie with those whom they march and protest with in the streets of our cities and yet I am absolutely and completely convinced that such realties are nothing more than man’s futile attempt to do what only the Holy Spirit can do. I do not believe with any single fiber of my being nor any part of my heart that what we have witnessed over the past year in terms of protests, riots, demonstrations, marches and the like are and have been any sign of unity, community and fellowship among men and women within our nation.

 

            The more I read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts the more I am brought face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth surrounding what I am convinced is the single greatest work of the Holy Ghost during the days of the early church. You cannot read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts and not encounter and come face to face with the fact that while speaking with other tongues was indeed necessary, while preaching was indeed necessary, and while healing was indeed necessary there has to be something that is in place when men and women are gathered together. Within the first five chapters of the New Testament book of Acts we only read of speaking with tongues once, we only read of one miracle such as healing the impotent man who was lame from his mother’s womb once, and we only read of healing, signs and wonders en masse being mentioned once in verses twelve through sixteen of the fifth chapter. With this being said we read of the increase of the Church and the very real and palpable sense of community among the brethren being mentioned on more than one occasion. I am absolutely and completely convinced that the single greatest work present in the midst of the early Church was not necessarily speaking with other tongues, nor healing of all manner of sicknesses and diseases, nor even preaching, but was the fostering of community and fellowship among those who might otherwise have been separated.

 

            THE TRANSFORMATION OF RACE AND KINDRED INTO BRETHREN! In all reality when you read the words found in the New Testament book of Acts you will find that although many within the city of Jerusalem were of the same kindred and race as Jews and Hebrews there was something the presence and power of the Holy Spirit did that transcended even being kindred and race. That which the Holy Spirit did during those days was take men and women of the same kindred, race, tongue, language, and the like and transform and unite them as brethren. This is something we must needs recognize and pay close attention to for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and powerful truth of just what the Holy Ghost accomplished during those days. We dare not underestimate what took place during those days for this sense of community, fellowship, relationship and unity is something that cannot be overlooked or disregarded. The more I read the words found in the New Testament book of Acts the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful sense that what the Holy Spirit did on the day of Pentecost—and not only what the Holy Spirit did on the day of Pentecost but continued to do was not only multiplication but also unification. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we witness and behold when reading the words found in the New Testament book of Acts is not only a powerful picture of the increase of the Church but also the unity of the Church. With this being said we must needs understand that with more men and women being added unto the fold comes a greater need for unity and community. We know of how the one-hundred and twenty were in one place in one accord and of one mind as they gave themselves to prayer but stop and think about what it would and could take for three thousand souls to be united in one purpose with one heart and one mind and one soul.

 

            I read the words found in the New Testament book of Acts and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the undeniable truth that healing, tongues and preaching might be that which helps draw men and women into the place where they believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and are baptized, however, the true work of the Holy Spirit takes place once the baptism is over and men and women are part of the body of Christ. Oh I can’t help but think about and consider the tremendous truth surrounding the increase of the Church during these days and the number of souls that were added to their number and how it would not only increase the number of souls but would also increase the necessity of the work of the Holy Ghost. INCREASING THE NUMBER OF SOULS LEADS TO INCREASING THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT! THE MORE SOULS THERE ARE IN THE BODY THE GREATER THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT IN THE MIDST! I am fully and completely convinced that with addition and multiplication of men and women within the body of Christ comes an even greater work of the Holy Ghost to help foster and facilitate community, fellowship and relationship. What we witness and behold in the second and fourth chapters of this New Testament book are powerful statements of the Holy Spirit moving upon and moving in the midst of the early Church as He fostered community, fellowship, compassion, affection, love, unity, tender-heartedness and relationship among the brethren.

 

            With all of this being said I find it absolutely necessary to declare that what we find in the second and fourth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts cannot happen is not even possible without and apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. While it is indeed true that healing in Jesus’ name and speaking with other tongues as the Holy Ghost gives utterance are indeed manifestations of the Holy Spirit I would dare say that the true work of the Holy Spirit takes place in the day to day living and fellowship between those who comprise and make up the Church and body of Christ. Pause for a moment and consider what would and could happen within our nation if what took place on the day of Pentecost happened in the midst of one of the many protests which took place. Think about what would and could happen in our nation if in the midst of riots the same thing that took place on the day of Pentecost had in fact taken place among us. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister I do not for one minute believe that protests, riots, demonstrations, rallies, meetings, and the like are the answer to the problems plaguing our nation and our society. I do not believe that this nation has any hope of healing if we are trusting and relying upon these protests, demonstrations, riots and marches and give no room or place for the Holy Spirit to be manifested unto and among us in our midst. I firmly believe the only hope for true unity and healing within this nation is indeed the work of the Holy Spirit as was evidenced and manifested during the days of the early Church. What’s more is that when we come to the sixth chapter of this New Testament book we find that not only is there a tremendous need for the Holy Ghost to foster community, fellowship and relationship in the midst of the Church but there is also a need for men and women who are full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom to be raised up as servants among those who are present within the body of Christ.

 

            As you come to the sixth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will encounter and come face to face with the continued increase and multiplying of the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The opening verses of the sixth chapter not only bring us face to face with the number of the disciples multiplying but also a murmuring of the Grecians arising against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. If there is one thing the sixth chapter of the book of Acts demonstrates and reveals it’s that it is possible for the need to become so great within the body of Christ that reinforcements and additional ministry is needed. There is not a doubt in my mind when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture that the greater the church and number of disciples increases in the midst of the Church so also does ministry and care among them. The sixth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts brings us face to face with just how absolutely necessary it is for increased ministry and care as the number of saints and disciples continues to grow. The sixth chapter of the book of Acts highlights and underscores the tremendous truth surrounding the increase of disciples in the midst of the body of Christ and how with increase in numbers comes an increase in those who are willing and able to serve. It is in the sixth chapter of the book of Acts we encounter and come face to face with the fact that with the increase of the disciples came a certain neglect of the widows of the Grecians during the days of the early Church. As a direct result of this we find the apostles calling the multitude of the disciples unto them and declaring unto them that they ought to look out among themselves seven men of honest report who were full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom who they would be able to appoint over the business.

 

            Up until this point in time during the days of the early Church we find the twelve apostles being those who were responsible for the whole multitude of the disciples which were present within the early Church. It would be during those days and up until this time when the apostles were essentially the leaders within the early church and yet with that there would eventually come the point when the church would grow in such degree and number that certain widows were being overlooked in the daily ministration. The apostles being unwilling to remove themselves from prayer and the preaching of the Word recognized the tremendous need that was before them and called for the appointment of seven men of honest report who were full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom. These men would essentially be raised up among the multitude of the disciples to be servants unto and among them—something we must needs recognize and understand. It would be very easy to overlook what is found within this particular chapter and think nothing of it, however, there is something to be said of the appointment of seven men from among the multitude of the disciples and how these men were appointed from among them based on their testimony in the midst of them, based on their being full of the Holy Spirit and based on their being full of wisdom. What we must needs recognize when reading these words is that being full of the Holy Spirit and being full of wisdom wasn’t only needed among the apostles who gave themselves to preaching the Word of God but for these seven men who were appointed as servants among the multitude of the disciples. We would like to think that this isn’t the case, however, if there is one thing this particular passage reveals it’s that being full of the Holy Ghost was and is just as important to serve among the multitude of disciples as it is to preach and heal. These seven men were appointed and set apart from the multitude of the disciples for the sole purpose of serving among them and being servants unto them in the daily ministration.

 

            As I bring this writing to a close I am absolutely and completely convinced there is a great need for us to recognize just how incredibly vital being full of the Holy Ghost, being full of wisdom, and having an honest report and testimony among men truly is. These seven men were deliberately and intentionally chosen from among the multitude of the disciples that they might be servants unto and among them—those who would assist in the daily ministration and essentially that personal ministry which we find mentioned in the second and fourth chapters. If you want to truly understand what is presented here in this passage of Scripture it is absolutely necessary for us to recognize that in the second and fourth chapters we read of the ministration that would take place among the disciples as distribution was made to those who were in need. There was not only a sense of unity and community that was present during those days but there was also a powerful sense of personal ministry, compassion and hospitality that was present among the disciples in the days of the early church. We dare not overlook this for when we speak about the days of the early church we must needs recognize that directly linked and coupled together with unity and community was that of hospitality and giving of ones own goods and possessions for the benefit of the multitude. Pause for a moment and ask yourself if you would be willing to give of yourself and of what you have that you might be able to distribute and give unto others. We know that Zacchaeus openly declared unto Jesus that he would give half of his goods unto the poor and that the rich young ruler left the presence of Jesus sorrowful because Jesus had asked Him to sell all he had and give to the poor and then he would have treasure in heaven and would be able to come and follow Him.

 

Oh that we would indeed recognize and understand the tremendous need for unity and hospitality among us as the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. During the days of the early church the person and presence of the Holy Ghost wonderfully and powerfully created a palpable and profound sense of unity and community as well as compassion and hospitality among the disciples which were present in the early Church. By the time we come to the sixth chapter we find that with the increase of the number not only comes the need for the increase of the work of the Holy Spirit but also for the increase in those who are able to live as servants unto and among the disciples. I am absolutely and completely convinced that with the increase of the number of disciples that is manifested in the midst of the Church comes a powerful need for the increase of the work of the Holy Spirit to continue to foster unity and community among the disciples as well as compassion and hospitality among the brethren. Pause for a moment and think about what it would take for three thousand souls to continue together with one accord and in fellowship as they devote themselves to prayer and to the breaking of bread. Now think about what it would take for five thousand souls to move, operate and function in unity, in community, in compassion and hospitality among one another. We know that during His three and a half years of ministry upon the earth Jesus not only fed five thousand not including women and children but also four thousand not including women and children and I can’t help but think about what it would have taken to effectively minister unto and feed all five thousand and all four thousand men and women. Take this and project it onto the early Church and consider how perhaps there is no greater work of the Holy Spirit among us than that of creating and fostering unity and community among us as we learn to live and walk with each other—this despite what differences might exist among us. Oh that we would recognize understand the tremendous need for the Holy Ghost to be present among us as only the Holy Spirit can foster true unity and community as well as compassion and hospitality. Oh that we would recognize the tremendous need for us as the disciples and followers of Jesus to not only be models of that unity and community but also that we would bring that unity and community as well as compassion and hospitality unto those before and around us in the culture and society in which we are living.

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