Anointed to Serve In Whatever Capacity God Chooses

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament book of Acts—the spiritual account of the body of Christ—as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. 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 o faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Lebertines, and Cyrenian, 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,a nd 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 the sixth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the choosing of the seven deacons which were appointed by the apostles during the days of the early church. In all reality it’s quite astounding when you read the words which begin and frame the context of this chapter for Luke opens this particular chapter being speaking of a certain period of time. The beloved physician Luke opens and begins this particular passage by referencing “in those days”—days which were incredibly significant if you want to truly understand that which is found in this passage of Scripture. If you begin reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find Luke beginning and opening this chapter by speaking of “those days” and then going on to describe those days as being such when the number of the disciples was multiplied. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible this language truly is for if there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that during the days of the apostles and during the days of the early church the Lord would continually add souls unto those who first believed and were present in the upper room. It is in the first and opening chapter of this book we encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the number of those who were present in the upper room with one accord after returning from the mount called Olivet where Jesus not only gave final instructions but also where He ascended unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. It is in the first and opening chapter of this New Testament book of Acts where we find the wonderful and powerful description of the events which took place after the resurrection of Jesus and during those forty days when He appeared and showed Himself alive unto many. In fact I would dare say if you want to truly understand the words which are found within the New Testament book of Acts there is a great need to not only consider the first chapter of this book but you must also consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints as well as the words which were written in the twenty-fourth chapter of the gospel written by Luke:

 

            “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand: By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all, he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not tweet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain: but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed” (1 Corinthians 15:1-11).

 

            “And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and saids unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:36-49).

 

            “And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen” (Luke 24:50-53).

 

            “The former treatise have I jade, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom also hew shewed himself alive after his passion by man infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren” (Acts 1:1-14).

 

            “And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty)” (Acts 1:15).

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the beginnings of the days of the apostles—and not only the beginning of the days of the apostles but also the beginning of the church itself. There is not a doubt in my mind that the New Testament book of Acts is not merely a book regarding the books of the acts of the apostles but it is a book about the acts of the early church as a whole. What’s more is if we are truly honest with ourselves this New Testament book isn’t a book centered upon the acts of the apostles but rather around and upon the activity of the Holy Spirit. In fact one might very well say that this book is essentially a book about the acts of the Holy Spirit for nothing we read within this book from the first chapter unto the twenty-eighth and final chapter could happen without and apart from the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. We must needs acknowledge understand this incredible reality for when you consider the words and language found in this New Testament book you will encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the manifestation of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost as the room which they were gathered together in was completely and utterly filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Luke describes how when the day of Pentecost was fully come there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind and filled the place where they were. What’s more is that on this particular day there would appear cloven tongues of fire resting upon each of the souls present and represented in the upper room as they were not only filled with the Holy Spirit but also spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second chapter of this New Testament book as well as the words which are found in the fortieth chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus, the fifth and seventh chapters of the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles as well as the sixth chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah:

 

            “And a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys. But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not til the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, and in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys” (Exodus 40:34-38).

 

            “It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals, and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God” (2 Chronicles 5:13-14).

 

            “Then said Solomon, The LORD hath said that he would dwell in the thick darkness. But I have built an house of habitation for thee, and a place for thy dwelling for ever. And the king turning his face, and blessed the whole congregation of Israel: and all the congregation of Israel stood. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who hath with his hands fulfilled that which he spake with his mouth to my father David, saying, Since the day that I brought forth my people out of the land of Egypt I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build an house in, that my name might be there; neither chose I any man to be a ruler over my people Israel: but I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel. Now it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel. But the LORD said to David my father, Forasmuch as it was in thine heart to build an house for my name, thou didst well in that it was in thine heart. Notwithstanding thou shalt not build the house; but they son which shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house for my name. The LORD therefore hath performed his word that he hath spoken: for I am risen up in the room of David my father, and am set on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built the house for the name of the LORD God of Israel. And in it have I put the ark, wherein is the covenant of the LORD, that he made with the children of Israel” (2 Chronicles 6:1-11).

            “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’s house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3).

 

            “IN the year that king Uzziah died, I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims; each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: The whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongues from off the altar: and he laid it upon. My mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the LORD, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, here am I; send me. And he said, God, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed” (Isaiah 6:1-10).

 

            “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and In Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine” (Acts 2:1-13).

 

            There is a great need for us to recognize and understand the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts for what we find here is an incredibly powerful picture of something happening during the days of the Holy Spirit which had happened only in the days of the Old Testament. After Moses had finished the Tabernacle which would travel with the children of Israel during their journey through the wilderness the glory of the LORD would fill the sanctuary as the cloud would rest upon the tent of the congregation. So incredible and magnificent was the glory of the living God upon the tabernacle that the priests and Levites could not stand to minister in the midst of it. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about it is when you consider the days of Solomon son of David and king of Israel for when he had finished the building of the Temple of the LORD in the midst of the city of Jerusalem the cloud filled the Temple and the glory of the LORD consumed the entire sanctuary. So great and so mighty was the manifestation of the glory of the living God that the priests and Levites once more could not stand to minister in the sanctuary before the living God. As if this weren’t enough you will find in the seventh chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles that the consuming fire of the living God came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifices which were present upon the altar. At the decimation of the Temple—not only did the consuming fire come down from heaven but so also did the glory of the LORD fill the Temple fully and completely. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the words which are found in the sixth chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah for in that particular passage Isaiah saw the LORD seated upon the throne high and lifted up and His train filled the Temple. Moreover Isaiah would hear the seraphims cry one to another saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

 

            When we come to the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find something similar to what took place during the days of Moses and the Tabernacle as well as during the days of Solomon and the Temple of the living God. We must needs recognize and understand just how incredibly unique these words truly are for when the day of Pentecost was fully come there would come a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind. Scripture does not speak of a cloud filling the place where the disciples and followers of Jesus were, however, Luke does write how there would appear unto them cloven tongues of fire which would rest upon each of those who were present in the upper room. What’s more is that they would each be filled with the Holy Spirit and would speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. This would indeed be the first manifestation of the Holy Spirit according to that which Jesus Himself had proclaimed while He was still present among them. It would be Jesus who commanded them to tarry and wait in Jerusalem until they be endued with power from on high and it was Jesus who declared unto them that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit and would receive power after that the Holy Ghost came upon them. Furthermore it would be when the apostle Peter would stand up on the day of Pentecost that he would declare what they witnessed on this particular day was not these men and women being drunk with new wine as they had supposed but rather the fulfillment of the words which the ancient Hebrew prophet Joel prophesied during his days in the southern kingdom of Judah. It would be the prophet Joel who would indeed prophesy concerning the last days in which the Holy Spirit would indeed be poured out—something which the apostle Peter would emphatically speak of when he stood up on the day of Pentecost. Consider the following words which are found in the second chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Joel concerning the days in which the apostles experienced the coming and manifestation of the Holy Spirit:

 

            “Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts; let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pit his people. Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen; but I will remove far off from you the northern arm,y and will drive him into a land barren and desolate. With his face toward the East Sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his I’ll Saviour shall come up, because he hath done great things. Fear not, O land; and be glad and rejoice: For the LORD will do great things. Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: For the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength. Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: For he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down fro you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fasts shall overflow with wine and oil. And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the Palmer worm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit, and I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: For in the mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call” (Joel 2:15-32).

 

            I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to that which Joel saw centuries and generations before the Holy Spirit would actually come and would be manifested in the earth. Joel would see in his day and in his generation days coming when the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon flesh and when dreams would be given and prophesies would go forth. The apostle Peter would use the prophetic words which Joel proclaimed according to the word of the LORD to demonstrate that which had taken place among them during those days. In all reality that which we read in the New Testament book of Acts is not merely a book of the acts of the apostles but it is truly a book about the acts of the Holy Spirit. I am absolutely convinced that what we find within this passage of Scripture is a powerful demonstration of the beginning of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and how from the day of Pentecost on throughout the generations the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit would indeed be present in the midst of the earth and would be manifested unto all those who call upon the name of the LORD and are saved. The Holy Spirit would be poured out upon both Jew and Gentile alike as would be evidenced in the tenth chapter of this New Testament book. It would be in this New Testament book we encounter and come face to face with the absolutely wonderful and incredible truth surrounding the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and how these days were not merely the days of the apostles but they were in fact the days of the Holy Spirit.

 

            It is in the sixth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we encounter and come face to face with Luke writing of a certain period of time during those days of the early church. Luke would take the time to deliberately and intentionally write concerning those days and how they were days when the number of souls which were added unto the church were multiplied. I am completely and utterly convinced we must needs recognize and understand this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the days of the early church, the days of the apostles and the days of the Holy Spirit. It would be during those days when the LORD would add unto the church such as should be saved. The New Testament book of Acts is such that is incredibly unique and powerful when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to days which were characterized by tremendous growth of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ. What might very well have begun with one-hundred and twenty souls present in the upper room when the day of Pentecost had fully come would continue and increase as the LORD would indeed add unto that number such as should be saved. In fact you cannot read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the addition and multiplication of the church during those days. In fact the days of the early church were not only days of the acts and activity of the Holy Spirit but they were also days in which the number of souls which believed and were baptized and were added unto the church increased each day. If you want to truly understand that which is found in the New Testament book of Acts you must needs understand that one of the first marks of the early church was its continued and sustained growth through the eighth chapter of this book.

 

            If you carefully read the New Testament book of Acts you will find certain descriptions of how the LORD would indeed add unto the number of those who were originally in the upper room such as should be saved. In fact I would dare say that chapters two through six wonderfully and powerfully demonstrate a tremendous growth that would take place during the days of the early church and during the days of the apostles. You cannot read the words found in this New Testament book and not encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the growth of the body as the LORD would add and continue to add unto the church such as should be saved. What’s more is that on the first day—the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit would first come—the LORD would add three thousand souls in a single day. Pause for a moment and consider just how absolutely incredible that truly is for it would be one thing for the LORD to add a handful or perhaps even two handful of people unto the body of Christ, however, Luke writes how there would be three thousand souls who were added to those who were the original recipients of the promise of the Holy Spirit. Stop and tell me when the last time that you were personally in the presence of three thousand souls at a single time—and not only when you were in the presence of three thousand souls but when all three thousand souls believed and were baptized and added unto the number of those in the church. I would dare say that you and I would be hard pressed to think about a time when we saw and witnessed three thousand souls being added in a single day unto the number of believers. Oh that which makes this truly captivating and astonishing when you take the time to think about it for these three thousand souls weren’t added over a period of time but were added in a single day.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am absolutely gripped and captivated with the tremendous truth surrounding the growth of the early church. With this being said we must needs recognize and understand that this growth can only be attributed to the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. It was the Lord Jesus who emphatically exclaimed and declared that He would build His church and what we find in the New Testament book of Acts is not only the formation of the church but also the increase and growth of the church itself. If you want to truly understand the truth surrounding the early church you must needs recognize and understand that those days were days of tremendous, sustained and continued growth. You cannot read the New Testament book of Acts and not encounter and come face to face with this continued growth—growth which would indeed begin in such an incredible and powerful way. It would be on the very first day of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit three thousand souls would believe, would be baptized and would be added unto the number of the believers who were present in the upper room. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second chapter of this book beginning with the thirty-seventh verse:

 

            “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 for the remission of sins, 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, saving, Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:37-40).

 

            Oh we have a great need to recognize and understand this and how absolutely incredible it is for if you continue reading the New Testament book of Acts you can and will encounter the tremendous truth surrounding this growth which would be experienced in the midst of the early church. You cannot read this New Testament book without and apart from recognizing and understanding the continued and sustained growth which would be manifested within it. It wasn’t merely about the acts which the apostles would perform during those days—the signs, wonders, miracles and healings which would take place. The New Testament book of Acts is just as much about the growth of the early church and the continued and sustained growth which would continue to take place. Front he day of Pentecost onward the early church would continue to experience growth day in and day out for the LORD would add unto their number as should be saved. In fact Luke would write in a certain place that the LORD would indeed add daily unto their number such as should be saved. Oh how absolutely incredible this truly is when you take the time to think about it for when we think about and consider the days of the early church we must needs recognize them for days of continued and sustained growth as the LORD would indeed increase and expand His body. Oh while Jesus of Nazareth did in fact dwell in a physical body made up of flesh and blood while He walked among us as the Word made flesh He would ascend unto the right hand of the Father. After He ascended unto the right hand of the Father there would be a spiritual body which would be prepared for Him here upon the earth. What’s more is that at the Jordan River when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist the Holy Spirit would come and rest upon Him for the Spirit would be given unto Him without measure. When, however, we think about the manifestation of the Holy Spirit from the day of Pentecost onward we must needs recognize that it wasn’t merely the Holy Spirit coming upon the spiritual body but actually abiding and dwelling within the spiritual body.

            The more I think about this the more I am brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ and how just as a physical and natural body would grow with age and time so also would the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ grow with time. The more the spiritual body would be present and manifested within the earth and as a direct result of this the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ would continue to grow and increase as the days would continue to move forward. The more the spiritual body would indeed be manifested within and upon the earth the more it would grow and the larger it would become. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for on the very first day of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit three thousand souls would be added unto the church. How absolutely incredible it is to think about the fact that on the very first day of the early church three thousand souls would be added unto the number of believers which were present in the upper room. What’s more is that as you continue reading the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts you will read of continued and sustained growth as the spiritual body would indeed grow and become greater and mightier within the earth. Oh this is important for us to recognize for the church was never designed to be simply one-hundred and twenty souls which were present in the upper room who were baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. The upper room would indeed be too small for the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ and eventually they would have to meet from house to house as they gathered together in fellowship and for the breaking of bread. That which sustained the growth of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ is indeed manifested and evidenced in the final verses of both the second and fourth chapters of this New Testament book. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are present in each of these chapters beginning with the forty-first verse of the second chapter:

 

            “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 ever 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 t hat 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).

 

            It is clear from the words which are found in each of these passages of Scripture that there were certain things which sustained the continued growth of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ. It would be beginning in and with the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find that all those who were added unto the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship. What’s more is they not only continued in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship but they would continue in the breaking of bread and in prayers and great fear came upon every soul as many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. All those who 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. As if this weren’t enough they would also continue 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 favor with all the people. What we find here within these verses is also how the LORD would add to the church daily such as should be saved. It is this concept of the LORD adding unto the church daily such as should be saved we must needs recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth that the growth of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus would not stop with just the three thousand which were added on the day of Pentecost. The LORD would indeed add unto the church daily such as should be saved for the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed continue to grow and increase within the earth. Oh it is with this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints as well as the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Ephesian saints:

 

            “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the LORD, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same LORD. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another diver kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will’ (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).

 

            “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow much more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no end: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

 

            “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lawliness and meekness, with long suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of you calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the statute of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body firmly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:1-16).

 

            There is a great need to recognize and pay attention to the words which are found within these two passages of Scripture for they help highlight and underscore the nature of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ and how it must needs grow up to become a full and complete person in the Lord Jesus Christ united together in the bond of peace by and through the person of the Holy Spirit. It is in the second chapter of this New Testament book of Acts we encounter the tremendous truth surrounding three thousand souls being added unto the church on the very first day of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. On the very first day of Pentecost after witnessing those in the upper room speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance, after hearing the words which the apostle Peter preached unto them and after asking what they needed to do to be saved there would be three thousand souls who would believe and would be baptized. What’s more is that you can and will also read within this passage of Scripture how the LORD would add unto the church daily as should be saved. Thus within the second chapter of this New Testament book there is a great and powerful demonstration of the growth of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ for it would be the LORD who would add unto the growth of the spiritual body which was present upon the earth. This is an important truth for it highlights and underscores the tremendous truth which we must recognize concerning the growth of the body of Christ in the earth for it is not you, nor I that contribute to nor bring about the growth of the spiritual body. There would be those men who would like to think they can somehow take credit for the growth of the body of Christ and yet the truth of the matter is that the growth of the body can only be attributed to the work of the Spirit as the Lord Himself brings about the growth of the physical body of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is not a single man who can take credit for the growth of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ—regardless of how “anointed” they think and feel they are, nor how “eloquent” they feel their sermons and teachings are nor how “inspired” the worship is.

 

            If you continue reading the words which are found within the New Testament book of Acts you will continue reading of this growth which would be sustained by the person of the Holy Spirit. It is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found within the New Testament book of Acts and not encounter the tremendous growth which would come as a byproduct of the work of the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. Within this New Testament book there is a great and powerful sense of the growth which would be created, sustained and fostered by the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. There was absolutely no man who could take credit for the building and growth of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ and it is even written in Scripture that unless the Lord builds the house they labor in vain which build it. We dare not and must not miss and ignore how absolutely incredible this is for when we come to the sixth chapter of this New Testament book we encounter continued growth of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ in the earth. Oh how absolutely incredible this truly is when you take the time to think about it for there is something truly captivating about the growth of the spiritual body during the days of the apostles as well as during the days of the Holy Spirit. In fact I am convinced that in order to understand the words and language that is found in the sixth chapter there is not only a need to briefly consider the references to growth which are found in this New Testament book but also consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the third chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints. Consider if you will the following words beginning with the fourth chapter of this New Testament book and the growth of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the earth:

 

            “And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now even tide. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of them was about five thousand” (Acts 4:1-4).

 

            “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one” (Acts 5:12-16).

 

            “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:41-42).

 

            “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” (Acts 6:1-4).

 

            “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 6:7).

 

            “And I brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is give unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every mans’ work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:1-15).

 

            “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, the LORD knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:16-23).

 

            If you come to the sixth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will encounter needs which arose as a direct result of the continued multiplication of the disciples and saints. Perhaps one of the greatest things we must needs recognize and understand is that as the spiritual body of Christ increases in number and even as each individual congregation increases in number the greater the needs are. What’s more is that this is not only true on an individual basis but also on a corporate level and basis as well. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for when you read the words found in this passage of scripture you will find that in the days when the spiritual body of Christ was multiplied and multiplying in the midst of the earth there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and understand this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the incredible truth that with an increase in size and number it is possible that there are certain individuals who feel neglected, left out and even ignored. That which arose during these days was a dispute between the Grecians and the Hebrews because the Grecians widows were being neglected in the daily ministration. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for when we think about the growth of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ we must needs acknowledge and recognize that with greater numbers come greater needs and with greater need comes greater responsibility. With greater responsibility comes an even greater need to give of oneself to the ministry of the body of Christ. That which we find in this passage of Scripture is absolutely and incredible when you take the time to think about it for it presents us with undeniable truth that with greater numbers comes greater needs—and not only with greater needs but also the potential for disputes, for disagreements, and even for men’s feelings, thoughts and emotions rising up within them.

 

            I sit here today thinking about the words and language found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the fact that more often than not when the size of the individual body grows so also do the needs increase in size. What is true of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ is even true of our physical and natural bodies for the more we grow and increase in size and age the greater our needs become—and not only the greater our needs become but also the greater the responsibilities become. The more we grow in size the more our body needs to consume and the greater our needs and responsibilities actually becomes. This is precisely what we find in the sixth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts for within it we are brought face to face with the incredible truth of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ increasing in size and number and with it the needs themselves grew and increased. With this being said we find that the increase in size and number would mean that some of the widows of the Grecians would indeed be neglected in the daily ministration. We must needs recognize and understand how incredibly significant this is for there is something to be said about the growth and increase of the body for with continued growth will come an increase in the amount of needs and people that will arise. We would be incredibly naïve to think and consider—even for a moment—that with the increase of the body would not come an even greater rise in the needs of the body itself. There is a great need for us to acknowledge and understand that with the increase in the size and number of the body so also will there be an increase in needs. What’s more is some of those needs will overlap and it is inevitable that some of those needs will in fact feel as though they are going and have gone unmet.

 

            The words which we find in this passage of Scripture are incredibly telling and enlightening for they call and draw our attention to the fact that when this dispute arose among the Hebrews and the Grecians the apostles rose up and declare that it was not reason that they should leave the word of God and serve tables. The apostles would emphatically declare unto the saints and the spiritual body of Christ that they ought to look out among them seven men who were of honest report, who were full of the Holy Ghost and who were full of wisdom who they would be able to appoint over the business. This is incredibly powerful when you take the time to think about it for the seven men who were chosen were not selected from among the spiritual body of Christ based on their personality, nor how long they had been a believer, nor whether or not they were a member of one of the house churches. The sole criteria for the seven who were chosen among the body of Christ according to the recommendation of the apostles was simply that they were of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and full of wisdom. This is something we dare not and must miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous emphasis we place and have placed within many of our churches for those who are in leadership. Having been one who grew up in the church—and not only grew up in the church but who also grew up in a pastor’s home—I have watched and observed as men and women were chosen based on how long they had been saved, or how long they had been a member of the body or a host of other criteria. More often than not I have not witnessed men and women being chosen based on their being full of the Holy Spirit, based on their being full of faith, based on their being full of wisdom, nor even their being of honest report. This is something we must needs understand for more often than not we choose to focus on the wrong things and major on the minor things and minor on the major things. More often then not when we choose those who are appointed to be elders and deacons and leaders within our church we do so—not based on their spirituality and their relationship with the living God but rather based on their charisma, their personality, their “gifts,” and the like.

 

As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to draw our attention to that which truly matters when we look at leadership within the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ. More often than not we are those who choose to focus on that which has absolutely no bearing or no measure in the kingdom of God and that which matters not to the heart of the Father nor even to the Spirit. Tell me—when was the last time someone was chosen because they were a man or woman full of faith, or one who was full of the Holy Spirit, or based on one being a man of prayer and intercession? When was the last time there was someone who was appointed unto a position of leadership—not because of how long they had been “saved” or whether or not they were a “member” or had completed some type of pre-defined course in leadership but simply and solely based on the fact that they were indeed a man or woman full of faith and full of the Holy Spirit? What’s more is that with this being said we find Stephen who was one of the seven who were appointed by the early church and approved by the apostles being a threat to those who were present. When reading the words found in this passage you find that when we ordain and appoint men and women who are full of the Holy Spirit and who are full of faith and wisdom those individuals will more often than not pose a threat to the establishment and to religion and it’s leaders. If there is one thing this particular passage reveals and demonstrates it’s that when men and women are chosen—not based on personality, or preference, or anything else we have pre-determined and pre-defined within our own hearts and minds—it will anger, offend and upset the religious establishment and the religious system. Stephen was a man who was full of faith and wisdom, a man of honest report and a man full of the Holy Spirit and those who sought to dispute and reason with him were unable to stand up to the wisdom which he was given by the Holy Spirit.

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