“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.”
As Luke describes the New Testament Church for us he presents us with a series of significant events which move it forward in witness to the world interspersed with summary statement which describe the general life of the community of believers. Both perspectives are of vital importance. We need to meditate upon the specific events. We need as well to hear about the routine life of the Church. In the description Luke gives us here in Acts 4:32-37 we read about the creation of a Christ Centred Fellowship that has at its heart a dynamic relation with the Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is something which God has created in Christ. Luke reflects here on how the Lord answered the Biblical Prayers of the Church which were offered in response to the crisis of chapters three and four. It is of tremendous significance that as the church gathered to reflect upon the threats that the leaders in Jerusalem had given that they looked to the second Psalm and its message, which they then took as direction regarding the will of God for His Church and they then prayed for boldness to carry out the will of God by boldly preaching the Gospel of the Resurrected Christ as the only hope for this world.
The summary statement in verses 32-37 reveals how God answered their prayer. They were emboldened to preach powerfully the message of the Resurrection of Christ with great power. The Spirit was in their preaching because they were proclaiming God’s message in obedience to His leading. The type of proclamation required that they die to themselves and their own desires and ambitions. The Apostles needed to be Christ Centred leaders. What Luke describes here is what results when a congregation of Christians becomes fully devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ. We know that this is the case because Luke tells us that the Apostles witnessed to the resurrection with great power. To witness was to testify with ones whole life to a truth. They were martyrs to Him. It is not their power which is at work here. It is the power of God’s Holy Spirit which is powerfully at work in their testimony.
In Ephesians 1:18-23 the Apostle Paul describes this power when he writes, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.”
Such is the power which is at work in the Church of Christ. It transforms us as it conforms us to the image of the Son of God. Luke describes the impact of that power in the fruitful witness of the Church to the resurrection of Christ. He also shows us how it comes about. Luke gives us at least three points to help us along the way.
- The Believers are committed to the Lordship of Christ. In their prayer the recognise God as the Sovereign Lord.
- They are committed to Christ Centred reflection on the Scriptures. Their use of Psalm 2 demonstrates this. The will of God for His church will be found in prayerful meditation upon the Word of God.
- They are also committed to heartfelt, earnest, Biblical praying. Nothing happens without God’s power working in them.
All of these points show us the way forward as we seek to bring the Gospel to a world that is every bit as hostile to it as was the one that the apostles were trying to reach. We are called to seek the presence and power of the Resurrected Christ in His Church so that we can share in the great grace of the Lord Jesus as we boldly proclaim His truth.