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Five Reasons For Church Growth-Acts 4

by Larry Miles

Reprint from the Printed Version of Word & Work (July, 1982)


I would like to thank Brother Carl Ketcherside for supplying the ideas for this essay. I had the privilege of hearing him in a three-day meeting with the Westside Church of Christ in Hamilton, Ohio. (1982)  It is my prayer that these words can assist us in our efforts to unite the Christians in all the sects.

We read in Matthew 16:18 that Jesus promised to establish His  Church. This glorious event took place on  the Day of Pentecost. The Book of Acts tells us that it was on  that day that the God of Heaven launched His Church.

We are going to base our remarks on the 4th chapter of Acts. We want to encourage all to follow along in the Bible and come to their own conclusions· In the first few chapters of the Book of Acts, the Bible tells us that the infant church centered her ministries in the city of Jerusalem. The Christians had not ventured out of the city as Jesus had told them to do. The narrative centers our attention on the work of Peter and John. In the third chapter they had just healed the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the temple.

We would like to briefly spend some time on  each of the five reasons for church growth that we have gleaned from this chanter· If we are willing to see how the early church existed among the Jewish, Roman, and Greek cultures, and implement their techniques, we too, can experience church growth. It will help us work for the unity of all believers in Christ.


In Acts 4:2 we read the following, “Being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people, and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” As the apostles were teaching, opposition arose from the Sadducees. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection from the dead· There are many, today, who deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today, like in the Apostolic Age, it takes boldness to proclaim the resurrection. But we must, like Peter and John, declare it from our pulpits and in our conversations with all whom we contact. The infant church stressed the importance of proclaiming the resurrection of the Lord of Glory.

The resurrection is the driving force behind the gospel· It should be the basis for all our messages. Jesus proved Himself to be the Christ through the resurrection· It makes the church and her mission strong. We should declare it as the bedrock of Christian faith. For if Christ was not raised, then there is no hope. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then He is not Savior, and we are destined for a devil’s hell· The resurrection of Jesus demonstrated that the power of God was, and is, superior to that of Satan. The resurrection of Jesus is the most essential element of the Christian faith. So, we must be found proclaiming to the world, and to the assembly, that Jesus Christ conquered death. This is why we can die with the hope of the resurrection from the dead.


In Acts 4:12, we read, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved ” This passage declares that salvation is in the name of Jesus Christ. When the Bible uses the expression, “in the name of,” as used here and in Acts 2:38, it means by the authority of. Many today are saying that it does not matter what you believe in or who you believe in. That is not the case.

A world that is under the sentence of death needs a redeemer· In John 14:6 we read the following, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me.’” The primitive church declared that Jesus was the hope of the world. Let us lift up Jesus to a dying world. Let the world know what Jesus means to us. Jesus Christ offers the only hope there is·

Read Acts 4:13-21 concerning this proposition. The Sanhedrin commanded Peter and John not to preach the resurrection of Jesus under the threat of punishment. We see, in this passage, that the apostles possessed boldness in defense of the gospel. They were ready to go anywhere and everywhere to announce the good news· What is the good news? In I Corinthians 15, sometimes called the resurrection chapter, verses 1-4 tell us that the gospel consists of the fact that Jesus died and was buried and that He arose from the dead. Let us look to the boldness of these disciples and today, in our time, be strong in the strength.

Let’s all know what we believe and why we believe it. Let us believe that the Word of God is both infallible and inerrant. If we know why we believe we can have boldness in presenting the gospel to a lost world· In Jude 3 there is a passage that fits the situation, “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you, appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once and for all delivered to the saints.”


After Peter and John had been released by the Sanhedrin, they ( went back to the rest of the apostles and other fellow Christians to give a report of what had transpired. But an account of the facts was not all that took place. Verses 24-31 record that the early church was a praying church. In Acts 4:29 we read, “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant Thy bond-servants may speak Thy word with all confidence·" The infant church believed in the power of prayer. The early church not only believed in the power of prayer, they believed in answered prayer. We must not only preach and teach about prayer but we must pray. Many of the great figures of the Old and New Testament were men of prayer. God has told us to pray·

If we pray knowing that God hears and expecting that God will answer in a way that will bring glory to His name, we can have a victorious prayer life. Remember, it is our creator that we are talking to. If we can recapture the prayer life of the infant church we can better stimulate church growth.


Acts 4:32  32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.

     The early church was one· The primitive saints did not make matters a test of fellowship that God did not make a condition of salvation. The infant church of the Living God was ready to work together in her mission to reach the lost with the saving grace of Jesus Christ. If we today could work together, realizing that we can differ on non-essential things, we would see the world evangelized for the Risen Lord. But it seems that we are content to differ and argue over minute things while the world is going straight to hell. Perhaps we might have to answer to God for our attitudes

  Let us put aside our differences that fall into the realm of opinion and let us unite in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is not to say that we have to sacrifice any teaching that we hold. But we must, in the areas of non-essentials, give our differing brethren the same liberty we would want them to give us. If we are willing to learn from the experiences of the infant church, we can have church growth· The early church spread across the known world. The early Christians, wherever they went, preached the Word. If we put into practice the methods used by the early church, we, today, can have growth. We today can work for the unity of all believers in Christ. Remember, it is the Savior’s prayer that we all be one· Let our circle of fellowship be as large as God’s.


Larry Miles is Co-Editor of Word & Work and attends Cherry St. Church of Christ in New Albany, IN.

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If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:8