Then and Now

Then and Now

“Then, indeed, the churches
throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria, had peace,
having been built up and having gone on in the fear of the Lord.
And they were increased in the comfort of the Holy Spirit”
ACTS 9:31 (LITV)

The prospering and growth of the early Church was characterized by peace, being built up (edified) and a going on in the fear of the Lord; because of that they were increased in the comfort (<παράκλησις> a calling near) of the Holy Spirit. The stark difference between then and now of the Body of Christ is revealed in the contrast between the ways of men and the WAY of the Holy Spirit.

• 1. There was peace. The striving of men to build their own kingdom, ministry and influence was not prevalent. The environment of the Early Church was the unity of Spirit being revealed in oneness of heart and Spirit. The ministration of life through each individual was always for the building up of the Ekklesia, not one’s self.
• 2. The building up of the Body was the purpose of each member. In the atmosphere of the functioning of the individual members there was a ministration of the heart of the Son to see each member grow in God.
• 3. The reason that the above characteristics were true and real is because they “were going on in the fear of the Lord”. The true fear of the Lord creates an indelible and powerful ministration of a Holy Accountability unto the King of kings! It destroys apathy, disobedience, faithless inactivity and self seeking. It causes men to OBEY Him from the very depths of their being. It judges the false and pretentious works of men’s religion (Ananias and Sapphira). These judgments are those that make known the righteousness of God and reveal the truth of His Holiness.
• 4. The fruit of such an environment was an increase and multiplication of the Church through the calling near of the Holy Spirit drawing men and women to a greater relationship with their God.

The enormity of the contrast between then and now should convict us of the need for heartfelt repentance, a changing of our ways, and a fresh seeking of our God. (Ephesians 4:14)

The “Fear of the Lord” was the atmosphere of the Early Church. It was the air they breathed and the governing power of every man’s life. This begs the question…how long can we continue in the apathy and religion of our day? How can we continue in this contradiction of the knowledge that our God is a consuming fire while listening to endless sermons that never mention our sin or need for accountability to a Holy God? Where are the cries of “SEND THE FIRE, SEND THE FIRE”?

SEND THE FIRE
Thou Christ of burning, cleansing flame,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
Thy blood-bought gift today we claim,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
Look down and see this waiting host,
Give us the promised Holy Ghost;
We want another Pentecost,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
-William Booth –

Brian Troxel

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