Do you know why the early church was so successful? It enjoyed God’s favor because the Holy Spirit directed all of its activities.
The early church allowed the Holy Spirit to direct where it should go and what it should do. He was in charge. The Spirit ordained and established the leadership of the church. As a result, we read that angry opponents of the Gospel confronted the apostles with this charge: “You have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine” (Acts 5:28). Similarly, when the Apostle Paul and his party came to Thessalonica, certain Jews warned the magistrates, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6).
What a tremendous witness for the early church! It was filling whole cities with the doctrines of Jesus Christ and turning the world upside down.
Would to God that I could be arrested and charged with filling my city with the doctrine of Jesus Christ! Then I would say, “Throw the book at me, judge. Praise the Lord!”
When Paul wrote his letter to the Colossian church some 30 years after its birth, he could say, “The word of the truth of the Gospel … has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit” (Colossians 1:5-6). How amazing this is! The early church, directed by the Holy Spirit, was able to reach the entire world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Be astonished at what they accomplished. Unlike us, they had no planes. No helicopters. No trains. No automobiles. No telephones. No fax machines. No televisions. No radios. No recording devices. No computers. No magazines. No newspapers. No printing presses. In fact, they had none of the modern transportation and communication systems that we take for granted—and yet they brought the Gospel to the entire world!
The tragic mistake of the modern church is its declaration of independence from the Holy Spirit. We have declared that we no longer need the Spirit to direct our activities. Instead, we follow respected committees of learned men who have been to seminary and who have made in-depth sociological, demographic and ethnographic studies of the world. We have a thousand high-tech programs, but the tragic fact is that the church is failing to reach this world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And no wonder. God said, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).
We need a church that will return the Holy Spirit to His rightful place as Director of activities; a church where the Holy Spirit roots out hypocrisy and corruption; a church where the Holy Spirit edifies, comforts and exhorts His people; in short, a church where the Holy Spirit is in charge. ©1996, 2001 and 2007 Chuck Smith
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
Taken by permission from “Living Water,” by Chuck Smith, published by The Word for Today, Santa Ana, California.
Chuck Smith (1927-2013) was pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, which now numbers more than 1,700 churches around the world.