The Early Church went through a very traumatic change within the first ten to eleven years. From its inception the church was composed of Jews that repented and believed in the Lord Jesus, were baptized and received the Holy Spirit. Through the divine plan, persecution pushed the apostles and others of the church in the Jerusalem church out into new territory. Peter in particular was one of the first to be confronted with God’s expansion plans to take the gospel to the Gentiles.
Though this met with initial resistance, it was evident that God was working, and Peter said to the questioning church in Jerusalem, “If then God gave the same gift (the Holy Spirit) to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” (Acts 11:17). So radical was this movement of God, that the Jerusalem church sent Barnabas to Antioch to make sure this change was authentic.
In some sense, we have the same struggle today. The traditional church makes several mistakes when changes like this take place:
- We immediately doubt what is happening, because it does not fit into forms we have created.
- We have not experienced God working in this way with us and therefore doubt what He is doing with others outside the ‘fences’ we create.
- We fail to examine what is taking place with the Scriptural record, the final authority.
- Finally and worse, we choose not to allow God to work with us in the same way as He is with others. What blessings are we missing because of this attitude?