Jump Start # 3184
Acts 9:31 “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and, going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.”
What a great passage. Preachers love verses like this because the Lord has listed all the points that need to be emphasized. What a great story about the early church this tells us.
Now, let’s work through some of the expressions:
First, notice it’s the church, not the churches. Did you see that? Singular. This is not talking about specific congregations but the church as a unit or as some call it, universal. The church. Upon this rock, our Lord said, I will build My church.
Second, the church in all these regions enjoyed peace. What a profound thought that is. Peace. Moms long for some peace and quiet. The world longs for peace among the nations. But most importantly, is that peace within ourselves that comes from walking with the Lord.
There are two modes of peace. One is external and that may be the thought here. No persecution. No troubles from those who oppose. No one being put into prison. There was peace.
The other mode of peace is internal. Often, that is harder to maintain. It means getting along with one another. To have peace is to have unity. To have peace is to have understanding. To have peace is to enjoy the fellowship and company of one another. No competition. No fussing about this and that. No pointing fingers. No letting others down. No threats of leaving. No splits. No division. Peace.
Third, the church was being built up. That’s stated twice in this passage. Here, being built up. At the end, continued to increase. That’s missing in many places today. Some are closing the doors for the last time. Others are barely hanging on. Don’t you think there is a connection between peace and growth? It’s hard to get folks in when those that are in are wanting out. Fighting, judging, blaming that’s all it takes to put a stop to any growth. Built up also carries the idea of internal growth. On the inside they were getting stronger. On the inside they were acting more like Christ. On the inside they were getting what it’s all about. Built up and increasing, two great components that the church needs to work towards.
Fourth, going on in the fear of the Lord. Fear can mean reverence or devotion. And, fear can mean just that, fear. There is a godly fear that brings about the respect. When one doesn’t fear God, they are likely to bend the rules, follow at a distance and do their own thing in their own way. But with a fear of God all of that changes. God is just. God has a wrathful side to Him. It is terrifying to fall into the hands of the living God the Hebrews were told. Fear of the Lord will keep one close to God’s word. Fear of the Lord will keep reverence in worship. Fear of the Lord will keep God at the top of our priorities.
It wasn’t that they just understood the concept of the fear of the Lord, the passage tells us that they were “going on” in the fear of the Lord. That’s movement and direction. They did more than understand the fear, they were dwelling in it.
Fifth, and, they were going on in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. This comfort wasn’t a feeling or something mysterious. It’s about the word of God. The Spirit gave us the word. It is that word, that Spirit that brings comfort to our hearts and our souls. The Thessalonians were told to comfort one another with these words. The comfort that is found in walking with the Lord. The comfort in knowing the assurance that the Lord is with us. The comfort that is wrapped around the love of God. The comfort that gets us through the darkest nights and the strongest storms.
Fear and comfort—not opposites but side by side, not only in the same passage, but in the same heart.
Sixth, the church continued to increase. Peace. Going on. Fear of the Lord. Comfort of the Spirit. These are the elements that will cause a church to grow. It grows because the Gospel is believed. It grows because the Gospel is practiced. It grows because God is behind it.
Don’t drop the fear aspect. Don’t forget the comfort of the Spirit. It’s not one or the other, it’s both. A healthy fear of the Lord keeps us close to the book. Being comforted by the Spirit keeps us close to the Lord.
We see a balance. Balance in our preaching. Balance in our attitudes. Balance in our outlook.
These are the things that sure can be preached.