Image: Engraving of the Apostle Paul in Athens on old Greece banknote (Shutterstock).
By Dr. Joseph Mattera
In Acts 1:8-9, Jesus tells the apostles that the power of the Holy Spirit will come upon them so they could be His witnesses in cities and regions. What ensued was so dynamic that the unbelievers described the apostles as those who turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6).
Here are six ways they did this:
1.Through powerful preaching and teaching (Acts 4:28)
The Acts narrative constantly refers to how the church grew because of the power of the Word of God.
Acts 4:4: “But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.”
Acts 6:7: “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem.”
Acts 12:24: “But the word of God increased and multiplied.”
Acts 19:20: “So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.”
2.Through mighty gifts of healing that attested to Jesus’ resurrection
After a lame man received healing, it caused great excitement, and many people got saved (Acts 3:1-10). This is the explanation Peter gave to the religious leaders:
Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:9-12)
Furthermore, Acts 8:1-4 gives this amazing account of how the power of Christ impacted a city.
It was said of Philip’s ministry in Samaria, “For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.” The whole island of Malta turned to the Lord after Paul ministered healing to the sick (Acts 28:8-10).
See also Acts 5:14-16 and Acts 19:11,12 for other dynamic accounts of how cities were impacted by mighty miracles and healings.
3. Through discipleship (Acts 2:42, Acts 19)
As soon as 3,000 Jews got saved on the day of Pentecost, they were immediately put through a process of learning the apostles’ doctrine.
Acts 2:42 says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…”
4. Through exorcisms (Acts 19)
Acts 16:16-18 gives an account of Paul, casting the spirit of divination out of a young slave girl. The result was that he got arrested, leading to the Philippian jailer and his entire household being saved.
(See also the powerful account of how the city of Ephesus was shaken in Acts 19:11-12).
5. Through house church gatherings
Remember, the early church was born in an upper room that had room for only 120 people (Acts 1-2). Also, the early church had large corporate gatherings in the temple and met from house to house. “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes,” (Acts 2:46). Paul also said he ministered to the church, house to house (Acts 20:24). Furthermore, Paul taught all night and raised a young man from the dead in a house church gathering (Acts 20:7-12).
6. Through converting the influential people in a city
Paul ministered to the public intellectuals and philosophers who influenced the city of Athens. He gained several disciples after his lecture (Acts 17:22-33). In the city of Berea, it is said of Paul’s ministry that “Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men” (Acts 17:12). Paul also stood before kings and governors and preached the gospel (Acts 23:23, Acts 25:12). He continually reached people for Christ who had a high level of political connections. Philippians 4:22 says, “All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.” Romans 16:23 concludes his greetings to the Roman church, “Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.” Hence, Paul did not merely reach the “down and out.” He reached the “up and in.”
May the Lord stir the contemporary church to walk in the same miracles, power, and strategy as the first-century church so that we can impact whole communities for God.
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Dr. Joseph Mattera is an internationally-known author, consultant, and theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence culture. He is the founding pastor of Resurrection Church in Brooklyn, and leads several organizations, including The U.S. Coalition Of Apostolic Leaders and Christ Covenant Coalition. To subscribe for a weekly teaching from Joseph Mattera click here. His latest book is entitled: The Global Apostolic Movement and the Progress of the Gospel.
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