Did you know your smile is contagious? In fact, research confirms that seeing another person smile causes a resonate grin to emerge on your face. That is why I just love seeing people smile. It reminds me to search for the joy God placed in life.
Similarly, I love seeing people with genuine faith. It stirs up my own love for God. I believe this is one reason God gave us the book of Acts. In truth, my little boat has often been blown out of the spiritual doldrums by a blast of faith that erupted from the lives of the early church. Their vibrant and risky devotion to Jesus causes a longing for such a faith to live in me.
The confidence of the early believers was not the result of the popularity of a movement or the promise of earthly pleasure. Their faith was founded on the word and work of God, and it blazed across the earth because it was energized by rational and loving choices.
Today, God’s word is just as powerful and His work just as sufficient, but it is often the choices of faith that are missing. In the absence of these choices, faith quickly falls asleep and ultimately dies. But when we have the courage to make these daily choices it breathes life into our faith.
An examination of the book of Acts reveals at least six choices the early disciples made that enlivened their faith.
Trust In God’s Help. Yes, Jesus ascends into heaven in Acts 1, but His active presence fills every page thereafter. One reason the infant church was vibrantly alive was because they expected and depended upon the presence and activity of God. Jesus had promised, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” and their confidence in that promise resulted in the most courageous and selfless acts of faith.
Does your faith ever drive you to take a risk? Probably not if you think you’re alone. But, when you trust that God opens doors for the gospel (Col. 4:2), emboldens His people to speak (Eph. 6:19), fills them with knowledge and wisdom (Col. 1:9-10), strengthens them for the task (2 Cor. 1:8-11) and causes their efforts to grow (1 Cor. 3:7), then your faith springs into action! Bold obedience is ventured and grand prayers are prayed when God’s help is expected.
Love God’s Word. The very first choice the early believers made was to “devote themselves continually to the apostle’s doctrine” (Acts 2:42). Words about Jesus filled their every speech and directed their every move, until they went “everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). The leaders of the church gave themselves “continually to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). And every member “received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day” (Acts 17:11).
Before God will ever do a powerful work in and through us, we must first be driven by His word. We must be concerned with knowing it, speaking it, and be equally pained by the possibility of soiling it with tradition or innovation. There are many people who want to be on the front lines with Christ, but they are not prepared to do so until the words of Christ are written in their hearts. Only then is the campaign truly His. In truth, when was the last time you read God’s word and did something as a result? It breathes life into your faith.
Be Devoted To God’s People. The energetic disciples then chose to “continually devote themselves to the fellowship” (Acts 2:42). In an increasingly fractured and cold world they found a loving family of faith with whom to share their lives. For them “church” was not an event to attend, but a people you loved and served. The church grew, not just because of a few apostles inspired by God, but by literally thousands of believers ministering to one another in love.
One of the keys to advancing the gospel is for the church to be made up of individuals who consider it their task to do the work of service, rather than having a congregation of people who expect the paid workers to minister to them. Faith comes to life when we love the church as much as God does!
Genuinely Worship. Many of the powerful acts of service in the book of Acts follow immediately after times of vibrant worship (Acts 2:1, 42, 46; 3:1; 4:31; 6:15; 8:27; 10:2,9; 12:5; 13:1-2; 16:13,25). In other words, there is something about worship that energizes our faith!
When we engage in authentic worship that glorifies God, purifies our hearts, and edifies our minds, we cannot be still. We shout, “Here am I Lord! Send me!” (Isa. 6:8). Worship is not dependent on the place or atmosphere. It radiates from a heart that is set ablaze by the gracious works and character of God. Choose to worship and watch your faith strengthen.
Generously Give. A wonderful spirit of generosity permeated the fellowship of believers in the book of Acts (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; 6:1-7; etc.). They joyfully gave to meet needs and spread the gospel. They opened up their homes and extended their hands. God showed them love by what He gave, and they showed their love in the same way (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; Matt 20:28). Jesus taught them, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Choosing to give is an act of faith. It declares your confidence in a cause that is greater than yourself, and it reflects the gracious character of the God who saved you. It is said, “You are never closer to the nature of God than when you give.”
Share What You Know. The pages of Acts also burst with believers who were enthusiastic to share what they learned about Jesus. The book is filled, not just with stories, but with sermons, speeches, and personal conversations about God’s kingdom. The growth of the church was inseparable from the presentation of God’s word (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 11:1; 12:24).
In the same way, personal growth and spiritual life is inseparable from sharing what you know about Jesus (Heb. 5:12). Sharing your faith is sure evidence that you possess it!
Does your faith sometimes feel tedious and stale? Yeah, me too. But by God’s grace we can choose to live differently. So let’s do it.
“Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14)