In studying the New Testament, you can see that Satan tried continuously to silence the church. When the attack from without failed, Satan changed his strategy and began a plan to divide the church from within. Tactics have not changed today. If he does not succeed as a devouring lion, he will come as a deceiving serpent or as an angel of light.
The early church was spirit-filled. As you study the book of Acts, you find some outstanding characteristics of a spirit-filled church.
Read Acts 2:41-47
I. THE SPIRIT-FILLED CHURCH IS A UNIFIED CHURCH.
This God given unity does not simply imply a well-organized institution. This unity involves trust, a giving spirit, and an “others orientation.” The church at Jerusalem was unified in doctrinal beliefs, as well as in fellowship, giving, and worship.
Acts 2:42, “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
II. A SPIRIT – FILLED CHURCH IS A MAGNIFIED CHURCH.
Satan attempted to disgrace the early church.
The religious rulers of the day opposed the work of the believers but many people were drawn to them because of their testimonies of faith. It was the fear of the common people that restrained the religious leaders in their attack. A spirit-filled church will have its enemies, but what the Lord is doing will attract those who are seeking to know God.
In the first church evangelism became the ministry of every Christian, not just a chosen few.
Not only a UNIFIED, MAGNIFIED:
III. THE SPIRIT-FILLED CHURCH IS A MULTIPLIED CHURCH!
Why? Because every member sought to be an effective witness for Jesus Christ.
Most people who come to church, are saved or walk the aisle, do so; because one of our members took of their time to invite them to come.
Then, after they came forward, someone led them to the Lord with the BIBLE IN HAND. (By the way soul-winners, always open your Bible so that people can see the Word of God is speaking and not your opinion).
Too many times people come forward during the invitation, and are never shown from the Bible, but convinced that they are saved.
I just had another young man tell me yesterday, that he went through years of his life thinking that he was saved, when he was not. Let’s be careful to always show them the scriptures.
Remember God said, “His Word shall not return unto Him void,” not your word.
Think of it, several members of our local church are involved in one person receiving Christ.
The church will be MULTIPLIED and believers added as each member faithfully witnesses for Christ.
In Chapter four of Acts we are introduced to Barnabas whose name means “son of encouragement.”
Barnabas had sold his possessions and gives the money to the church to meet the needs of the believers.
He was a spirit-filled man who gave his all to the Lord.
Spirit-filled believers today will emulate the spirit of these early believers and give willingly to the work of the local church.
Barnabas act of generosity filled two people with envy.
Annanias and Sapphira’s sin was not that they did not give all their possessions to the Lord.
Their sin was hypocrisy – a deliberate deception to have people believe they were spiritual when really they were not.
Satan worked to destroy the church from within by causing Annanias and Sapphira to put on a “lovely front” in order to conceal the ugly sin in their lives.
This deception was energized by Satan.
Satan is a liar and a murderer. He lied to and through this couple and their lie led to their deaths.
When God judged Annanias and Sapphira He was letting everybody know that He would not tolerate deception in His church.
Satan wants to divide the church, disgrace the church, decrease the church and the ultimate goal is to destroy the church.
But just like those believers, the church can completely triumph as we remain spirit-filled and UNIFIED, MAGNIFIED and MULTIPLIED.