Our church turns 19 on Sunday. Thanks be to God. It pleases the Lord to grant us corporate length of days.
As we head toward the actual anniversary this Sunday, I want to share with you a personal birthday wish/prayer I have for our church each time of year our anniversary comes around. My hope is you will join in making it with me.
It comes from Acts 9:31.
So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
By peace Luke means rest from persecution. The previous chapters record the hits taken by the fledgling church throughout Palestine in the form of heavy persecution. But now, following Saul’s conversion, she enjoys a widespread, relative peace.
But that’s not all the author tells us about the church in this season of blessed rest. He mentions two other significant realities about her. First, she was being built up. Edified. The Greek word gives us a word picture of a house under construction. We might say she was becoming more spiritual.
Second, she multiplied. The church grew. Numbers were added. Souls were saved. People were converted. The kingdom advanced.
How did these two things occur? Walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Walking conveys the idea of an everyday kind of experience. It was second nature for this church of the first century to reverence God and to be strengthened by His Spirit. In other words they were a Godward people in every sense of the word. As a result, they were edified and multiplied.
G. Campbell Morgan, in his commentary on this verse, wrote:
It is impossible to read this verse without being reminded of the missionary vocation of the Church. Here the Church is seen going on its way, going in the way the Lord commanded it, going to the nations to disciple them, going into the cosmos to suffer in order to save; and going on its way in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. These two things are closely united. The first part of the verse ends “being edified”; the second part ends “was multiplied.” The underlying thought is exactly the same. Consequently if the Church is to be missionary, she must be spiritual; and if the church is to be spiritual, she must be missionary (The Acts of the Apostles, Fleming H. Revell, 1924, pp. 253-54.
Spiritual and missionary. Edified and multiplied. To be one or the other we must be both. That is my prayer for OGC as we move into our 20th year. May God make us spiritual and missionary, edified and multiplied, to a greater extent than we ever have before!
Will you join me in praying this birthday wish for our church?