When did the New Testament church start?
We know the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch, mentioned in Acts 11:26. The New Testament ministry started on the day of Pentecost. When all were gathered together with one accord. Every one of the 120 believers present received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:4 clearly reveals that ALL (believers) were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave utterance.
A separate experience
The Bible reveals that the baptism of the Holy Spirit with evidence of tongues is for all those who tarry for it. Accompanied by the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is for children of God, those who have been convicted and accepted Jesus as their personal Saviour. A separate experience, fulfilled after we become children and wait on Jesus to pour it into our lives. A supernatural experience, a gift from Jesus Himself.
Time of the apostles
The gospel preached by the apostles was during a time of extreme persecution & suffering, false teachers, religious opposition and evil workers. They lived in fear of impending dangers, as believers were being burnt and thrown before wild animals for sport. The lives of the apostles and believers were in constant threat. “… And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.” (Acts 8:1)
“But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.” Acts 13:50
Stephen was stoned, James was killed with a sword, Peter was jailed, Paul was shackled, stoned and striped, etc.
Yet, they lived through it all constrained by the love of God. Preaching and teaching wherever the Spirit of God led them. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the believers thrived. Trusting in God’s Word. Signs and wonders followed them. They walked in the fear of God which gave them strength.
What’s happening now?
More than 1500 years later, we still await the coming of our Lord. How are we today? Are we striving for the Lord? How are we working out our salvation? Are we living a life of comfort? Are we playing it safe? Goody-two-shoes Christianity? Why did our apostles have to go through so much suffering while we continue to live so easily?
The normalisation of sin is evident when we look into what’s going on in churches today. Fashionable clothing, Cosmetics and Ornaments, Entertainment have now entered the house of God. False Teachers and apostles continue to grow. Increasing dilution in biblical values have consumed many churches. Gospel meetings have become idols for many pentecostal christians too, neglecting the importance of regular assembling.
Yet, God continues to reach out to the lost and seeking. He is faithful and true. His Grace is truly exceeding otherwise we wouldn’t have had the privilege of knowing Him today.
What does the Word of God say?
Scripture declares, that those who live godly will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). The disciples preached that without much tribulation we cannot enter into the kingdom of God, in Acts 14:21-22.
Paul talks about his own persecutions and afflictions he had to endure, yet God delivered them out of it all (2 Timothy 3:11). In Romans 8:35, Paul says that nothing can separate him from the love of Christ, neither shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword. In 2 Corinthians 12:10, he says that he pleasures in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake. “for when I am weak, then am I strong.” Pauls exhorts saying, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”
Let us be grounded and rooted in Christ, so when tribulation or persecution comes because of the Word we aren’t offended but go on from victory to victory.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;” 2 Corinthians 4:17