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Jul
28

The Normal Christian Life: Believing

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My hunch is that no passage in Acts has been taught or discussed more than the summary that concludes chapter 2. Rick Warren has made a mint from this paragraph in his Purpose Drive Church and Purpose Driven Life, creating a philosophy of ministry and an approach to life through worship, evangelism, discipleship, ministry and fellowship.

In looking at this passage in worship last weekend, I tried to step over the commonly argued themes and point to the process that was at work. While those primary believers were engaged in those purposes, it’s the process that is often overlooked.

The first stage of the process is found in Acts 2:41-42, which reads, “So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers” (HCSB).

Through the Scriptures, fellowship (literally, “partnership”), the Lord’s Supper (memory), and prayer, the new community were behaving in ways that cultivated faith and belief. Unfortunately, many people quit believing at the point of original faith that leads to salvation. These 3,000 new converts to the gospel expressed faith upon hearing Peter’s message at Pentecost. But they didn’t stop believing. They steadily worked on developing their faith, making God bigger and bigger.

As a result of their steadily increasing faith, “Fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles” (Acts 2:43, HCSB).

Because of their belief, they witnessed the miraculous work of God. Here’s the point. Miracles in the face of unbelief will harden the heart. You would think the opposite to be true, but it’s not. Think about Pharaoh from the book of Exodus. When Moses presented himself to Pharaoh and requested in the name of God that the children of Israel be released from bondage, Pharaoh replied that he did not know God and that he would not let the people go. After that initial meeting, God sent 10 plagues to the land of Egypt—each one a miracle. With each plague, Pharaoh’s heart was increasingly hardened. Miracles in the face of unbelief will harden the heart, not soften it. And miracles happen in the rich soil of faith, not the rocky soil of unbelief.

What are you doing to cultivate belief in your life? Worship and discipleship are wonderful ways to cultivate belief. Just make sure you remember the end game.

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