“Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”—Acts 2:47 (NKJV)
My family once lived in an area where sheep grazed on open-range land. One spring, I noticed fewer lambs and asked one of the shepherds what was happening. Where were the babies? He waved his arms forward and said, “Look around us. Where’s the good food in this desert?” Clearly, the adults weren’t getting the nutrition they needed to reproduce. Bare lands equaled barren ewes.
This reminded me of something I read from Pastor Chuck Smith in one of his commentaries: loosely paraphrased, healthy sheep reproduce. Of course, he was referring to the Church and its people—the sheep of our Good Shepherd. Let’s think about that for a moment. . . . When done right, when sheep are well-fed and healthy, more are born to the flock. Let’s earmark that idea and look back to the verse above and recap its context.
The setting was Pentecost. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, gave a powerful message to the people in Jerusalem. Much of it was based on Scripture he knew and his experience with Jesus. His words pierced their hearts, and they asked what they should do. Peter’s reply? Repent! Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:37–38). And 3,000 people did.
However, it’s what they did after their baptism which was key to the healthy reproduction of the Church. They continually devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread (communion), and to prayer. They were of one accord, they gave what they could to anyone in need, and they praised God. They grew in their understanding of God’s Word and deepened their relationship with Jesus. Thus, they became better equipped to share the gospel with others.
Returning to the sheep and how we learned better nutrition would have produced more lambs. What happens when we apply this concept to the Church or the individual within the Church. How do we receive our spiritual nutrition? Through the equipping of the Holy Spirit and knowing the Word of God. Like Peter, when we stand on the truth and power of God’s Word and share our experiences with Jesus, the Lord will bring the increase.
When done right—when we devote our time to knowing God’s Word, to fellowship, to giving generously, and praying fervently—then the Lord will add to His Church daily. It’s not an external effort, it’s an internal affection. It’s not changing our approach, it’s continual devotion. It’s not the words we say, it’s the Word we take in and how its truth speaks through us.
There’s no secret formula. Charles Spurgeon writes, “If we want revivals, we must revive our reverence for the Word of God.” Amen to that.
Pause: What was key in the initial growth of the Church?
Practice: How do you generally take in your spiritual nutrition? Does the Word of God take priority?
Pray: Father, I lift up myself and my brothers and sisters in Christ that we would hunger and thirst for righteousness and draw closer to You in our quiet times and in fellowship. I ask for a global revival, Lord, and that we’d be an extension of Your kindness that leads to repentance. Amen.