Power, Testimony, and Grace
Acts 4:33 (ESV) – And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
The birth of the early church is incredible. When you look at the humble beginnings, and then look at how far the movement spread within three centuries, it is breathtaking. This small band of Jesus followers became the predominant force of the Roman Empire within three hundred years from their humble beginnings in Israel.
How did this happen? That is the subject of today’s passage. We read in Acts 4:33, “And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.”
Notice it begins by saying “with great power.” What is the source of this power? It wasn’t themselves. It was the Holy Spirit, sent from Heaven, that now indwelled them. This is what Jesus promised them would happen (Acts 1:8). Through the power of the Spirit accompanying their message, they went and proclaimed the good news of Jesus.
But what did they proclaim? They preached about Jesus’ death for sinners and His resurrection from the dead. Notice in the text the centrality of the resurrection. God has proven that this was His servant by raising Him from the dead. This supernatural wonder can only happen by God. Jesus’ words were vindicated, and His identity affirmed through this incredible event. The disciples bore personal testimony because they saw Him die, and then saw Him alive. This changed everything for them.
So their message was Christ crucified and raised from the dead. The Holy Spirit indwelled them with power to carry it out. But we also see in our passage that great grace was upon them all. God’s favor rested upon their persons and their work. The Lord made their work efficacious. The movement spread because God opened eyes and changed hearts through their preaching and sharing.
The great news for us today is that the Lord can still do each of these things. He is still indwelling believers by the Holy Spirit. We still carry the message of Christ crucified and raised from the dead. And the Lord still provides grace to make our work matter.
The world was Christianized through a small band of fishermen. If we cry out for God to move again, He may be pleased to pour out grace that brings a new movement of faith in the world. May He do it!
Reflection & Journal:
- What were the three components discussed in the passage today?
- Why is the growth of the Christian movement in the beginning encouraging for today?
- How can a passage like this give us hope in an ungodly world?
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