When the church of Christ was established, it was a force like nothing the world had ever seen. These people who were called Christians (Acts 11:26) were turning the world upside down. The church was spreading like a wildfire and the flames were only fanned into greater fervor by the persecution that was intended to quench it. After the murder of Stephen, the persecution against Christians intensified. Saul, who later became the apostle Paul, was intent on destroying the church and after participating in the stoning of Stephen began an all-out assault against the church, killing and arresting Christians (Acts 8:1-4). While such persecution was intended to put an end to Christianity once and for all, the enemies of Christ did not count on the intense love for Christ, and loyalty to His church that burned in the hearts of the persecuted Christians. Thus, instead of quenching the fire, persecution stirred the Christians to greater action. The faithfulness of those persecuted, even in the face of certain death, caught the attention of those outside the church. The fact that Christians felt their faith was worth dying for caused many to want to investigate this movement. While the Christians were scattered from the persecution, they took with them their faith and shared it everywhere they went.
As we look back through the portals of time and see those who were so faithful, so full of the love of God, and so eager to tell others of their faith. Let it inspire us to truly live our faith in such fashion that others will see in our lives the love of God so that they will want to know more about the church of our Lord. Let us exhibit the same passionate zeal in evangelism so that everywhere we go, we too will spread the good news of the gospel.
Can the church today grow as did the church in the first century? Yes…when we develop that same passion, that same faith, and that same commitment to evangelism. When each child of God realizes that evangelism is a personal responsibility of each Christian, and teaches the gospel to every soul he or she can reach, then the fires of true Christianity will be ignited again. We can win the world for Christ. The question is, will we?