Vol. 5, No. 12
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"The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion...They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them" (Proverbs 28:1, 4).
It is obvious that the first century church of Christ was successful in completing its mission to take the Gospel to the world. Jesus commanded to go into all the world and to "...preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). About thirty years later, Paul wrote to the church at Colosse, stating that the Gospel had been "...preached to every creature which is under heaven..." (Colossians 1:23). I believe this happened. Some will say that this is a reference only to the "known world." To this I simply reply, "That's right, for God knew them all!" It was God who verbally inspired Paul to write Colossians 1:23, you see, and God surly knows what "...every creature which is under heaven..." means.
As we read the record in the book called "Acts of the Apostles," we see that just fifty days after they crucified the Lord Jesus Christ, some of the very ones who had been there asked, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" They were commanded to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. That day about three thousand souls were added to the Lord. (Acts 2:37-41). In fact, the record goes on to say that "...the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47).
There were daily additions! Why? There was daily preaching and preaching God's plan to save mankind (Acts 5:42; Romans 10:13-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18, 21). The early church "...filled Jerusalem..." with the doctrine of Christ (Acts 5:28)! It did not stop at Jerusalem either. The church began there, and then took the good news to all Judaea, then to Samaria and then to the utter most part of the earth (Acts 1:8; Luke 24:47). We read of first 3,000 obeying (Acts 2:41), then 5,000 men (Acts 4:4), then "...multitudes both of men and women" (Acts 5:14). The Book of Acts is a powerful record of how the church of Christ marched throughout the world with the precious Gospel of Christ. The world's reaction was not always good. Most thought the church was turning their world upside down (Acts 17:6). Actually, they were turning an already upside down world right side up! And, as the Word of God increased, the number of disciples multiplied (Acts 6:7). It is the "seed principle" again, is it not? If you want corn, plant corn seed. If you want a lot of corn, plant a lot of corn seed (cf. Luke 8:11)!
It is not enough to just say they were going about preaching the Word, for they were going about as the army of God, boldly proclaiming the Word. They were bravely and confidently preaching the Word of righteousness to a world that was all wrong. Here may be where we have missed the mark. Could it be that we are not as bold as were those in the first century? We have the same message; we have the same Lord. Take time to do a study of the word "bold" in the New Testament, and see for yourselves the kind of attitude our brethren manifested 2,000 years ago. Please read the following verses: Acts 4:13, 29, 31; 9:27-29; 13:44-47; 14:1-3; 18:24-28; 19:8, 20; 28:30-31; Ephesians 6:18-20; Proverbs 28:1, 4.
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but only a sampling. However, from these few passages we can see the attitude of the early preachers and teachers of God's Word. It is true that the apostle Paul says that we are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). However, even when we do, we must do so boldly, and we can expect opposition from those who do not want to live by the Truth (Galatians 4:16; Matthew 15:7-14). When Paul boldly and lovingly disputed with those in error at Ephesus, it caused a big stir (Acts 19:23).
Could it be that we are no longer growing as we once did (as the first century church did, and as the church of Christ grew from the mid 19th Century until the mid 20th Century), because we are not boldly confronting those in error with the Truth of God's Word? We do not have to be mean-spirited, but we MUST BE BOLD AS LIONS!