What Is A Christian? Part IX
If you remember from a previous chapter, becoming born again of God's spirit, receiving Christ-in-you, being heaven bound with nothing to stop you, having eternal life, is only part of God's desire:
We must take a look at what the first Christians did when they became born again -- see what their spiritual lifestyle consisted of -- and let this set the standards for us today.
The book of Acts is where the original outpouring of the gift of the holy spirit took place, so that is where we are headed.
When the gift of holy spirit, which Jesus Christ told his apostles to tarry for in Jerusalem in Acts 1:4 was first given, the very first thing they did was to speak in tongues.
[Note: this will be handled in detail in another teaching series.]
The proof, the evidence, that these newly born again believers had Christ in them was that they spoke in tongues. Many people may talk about how pious, how pure, or how spiritual they are, and because of this they must be a Christian, but do they speak in tongues? This is what the first century Christian believers did.
Peter stood up and spoke the Word of God to them in the temple area that day, and it says some 3,000 people were born again.
Look at what else they did:
They continued in the apostle's doctrine and fellowship. The New Testament had not yet been written, so God gave His Word to the apostles, they taught the people, and the people continued.
They had all things common: they sold the things they didn't need and used them to bless other believers. They didn't "give till it hurt", or gave away what they did need -- they simply used what they didn't need to help others who had needs.
They ate and fellowshipped in the temple, and from house to house. They "hung out", as we may say today. And "the Lord added" to the church. Man didn't add, the Lord did. Man spoke the Word, man believed that Word, and man fellowshipped and shared his pluralities with others, but it was the Lord who did the adding.
We do our job, and let God do His. Let's look at some more early Christian church activities.
In Acts chapter 3 there is a record of Peter and John ministering healing to a man who had been lame from birth. This caused great excitement among the people in Jerusalem, but they received attention from another group.
Recall that in Romans 10:9, "...and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Peter and John were teaching about the resurrection and the new birth, and this angered the religious hierarchy. See what happens in your life if you dare to believe the greatness, the power, and the unbridled majesty of God's Word and start living like a son or daughter of God should!
At any rate, some 5,000 people did believe!
Remember in Acts 2:45 they continued "house to house"? We see this also in Acts chapter 5. Not only did they go to temple, they fellowshipped in the home.
There are many exciting records showing the results when the Word of God was spoken by believers. This next one involves a man, a sorcerer in fact. Yet God did deliver him. A sorcerer is a male witch -- someone who uses, and is used by, evil spirits. It is worth noting that the fame, the credit, and the glory went to Simon.
Isn't that tremendous? Here we have a city, bewitched by a sorcerer, yet when they believed the Word of God spoken by Philip -- a good, common, "ordinary" believer, not even an apostle -- they believed that Word. The Word of God spoken today on lips of believers is still stronger, more powerful, than any evil spirit or sorcery.
When it says they were "baptized", it means they were born again. Baptism means "purification and cleansing". The water baptism was representative of internal cleansing. However, when the new birth became available in Acts chapter 2, Christ-in-you replaced water. You can get water baptized if you like, but it is no longer necessary.
But a curious thing happened...
Old Simon himself gets born again. Wow! The Word of God brings deliverance. I have seen men and women who where dependent upon and controlled by addictions to alcohol, drugs, fears, and other things that enslaved them -- totally set free. Anything that limits, that binds, that keeps you from living and being your best is a form of prison. God and His Word are bigger than any of them. But like Simon, you must believe.
If we are not seeing signs, miracles and wonders in our churches today, then someone is not teaching the greatness of that Word of God, or someone isn't believing it, or both.
There are many records in Acts to choose from, but we will cover one more. It is significant because up to this point, all records of people being born again and being filled with the holy spirit involved those who were of the Judean faith. They were either born into it, or had converted.
Here we see the first record where a non-Judean (and his household) believes. On top of that he is a Roman Centurion, a member of the occupying army that was present in Israel at that time.
God told Cornelius to send men to Joppa and fetch Peter. So what did Cornelius do? Argue? No, he did exactly as instructed. Peter was having his own conversation with God (you can read chapter 10), and shows up at Cornelius' house a few days later.
Peter spoke the Word of God to them:
Those of the circumcision, that is, those of the Judean faith who had become born again, namely Peter and his companions, where astonished. Why? Because the promises of God had always been to those of the Judean faith.
Now, for the first time, non-Judeans had received the "promise of the Father". They were on equal footing. How did Peter know that this was so? What was the proof that non-Judeans had become born again? By the only irrefutable proof there was: they spoke in tongues.
The greatest miracle of all time was given on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. God could give it as a free gift because it cost Him His only begotten son, Jesus Christ. You cannot earn, work, or pay for this gift. It is ridiculously simple to receive, but utilizing it, living worthy of it, and using it to bring deliverance to others takes effort and re-learning.
How many places could Christ be at one time while here upon earth? One. How many places can Christ and the power that goes with it be today? As many places as there are born again believers, particularly those that have renewed their thinking to tap into the power of that new birth, as they did in the first century Church.
How far do you want to go with God? There are no limits. Once you are born again and have Christ in you, you have all the spirit there is to have. Do you want signs, miracles, and wonders? Do you want a moment by moment walk with your Heavenly Father, the Creator of the heavens and earth? It is available.
The believer must learn how and what to believe in order to evidence the power -- the Christ in them -- that they have on the inside. This is power for abundant living!