Awe and Wonder

In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit came upon the gathered assembly. We are told that “all continued in amazement and great perplexity.” Peter stood before the crowd and declared that God had poured out His spirit on mankind. It is not my purpose here to discuss all that that means, but to look at what happened afterward. We are told that they were “pierced to the heart” and asked “what are we to do?”

Peter then explained that they should repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.” Peter gave an invitation and we are told that about three thousand souls were added to their number. At that the apostles then organized new members’ classes. Not really, but that is somewhat the result. 

Several things immediately happened as a result. First, we are told they were continually devoting themselves to the apostle’s teachings. They didn’t wait around to learn by osmosis, they wanted to know more about the Christian life NOW. It wasn’t once a month, it wasn’t weekly. We are told it was continual.  Sometimes we shrink back at that work, but we need a fuller understanding. Continual and continuous are similar words the there is an important distinction between the two. Continual means “an action that occurs frequently or regularly”. For example, Lakeland, Florida has a Saturday morning farmer’s market downtown every Saturday morning (with occasional breaks or cancellations)  That is continual – it occurs on a regular basis. Continuous means “an action that occurs without stopping.”  The Earth’s rotation around the sun is continuous – it just keeps on keeping on. I may enjoy a good steak and eat one frequently but that is not something I do without ceasing. I may wish to receive instruction about Biblical issues and attend weekly Bible studies. This is continual. I would soon get exhausted if I attended a Bible study that went on continuously, 24/7. In his sermon Peter stated that “I saw the Lord CONTINUALLY before me.” Even though the Lord may have always been with Peter, he did not see Him CONTINUOUSLY. 

Secondly, they liked to be together. In addition to continual teaching, we are told they were continually in fellowship and the breaking of bread. They wanted to spend time with other Christians. They wanted to sit down, eat, and talk with each other. AS we do today, I imagine they talked about a variety of things – how their family was faring, how things at work were going, plain everyday events. There was a bond, a commonality, an interest in the believers. 

 I often wonder how much Jesus Christ means to someone who does not desire to be in the presence of other Christians. This has become more of an issue with the COVID pandemic as we all were forced to “forsake the assembling of ourselves together,” for a time. But many have chosen to stay away, watching worship services on line every week. I readily acknowledge that online services have their benefits. Those who are unable to physically attend, may join in worship. If you’re traveling, it allows you to stay in touch with your church family. By not being physically present in worship, I feel many Christians are missing out. We should look forward to weekly worship services, to seeing old friends and making new ones, of being a part of something greater than us. We are told that. As a result of this fellowship of the early believers, everyone kept feeling a sense of awe  with many signs and wonders taking place among them.

Third, they had all things in common and they shared to the extent anyone had a need. The believers met each other’s needs, they shared what hey had. I often think that if all believers tithed (at a minimum) the main problem the church would have would be deciding how to use those funds for the Kingdom. I remember fondly the giving spirit of an elderly gentlemen in a church I once attended. His wife had been ill and he incurred a number of medical expenses prior to her death. A group at church spontaneously took up an offering to help him out. His response showed the depth of his Christianity. He told us that while caring for his wife he had been forced to reduce his tithe to five percent. He told us that he could use this offering to pay back to the Lord the additional five percent he had used to care for his wife. That man got what Christianity was about.

Fourth, we read that daily they were in the temple, they were going house-to-house, eating communal meals. They didn’t have the attitude “Oh,there’s another church group I have to attend today”  They were doing this with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. No interchurch squabbles here.

And what was the result of all this? The Lord blessed them as we are told that people were being saved daily. That’s a far cry from what we see today. I read of once denomination that baptized 154,071 in a single year . And God should be praised for the saving of these souls. But that represents three baptisms per church, one baptism per 100 members per year. Hardly being saved daily. 

This is not meant to castigate any church or individual, but merely to point out that many Christians have lost that sense of awe in the presence of God and wonder at his works.

Published by John Stancil

John Stancil is a retired college professor and CPA living in Lakeland FL. John has always been active in his church, fulfilling a variety of roles. He has served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations, usually faith-based. He is married and has two children and three grandchildren. Writing has always been a passion of his and he was widely published in professional accounting journals. He’s frequently written other types of articles primarily about his faith. John is a big sports fan, especially hockey, baseball, and soccer. He enjoys a wide variety of concerts and music as well as live theater. He is an avid reader. He holds a Doctor of Business Administration degree from the University of Memphis, an MBA from the University of Georgia, and a BS in Accounting from Mars Hill University. John also loves to travel, either exploring Florida, visiting parts of the USA, or taking a cruise. John grew up in Asheville, NC and has lived in Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, and now Florida. Several years ago he traveled to Ghana on a mission trip to distribute 4,000 insecticide-treated mosquito nets.

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