Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
I. WHAT ABOUT THEM?
1. It was the custom in the earliest times for persons who had been converted to Christ to join themselves with the Church. From that fact, I feel persuaded that —
(1) They did not conceal their convictions. It is a strong temptation with many to say, "I have believed in Jesus, but that is a matter between God and my own soul. Can I not go quietly to heaven and be a Nicodemus, or a Joseph of Arimathea?" Yes; but that is a different thing from being cowardly and ashamed of Christ. We shall not object to your being a Nicodemus if you will carry spices to the grave of Jesus, or beg His body. Neither of these two brethren were cowardly after the Cross had been set up, nor ashamed to identify themselves with Christ crucified. Follow them, not in the infancy of their love, but in its maturer days. The promise of the gospel is "He that with his heart believeth, and with his mouth maketh confession of Him, shall be saved."(2) They did not try to go to heaven alone. There has been a great deal said about being simply a Christian and not joining any particular church. But these people joined the Church at once. I daresay that, had they criticised the Church, they would have found faults in her, certainly within a few weeks great faults had to be remedied; but these converts felt that the society at Jerusalem was the Church of Christ, and, therefore, they joined it. If you wait for a perfect Church, you must wait until you get to heaven; and even if you could find one they would not admit you, for you are not perfect yourself. Find out those people who are nearest to the Scriptures, and then cast in your lot with them. If it would be right for you to remain out of Church fellowship, it must be right for every other believer, and then there would be no visible Church at all.
2. The persons who were received at Pentecost were added to the Church by the Lord. Does anybody else ever add to the Church? Oh, yes, the devil. Who was it that added Judas, and Ananias and Sapphira, and Simon Magus, and Demas? Who was it that stole forth by night and sowed tares among the wheat? Moreover, the Church itself cannot avoid adding some who should not be received. Mr. Hill met a man who hiccuped up to him and said, "How do you do, Mr. Hill? I am one of your converts." "Yes," said Rowland, "I should say you are, but you are none of God's, or else you would not be drunk." Converts of that sort are far too numerous — converts of the preacher, of friends, or of a certain fashion of making profession, but not true-born children of the Lord.
3. Additions to the Church of a right kind are described as "those who were being saved." Those in whom the work of salvation is really begun are the proper candidates, and these are spoken of in ver. 44 as "believers." So let the question go round — Am I saved? Have I believed in Jesus? If I have, the process of salvation within me is going on, I am being delivered from the reigning power of sin each day; I am being kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, and I shall be kept and presented at last spotless before the presence of God with exceeding joy. We set the door wide open to all who are saved, however little their faith may be.
4. Such were really "added." I am afraid certain persons' names are added, but not themselves. They are added like figures. on a slate, but they do not augment our strength. If you want to add to a tree you cannot take a dead bough and tie it on; that is not adding to it, but incumbering it. To add to a tree there must be grafting done. A true Church is a living thing, and only living men and women are fit to be grafted into it, and the grafting must be made by the Lord. Some members are only tied on to the Church, and they are neither use nor ornament. When I see disunion and disaffection among: Church members, I can well understand that the Lord never added them; but it would be a great mercy to the Church if the Lord would take them away.
5. There were additions to the Church every day. Some churches, if they have an addition once in twelve months make as much noise over that one as a hen does when she has laid an egg. Now, in the early Church they would not have been contented with that.
II. UNDER WHAT CONDITIONS MAY WE EXPECT THEM ON A LARGE SCALE? Turn to the chapter and we shall have our answer. We may expect additions to every church of God on a large scale —
1. When she has a Holy Ghost ministry. Peter was no doubt a man of considerable natural abilities, and just such a man as would have power over his fellow-men; but for all this Peter had never seen three thousand persons converted until he had been baptized with the Holy Ghost. I fear that many churches would not be content with a ministry whose power would lie solely in the Holy Spirit. They judge a minister by his style, or culture. The jingle of rhetoric has more attraction for them than the certain sound of the trumpets of the sanctuary. A Holy Ghost ministry, if Peter be the model, is one which is bold, clear, telling, persuasive, and chooses Jesus for its main theme. He did not speak to them about modern science and the ways of twisting Scripture into agreement with it. He cared nothing for Rabbis or philosophers; but he went right on setting forth Christ crucified and Christ risen. When he had preached Christ, he made a pointed personal appeal to them and said, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you." That was the sort of sermon which God blesses.
2. When she is a Holy Ghost Church — a church baptized into His power, and this will be known by being, —
(1) "Steadfast in the apostles' doctrine," etc. (ver. 42).
(2) United. The Sacred Dove takes His flight when strife comes in.
(3) Generous. I do not believe the Lord will ever bless a stingy church. There are churches where more is paid per annum for cleaning the shoes of the worshippers than for the cause of Christ; and where this is the case no great good will be done.
(4) Ready to make home a holy place. The converts did not think that religion was meant only for Sundays, and for what men now-a-days call the House of God. Their own houses were houses of God, and their own meals were so mixed and mingled with the Lord's supper that to this day the most cautious student of the Bible cannot tell when they left off eating their common meals, and when they began eating the supper of the Lord. No house beneath the sky is more holy than the place where a Christian lives, and there is no worship more heavenly than that which is presented by holy families. To sacrifice home worship to public worship is a most evil course of action. Every truly Christian household is a church, and as such it is competent for the discharge of any function of Divine worship. Are we not all priests?
(5) Devout. They did not forget any part of the Lord's will.
III. WHAT RESPONSIBILITIES DO THEY BRING TO US? It is our duty —
1. To welcome them heartily.
2. After welcoming them we must watch over them. Of course no pastor is equal to this alone. Let the watching be done by the officers of the church first, and then by every individual.
3. Setting them a good example.
4. Giving them work to do.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.