If the first generation of the Christian church proves anything, it is this: the power of God is infinitely greater than any human obstacles in its way. A humble Galilean craftsman, who suffered an untimely death and accumulated no earthly possessions, wrote no books, and left behind nothing but a small band of disheartened followers, spawned a movement so powerful that it took the Roman empire by storm.
How was this possible? There is only one satisfying answer: the same Jesus who was crucified on a hill outside of Jerusalem rose again from the dead three days later and was exalted to the right hand of God. As Peter proclaimed at Pentecost, “God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this. Therefore, since he has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, he has poured out what you both see and hear” (Acts 2:32–33).
The rest of the Book of Acts records the amazing, astounding, breathtaking, irresistible progress of the Christian gospel in a world where the Jews fiercely oppose the early church’s mission and where, ironically, the Romans protect Paul and the early Christians from certain death. Internal obstacles, whether dishonesty or potential disunity, are overcome, as are persecution and various external threats. Not clever strategy, but humble trust in God and faithful witness to him empower the early Christians, who prove victorious again and again.
Luke’s account of the spiritual exploits of the early church can serve as a mighty inspiration to the church of all ages which is faced with the same challenge of bearing witness to the living, resurrected Christ in a world hostile to the gospel message. As we continue this godly legacy, we must make sure our trust, as that of the first Christians, is in the same God who raised Jesus from the dead and for whom no obstacle is too great if we only put our trust in him and his awesome power rather than in our own ability to overcome the obstacles we face.