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Of the millions and millions and millions of people that lived before and during the time period of 15 centuries when God’s Word was written, the vast majority are nameless. People were born, lived, and died without most of the rest of humanity before or after them even knowing their names. The Washington DC think tank called the Population Reference Bureau calculates that by the time of the first century over 40 billion humans had lived and died.
But there are almost 3,000 people that have found their way into God’s Word. The Bible names exactly 2,938 people according to Wilbur M. Smith (1894-1976), a scholar from a generation ago. Why out of millions and billions of people, do we have almost three thousand lives mentioned? God uses them to teach us something.
As we return to Acts, starting in chapter 2 today, look at the individual people named, described, and used to unfold the amazing account God gave to us of the spread of the Gospel, As we pause to think a bit more deeply about what exactly it is that we are reading: perfectly accurate accounts of the personal words, thoughts, and actions of people who lived 2,000 years ago.
In the Book of Acts, we are given an authorized record of the birth of the church and the spread of the Gospel. This account is from God Himself. Acts is the perfect, flawless, account of the sequence of events capturing the power of the Gospel at work. But the 22 salvation-message presentations in Acts, recorded at God’s request, are not an exhaustive record of every time the Gospel was shared: these 22 are just the exact accounts that God wanted us to have.
There were literally countless events going on in those first years of the church, just because of the sheer number of lives being touched by God.
There were thousands of born-again believers at a minimum, during the first week of the birth of the church.
We get that from the numbers God chooses to share in the record in Acts. First, Acts 2:41 tells us that God counted hearts and reported that 3,000 were saved. Next, we get an updated count in Acts 4:4 where God says that 5,000 men was the cumulative number of those saved.
So with the count system used in other accounts like in the Four Gospels, that would mean some of those men were actually family units. So we could say that the Church was made up of 5,000 family units of all sizes. Finally, we know from1 Cor. 15:6, that there were already 500 solid believers from Christ’s ministry, that Jesus Christ personally met within those 40 days prior to His Ascension, ten days prior to Pentecost.
That means that by Acts chapter 4, there were perhaps 10,000 or even double that, of men, women, and children in Jerusalem and outlying areas, who were Spirit-filled, and quite enthused: believers.
Now, with that large number in mind, pause and:
Acts records the ground floor events of the launch of the greatest event in history.
Jesus was alive.
Multitudes were being powerfully transformed by Him.
God was mightily at work.
Acts is God’s account of how He kept the work of Pentecost going. Thus we see in Acts and find later explained in Paul’s Epistles, God’s plan that stretches to us today. What was the bottom line?
God first saves people and then energizes them, and then God continues to re-energize those early believers. They, like all of us, continued after they were saved to face hostility, adversity, weariness, and normal life struggles. The bottom line is that:
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