Acts 12:24 But the word of God continued to increase and spread.
This comes right after the mention of King Herod’s rather horrific death, so I think the NIV is justified in inserting “But” at the beginning of the sentence. From the next verse Luke starts talking about Barnabas and Saul, so why is this verse here? It actually is a very significant statement. Luke doesn’t say, “the Church,” he says, “the word of God.” It wasn’t that the organization was flourishing, it was that God’s Word was doing so. That’s all the more interesting when we realize that the New Testament hadn’t really begun to be written. There were perhaps some collections of Jesus’ teaching floating around by this point, but Luke isn’t really talking about the Bible here. Rather, he is talking about the knowledge of Jesus, as in the expression, “Have you had word of that?” Where the NIV uses the word “increase,” the Japanese uses a word that might be translated “ascendant.” It includes the idea of increase, but there is a feeling of “taking over.” Jesus was the talk of the town, and as a result, more and more people were forced to decide what they were going to do about Him. That has happened almost every time there has been a genuine move of God. These days our thoughts and conversations are taken up with crime or politics or celebrities and the like, (but I repeat myself) but that is a ploy of the devil to keep us from seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. As long as we allow other things to crowd out thoughts of God and knowledge of His Son Jesus, we won’t be walking in all the good that He has planned for us.
This is certainly appropriate for me! I tend to look down on those who are obsessed with celebrities, but I’m an information junkie myself, reading and watching videos much more than I read the Bible. I do start every day with the Bible, and it does dwell in me richly, I feel, (Colossians 3:16) but I let other things dominate my thoughts too often. I earnestly desire that this verse be true of Omura, bringing in a massive harvest, but I need to be sure it’s true of me. An article I read recently pointed out that the early Church had no “Church Growth Seminars,” no “Mission Statements,” no real centralized control, yet they ended up taking over the Roman Empire within a few centuries, after starting with a handful of disciples. What they had was total commitment to Jesus as Lord. If we are to take over this city and this nation, we need exactly the same thing, starting with me.
Father, thank You for this powerful reminder. Help me not fear people’s reactions, but challenge them to full devotion, trusting Your Spirit to work in us all to transform us as we need it, so that Your name may be acknowledged as holy and Your kingdom come as Your will is done right here, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!