Honoring Those Who Have Gone Before Us
Now that we have completed our study on the beginning of the church, the book of Acts, and the early followers of Jesus such as Peter and Paul, we will move on to study the next generation of believers who carried the torch of the gospel forward and furthered the church. Before we move on, take a moment to reflect on the past two weeks.
In this present day, we find ourselves nearer to the end of the church era, nearer to the time of Jesus’ return. Even though we don’t know when Christ will return, we do know that we are nearer to that time than our brothers and sisters who started the church. What an honor it is for us to read about these faithful followers of Christ who started the church and pushed her forward into the following generations. We stand on their shoulders. We stand on the things that they fought for, the things they wrestled with and proved to be faithful in.
Specifically, Paul’s life greatly influenced the beginning of the early church. Clearly, he was not the only one who influenced the early church; many other followers of Christ gave their lives for the sake of the gospel. Yet through Paul’s three missionary journeys, the gospel traveled over many miles to numerous places. Because he deeply cared about salvation for all people, Jews and Gentiles alike, the precedent was set—the gospel is for anyone who believes Christ is the Savior. This outlook set the tone for the early church and continues to be true to this day.
Paul also had great impact on the early church through the letters, or epistles, he wrote to churches and individuals. These letters make up most of the New Testament. In these letters, Paul gave us the essential beliefs of Christianity and guided us in the way we should live out the Christian life. Because these letters are a part of Scripture, Paul’s God-inspired words will forever have a positive impact on the values and actions of the church.
For the faithfulness of these early followers of Christ, we honor them: Peter, Paul, Stephen, and the many others who boldly proclaimed Christ and committed their lives to His church. We are thankful. Through the ups and downs, the persecution, the beatings, the imprisonments—these early followers of Christ, our brothers and sisters, stayed faithful and proclaimed Christ to the very end. And so the church flourished. They have shown us what it looks like to persevere for the sake of Christ and our inheritance in Him.