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Jesse Lyman Hurlbut

The Church of the First Days

Acts i: 12, to ii: 47.

dropcap image FTER the Lord Jesus had gone away to heaven, the eleven disciples and a small company of those who believed in Christ were left alone on the earth. But they were not sad, as we should have expected them to be. They were very happy, for their Lord had left with them his promise to send power from God upon them. Every day they met together, and praised God, and prayed, in the large upper room where Jesus had taken his last supper with them.

The eleven disciples chose a twelfth man to take the place which had belonged to Judas the traitor. His name was Matthias. With these were Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his brothers, and the women who had been at the cross and the tomb, and a number of others, men and women, who believed in Jesus as the Christ. The whole number of the company was one hundred and twenty people. In all the world these were all who at that time believed in Christ.

Ten days after Jesus went away to heaven there came a day which the Jews called "The Day of Pentecost," or "The Fiftieth Day," for it was just fifty days after the Feast of Passover. On that day the believers in Christ were all together in the upper room praying, when suddenly a sound was heard like the rushing of a mighty wind coming straight down from the sky. And what looked like tongues of fire seemed to be over the heads of all the company. Then the Spirit of God came upon them all, and they began to speak of Christ and his gospel with a power that none of them had ever known before.

This strange noise as of a sounding wind was heard all over the city, and at once a great crowd of people came together at the place to learn what the sound meant. There they saw these people, one hundred and twenty in number, singing, praising God, and telling of his wonderful works. And there was another marvelous thing. These people who had heard the noise, and had been drawn to the place, were Jews from many lands, who had come up to Jerusalem to worship, some from the lands far in the east, others from lands in the west, and others from isles of the sea. Every man heard these believers in Jesus speaking in the language of the land from which he had come! It was as though in every tongue of the earth men were telling of God's wonderful work.

"What does all this mean?" asked some; and others said, "These people act as though they were drunken with wine!"

Then stood up Simon Peter, with the other apostles around him; for from that time the twelve disciples were called "apostles" which means "The men sent forth," because they were now sent out to win the world to Christ. Peter spoke in a loud voice to all the crowd of people, and said:

"Ye men of Judea and all ye that live in Jerusalem, listen to me. This which you see is what the prophet said long ago should come to pass, that God would pour out his Spirit upon men. This is the great day of the Lord, when every one who shall call upon the Lord shall be saved. Jesus of Nazareth, one who wrought wonders and signs among you, you did put to death on the cross, by the hands of wicked men; but God has raised him up from death. We who have seen him living declare this to you, that he whom you killed on the cross is now the Lord and the Christ."

Then many of the people began to see how wicked had been the deed of their people in killing Jesus, whom God had sent to them as his Son; and they cried out to Peter and to the other apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"

And Peter answered them, "Turn away from your sins, believe in Jesus, and be baptized in his name; and your sins shall be taken away, and you shall have this power of the Holy Spirit of God."

Then a great many people believed in Jesus Christ as their Saviour, and were baptized by the apostles. And on that day three thousand were added to the Church of Christ. And they, too, met with the believers daily in the upper room, and worshipped in the Temple, and listened to the teaching of the apostles.

And all the followers of Jesus were like one family of brothers and sisters. They who had money gave it to help those who were in need, and some who had lands and houses sold them, and gave all for those who were poor. All were happy, praising God, loving and loved by each other. And every day more and more of those who were being saved were united to the Church.