Since we are going through the book of Acts on Sunday mornings, articles like today’s posted by Ligonier is of interest. Dennis Johnson writes 3 Things You Should Know about Acts. In this article however I want to just highlight one of them: the correspondence between Word growth and Church growth. Dennis states the following concerning three summary statements in the book of Acts,
A recurring theme in these summaries is the “growing” of the Word:
Acts 6:7: And the word of God was growing (auxanō), and the number of the disciples was multiplying greatly in Jerusalem (author’s translation).
Acts 12:24: But the word of God was growing (auxanō) and multiplying (author’s translation).
Acts 19:20: So the word of the Lord was growing (auxanō) and prevailing mightily (NASB). [Jesus (Mark 4:8) and Paul (Col. 1:6) also use the farming metaphor of the word as “growing” (auxanō) seed.]
Luke is referring to the church’s growth, both in numerical size and in spiritual maturity. He describes church growth as “word growth” because the Word preached by the Apostles in the Spirit’s power is the invincible weapon by which Christ captures hearts, and the nourishment that brings God’s children to maturity.
Attached to the other two things that Dennis says we should know about Acts, this one matter reinforces the first (a floodlight between gospel and epistles) and the second (the risen and reigning Christ is the chief actor in Acts). The only explanation for how the Word & Church is growing is that Christ is now reigning.
Furthermore, there is no real Church growth without Word growth. People may cannot judge that a church is growing based merely on numbers, but people may be encouraged that a church will grow that is growing in the Word, and so our focus is on the Word.