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The Power of Prayer: The Early Church's Victory

The following is part 3 from a blog series based on R.A. Torrey’s classicThe Power of Prayer. R.A. Torrey (1856-1928) was an American evangelist, professor, pastor, and author. He is one of the three editors of The Fundamentals, an early 20th century defense of orthodox Protestant beliefs. Find more from R.A. Torrey at the BLB.

Ye have not, because ye ask not (James 4:2 KJV).

When we read the only inspired church history that was ever written, the history of the church in the days of the apostles as it is recorded by Luke (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) in the Acts of the Apostles, what do we find? We find a story of constant victory, a story of perpetual progress. We read, for example, such statements as Acts 2:47: “The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” and Acts 4:4: “Many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand,” and Acts 5:14: “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.” In addition Luke in Acts 6:7 states: “And the word of God increased: and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”

And so we go on, chapter after chapter, through the twenty-eight chapters of Acts, and in every one of the twenty-seven chapters after the first, we find the same note of victory. I once went through the Acts of the Apostles marking the note of victory in every chapter, and without one single exception the triumphant shout of victory rang out in every chapter. How different the history of the church as here recorded is from the history of the church of Jesus Christ today. Take, for example, that first statement, “The Lord added to the church daily [that is, every day] such as should be saved.” Why, nowadays, if we have a revival once a year with an accession of fifty or sixty members and spend all the rest of the year slipping back to where we were before, we think we are doing pretty well. But in those days there was a revival all the time and accessions every day of those who not only “hit the trail” but “were [really] being saved.”

Why this difference between the early church and the church of Jesus Christ today? Someone will answer, “Because there is so much opposition today.” Ah, but there was opposition in those days, most bitter, most determined, most relentless opposition in comparison with which that which you and I meet today is but child’s play. But the early church went right on beating down all opposition, surmounting every obstacle, conquering every foe, always victorious, right on without a setback from Jerusalem to Rome, in the face of the most firmly entrenched and most mighty heathenism and unbelief. I repeat the question, “Why was it?” If you will turn to the chapters from which I have already quoted, you will get your answer.

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