As I read the book of Acts, I see many parallels between the beginning of the early Christian Church and God’s last days church. In their travels from place to place Paul and Barnabas shared the good news about the resurrection of Jesus and large numbers of both Jews and Greeks believed. All was not smooth sailing. It was the same with ancient Israel when they first came into Canaan. The “mixed multitude” impeded progress at almost every step, stirring up discontent and strife. The advancement of the third angel’s message also has met with numerous oppositions but in both instances truth steadily advanced and the churches grew. Miracles were evident in the days of both the beginning of the early church and the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I think of the lame man at the gate Beautiful who leaped, walked and went into the Temple praising God after being healed when Peter and John (Acts 3:1-8). There was another lame man in Lystra who leaped and walked after he listened to Paul’s preaching and obeyed when Paul told him to “stand upright on his feet” (Acts 14:8,9).
Adventist pioneer Hiram Edson was also a man of prayer who, when prompted by the Holy Spirit one night to go and heal his sick neighbor, obeyed and went. With concern for the sick man’s soul, he made his way to the bedside, laid his hand on his neighbor’s head and spoke aloud, ”Lord Jesus make you whole.” The man sprang to his feet walked the floor and praising God. The next evening Edson hitched up his team, loaded his family and his now well neighbor into the wagon and went to the Advent meeting praising God. Edson’s walk with God gave him a faith he was compelled to share.
Jesus taught, preached, and healed people as He went to various places, then returning again to strengthen the faith of these new believers. The apostles followed this example realizing people needed encouragement to remain true to the faith. Going from place to place, they preached the “present truth” establishing groups of believers. Later they returned to cities and places where they had been and strengthened the new believers to be faithful no matter what they might be called on to face. To help them have a sense of support, they ordained elders in every church, commending them to God as they grew and added yet more believers.
Early Adventist pioneers, James and Ellen White, Hiram Edson, J.N.Loughborough, Joseph Bates, John Andrews and others, followed the same pattern of establishing many groups of believers. Soon the need of order and organization were recognized, which we will say more about in the next chapter.
Retired Conference Education Worker
Currently with Adventist Heritage Ministry