Sun, Jan 15, 2023
Teacher: Yale Wall Series: The Acts of the Apostles Scripture: Acts 8:1-40
At the end of chapter 7, Stephen asks God to forgive his killers, and then he dies. The very next verse, in chapter 8, tells us:
“And Saul approved of his execution.”
We see more of that as this chapter continues:
And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
And, I think earthly wisdom would tell us that this is a bad thing, and there’s no going back to the way things were.
Not only does God take care of them in midst of persecution… He EXPLODES the growth of the church!
The whole church is reeling from Stephen’s death, and they were scattered throughout the region. And what did they do? Preached the Gospel!
4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.
Philip preaches the Gospel in Samaria, and right off the bat, full crowds stopped what they were doing and started listening, demons were cast out, and paralyzed people were healed.
there was much joy in that city
One of those people that Philip talked to, was a man named Simon. Simon was a magician and the people there saw what Simon did, and said about him:
“This man is the power of God that is called Great”
… basically giving him credit for wielding God’s power.
But when Simon saw all of the miracles that Philip was doing, he gave his life to Jesus!
17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
So, Simon tries to buy the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter essentially rebukes him, Simon asks for prayer in repentance, and the apostles head back to Jerusalem.
After Philip gets back home to Jerusalem, God send him out again. He tells him to head south, and on his way, Philip sees a guy on a chariot, and God tells him to talk to him. As he gets closer, he realized that this Ethiopian man
is reading the book of Isaiah, so he says,
“Do you understand what you are reading?”
and the Ethiopian guy says,
“How can I, unless someone guides me?”
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
At the beginning of all of this, the church was going through absolute emotional turmoil over the death of Stephen, but God was in control!
I will pray that God uses me for big things even as I feel helpless.
I will press into evangelism even as it feels like the world is against me.
I need to stop expecting people to just come to church, and I need to focus on introducing people to Jesus.
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