Acts 8 Part 2–The Ethiopian Treasurer

Philip was on a roll, In Samaria, He was changing lives, healing the sick, and leading all whom would listen to follow Jesus.  Amid the revival, God changed the plan.  He had Philip go to the road from Jerusalem leading to Gaza.  As he approached so did the Treasurer for the queen of Ethiopia.  As Philip approached, he noticed the treasurer reading from Isaiah.  He was able to use the scripture as a guide for the Ethiopian to understand the life and death of Jesus.  As He did,  the Ethiopian came to know the Lord and was baptized.

Philip’s obedience to God’s lead was clearly an opportunity to open the door to the gospel in Ethiopia and hopefully a start toward the ends of the earth. Upon completing the baptism, God took Philip to another area and started Him on a tour from Azotus back to Caesarea.

God’s plans rarely look like ours.  We are limited in our scope and abilities to see life from an eternal perspective, as it moves forward.  If we will trust God to lead, He will do exceedingly more than we could ever imagine.  Philip was having a major impact in Samaria.  Still, God saw Philip’s opportunity to open a path to the ends of the earth.  When Philip did that, He had an even greater impact upon the spread of the Gospel.  Once completed, God set Philip on yet another road to spreading the Good news.

We, like Philip, simply need to trust God in His administration of the Gospel and ministry.  Instead of trying to help God determine the best way to lead others to faith, we should simply join Him in the ministries He already has in progress.  If we will, God will not hesitate to lead us to the place He can best use us.  Then, as we follow His lead, He gets the credit, and we get the blessing of simply following Him and watching Him change the world.  That is good duty for any soldier.  

God Bless You

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south[d] to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
    and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
    so he opens not his mouth.
33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.
    Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 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?”[e] 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Acts 8 Part 1–You Will Be My Witnesses

It was the mission.  Jesus told the disciples that they would be his witnesses. In Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and then to the ends of the earth.  In Jerusalem, the new church was growing but then the Jewish leadership set out to decimate the church.  Saul led a great persecution.  It scattered the followers to Judea and Samaria.  One of the other deacons, Phillip, became a bold evangelist.  He was in Samaria and people were being saved, being healed, and being freed from demonic oppression and possession.  He was so amazing that even a local magician Simon was saved. 

Simon had been an enemy of God, but instead He was now saved.  Still, Simon was amazed by God’s power.  He wanted it so bad that he was willing to pay for it.  What Simon did not understand, however, was that God’s power was not a commodity to be bought or sold.  Instead, it is a gift to be given to all that believe.  Simon’s greed almost cursed him, but John and Peter showed grace.

This movement was growing.  It was growing as John the Baptist’s had before Christ began His ministry. The difference was that the Lord sent His Spirit to make the relationship personal.  That Spirit that changed the lives of the early church still guides us today.  Jesus sent that Spirit to guide, comfort, lead and empower us.  We can call on the Lord to lead us and as we walk with Him.  It is not a commodity to be sold or traded, it is a gift to all that believe.  We simply need to humble ourselves and seek God’s leadership as we follow Him.  Like the original disciples, we need to trust God to meet our needs and provide direction as we trust Him daily.

God Bless You

 And Saul approved of his execution.

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. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Philip Proclaims Christ in Samaria

Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city[a] of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed, or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.

Simon the Magician Believes

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles[b] performed, he was amazed.

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 

Acts 7–Stephen, the Game Changer

Prior to the stoning of Stephen, the tension between the church and the Jewish Leaders was apparent and palpable.  They crucified Christ, hauled Peter and John to jail a couple times, and now arrested Stephen for teaching about Christ and the resurrection.  Meanwhile, the church was growing and maturing into a real movement of God.  Gamaliel had already told the leadership to back off and allow God to do with this bunch what God saw fit. Now, standing before them was one of the number–not one of the 12, but clearly an articulate proponent of the resurrection. 

As Stephen addressed the group, He hit them in the heart.  He called them out for acting as leadership always had.  Whenever God sent intervention, God’s biggest opposition came from the leadership of His people.  They were the ones that should be welcoming the Messiah, but instead, they had repeatedly tried to wipe His existence off the books.  

The leaders had heard enough, and they attacked and killed Stephen.  He was now the lightning rod to spark the all-out war between Jewish leadership and the church.  With the stoning of Stephen, Jewish leadership became emboldened and set out to wipe the City of David clean of the group.  Interestingly, there stood Saul to watch the cloaks.  What is more, Saul would become the face of the Jewish leadership’s persecution of the church.

God was neither surprised nor defeated that day.  Stephen’s death, while ridiculous, set in motion the spread of the Gospel worldwide. No one in the crowd that day would have pointed to Stephen’s death as a game changer, but it certainly was. The church was under attack and its leaders dispersed to do amazing things elsewhere. Saul was unleashed and with that he was being prepared to change the world.

In our journey, we can never know just how God will move forward with His plan, but, as He said in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper and not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future!” Stephen’s death sparked the beginning of the movement of the Church across the globe.  It truly was the young movement’s gamechanger.

God Bless You   

38 This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us. 39 Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. 42 But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:

“‘Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices,
    during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
43 You took up the tent of Moloch
    and the star of your god Rephan,
    the images that you made to worship;
and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’

44 “Our fathers had the tent of witness in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen. 45 Our fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David, 46 who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.[a] 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him. 48 Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says,

49 “‘Heaven is my throne,
    and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,
    or what is the place of my rest?
50 Did not my hand make all these things?’

51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

The Stoning of Stephen

54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together[b] at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 6 Part 2–Stephen’s Story

It was almost like the old days when the Jewish leaders were out to get Jesus.  Here this administrator of provisions–Deacon Stephen, was out and among the people speaking truth, giving provision, and healing the sick.  He was a master apologist and knew the reality of Jesus resurrection and mission to redeem men from their sin. Still, Stephen was different.  He had the Spirit moving in him in a noticeable way.  He was so filled and inspired that the old guard knew he needed dealing with.

Try as they might, they were completely unable to trip Stephen up.  So, in the religious Leader playbook they went back to plan B.  Let’s make up lies to get this blasphemer off the streets. In a bold play, they had people make up stories of insurrection and dragged Stephen before the Jewish High Counsel.  Interestingly, Luke highlights the fact that as these men were blathering lies about this Godly servant, Stephen’s face was like the face of an Angel.

God uses His chosen ones to execute His plan.  Most times, those that He uses would never be our picks. Stephen was a glorified table waiter, right? How could he change the world? The spirit moves and men are changed often by the last ones that we would expect.  D.L. Moody was a 5th grade dropout that was failing at His uncle’s shoe store, then He met Jesus.  God touched Him and he began to teach the street kids in Chicago about the Love of our Heavenly Father. That grew into an international revival and ministry that still thrives 150+ years later.

Like Stephen, Like D.L. Moody, God can use us.  But know that such a call brings with it spiritual warfare.  We, as His people, must put on God’s armor and move forward in His power; not our own.  Like Stephen, we simply do the tasks God sets before us–even waiting tables; and allow the Lord to minister through us to the point that even our enemies see the spirit flowing through us. If we will, God will impact others through us.  In that impact, God will get the glory, and we will be blessed beyond measure.

God Bless You

And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose and disputed with Stephen. 10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13 and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” 15 And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Acts 6 Part 1–Being Great by Being a Servant

The growth of the Church was becoming an issue.  As people were living in the community of faith, they were beginning to suffer growing pains.  Chief among those issues, was the distribution of daily food and necessities.  The Apostles started the leadership of that oversight, but as the body of believers grew, those administrative duties were becoming overwhelming, and people were inadvertently being left out.

So, the Apostles asked for Godly men with servant hearts to be placed in that role of administration.  Seven men were brought forward for ordination.  Everyone was pleased with the choice.  Interestingly, while the 7 men were drafted as administrators, they were also bold men of God.  We will see in the days ahead that these men would impact the growth and spread of the gospel in major ways.  But, for now, they would alleviate community issues that were slowing the Gospel’s spread.

God calls many of us into servant roles.  As we trust and follow Him to do those things for which we are called, He can then use us in bigger and more amazing ways.  Jesus set the example by washing the disciples’ feet. It is the willingness to take on any role without need for acclimation or credit that frees us to be used in mighty ways by our Lord.  Like these men, we only need to be willing to follow God’s lead, to be used in mighty ways.  Jesus said it best, “It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” Matthew 26:20. The Seven Deacons would help the spread of the Gospel reach around the globe, all the time by simply serving others.  How about us?

God Bless You!

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists[a] arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers,[b] pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

Acts 5 Part 3–The Opposition Is Opposing Adonai!

The Church was too successful.  The apostles were adding people by the day and the sick were being healed in great numbers.  So the Sanhedrin arrested the Apostles. God’s Angel released them from jail and they returned to their teaching—now the Jewish leaders were mad.  They decided to wipe out the movement!—In a gift of true intervention , Gamaliel, one of the most loved and respected Rabbi’s(Paul’s Mentor) stepped up to speak the truth.  He put it very simply, “If these guys are not from God they will fade away. BUT, if they are from God, well, then you are fighting with God and not with men.” This floored the Council, and much like their encounter with Jesus and the woman caught in adultery, the Jewish leaders grudgingly stood down and let the men go.

When God is leading the journey, those who are in opposition are in opposition to Him.  When People reject  the church and its message, they are rejecting God.  As such, when we remain faithful in following Him, we need not fear being rejected or persecuted—for they reject God and His message, not us.

We have to remember, it is our job to share the message; it is God’s job to change lives.  We must speak the truth in love, and not concern ourselves with what others think.  If we live and act in that way, we will see change and the Lord will be glorified.  Conversely, If we refuse to share the truth—we will miss many blessings and end up fighting our beloved Lord.  I personally would rather trust my Father to use His message than to withhold God’s truth from others and take away their opportunity to hear of Adonai’s life changing power.  How about You?

God Bless You

The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

Acts 5 Part 2–God’s Plan in Command

What heinous criminals the Apostles had become.  They were standing in the temple courts and healing the sick, preaching the good news, and bringing hope to the hopeless. The Sanhedrin, ever vigilant, had these men arrested and jailed.  They were out to stop this evil restoration of people’s health, life, and spiritual renewal.   Ok, all sarcasm aside, the attack on the apostles was ridiculous.  The Jewish leadership was jealous of Jesus, and now they were facing the same spiritual revival He had spread.  What they did not understand was that God was in charge and was doing all according to His plan.

So, the angel came and released the apostles. The next day, they were back in the temple court preaching and healing as before. Meanwhile, the leaders and their temple police were ready to give the apostles “What for!”.  When they went to the jail to get them and bring them to the council, the apostles were nowhere to be found. Well, unless you look in the temple court where they were teaching…Needless to say, the leaders were at a loss. They had no way of controlling the spread of God’s word and plan. 

One of people’s greatest sins and misconceptions is their need for power and control.  The harsh reality is that control is an illusion.  Each day we face our circumstances and think that the right plan, the right disciplines, or the right amount of wealth and power will bring us personal control over what lies in front of us.  God is the only one in control. He allows us to choose and to live our lives, but we will never overcome Him or His plan. If we can learn to trust Him and then simply follow His lead, then we will live a full and meaningful life. Still, even in that, we are neither guaranteed a life free of trials and temptation, nor are we promised a long and healthy life.

God promises us salvation and eternal life with Him.  The rest is a process of trusting Him and His plan. We can wish and hope for a certain life or outcome, but, counting on that is simply not real.  We should take our lead from Solomon–In Proverbs, he tells us to trust in God with all our hearts, lean not on our own understanding. He tells us to acknowledge God in all our ways, and the Lord will make our paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6).  Then in Ecclesiastes. 6: 9-10, Solomon reminds us to be grateful for what we have, and not to be ungrateful for what we do not have. We simply must relinquish control of our life, and give that control to God.  There is no other way to live an abundant Christian life.

God Bless You

The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.

The Apostles Persecuted

17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”

21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.

When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. 22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.

Acts 5 Part 1–Keeping It Real

This is one of the “Keeping it Real” moments in the story of the early church.  People were selling their stuff, and bringing it to the apostles to meet the needs of others. People were trusting God and He was meeting needs and blessing those that were making sacrifices for Him.  Ananias and Saphira sold their land as well.  Sadly, they felt the compulsion to keep back part of the price but then claim they gave all they made to the church.

Understand, God did not require that the couple either sell the land or give the proceeds to the church.  Further, the couple could have quietly given any part and the amount would have blessed them and been a blessing to the Church.  What makes this story stand out is simply that they tried to do a noble act for personal gain and glory.  They tried to lie to God.  Not real smart.  He knew their hearts and saw the deceit.  God could literally care less how much they gave.  He is well funded and well stocked.  He owns it all.

What God wanted from them and wants from us is our trust in Him and our submission to His plan.  When we give, we do not make a big deal of it, we give out of faith and gratefulness.  God is not a quid pro quo God; He is our Father.  He simply wants us to be trusting of Him and allow His plan to work in our lives.  Having said that, do not think you can lie to God.  It serves no purpose.  It will suck the life and joy out of your walk with God.  This story is a loud announcement.  We need not try to show off to God.  He is looking at our hearts not our wallets.

Simply trust the Lord and follow Him.  Give as you feel led, and know it is your heart not your wallet that our Lord longs to capture.

God Bless You

 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

Acts 4 Final–Prayer and Community

The Church was growing like wildfire.  While persecution was starting, the young body of believers were praying and seeking God.  That led them to looking out for the interest of others ahead of their own interests. People were literally selling all they had and trusting God to provide.  Even though no one was focused upon themselves, each person’s needs were met and the community was amazing.  Interestingly, in the midst of the story of community, we are introduced to Barnabus.  Barnabus is a critical person in Luke’s report.  It was Barnabus, after all, that mentored the ambitious Pharisee named Saul–but that is another story.

It is critical for us in today’s culture and in today’s church to also trust God and His leadership.  It is God’s command to us to die to ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Him.  As we do that, we begin to allow our needs and desires to take a back seat to His will and His leadership.  If we do that, He will not only meet our needs, but He will bless us in ways we can never imagine.  

God Bless You

23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant,[d] said by the Holy Spirit,

“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
    and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers were gathered together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed’[e]

27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

They Had Everything in Common

32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

Acts 4 Part 2–Spreading the Gospel

In a bold and clear way, Peter sends a message that will echo through the generations! “You guys argue among yourselves whether we listen to you or listen to God… ” In other words, I cannot help but share the Gospel.  It really is not religion’s call whether our sharing what God has done is right or wrong. It was not the case then and it is not the case now.

We, as God’s chosen, are compelled by His Spirit to share the great news of salvation with any and all who will listen.  In a world so broken, it is the great and resounding news of hope and redemption.  Even at the beginning, the religious leaders knew they could not stop the spreading of the truth of salvation.  Try as they might, their attempts to quiet the Gospel only served as a megaphone to bolster the spread across the globe.

In our current culture, it is the government and educators who have decided to stop the spread of the Gospel. As in the first century, the more energy they exert to stop the Gospel, the louder it becomes.  Men will never stop almighty God.  Paul said it best in Romans 1:16–“I am not ashamed of the Gospel; it is the power of God unto salvation for anyone who believes.”  We do not get to decide the legal implications of sharing the truth.  Its impact on our lives makes that inevitable.

God Bless You 

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

%d bloggers like this: