Advancement Of The Gospel
Contributed by Don Baggett on Sep 27, 2008 (message contributor)
Summary: The Holy Spirit came and empowered the believers, who were praying in the upper room, and then things really started happening. The people who had become believers in Christ decided not to go back home, but to stay right there in Jerusalem where the acti
The book of Acts may be listed in your Bible as the “Acts of the Apostles,” but these titles are not part of the inspired text. These titles have been added a long time after the text was given to men by the inspiration of God. The same thing is true about chapter divisions, verse numbers, and punctuation. I say all of that to say that this book of the Bible would be better titled, “The Acts of the Holy Spirit,” because what you see in the book of Acts is how the Holy Spirit worked through the apostles, enabling them to begin taking the gospel into all the world. This is the same job that we are to continue today.
Some very exciting things were going on around Jerusalem. Jews from all over the civilized world had come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover and had remained for the Feast of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came and empowered the believers, who were praying in the upper room, and then things really started happening. The people who had become believers in Christ decided not to go back home, but to stay right there in Jerusalem where the action was. They thought Jesus might return any day, and they wanted to be there when he did. They soon found out that everybody didn’t like what they were doing.
They were persecuted, v1.
This chapter begins with persecution and ends with proclamation. We are engaged in a spiritual warfare, and it sometimes shows itself in physical opposition. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that our fight is not against flesh and blood, but it is a fight against ungodliness on a spiritual level; but, that doesn’t mean that flesh and blood will never oppose us. The people who oppose us are just a symptom of the real problem. We could roll up our sleeves and go to battle with the people, but that wouldn’t solve a thing, because there would always be more to replace them. I keep some dog food for my outside dog in our utility room at the back of the carport. Last week, I went out several mornings to feed the dog, and when I opened that door, I walked right into a spider web. I hate that! I did that over and over for about three mornings, and it finally dawned on me how to put a stop to it. All I had to do was get rid of the spider, and the spider webs would stop forming there. That’s exactly what I did, and I’ve had no more spider web problems. When people rise up to oppose the work of God and persecute God’s people, we have to realize that they are being driven by the forces of spiritual darkness, and spiritual battles must be fought on a spiritual level.
They were scattered, v1, 4-5
Nothing happens to us that God doesn’t allow. Colossians 3:3 says, “Our life is hidden with Christ in God.” Why would God allow His children to suffer persecution? Because He exercises tough love with His children. He is more concerned about the final outcome than He is about the immediate comfort. He meant what He said, when He said take the gospel to the world, and they were getting set to stay right where they were.
It works the same way on an individual level. The pressures and circumstances in your life that are bad in themselves, may very well be things that God has allowed to come into your life in order to move your life in a direction that you were not willing to move until then.
Another thing that this says to us is that the church is supposed to scatter itself into this world. We gather in here at our given meeting times, and that’s very important, but our real ministry is not in here, it’s out there. The real measure of a great church is not how many it can seat, but how many it can send.
They went everywhere preaching the word, v.4.
Back in chapter 6, they ordained some special helpers, who were deacon prototypes. One of them was a man named, Stephen. He was so full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, he soon ran head on into some religious leaders who didn’t like what he was doing, but they couldn’t stand up to the wisdom with which he spoke. So they told lies about him, and got others to do the same thing, and at the end of chapter 7, he became the first Christian martyr. Now, in Acts 8, when the church gets scattered, verse 5 says that Philip, another one of these first deacons, went to Samaria and preached Christ.
People haven’t bought into this like they should, but according to the Bible, all Christians are preachers. All are not pastors, but all are to be proclaimers of the gospel. That’s the way the early church operated. That’s one of the reasons you see the phenomenal growth of the church in the book of Acts. What happened? Why is it so different today? What happened is a matter of church history, that people soon developed a “clergy/laity” mentality. It remains different today, because people like the comfort of somebody else doing the talking, when it comes to talking about Jesus. But, that’s not the Bible way.