Summary: How can we carry on the work of God's church today? 1. By preaching God’s Word (vs. 9-13, 25). 2. By the presence of God's Spirit (vs. 14-17). 3. By standing against the poison of sin (vs. 18-23). 4. By praying for the lost (vs. 22-24).
Carry on the Work of God's Church!
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Dec. 29, 2013
*As we continue to explore Acts 8, remember that the chapter began with a great travesty and tragedy for God's church: Stephen the deacon was stoned to death for boldly proclaiming the truth about Jesus Christ. And in Acts 8:2, "devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him."
*But the church's tribulation had only begun, because Acts 8:1 says: "At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles."
*Of course, Saul of Tarsus was one of the ringleaders of this persecution against God's church. But we know that in the very next chapter, Saul will meet Jesus on the Road to Damascus. There, Saul will be saved, and transformed into the beloved Apostle Paul.
*Satan had a plan, but God's plan is infinitely greater! And God is in the business of bringing good out of the evil that happens in our world. That's what happened here in Acts 8:3-4:
3. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
4. Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.
*Satan tried to destroy the infant church. But just like the wind blowing on a dandelion, God scattered the seed of His Word everywhere the Christians went.
*In vs. 5-8, God sent Philip to Samaria, and he began to preach the good news about Jesus Christ. There was a fantastic response to the Gospel from those people who had been deceived for so long. Many miracles were done. Many people were being saved. And in vs. 8, "there was great joy in that city."
*Let's read vs. 9-25 to see what happened next.
*When World War II began, the British government distributed posters to encourage resolve among their countrymen. The first series of posters went out in September 1939, and carried this message: "YOUR COURAGE YOUR CHEERFULNESS YOUR RESOLUTION WILL BRING US VICTORY."
*As the war got much worse, a second poster was released with these words: FREEDOM IS IN PERIL DEFEND IT WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT. They were scattered throughout the countryside and plastered on trains, restaurants, stores, and pubs.
*A third poster was created with two and a half million copies. But this third poster wasn't used, because the British government was saving it for an extreme crisis, like an invasion by Germany. Then, the crisis poster was basically lost for 60 years, until a copy was discovered at an auction of old books.
*And though this third poster was never used during the war, it's probably the only one you have ever seen. It contained just five words: "KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON." Once found, it quickly escalated in popularity and was put on coffee mugs, postcards, and posters. People appreciated the simple but strong message to resist anxiety in the face of extreme adversity. (1)
*Carry on. That's what God's church was doing here in Acts 8. They had faced extreme adversity. One of their most beloved and fruitful leaders had been brutally murdered by the High Court of the Jews, but the church carried on. Most of the other Christians had been uprooted from their homes and scattered to the winds, but the church carried on.