Summary: If the Gospel is proclaimed, people will ultimately be liberated. However, what we need to see is that there is a process...
Last time we left off with Peter and the other disciples preaching the Gospel. Acts 4:13 says, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”
Peter and John had been with Jesus! They were different! The power of God had been poured out in their lives! They had been in Jesus’ company and were changed men!
Not only were those who had been with Jesus changed people, but those who may not have spent time in the physical presence of Jesus but had received the Spirit of Christ and been endued with His power. One such person was Stephen.
Last time we mentioned that Stephen was chosen in Acts chapter six to be one of the first deacons or servants of the church in Jerusalem. The Bible describes Stephen as, “full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.” (Acts 6:8)
The entire seventh chapter of Acts was a transcript of Stephen’s preaching and at the end we find that what he had to say rubbed many the wrong way. In fact, the people were so incensed they stoned him to death (vs. 54-60).
Chapter eight begins immediately after Stephen’s death. In verses 1-8, we will discover that “proclamation leads to liberation.” If the Gospel is proclaimed, people will find deliverance or freedom in Jesus Christ.
Luke 4:18 "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
2 Cor 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Gal 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
Today our message is called “Proclamation to Liberation.” If the Gospel is proclaimed, people will ultimately be liberated. However, what we need to see is that there is a process. Many times people, especially new believers, attempt to share their faith and are surprised that people are not as excited to hear the Gospel as they are to tell it.
In the beginning of chapter eight we see this truth in action. When Stephen preached the Gospel, many did not want to hear it. Some of them wanted to kill the messenger and that is exactly what they did. There was a proclamation that led to persecution.
Proclamation leads to Persecution
Acts 8:1 Now Saul was consenting to his (Stephens) death. 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.
Acts 8:2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
Acts 8:3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
“made havoc” / “ravaging” Means "ravaging like a wild beast." This described the intensity of Saul's hatred of Christians.
It is not too often that the Gospel message is presented when the folk on the receiving line don’t fall under conviction by the Holy Spirit.
You don’t see it as much in the United States as you do in other nations. Why? I believe it is because the Gospel message has been watered down so much that it isn’t the Gospel anymore. Many are told to believe in Jesus for the health, wealth, prosperity and for the peace of mind. But Christ died for our sins. If health, wealth, prosperity and peace come, they do so only as fringe benefits.
Our job is to deliver the Gospel and not to worry about the results—positive or negative. Too many people hesitate to share the Gospel because they are afraid that it will not result in converts.
We are to trust and obey the Lord’s command to go and preach the Gospel, regardless of whether or not the message is received. Bill Bright, the founder and former President of Campus Crusade for Christ taught, “Evangelism is sharing the gospel of Christ in the power of the Spirit and leaving the results to God.”
Evangelism is just taking the meal from the kitchen and serving it up on the table without messing up the ingredients along the way.
Proclamation led to persecution but the process was not finished.
Persecution leads to Expansion
Acts 8:4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.
Acts 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.