Summary: God is still working His will today, and He uses whomever he needs to accomplish that task.
USED! Being the Instruments of God
God’s mission is to bring the world to a love of him!
He desires that none should perish but all come to eternal life!
In the beginning of the church, God birthed her at Jerusalem, under the apostles labour.
He used them to proclaim to all of the Jews (Hebraic and Hellenistic alike) the good news about Jesus Christ.
3000 were added the first day, and many, many more in the following weeks, months and years.
But when Stephen the Hellenist was martyred by his fellow Hellenists, a great persecution broke out against the church that caused it to leave the cradle of Jerusalem!
All that is except the Apostles. And why not them too?
5: 34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God! So they took his advice, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
Saul didn’t persecute the present apostles, likely because of Gamaliel’s wisdom. The apostles did not run in fear, but stayed in the heart of the persecution.
This leads me to believe that much of the persecution was against the Christ followers who came to Jerusalem as Jews and left as Christians. Perhaps even against the Hellenistic Judeo-Christian converts.
The men, Stephen, and Philip, two of the ones chosen to care for the daily distribution of food, went out to preach the good news, Stephen was killed, and upon the scattering Philip went to Samaria.
The Samaritans were deeply despised by the Jews, but perhaps a Hellenist, also a half-breed Jew would have been God’s perfect instrument for proclaiming the good news to them.
Saul’s persecution was fierce, but it was not without God’s purpose. God used him to bring the good news to the rest of the world.
Were it not for Saul, the church would have remained in the bassinet of the temple longer than was healthy. It would have been inundated with Judaism, and lost as a sect and nothing more. But God would not allow that!
God used Philip and many others to fulfill much of his good working in the rest of the world.
Philip preaches to the Samaritans and performs many wonders and signs in the cities of Samaria.
Simon, who used to be the center of attention, respected by all, was now overshadowed by God’s great works through Phil.
Driving out demons and healing the lame were not among Simon’s repertoire of tricks.
He’s so astounded, as are all the listeners that he along with many others believes and is baptized.
Many a preacher (including myself) have preached sermons from here.
We’re very good at judging poor Simon’s thoughts and attitudes, because when the apostles here that one of their ministers is converting in Samaria they come down to see and encourage the people only to have a bold run-in with this Simon.
Incidentally, recall when Jesus was in Samaria with his apostles and he tells them at the well, “Look at the fields, they are white and ready for harvest.”
The Apostles now see that the harvest has begun in Samaria.
But Simon wants power, so when he sees that the apostles lay they hands on the people and pray for them that they may receive the Holy Spirit, he wants the same power.