Summary: Background and Introduction: We can change our world:  Because the church belongs to Christ.  Because the Word of God works. 1. We must stand on God’s Word. 2. We must stretch for His Word. 3. We must share His Word.
We Can Change Our World!
Grayson Baptist Church - Feb. 10, 2012
*I like what Mark Twain said about change many years ago: “The only person who likes change is a wet baby.” (1)
*I like that saying, but it’s not always true is it? -- No. Some change is good! This is especially true of spiritual change.
*And Church: The wonderful truth is that WE have the power to change our world! In these verses we see God using His people to change their world. The early churches impact was so great that in Acts 17:6 we see rioting unbelievers crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.”
*The early Christians changed their world, and we can change our world today.
-God’s Word shows us why.
 First: We can change our world, because the church belongs to Christ.
*This church and all true Bible-believing churches belong to Jesus Christ. But people tend to forget this truth, especially when the church goes through hard times.
*And the early church definitely went through some hard times. Verse 19 tells us that they were scattered abroad by persecution. It was a terrible persecution that started when Stephen was murdered.
*Stephen’s death alone looked like a terrible defeat for God’s church. He was one of the first deacons, and a shining star in the early church. Acts 6:3 tells us that these men had to be full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom. Acts 6:5 tells us that Stephen was also “full of faith.” And listen to what happened after these first deacons were chosen:
7. . . the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
8. And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. (Acts 6:7&8)
*Stephen did great wonders and miracles among the people. Acts 6:10 tells us that the enemies of the Gospel “were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.” But now Stephen was dead. He was stoned to death after false witnesses accused him of blasphemy before a corrupt court.
*That alone was a terrible tragedy to the church. But now the persecution spread like wildfire. Listen to this report from the New Living Translation:
-First in Acts 8:1-3:
1. Saul was one of the official witnesses at the killing of Stephen. A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem, and all the believers except the apostles fled into Judea and Samaria.
2. (Some godly men came and buried Stephen with loud weeping.)
3. Saul was going everywhere to devastate the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into jail.
-Now in Acts 9:1&2:
1. Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath. He was eager to destroy the Lord’s followers, so he went to the high priest.
2. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them -- both men and women -- back to Jerusalem in chains.
*Things looked bad. But Satan never has the last word on the church of God! And his plan totally backfired. Satan’s plan backfired, because the believers who ran away from Jerusalem ran everywhere preaching the good news about Jesus! That’s what we see in vs. 19: “Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only.”
*These early believers snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Church, sometimes that’s what we have to do. And we can do it, because the church belongs to Christ. Down through the ages, God and His people have often snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
*Think of Moses and the Children of Israel with their backs against the sea.
-The greatest army in world was bearing down on them.
-It looked like they would die in the wilderness.
*I like the way they showed it in the old 10 Commandments movie.
-Charlton Heston was Moses.
-And Yul Brenner was Pharaoh.
*Of course they didn’t follow the Scripture exactly. In the movie, Yul’s wife was Moses’ old girlfriend. And after Moses rejected her advances, she told Yul to go get Moses’ blood on his sword. Yul replied: “Yes, I’ll bring it back -- to mingle with yours.” And he went out with his armies. But the Lord God parted the Red Sea! The Children of Israel crossed over. And Pharaoh saw his army swallowed up as the sea closed.