Lord, broaden our vision.
Read ACTS 8:1b–8
8 And Saul approved of their killing him.
The Church Persecuted and Scattered
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
Philip in Samaria
4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Are you ready to leave your comfort zone?
The death of Stephen has catastrophic effects, leading to a great persecution of the church in Jerusalem. The disciples, except the twelve, get scattered throughout the districts of Judea and Samaria, and they take the gospel with them. This may have seemed a victory for Satan over the church, but actually it is a victory for the gospel. It takes persecution, mainly the scattering of the bicultural, foreign Jews, to get the church to fulfill what Jesus has commanded her (Acts 1:8). The church now begins to grow outward. Earlier, it was a centripetal witnessing, but now it becomes a centrifugal evangelism. True growth of the church has to work that way.
The dispersed Jews go to Samaria and preach the gospel. Philip preaches in the main city of Samaria. Hearing Philip’s message and experiencing the miracles brings great joy to the inhabitants of the city, who accept the good news.
The involvement of all people in the local church is essential for mission work. The missionaries of the Sudan Interior Mission had to leave Ethiopia during World War II, and only a handful of converts remained in that country. When the missionaries returned after the war they found 25,000 new Christians – the local Christians had continued the ministry. Similarly, in Madagascar, the missionaries were expelled in 1845 for 25 years. On their return they found the church had grown tenfold. In other oppressed countries today, even without trained missionaries, we hear reports that churches are growing spiritually and numerically.
The church will only grow if all members witness to their friends and colleagues. Like these anonymous evangelists, we need to witness to all we meet in our homes, neighborhoods or workplaces. Pray that God will help you to leave your comfort zone and witness to your colleagues and friends.
Lord, do what must be done for Your gospel to advance.
Book and Author Intros
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.