Saul Persecutes the Church
“Now Saul was consenting to (Stephen’s) 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. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
Christ Is Preached in Samaria
Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8:1-8)
Persecution leads to scattering. Scattering leads to preaching the word. Preaching the word leads to heeding the word.
Persecution — pain, suffering, fear, harassment, imprisonment.
Scattered — displaced, separated, disbanded, homeless.
Preaching — sharing, proclaiming, teaching, glorifying.
Heeding — turning to, listening, attentive, giving oneself.
These men and women of the early church could have avoided persecution. They could have changed their minds, could have returned to the old way of doing business — doing religion. They could have turned their backs on Jesus and declared, “Oops, we made a mistake.”
They could have. But they didn’t.
They endure pain and agony. Suffering and sorrow. Heartache and tribulation because they wanted — no, they needed to continue to speak the name of Jesus.
They wouldn’t deny Him. They wouldn’t turn their backs on Him. Wouldn’t give up on the God-Man who redeemed them — who promised and gave eternal life.
They continued to speak the name of the One who loved them and saved them and gave them real joy.
He offered more than what this world was offering. They took it and weren’t going to give it back — no, not under any painful circumstance.
They had a relationship with the Creator, such a close intamite relationship that His Spirit was living inside them. And no threat or any amount of torture would cause them to give up their greatest possession — the gift of eternal oneness with their King.
And as they stood fast, as they held tight to the robe of their Savior, their words and actions got the attention of others.
“What is this? Who is this? Why are you so devoted to Him?”
So they shared. They preached. The gospel spread. The truth was spoken. God’s word did not return void.
Many more believed. Many more turned to Christ. Many more surrendered to His love and authority. Many more became part of the Church despite what it would cost them.
What the persecutors intended for evil, the Lord intended for good.
This was written while reading quietly through God’s word. So much can be seen of our Savior when we simply sit down and open our Bibles and read God’s thoughts word-for-word. Are you following along with the Quietly Through 2-Year Reading Plan? Share what God is revealing to you. Leave a comment or join the link up.
Only by grace,