In our class on Acts chapter 8, we begin to move on from the time of the foundation of the Early Church in Jerusalem. [The live audio class can be heard here.] As often happens, God had to use persecution to push His people onward to what He had originally called them to do. We talked about what the Lord had told His disciples in Acts chapter 1, verse 8. “But you shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.”
But now we’re at Acts chapter 8. Had the disciples obeyed Acts 1:8? Well, somewhat. They’d certainly been faithful to witness in Jerusalem. But what about the other areas? They weren’t called to bunch up there in Jerusalem but to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) But like all of us, it’s sometimes not totally clear to our minds what the Lord meant, even when He told us plainly.
Someone said one time, “If you don’t Acts 1:8, God will Acts 8:1!” What does that mean? Well, the Early Church had stacked up huge numbers of converts and new disciples in Jerusalem. But, in the big picture, God had told them to go into all the world. So ultimately God had to send persecution their way in order to force them out.
Acts 8:1 says “And in that day there was a great persecution on the church at Jerusalem, and all were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” That could sound bad and I suppose in some ways it was. But then the really good news is Acts 8:4 “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Word.”
That was really what it was all about. Why should anyone hear the gospel twice when so many have not heard it once? So the persecution in Acts 8 resulted in a spreading abroad of the good news, many new souls were won and people outside Jerusalem were witnessed to for the first time.
Again we talked in our class about “old bottles and new bottles” (Luke 5:37-39). Even for the evangelists going to the Samaritans, that was something that could “break the bottles” of the religiously conservative and devout from the circle of the Jewish priests. “The Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” (John 4:9) But in Acts 8 the Lord was having them reap a great harvest there. Probably it was controversial to some of the Hebrews of those days, even if they had come to believe in Jesus.
One of the biggest conversations we had in our class was about salvation. Actually we talk about that a lot, basic things like that. In Acts 8 there was a man who, the Bible says, “believed and was baptized” (Acts 8:13). But later he told the apostles he would give them money if they would give him the power to lay hands on people so that they could receive the Holy Ghost. Then Peter said to him, “repent; for you are in the gall of bitterness and the bond of inequity” (Acts 8:22 & 23). So we had a pretty rousing discussion about that. Was the man saved and needed to get delivered from some major sins? Or was he not saved in the first place? I won’t go into it all here but it’s in the recording of the class
And at the end of the chapter we zeroed in on some of the more esoteric verses in the book of Acts when it sounds like Philip the evangelist, after wining and baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch, was caught up or translated, moved physically from one place to the other, by the Holy Spirit. That opened up the kind of conversation you don’t usually find in church on Sunday morning.
We had a good class. And again, overall it was about witnessing, winning souls, obeying the voice of the Lord through the Holy Spirit and just plain frontier, Early Church Christianity. And that’s really the best kind. [The live audio class can be heard here.] I hope these are a blessing to and that you are as thrilled as we are to delve into these chapters and to have your vision refreshed in Him. God bless you!