Book of Acts Chapter 8 Part 1
Introduction: A key idea in the book of Acts is that believers should be witnesses for the Lord, everywhere they go. Today, we hope to discuss the last verses related to the stoning of Stephen and start discussing the preaching in Samaria.
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Read Acts 8:1-3
3. The Stoning of Stephen (conclusion). At the stoning of Stephen, we see in this section of the book of Acts Saul being inspired to persecute the church.
On one hand, godly men are said to bury the body of Stephen. But on the other hand, Saul is dragging men and women from their houses to be put in jail.
- Trouble for saints. Notice in vs. 1 of this section of the book of Acts that in spite of people being saved and having the Holy Spirit, they still suffered great persecution.
It is a terrible mistake to think that Christians will have no problems. But thank God, whatever problems we have, we know that God will see us through and work all things out for our good.
Let's encourage one another to remember God's plan in our times troubles. Financial, relational, and even health troubles can come into our lives.
However, God will eventually deliver us from them all, and God is working all of our troubles out for our good.
- Death issues. Notice in vs. 2 of the book of Acts that anonymous people came and cared for Stephen's body.
We should not count on such happening to us. We need to work on having our death affairs in order. We should have some life insurance, a will, and a living will in addition to making sure that we are saved.
We should make sure we talk to trusted people about how we want things to go. As for gifts to the church, the church should be notified, in writing.
If you can distribute your estate while you are alive, it will avoid all kinds of tension after you are deceased. There is way too much drama when a person dies and loved ones have to figure out how to divide the estate. Let's work on our death issues.
- The devil's team. Notice in vs. 3 of this section of the book of Acts that the devil uses religious people to cause so much trouble for the church.
We should give serious effort to staying out of the devil's plans to cause trouble. A good way to do so is to focus on prayerfully studying and obeying God's word with the support of other disciples.
In other words, being used by God is a good way to avoid being used by the devil. Let's work on keeping the devil from using us.
Read Acts 8:4-17
II. Christianity in Palestine and Syria (8:4-12:25).
A. The Christians Scattered (8:4-40). 1. The Preaching in Samaria (8:4-25). Even though the Apostles stayed in Jerusalem, the other believers scattered because of the persecution.
We see in this section of the book of Acts that they witnessed about Jesus everywhere they went. Phillip did a note worthy work of sharing God's word and doing good works. A former sorcery by the name of Simon appears to get saved.
Apparently because of the early and transitional nature of the church, people are believing and getting baptized, but the receiving of the Holy Spirit was a second act. The receiving of the Holy Spirit is facilitated by the Apostles from Jerusalem laying their hands on people.
- Witnessing everywhere. Notice in vs. 4 of the the book of Acts that even though Philip was on the run from the persecution in Jerusalem, he took the word and works of God with him.
Too many people only go to church and try to live as a Christian when the environment is comfortable and familiar. However, as Christians, we are to be witnesses everywhere we go.
Our "Church Covenant" clearly teaches us to find a church where we can carry out the spirit of our covenant and the principles of God's word. This is a key idea for young people leaving for college or employment opportunities.
However, many grown people have taken too long to get into another church after a relocation. Let's work on sharing the word and doing the work of God wherever we go.
- The Gospel over magic. Notice in vss. 9-13 of the book of Acts that the conversion of Simon is suspect. Saying that one believes and one actually believing are not one and the same.
James teaches us in James 2:26 that faith without works is dead.
However, the same gospel that saves the most ordinary person has the power to save those who are considered the harder cases or somehow more advance – sorcerer and priests (see Acts 6:7). It is good to know that God is more powerful than magic.
I hope it goes without saying that Christians should not be involved with magic – voodoo, palm reading, and horoscopes. As Christians, we look to the Lord for direction and power for living.
Let's live like we believe in the power of the gospel. Such living should include sharing the same gospel with everyone. Such includes depending on the Lord alone for our direction and power.
- Receiving the Holy Spirit. Notice in vss. 14-17 that because of the early and transitional nature of the church that leaders from the church in Jerusalem were used by God in insuring the believers in Samaria received the same Holy Spirit.
On one hand, it was important for those in the text and for us today to realize that there is only one Spirit and one body of Christ. To support this idea, we see the leaders from the first location being used to confirm the work in a second location.
Without such, there may have been unnecessary rivalry and division between the churches.
However, on the other hand, we are well past the early and transitional stage of the church. Therefore, we don't need human agents to lay their hands on us to receive the Spirit.
Today, a person receives the Spirit when they accept Christ as savior by faith. Instead of waiting for someone to lay their hands on us, we should focus on making sure we are saved and thereby Spirit indwelt (see I Cor. 6:19-20).
The evidence of being indwelt by the Spirit is not someone laying their hands on you or your speaking in tongues, it is your striving to live by the will of God, which centers around loving God and others, as we love ourselves.
Let's be mindful of how we receive the Spirit and what we are to do with Him. The Spirit empowers our Christian living and comforts us along the way.
Conclusion: Let's be witnesses for the Lord, everywhere we go. God has much for those who obey His will.
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