Scattering the Power
The deacons which were in the first Church at Jerusalem were all filled with the Power of the Holy Spirit and well equipped to handle the Word of God as a witness to their city. When that first Church in Jerusalem was about 3 years old persecution from the Jewish leadership in the city began to unsettle the whole congregation. This religious based persecution occurred several years before the great persecution later ordered by the Roman government towards Believers and the Church. This was often neighbor against neighbor. People in the Church were afraid of being targeted.
Persecution and threat of death began scattering the Believers. Christians fled Jerusalem and moved to other cities in hopes of escaping persecution.
* The devil loves to scatter the Church …
* However, these persecutions did not shake or scatter the Apostles …
* God does not cause unrest, discontentment, fear or division … God has better ways of leading us than by fear … however, God will use anything and everything to further the Gospel and save souls.
The New Testament Patterns of Evangelism, World Missions and Church Planting
* Pentecost Pattern – Event evangelism gathers people to the Church from the world, changes their lives and sends them back home filled with the power and witness of the Holy Spirit.
* Jerusalem Pattern – The Church evangelizes and equips those saved only to see the scattered or driven from their home Church.
* Antioch Pattern – Strong sending Churches filled with disciples who are full of the Holy Ghost send and support evangelists and missionaries to reach and the teach the world about Jesus.
* Ephesus Pattern – Holy Ghost filled servants who have been equipped by the Church are sent and supported by the world.
* Personal Word Pattern – Within each of these other patterns we find those who personally led by the Holy Spirit such as Phillip in Acts 8:26 or as with Paul and his Macedonian call of Acts 16:9.
Our theme for the Month of May is Power! This evening we are going to begin a Wednesday even series on the Power of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. In each of these New Testament Patterns we just discussed whether
through event driven evangelism or sent out by the Church people took their next step into the will of God because they were saved, water baptized, filled with the Holy Spirit and taught the Word and called to fulfill the Great Commission. God gives His children power to be a witness.
We begin our series with the account of a man named Philip who was one of the original deacons in that first Church in Jerusalem. Remember, the Church in Jerusalem was a rather large Church with an active congregation of over 8000 by this time we get to Acts 8. They were growing in numbers and had become somewhat of a threat to the religious establishment in the city of Jerusalem. In other words, those same people who crucified Christ were now faced with a bigger problem … they killed one and now they had 8000 to contend with. Each of these 8000 were filled with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 7 ends with some young Jewish zealots murdering one of the deacons of the Church named Stephen. Things had gotten rather serious … now these persecutors were killing Christians with rocks and putting them into prison for just believing in Jesus. This certainly scared some Believers and they began to leave Jerusalem hoping to escape the persecution which was only getting worse.
4 ¶ Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.
5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.
6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.
8 And there was great joy in that city.
9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great,
10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.”
11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.
12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.
13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
14 ¶ Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,
15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,
19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!
21 “You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.
22 “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.
23 “For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”
24 Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.”
25 So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
Persecution cannot stop the move of God or the preaching of the Gospel. All persecution can do is to scatter the power. Without respect as to how you got where you are in life I know for certain that God Almighty has a hope that you will use the Power of the Holy Spirit to spread the Good News and bring others to Christ. It is also the hope of our Father that we would encourage others to be water baptized; be filled with the Holy Spirit and become equipped to evangelize our generation and the world. Have you been baptized, filled, equipped and sent? You can be …