The Jerusalem Church is Scattered


The Jerusalem Church is Scattered

Book of Acts Chapter 8

The one thing we should get noticeably clear in our minds is the fact that God will have His way in this world!

Even when things look dire, we need to remember that Jehovah God is in charge of every aspect of this world.

Nothing happens upon this earth that God does not know about!

What had God told to the early Church?

Mar 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Luk 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Over and over again we see the command to the Church.

The Church is not a building! The Church is every true believer!

The Church in Jerusalem had grown to an exceptionally large congregation, yet no one had considered what the Lord Jesus had commanded.

Yes, when the Lord Jesus speaks, He is commanding us to do as He says.

In fact, the Bible is a Book of Commands and not a Book of Suggestions!

Since the Church in Jerusalem would not “go into all the world” then, God would allow some things to take place and the result of these things would be the Church would be obedient to the Lord.

Now God did not cause the persecution that came to the Church, but God did allow it to take place.

The early Church grew because of the “Grace” of God, and we are still in this period called “Grace”!

Because of God’s Grace, He will not do things to go against His grace!

In other words, God did not cause this persecution, or the Church could not call it “Grace”.

In our lesson today we get to see some things about a young man named Saul.

Saul will become the worst of the persecutors of the Church, until He becomes maybe the greatest Christian who has ever lived.

First the persecutor:

*Act 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Though Saul did not cast a single stone upon Stephen, Saul was still consenting to his death.

As Stephen was dying, he gave God’s final invitation to those who were super religious in Jerusalem, but Israel rejected God’s message.

Israel set out to destroy God’s Church and Israel found out that this would be impossible.

The world of today needs to take note, that man cannot destroy the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ!

God overruled Israel and used this persecution to scatter the Church as the Lord Jesus had commanded.

Act_1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The Holy Ghost (Spirit) had come and it was time for the Church to get busy about the work of the Lord!

God has a plan for this world and no one, not any human can change the plan of God.

No matter what is happening in this world, God’s plan moves along at God’s pace.

It was Saul who launched this heavy persecution.
Some godly men buried Stephen.
Saul would persecute both men and women.
The brethren were scattered in every direction.

Saul was well pleased with the death of Stephen!

As Christians we should never be pleased with the death of anyone no matter their guiltiness!

We should never be happy that someone has died without knowing the Lord as their Savior.

Fury had been building inside Saul and Stephen’s death just set Saul out to destroy all the Church.

Saul felt that the preaching of the Lord Jesus Christ would destroy Judaism.

Gal 1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
Gal 1:14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous “of the traditions of my fathers”.

What Paul had not considered is the “traditions” cannot save anyone!

We can see that there were also politics behind the work of Saul, and Saul prospered in many ways because he persecuted the Church, the Body of Christ.

The persecution of the Church began immediately on the same day that Stephen was buried which was the same day Stephen was murdered.

Note the Apostles stayed behind.

They had given some freedom by the authorities because of Gamaliel:

Act 5:34 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;
Act 5:35 And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.
Act 5:36 For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.
Act 5:37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
Act 5:38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
Act 5:39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
Act 5:40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

Remember that Council would carry the same weight as our own Supreme Court.

The Apostles were highly esteemed by the people and these wicked men did not need any more intervention from Rome which could happen if the Jews were in some sort of civil war.

Act 4:21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.

Had the Apostles fled Jerusalem, then there would have been no one left to stabilize the Church at Jerusalem.

God does not shut down one Church to see it thrive somewhere else!

The Church in Jerusalem was an important Church and still is today.

Remember the Church is that congregation of believers.

This church would have ceased to exist, and this was not part of the plan of God.

The Church requires good godly leaders who cling to the Lord Jesus Christ.

You see we can trust that what God has said is the truth!

Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Mat 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Do not be confused by this Scripture. Peter is not the “Rock” of the Church, it is the Gospel, the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ!

No matter what Satan or the rebellious governments of this world send against the Church, the Church will prevail until the day the Lord removes the Church to deal with this wicked world.

2Ti 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

We see that good godly devout men of God carried Stephen to his burial expressing great sorrow for him, but the soul of Stephen was already with the Lord Jesus Christ in our Heavenly home. These men were no longer afraid to show their faith.

*Act 8:2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
Act 8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

As for Saul. he joined in the persecution of the Church becoming the ring leader.

Saul had every intent to completely destroy God’s Church and remove it from the face of the earth.

Many would come behind him trying to do the same thing even in today’s time.

Even mighty Rome could not destroy the Church and none today will be able to.

Saul was like a man gone mad!

Act 26:11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

Saul would even go into homes, breaking down the doors, seeking every believer.

Saul arrested everyone he could find, trying to stamp out Christianity.

Saul would storm every synagogue and he punished every believer that was present.

Even though women were considered to be insignificant in Saul’s day, Saul still went after women with the same fierceness.

Saul would send as many as he could to prison!

Act 22:4 And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.

Saul hunted them down like some terrible criminal even though these people just professed the Lord Jesus Christ as their perfect Savior.

This became their theme.

This had been what God commanded all along.

Those that escaped went forth claiming the Lord Jesus Christ and preaching the Word of God.

Persecution will never stop the work of God!

****Act 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.

We know the Apostles were not scattered.

Most of the priests were not scattered.

It was the lay people who were scattered abroad.

That word “abroad” means “widely scattered”, beyond the bounds of a country, before the public.

They went everywhere preaching the Word of God, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Rev_1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

When the Word of God is preached and received it is then time to decide.

This is the power of the Christian Church.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior unto life, or He is Ruler of death unto death.

Our life and our death are in the hands of our Savior!

This is a choice we must all make and thank God, He is the God of second chances.

Act 11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
Act 11:20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.
Act 11:21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

We should understand that evangelism is still the answer to persecution!

We have the life we live right now to prepare for what is said about us when we are dead.

*Act 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
Act 8:6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

Philip went to Samaria which had been prepared by the Lord Jesus Christ with the message of salvation and many of those who were once enemies to the Jews became part of the Christian Church.

These are all things that can happen when we are obedient to the Lord!

Why was Philip given the power to do miracles?

We must remember there was no Bible to be given to believes in that day.

The Old Testament presented the message of the “coming of Christ”.

The message of the New Testament would be the return of Christ to get His Church. The “Good News”!

The New Testament would not be written for many years so God allowed some few men to take credit for some miracles mostly concerning healing.

Today we have the complete text of the Bible, there are no lost books of the Bible.

Miracles still happen every day but most all of them go unnoticed.

God uses persecution to demonstrate the reality of salvation.

God uses miracles for this same purpose!

Persecution of the Church can be simple abuse, or it can be violent.

It can happen at work, at home, at school, at play and yes, even at Church.

In every case God will use persecution to bear witness of Himself!

What the world needs now is to see a revived Church.

Many believe that revival is the time to reach out to the public and it can be, but the intent of “revival” is to stir the Church to get back to the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We need a true movement of God in the hearts and the lives of all the children of God, inside and outside the Church.

Philip had accepted the call of God and had become an evangelist; Philip was a lay person who was trained by the Holy Spirit.

He did not go to some seminary nor any other school accept the school of the Holy Spirit and Philip obeyed the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philip preached and proclaimed the Lord Jesus Christ

Philip preached the “Good News, the Gospel and there is no better news today.

The one thing the Church needs today is to be in “one accord”!

We see just the opposite in our Churches today.

Every so-called Bible that has been rewritten just to pacify some congregation needs to be gathered and burnt for heresy.

There is only one truth and for the English-speaking world! The KJV is the closest we can get to the truth of God along with a few others that are taken from the “Received Text”.

All others are no more than commentaries that are taken from already altered versions of Scripture.

We must be in one mind and one spirit, one accord.

We must have an open mind, a willingness to listen to what God has to say, and then be obedient!

Has Satan infiltrated the Church? Yes, and we are foolish to think differently.

*Act 8:7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
Act 8:8 And there was great joy in that city.

All those who do not have the Holy Ghost living within them are under the control of evil spirits.

2Ti_2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him “at his will”.

Satan cannot touch the child of God without God’s permission. Satan can threaten like he has this power but he does not!

It is not the same for those who have not given their lives to Christ Jesus! Satan can do as he pleases with these people!

People who cannot help themselves can be healed but only by the Lord Jesus Christ!

There will be evidence of changed lives! In fact, if there is no evidence of changed lives then we need to question their salvation!

2Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

1Jn 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
1Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
1Jn 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

All those who would rather rewrite some book calling it a Bible just because they do not like the commandments of God, cannot then be saved!

When people understand the truth, it will certainly bring joy!

This joy will come and stay because it is the gift of God!

Philip did not have the power of miracles within himself to do miracles!

This power is only of God and God has His reasons and nothing comes from God without “faith”!

It is the deliverance from the great depths of sin that brings the greatest joy!

Deliverance from false prophets.
Deliverance from false religion.
Deliverance from sorceries which is drugs.

False religion will always fail in the end because there is no truth in false religion.

God has one message:

Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Rom 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Rom 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Even though Philip was in a great revival in Samaria, the Holy Spirit had a special request, and we must always listen to the Holy Spirit.

*Act 8:26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

We should know that God has His eyes on everything that is happening in this world!

Remember God knows the ending at the same time that He knows the beginning.

Every soul is important to God!

Why would this angel of the Lord not go himself?

I can think of two reasons:

1) Because this was a mission for a man. In the Lord’s salvation plan there is a place for redeemed sinners to be witnesses for Jesus Christ. No angel could accomplish this mission!

2) The Holy Spirit would already be working upon this individual and one of God’s redeemed could show him the way, the Jesus way.
An angel is but a messenger!

We should also remember Philip was in the middle of a great revival so what was so important about one man?

There were two ways from Jerusalem to Gaza, one desert, the other was through a more populous country.

Philip had no way of knowing a particular reason God would send him somewhere else during a revival, but Philip seemed to understand the importance of this mission.

We must always listen to what the Lord has to say no matter what we are doing at the time God calls!

Philip had to walk by faith!

It is our faith that is important when we are speaking to the Lord!

Jehovah does not limit Himself to our theories or our beliefs and we should not either!

God will use whatever is necessary to reach a lost soul!

God tells us all to “arise” and “go” and walk in the ways of the Lord Jesus Christ!

What did Philip do?

*Act 8:27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
Act 8:28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
Act 8:29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

Philip saw some man riding in a chariot who was returning from Jerusalem.

We should understand that Chief officers of nations were called eunuchs. Some were eunuchs as we understand but not all were!

Many of them were the chief ministers in eastern courts and called eunuchs.

For instance we know that Candace was the queen of the Ethiopians but all the queens of Ethiopia were named Candace.

We should understand what the Bible says:

Psa 68:31 Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.

This eunuch would be one of the tools Jehovah would use to fulfill this prophecy!

No doubt that this eunuch was also a proselyte to Judaism. A Gentile converted to Judaism.

Tradition tells us that even Candace was baptized by this eunuch after the work of Philip was completed.

This eunuch had taken part in all the Jewish festivals of that day, and he would now learn the simplicity of salvation by Jesus Christ.

He was reading from the Book of Isaiah the prophet of Jehovah.

It is a fact that many believers shy away from foreigners when the Lord only sees souls and all souls are as jewels and are valuable to the Lord.

The Lord Jesus wants us to reach all people with the truth!

Rom 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Rom 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

We might understand that if we could reach the higher ups in our own government, it could change everything about the America we see now.

The one thing that can be said about eunuchs is, that they are dedicated to their position.

This eunuch was a worshiper of God, yet he was not saved because he did not know all the truth.

We must all seek a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philip sensed what he was sent to do but Philip still needed a little push from the Holy Spirit.

After all this man was a high ranking officer of some country and not a Jew.

The Holy Spirit will always guide us if we listen to Him and place our lives under His control.

*Act 8:30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
Act 8:31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
Act 8:32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

Notice that Philip came straight to the point.

It was not time to talk about the weather or the long trip. Philip was sent to this man for one purpose and Philip did what the Holy Spirit instructed him to do.

Philip initiated the conversation, but he did not give this man time to ask what he was doing chasing his chariot.

No doubt this man was faithful to have traveled such a great distance to worship Jehovah.

This man had a copy of the Word of God and few especially Gentiles had such a copy of the Word pf God.

Remember all copies were done by hand and were unbelievably valuable.

This man had a problem that he could not solve and there were no answers at his home in Ethiopia.

He did not understand that the Lord Jesus Christ died for him.

Isa 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isa 53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isa 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
Isa 53:8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
Isa 53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Isa 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Isa 53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

If we believe the Bible then we must understand that Isaiah was writing about our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.

Isaiah was writing about the Messiah who had already come and completed the work required of His Father for our salvation!

He was led like a sheep because He was the Lamb of God.
He willingly died for our sin though He could have said no.
Because He was God it was in humiliation that He died and the justice due Him was not allowed.
In this time of “Grace” His followers are innumerable and who could have numbered them.

Psa 22:30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
Psa 22:31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

This eunuch could not have understood about the Lord Jesus Christ until He had heard this truth.

It is the same today to those who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ.

The prophecies of the Old Testament of the coming of the Messiah have been fulfilled.

We are now awaiting upon the return of the Messiah to collect His Church to take His bride home to Heaven to present to His Father!

He is coming back to get His Church!

Come Lord Jesus Come

Amen!

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