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!

The Ministry of Deacons

The Ministry of Deacons

Book of Acts Chapters 6 and 7

One of the greatest statements in our lesson today is that Satan will change his tactics according to where he sees weaknesses in the Church.

The greatest weakness in the Church as I see it today, is that the modern Church has begun to reject the infallible truth of God and has begun to accept the world’s interpretation of the Word of God.

As Christians, we know that we will not be able to have a good understanding of God’s Word without the Holy Spirit living within us!

If lying and hypocrisy are allowed to live within the Church, the Church will cease to be “the pillar and ground for the truth”!

1Ti 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
1Ti 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

The truth of the Word of God is that “it is the mystery of Godliness”, and this truth is rejected by the world we live in today.

We must clearly understand that God will not allow these things to go on indefinitely.

Remember God’s plan moves right along as we see all these things unfold before our eyes.

We must never forget the command of the Lord Jesus Christ!

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.

As the Church begins to grow in Jerusalem, God will take this command and the errors that Satan is bringing upon the Church, and He will cause some changes in the direction of the Christian Church in Jerusalem.

Remember the Church in Jerusalem had not been obedient up to this time. Spreading the Gospel was only done locally.

These are all things the Church of today is to learn so these same mistakes are not made again.

The Book of Acts teaches us about the beginning of the Church, and we are never so far advanced that we cannot learn from the Book of Acts and all the Word of God.

Remember what God has said: 2Pe 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

God has said what He means, and God means what He says!

We are not to interpret the Scripture!

We pick up our lesson with the Church begins to grow:

*Act 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

Here we see that the Church began to grow in numbers, but is this a true measurement?

Church growth should not be measured by the amount of people who attend nor by the number of people who join the Church as we will see.

Church growth must be measured by those who have accepted the complete Word of God and live their lives accordingly.

Only then can these certain ones become witnesses to the truth of God and therefore witnesses and missionaries to the world.

As missionaries and witnesses who speak the truth of God.

We are all to be missionaries in the place where God has allowed us to live!

“It is our job to just speak the truth of God and God will do all the work from that point on.

Isa 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and “it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it”.

We need to have this clear understanding of the Word of God and just be obedient witnesses and allow God to do what God does which is.

“God can save anybody, anywhere, at any time”!

Act_2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Moving on, we see that there were some problems that comes when the people of the Church do not accept the complete Word of God.

Do not be fooled “murmuring” means problems.

We see here the clash of two distinct cultures.

Hebrew women: We should understand that men and women are on equal ground when it comes God and salvation.

In the Hebrew culture the men were the bread winners, and the women took care of the household and even then, they would contribute in every way possible in caring for their families.

It was the Hebrew family that was to take care of these mothers when her husband died and many times this did not take place.

God had given clear commands on this issue.

This became something that the Church took upon themselves to do.

As the Church grew from being for the most part Jews of Hebrew descent, it began to absorb mothers who were Jews of Greek descent.

We should understand the conquests of Alexander the Great had changed the culture of the entire world.

These changed people were known as Hellenists.

Alexander the Great encouraged his soldiers to take wives from the lands that were conquered and with the other things that he did, Greek culture was spreading like a wildfire around the known world at that time.

Even the Romans had adapted the Greek culture in many ways.

Governments always believe they know better than the average person.

Along with these things, philosophy and intellectual pursuits were the rage amongst these conquered peoples.

It is easy to see the clash that was bound to happen between these widows.

The Hebrews were more accustomed to the ways of Jerusalem, and the ways of the Law, than the Greeks and this would cause a conflict.

The Apostles tried to take care of these matters and it was hurting them in the pulpit.

Peter produced the answer.

So is born the “Deacon”.

*Act 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
Act 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
Act 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

The word or title Deacon means to minister or to serve as a minister.

This is not a Minister in what many refer to a Pastor or Preacher but knowing the Word of God was certainly a requirement.

This is not to say the Pastor is not minister also because God has called the pastor or Preacher to do as he is led.

The Deacon should be able to manage day by day matters and the more serious events they can bring to the Pastor.

The Pastor is in charge of the things of the Church.

In this instance the subject was the care of widows.

The Apostles addressed these same issues.

If we want to help our Pastors, then we need to shoulder the majority of the visitations of our Church and our elected Deacons and committee people should shoulder this responsibility as they are able.

The Deacons need to study this passage.

They are not to be rulers as they are to be more like a waitress as Peter has described them.

We see that number seven and we should realize the seven is a perfect number so it could take more than seven in some churches, and it could take less than seven in some churches, but it should never be less than three in my opinion.

What were the keys to choosing these men?

“Honesty, full of the Holy Ghost, the wisdom of God”.

The wisdom of God is knowledge of the Scriptures

They must be appointed by the Body of Christ!

There must be proof of their faith!

Their job was to take the minor things off the shoulders of the Pastors and Preachers.

If a problem needed to go to the Preacher, then it should go these Deacons first.

The preaching of the Word of God is far too important to not give our Preachers time to prepare!

The Church then then be made aware of these things before they occur!

*Act 6:5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
Act 6:6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

We should notice a few things here. This Church in Jerusalem has met as a group in unity. The biggest part of these are Jews who left Judaism to become Christian.

Some were so bedded in Judaism that they thought Christianity was just a growth from Judaism, but this was never true.

To be Christian is to love and trust the Lord Jesus Christ and the Christian Church stands alone in this world as teaching that the Lord Jesus Christ the only means to ever get to Heaven.

It takes a personal relationship with Jesus to get to Heaven!

There are so many who reject this truth at their own peril!

This is not something we should brag upon; it is just the truth of God and the truth of the Word of God!

This Church acted out of love and humility.

No one spoke up at this time because of hurt feelings.

The Apostles had not denied that this was a problem, and it was the Apostles who brought forth the remedy provided by the Holy Spirit and this was the first qualification for such men, “to be noticeably filled with the Holy Spirit”‘

A Church cannot survive in this world if it is not a Holy Ghost (Spirit) filled Church!

It was the Grecian believers who seemed to be having the problem and God begins training the Church to manage all the problems that would come against the Church until the end of what we call time.

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”.

It was persecution that was in the near future for this Church, and it was time to prepare.

Problems in the Church can only be solved when the Church works as one unit led by the Holy Spirit!

The Church must be rooted in love for each other with the love of God!

Our Pastors must be given the time to prepare a message they have received of God, or “they will try to give us a message they have made up themselves” and that Church will fail.

It was the Church that chose these men not the Apostles!

Stephen was the first of these men chosen. Why? He was a man full of faith and full of the Holy Ghost (Spirit)!

Notice also it appears that Stephen was a Hellenist himself as were all these new Deacons that are mentioned.

In fact all these men had met the qualifications set down by the Apostles and these qualifications should still be the same today as any church chooses its officers and Deacons.

We had met Philip earlier, but this is not Philip the Apostle but Philip the evangelist.

Act 21:8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.

Philip was a great preacher and spoke boldly as persecution of the Church began.

The Holy Spirit traveled with Philip as He does with al Christians but there are no miracles performed by the evangelist of today.

They bring with them the promise of salvation a healing of the soul.

It is Jehovah who is the source of all miracles, and He allowed some men to take credit for these things during the time of the early Church

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.

There are no men in the modern Church who can actually perform such miracles today, no matter what some claim!

Next came Prochorus who we know nothing more about. Tradition says he could have become the Bishop of Nicomedia.

Next came Nicanor. We also know nothing more of this man. Tradition says he died in the early persecution of the Church.

We should also keep in mind that there are many men and women who are working in the background of every church, not ever seeking recognition but who keep the Church moving in the right direction.

Next came Timon. Timon is also a Greek name. In reality all these seven men may themselves have been Hellenists.

Parmenas another man that the Bible offers no more information.

Last comes Nicolas which the Bible adds was a Gentile who had converted to Judaism and now having heard the truth became a Christian also forsaking Judaism.

After these men were chosen, they were then presented to the Apostles who ordained them for the work that was given to them.

Notice this ordination was done in view of the Church because it was an official ceremony!

The Church set these men apart.
The Church prayed for each of them and the work they had been chosen to do.
The Apostles, the Preachers, laid their hands upon them in ordination.

The “laying of the hands” was a significant symbol for God’s blessing!

Mat 19:13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.
Mat 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

For healing: Mar 5:23 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.
Mar 5:24 And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.

For imparting the Holy Spirit: Act 8:17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
Act 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
Act 8:19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

We still see the laying of the hands in ordaining and commissioning men to the ministry!

What were the results?

*Act 6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

1) The Word of God increased as never before because those who preached the Word of God were not hindered trying to solve every little issue that came up in the Church but concentrated on the message of God.

2) The Church grew not just in numbers but also in knowledge of the truth of God which is far more important.
In many mega churches today the “Good News” of the Word of God is rarely mentioned. Witnessing the truth of God is not even mentioned.

3) Many new Preachers and Pastors were reached for the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. These things are the job of the Church and will always be the job of the Church. So many churches have forgotten this today!

We do not need seminaries training our preachers, this is God’s job!

Seminaries have ruined too many men of God today!

Gal 2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Gal 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

At the death of Stephen persecution came to the Church!

It is at this time that God reminded the Church to be obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ.

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.

We must observe these things as commands.

We understand that the Lord Jesus Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, but we see something amazing in this passage as the Lord stands up in honor of His martyr Stephen!

Stephen preached a sermon exposing the truth to the people of Jerusalem and Judaism.

When they had heard the truth, it brought conviction.

*Act 7:54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.

1) They had heard that their father Abraham was called of God before he was circumcised, before the Law was given to Moses, and before the Temple was built, which they had so high regard for.
.
2) They heard that Moses and Joseph had not been treated very well by their own fathers they so bragged about. There was not devotion in their hearts, there was only persecution because of the truth.

3) They were reminded how their fathers behaved in the wilderness after receiving the Law they so bragged about keeping.

4) They were reminded how their fathers had fallen into idolatry over and over again. Just because Solomon had built the Temple they so bragged about, the Lord Jesus Christ cannot be bound to any temple nor to any building or place upon this earth. We can build immaculate places to worship the Lord, but we are fools to believe we can trap the Lord Jesus within walls nor to any religion.

5) They were reminded that it was their own fathers that persecuted and slew the very Prophets of God and it was they who were the betrayers and the murderers of the men God had sent to teach them the truth.

6) They were reminded that it was they, themselves that could not keep the Laws they so cherished!

The results: They were cut to the heart. Sometimes the truth will cut you to the heart. They were filled with anguish. They felt great pain. They became uneasy.
They became full of anger and indignation and Stephen became the object of their wrath. They began to show their hatred for the truth, and they were the bigots not Stephen.

How did Stephen react to their hatred?

*Act 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
Act 7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

Stephen may have been aware of what was going on around him, but his focus was upon the glory of God.

Joh_17:5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

You see when we rebel against God the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can become disturbed and tormented and it is then that we must make a choice.

Do we accept or reject the truth of Jesus Christ? When we accept the truth of the Lord Jesus then and only then can we be delivered from this sin filled world!

Once we know the Lord Jesus as our Savior, where else could we look but to Heaven!

This world shows no heartfelt sympathy to us. The Lord Jesus Christ came to this place called earth and bled and died for our sins just so we could spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

When we know the Lord, and this earth casts us out, then we know Heaven waits to receive us.

This is the truth of peace in our lives!

In the Book of Isaiah Chapter 6:1 through 13 we can see how this glory of Heaven is described, but Stephen sees this and something even more spectacular.

Rev 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

The Lord of Glory stands to His feet. The same Lord who had been rejected by this world stood up to receive His child with open arms.

1Co_2:8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

While those who were stoning Stephen to death were seeing victory.

While those who were just spectators saw an atrocity, one way or the other.

Stephen saw deliverance!

You see God is always present when one of His children is caused to suffer by this world!

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.

Stephen was a man always filled with the Holy Spirit and he clearly understood what that meant while rocks and stones hit his weak body.

1Ti 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

We can believe that what Stephen saw we will see just before we make this same trip to Heaven.

Those in the graves whose soul is already in Heaven will get to see the glory of God as they speed toward Heaven.

Glory, Glory, Glory, Lord God almighty.

What those who knew Stephen saw was a great testimony left behind for all the world to see.

Those who hated Stephen’s testimony saw something else but there would be one sinner who would never forget this day.

*Act 7:57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
Act 7:58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.

Law abiding citizens became murderers this day and the ultra-religious smiled as these were taking place.

We should know that the Holy Ghost is always busy.

We must know that all persecution is rebellion against God!

Those who lead in the persecution of Christians and those that follow them are acting against the Lord and not against that believer!

Rom 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Rom 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Rom 1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Rom 1:31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Rom 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

They became murderers free to roam this earth because this earth was on their side!

This is the world we live in today and it is only going to get worse until the Lord returns.

This is the first time that Saul of Tarsus is mentioned in the Bible and this event makes an impression upon him.

*Act 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
Act 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

The soul of Stephen went to Heaven, his body is buried somewhere in Jerusalem awaiting the call of the Lord.

We must remember as Christians we will suffer the trials of persecution, some much more terrible than others.

Remember Stephen called out for the Lord’s help, Stephen certainly felt the pain.

What we witness is the “grace” and the “strength” to endure these trials and many did become martyrs and there may be many more before the Lord returns in the clouds and calls us out of here.

The Lord wants us all to be with Him right now:

Joh 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
Joh 14:2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
Joh 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Stephen was depending on the Lord Jesus as he says “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”.

Why? Because he knew this truth.

2Co 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
2Co 5:9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

Then Stephen shows that loving caring spirit for all as he says, “lay not this sin to their charge”.

The truth is that death brings life to all those who love the Lord, and we should have no fear of death.

Just recently I tried to make my doctor understand this as I rejected my last Chemo treatment.

What did Stephen then do?

He fell asleep in Christ and all his pain was over and the Lord met him in Heaven and then returned to His throne awaiting the next saint of God.

Amen

The Preaching Of A Deacon

The Preaching Of A Deacon

Book of Acts Chapters 6-7

The word “deacon” from the Greek word “diakonos” means “minister” or “servant”.

Jesus said:

“whosoever will be great among you let him be your minister”

Again Jesus said:

“If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all and servant of all”

Jesus said these that choose to serve can be my deacons.

The Church has adopted the office of “Deacon” and this office originates from the passage we will study today. It was the “deacon” that allowed the Apostles to devote their time to “prayer” and “the ministry” that the Lord Jesus had given to them.

We should see that the office of “Deacon” is to be inferior to and assisting to the Pastor, the Elder of a Church. It is the function of the Pastor, the Elder, to preach and to teach the congregation and the function of the deacon to assist to and to see that the material needs of the congregation are cared for.

Another thing we should see is that the Church does not tell the Pastor what to do and the Pastor does not tell the Church what to do they must both work together to find the will of God for everyone BUT the Pastor must be the leader of that local assembly.

The qualifications of the “deacon” are given in 1Timothy:

1Ti 3:8  Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
1Ti 3:9  Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
1Ti 3:10  And “let these also first be proved”; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
1Ti 3:11  Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
1Ti 3:12  Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
1Ti 3:13  For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

The Church as the “Body Of Christ” is a living organism and compared in scripture with the human body BUT the head of the Church must always remain “Jesus Christ”!

It is the Pastor, the Elder that is to feed the flock until the Chief Shepherd reappears.

1Pe 5:1  The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
1Pe 5:2  Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
1Pe 5:3  Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
1Pe 5:4  And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

God is a God of order so there should never be changes in God’s Church nor God’s Word!

Oh, and when we see those words “not  given to much wine” it means that these men have been proved to be in “absolute denial of the use of wine”, just as the Elder!

There is no place for alcoholic beverage in the House of God and this includes wine!

Pro 23:29  Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?
Pro 23:30  They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
Pro 23:31  [Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright].
Pro 23:32  At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

If we are not even to look upon wine, then we surely are not to drink of it!

Let’s begin:

*****Act 6:1  And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

We might ask ourselves when were “those days”?

The last verse in Chapter 5 tells us the answer:

Act 5:42  And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

It is the preaching of Jesus Christ that had allowed the Church to grow!

We know that the first church had grown from 120 when 3000 were added and now 5000 more were added and we know that more were added daily.

The church had been at one time, all in one accord but there had been some defection from this. Ananias and Sapphira had tried to deceive the Church and this was handled by the Holy Spirit, God Himself.

Now we see the Church experiencing growing pains!

What is murmuring? Murmuring is complaining. Murmuring is grumbling. Murmuring is sinful.

In Chapter 4 we found that some of these local Jews had sold their possessions and had given the proceeds to the Apostles to distribute to all those that had need:

Act 4:34  Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold
them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
Act 4:35  And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

But as always we find that there were some that were being neglected and not always purposely.

These Grecians were not Greeks nor Gentiles but rather Jews who had been raised outside of Palestine and spoke the Greek language.

These Hebrews were Jews of Palestine and they held themselves superior to these foreign Jews.

This murmuring did not come from among these widows but because of them!

It was probably because the Hebrew followers that had been assigned to distribute to the needy, and these widows from outside of Jerusalem could very well have been overlooked.

So we see the early church was not free of hypocrites and they were not always clear of feuds and contentions.

This is how Satan gets into the Church to try to gain a foothold!

The Apostles wisely began a process to deal with these things.

We should see that when the Church faces a serious problem it is a time to come together and not to grow apart.

The Pastor and the members must seek solutions.

It is not time to divide as this only allows Satan to win!

We must regularly examine the ministries of our Churches to see if they are according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meeting the needs in our lives and every members life.

*****Act 6:2  Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we
should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
Act 6:3  Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
Act 6:4  But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 

The Apostles accepted that they were to blame. They had not only tried to be obedient to the Word of God and to meet the spiritual needs but they had tried to meet the day by day physical needs of the flock.

They realized that they could not do both!

They could not allow the preaching of the Word of God and the needed ministry of prayer to suffer or the Church would suffer!

The words “ministration” and “serve” are where we get the word “deacon”. The men that are chosen at this time are not called deacons at this time but the office of “deacon” came from this activity of the early church.

Every Church needs qualified leaders to handle some of the things of the Church so the Pastors can devote more of their time to the study and the presenting of God’s Word and to prayer.

These seven that were chosen did also engage themselves in spiritual and worldly needs of the members.

The Church was instructed to search out these that met certain qualifications and then it was the Apostles that appointed them and gave them direction.

This is basically the same approach we use here at Gethsemane!

*****Act 6:5  And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

We should notice that all seven of these men had Greek names. This indicates that they would serve the Hellenist of the early Church or those that came from places other than Jerusalem which had been neglected.

One man Nicolas was a proselyte and was probably the only Gentile among these seven and there was probably a particular reason that he was chosen.

A proselyte was a Gentile who had been converted to Judaism and now Nicolas was a Born Again Christian.

Of these seven only Stephen and Philip are mentioned elsewhere in scripture but this does not mean these others did not serve their purpose.

Stephen was destined to become the first Christian martyr unless we include John the Baptist and it is “OK” to include him as he certainly knew who his Savior was!

We also will find that Philip became a great and powerful Evangelist and “tradition” says that the other five did also.

*****Act 6:6  Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

Again we can see that any problem in the Church can be solved when the congregation can come together!

The next thing we should see is that there is no great mystery in the “laying on of the hands”!

This the first time that the “laying on of the hands” was used in the early church.

There is “no great transfer of spiritual power” through the “laying on of hands” this was a “symbolic” gesture only!

In fact it was more “a symbolic sign of prayer” that God would provide these men with the necessary gifts they would need to perform these duties.

These men had already been filled with the Holy Ghost when they were saved as noted in [verse 3].

So what is this meaning?

In the Book of Leviticus, the sinner would place his hand on the animal to be sacrificed. This meant that this animal was to be sacrificed in their place.

When these Apostles put their hands on the heads of these that would be deacons it meant that these men would be partners with them in the ministry of the Church.

This method of ordination is still used in most churches today and most Pastors go through this ordination.

It meant that these men had been set aside for this office of the early Church!

This was a social service within the assembly in Jerusalem.

This church tried to meet the needs of it’s own members and every house of God should use this as an example.
 
*****Act 6:7  And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

I believe we can see that there were still many sincere and godly priests in Jerusalem at this time and by witnessing that the veil had been rent, and the conversion of Nicodemus, the lame man, and many other signs and wonders and they would be well aware of the teachings of Jesus.

With the truth of the resurrection of Christ Jesus they began to understand the Word of God they had been so zealous for.

These were once the true descendants of Levi but now had turned to the Lord.

It could be said that it was the preaching of Stephen, as we will find out in verse 14, that caused more an more of these Jewish priest to convert from Judaism to Christianity. If so, then we can also see how this caused such turmoil with Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin court.

These actions by the early church allowed the Word of God to increase and the Church to grow.

Church growth cannot and should not always be measured by numbers, this Church in Jerusalem was also growing “Spiritually”!

It is sad that the world does not see this spirit of harmony in our places of worship today and to be honest there is much to much turmoil even in our Baptist Churches to the point where many are ashamed to call them selves Baptist.

I consider myself “a Christian first” and then I attend this Baptist Church here at Gethsemane because I believe the “Apostle’s Doctrine” is followed here. If that changes then I will seek one that teaches the “Apostle’s Doctrine” in some other place and could even be some other denomination.

I love our church here and we must strive to always be in harmony and for the most part we are.

Being “obedient to the faith” means “faith in the work of Jesus Christ Our Savior”!

Php 1:27  Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or
else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the
faith of the gospel;
Php 1:28  And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

*****Act 6:8  And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

Stephen is the first preacher/teacher who was not an apostle whose work is mentioned.

Stephen not only did the work of a servant but he sought diligently to lead people to Christ Jesus. We can see that God truly did give Stephen some powers.

God used Stephen to bear witness to the religious leaders of Israel and it is after this time of Stephen that the “gospel” began to spread to the Samaritans.

*****Act 6:9  Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.

These Libertines were “freedmen” who were formerly slaves of Rome and had been freed by their masters.

All of these groups were Jewish immigrants to Jerusalem from other lands.

It is said in research that there were a great number of synagogues in Jerusalem that were for the use of foreign Jews who were visiting.

The Cyrenians were from upper Libya.

The Alexandrians of Egypt probably made up the largest group of these foreign Jews.

Those of Cilicia in Asia Minor would include Saul of Tarsus and those from Asia would be of Asia Minor near the Aegean Sea.

All these were very legalistic and very zealous of the Mosaic traditions, especially involving the Temple worship!

*****Act 6:10  And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

None of these including Saul, could match or resist Stephen’s wisdom and power!

Jesus had promised this:

Luk 21:15  For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.

These groups could only see one alternative, they knew they would have to destroy Stephen!

*****Act 6:11  Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.

Most of these Jews were wealthy and they had no problem using their wealth to bribe some false witnesses.

That word “suborned” actually means  to employ  type of  “secret agent” to take one of their place, and to instigate or secretly instruct him on what to say in a court of law.

And we just thought that secret agents were a modern thing.

*****Act 6:12  And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught
him, and brought him to the council,
Act 6:13  And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:

This is similar to the way the Jewish leaders had treated Jesus.

These Jews were jealous over their law and did not want to believe that Christ Jesus had come to fulfill those laws!

They were extremely proud of the Temple that Herod had restored and refused to believe that God would allow it to be destroyed.

This verse is not part of our lesson today but let’s look anyhow:

Act 7:42  [Then God turned, and gave them up to worship] the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?

These Jews along with the world we live in now and certainly including America do not believe that God will give them up to worship as they please but they are wrong!

America is trying to remove the one true God from everything and from everywhere, trying to boot Him out of this nation!

This verse says that God will just allow a people such as these to worship as they wish.

When this happens Satan takes control and evil abounds throughout the land. We see this happening before our very eyes just as it happened in Israel:

Amo 5:27  Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.

and it is happening in America and everywhere where Christ Jesus is rejected:

Rom 1:24  Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves:
Rom 1:25  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

and we know that God has a purpose for everything He does:

Rom 9:11  (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

And we also have no right to question anything that God does or has done or what He allows to be done:

Rom 9:20  Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Rom 9:21  Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
Rom 9:22  What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

We must only believe:

Rom 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Jesus preached that it was His body that is the Temple of God, and these Jews had indeed destroyed that Temple!

These Jews were not about to allow Jesus into their false religious beliefs!

Jesus had also warned them that their physical Temple would also be destroyed and that happened in just a few short years in 70 AD.

As I have already pointed out, the enemies of Jesus Christ will continue to attempt to undermine the Christian faith, by using distortions of the Word of God.

They cannot use facts because all true facts of Scripture, all true science and all true history supports biblical Christianity!

*****Act 6:14  For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.

This enemy of the Church came upon Stephen suddenly and arrested Him while he was preaching.

They took Stephen before the same court that had tried Jesus.

They took him before the same court that had tried to stop Peter and John.

*****Act 6:15  And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

They saw something marvelous in his face. This man came closer to being an angel than any man before him.

It was not even necessary for Stephen to speak because the glow of his face told everyone on this council that this was a true servant of God!

These Jews knew all about the shining face of Moses. Stephen was not against Moses because he was like Moses and God was pointing that out to them!

*****Act 7:54  When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.

Stephen had just reviewed the entire history of Israel along with the contributions made by the honored patriarchs.

Stephen had proved with their own scriptures that the Jewish nation was guilty of worse sins than those they had accused him of committing.

They had not understood their spiritual roots.

They had rejected the prophets sent from God.

They had disobeyed their own laws and made up some new laws that they honored even more than God’s laws.

They were stubbornly resisting their God and His truth!

There was a reason that Jesus had come at this time:

Gal 4:4  But when “the fulness of the time” was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

I believe the answer is also given to us:

Eph 1:10  That “in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ”, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Eph 1:11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Eph 1:12  That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

God is gathering “in one” all things of Jesus Christ.

This is the time we live in now and is known as the “Church Age” and it will soon be coming to an end and God will again deal with the Jews!

When these Jews heard these things they were cut to the heart!

These upper class Jews of Israel became a hungry pack of wolves and Stephen knew it meant his death!

*****Act 7:55  But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,

Since God is a spirit then there can be no actual “right hand of God”!

This phrase indicates The Place Of Prominence and The Place Of Honor!

The FACT that Jesus is at the right hand of God teaches us that His saving work is finished but it does not mean He is not still working on our behalf!

Every born again child of God needs to take note here!

Our Lord Jesus stood up just to receive His child Stephen into Heaven.

Jesus is waiting on us all with open arms and He stands up to receive all His children especially those that have took their stand on His Gospel.

This world may not want God’s children but when our work is done on this Earth, we have a Father in Heaven who is tickled to death that we are coming home!

*****Act 7:56  And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

Jesus had used this phrase “Son of man” at least 80 times but this is the first time one of His disciples used this title.

Jesus had told this same mockery of a trial where they could find Him:

Mat 26:63  But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living
God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
Mat 26:64  Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

Stephen said, “I see Him”, He is right where He said He would be.

Normally Jesus is often presented as sitting at the right hand of God acting as our “Intercessor” and our “Advocate”.

Normally a defence counsel remains seated in the presence of “The Judge”, rising only to make an objection when His client comes under sever attack.

Stephen said “I see my Lord standing” and “I am going on home”!

How long will He stand?

Act 2:35  Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

1Co 15:28  And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

*****Act 7:57  Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,

This pack of angry wolves could stand it no more they became what they were:

Jesus had described them earlier!

Joh 8:43  Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
Joh 8:44  Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Joh 8:45  And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
Joh 8:46  Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?
Joh 8:47  He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

*****Act 7:58  And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.

Saul and Stephen meet for the only time they would be together. They were enemies and stood on opposite sides of the cross at this time.

This gives us an idea of just how far Saul had to come but we also know Saul never forgot this day.

Act 22:19  And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:
Act 22:20  And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.

*****Act 7:59  And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

John the Baptist had died for preaching the truth. It was God the Father that had sent John.

The Lord Jesus Christ had died because He is the truth. It was God the Son sent to save us.

Now Stephen died for preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was God the Holy Ghost who had filled him with His Spirit.

Through this act against the Church the “Gospel” would now spread next to Samaria and then throughout the world.

*****Act 7:60  And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, [lay not this sin to their charge]. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Stephen fell asleep in peace and in grace while still loving the sinner but not the sin!

When a Christian dies they fall asleep:

1Th 4:13  But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

That old unsaved flesh sleeps while the spirit goes on to be with the Lord:

2Co 5:6  Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
2Co 5:7  (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
2Co 5:8  We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Heb 12:22  But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
Heb 12:23  To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

When Jesus returns He will bring back those spirits of those that are asleep to be reunited in glory:

1Th 4:14  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, [even so them also which sleep in Jesus “will God bring with him”].
1Th 4:15  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
1Th 4:16  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
1Th 4:17  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

When our loved ones that know the Lord die we do not weep in hopelessness for we know we shall meet them again when we die or when the Lord returns.

We need to realize that when the “Gospel” is preached powerful forces are at work on each one that hears it.

The Book of Acts will now turn its attention to Saul of Tarsus and the Gospel extending to the Gentiles.

If we believe in prayer and we must, then the Apostle Paul was the result of the prayer of Stephen!

Questions?

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