Friday, August 20, 2010

the spreading Gospel

It is interesting to see how the Lord shook the salt shaker of the early church and spread His message from Jerusalem and Judea to Samaria and the ends of the earth from the book of Acts.  Actually you can see this happening in chapter 8, by itself.  After Stephen was killed, Saul (later became Paul) pulled Christians from their homes and sent them off to prison.  It might appear that the movement was going to be snuffed very quickly.  But, as other believers fled Jerusalem to escape capture, they preached the message of salvation through faith in Christ everywhere they went.  They went to Samaria, which was despised by the Jews because the Samaritans were a mix of Jewish and Assyrian descent and were considered "half-breeds".  But the same miracles and the same response of belief took place there.  Peter and John came up out of Jerusalem to see the Holy Spirit fall on the Samaritans just as it had on the Jews.  And then the evangelist, Philip, who had served alongside Stephen as a deacon was directed by an angel to lead an African government official to faith (who had been visiting Jerusalem) as that man was returning to Ethiopia...and we see the Gospel moving to "the ends of the earth".  After the African believed and was baptized, the Holy Spirit "caught up" Philip and miraculously dropped him in the ancient town of Azotus where he preached in all the coastal towns up to Caesarea.  The dynamic of church growth took shape, as the Lord moved believers divinely and through circumstance around the map.  We see the same dynamic today as the great message of new life in Christ is still growing the church around the world and across generations.  Ultimately, the force that propels us is the force that has reached us and is continuing to reach out:  the nature of the church is to grow and the message is for all.
Rob Smith

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