ACTS 8 – Preached in Krupalaya on 22nd Apr 2011
INTO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH
ACTS 8:1-3 And Saul approved of their killing him.
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
Acts 7 ended with the death of a great hero of all times – Stephen.
His death had amazing similarity with that of Jesus.
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
By this time there were much more than 5000 disciples in Jerusalem!
Church has grown a lot and the good news was that a lot of Jews were becoming Christians.
Bad news is that Apostles and the rest of the disciples forgot what Jesus had commanded them before ascending to heaven: “Go and make disciples of all NATIONS”.
Nations here means – People of different ethnicities – Ethnic groups.
Eg. Canaan – was one place where Bible says were many nations – Exodus 13:5 When the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites—the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey—
ð God wanted the Gospel to be preached to all Ethnic groups but the Church was focusing only on one group – the Jews.
ð There are around 6000 ethnic groups in India.
Also Jesus had told them Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
But so far they have witnessed only in Jerusalem – all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Were still waiting!
Sometimes we don’t do what God commands or gently instructs. Then he has to send trials or calamities to make us do what he expects.
Here God sends the intense persecution so the Christians are forced to be scattered.
Where did they go? ALL JUDEA AND SAMARIA
This incidence again shows that God is Sovereign – he rules the whole universe. Man may resist God’s plans but God over rules them. Finally his plans will come true no matter who opposes it.
Sometimes we feel like Church is not going in the direction of God! May be!
This calls us to be patient – remember God is Sovereign. He will take charge and make the Church move in his direction – sometimes it may take a bit of time. But God does not give up. That is not what we like!
Persecution forced them to spread out to all Judea & Samaria.
Here it says – Saul approved of their killing him.
Probably this was the first experience of Saul in persecuting Christians.
He looks like enjoyed it and vs3 says he began to destroy the Church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
Philip in Samaria
vs 4-8 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
Vs.Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
By this time every Christian understood that everyone should preach Christ wherever they go!
ð Are we doing this? How many of us honestly preach Christ wherever we go? God gives us opportunities :
ð Family members; neighbours; colleagues; old friends
ð Not bringing them for meetings – sharing about Jesus Christ.
ð If Apostles were the only ones to share about Christ, Gospel wouldn’t have reached the ends of the earth in one generation.
ð But Gospel reached the ends of the earth in one generation because every Christian took active role in sharing the Gospel.
ð Church is the body of Christ – just like in our physical body every part has to do its functions, in the Church every member has to do his/her part. One important task given to every Christian is to be a witness to Christ. One don’t have to be a preacher or teacher to do it!
ð This first century church is showing us clearly what our church must be like!
Philip – like Stephen did great miracles in Samaria and so many believed and got baptized.
èvs 8 So there was great joy in that city.
Christianity brings great joy not only to the individual but also to the entire community. That is why it is called Gospel – Good news.
SAMARIA – we know from many NT passages that the Jews hated Samaritans – why did they hate them and not associated with them?
Samaria was the capital of Israel – northern country.
From the time it was established, King Jeroboam set up calf idols in Dan & Bethel and asked his people to worship them and not to go back to Jerusalem to worship God there.
Even though God sent many prophets to them they did not turn away from idol worship and so God punished them by sending the army of Assyrians and destroyed and took people of Israel as captives to Samaria.
Also he brought Assyrians and settled them in Israel.
– 2 Kings 17:24 The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Kuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim and settled them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites. They took over Samaria and lived in its towns. 25 When they first lived there, they did not worship the LORD; so he sent lions among them and they killed some of the people. 26 It was reported to the king of Assyria: “The people you deported and resettled in the towns of Samaria do not know what the god of that country requires. He has sent lions among them, which are killing them off, because the people do not know what he requires.”
27 Then the king of Assyria gave this order: “Have one of the priests you took captive from Samaria go back to live there and teach the people what the god of the land requires.” 28 So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria came to live in Bethel and taught them how to worship the LORD.
29 Nevertheless, each national group made its own gods in the several towns where they settled, and set them up in the shrines the people of Samaria had made at the high places. 30 The people from Babylon made Sukkoth Benoth, those from Kuthah made Nergal, and those from Hamath made Ashima; 31 the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelek and Anammelek, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32 They worshiped the LORD, but they also appointed all sorts of their own people to officiate for them as priests in the shrines at the high places. 33 They worshiped the LORD, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.
ð The Jews who were left in Samaria intermarried with the Assyrians and also worshipped all kinds of idols. This is why Jews in Judea hated Samaritans.
ð There were Jews, Samaritans (half Jews) & Gentiles.
ð Now Philip brought Gospel to Samaritans!
ð It is a great milestone in the history of Christianity. Christ bridges all the communities that are divided!
èMission Team to Sri Lanka – 1st baptisms – Tamilian & Sinhalese.
9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. 12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”
Simon the Sorcerer – even he gets baptized and was amazed at the miracles done by Philip.
Philip could not lay the hand and pass on the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit to others.
The news about Samaritans accepting Christ was welcomed by the Church and leadership in Jerusalem and they sent Peter and John there to encourage them.
James & John – SONS OF THUNDER – wanted to bring fire from heaven on Samaritans! Now they are bringing fire of Holy Spirit from Heaven! Not for destruction but for their spiritual growth.
Luke 9:51As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” 55But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56Then he and his disciples went to another village
Now the same John is coming back to Samaria to bring the Holy Spirit – greatest blessing to Samaritans instead of bringing fire of destruction!
Vs 25 After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.
INTO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH
Baptism of Ethiopian Eunuch
Romans or Greeks, for in their view Ethiopians lived literally at the southern edge of the earth (Homer Odyssey 1.23–eschatoi andron;
Ethiopia – Cush was the eldest son of Ham, brother of Mizraim … people; also, the Septuagint uniformly translates Cush as “Ethiopia.
Philip and the Ethiopian
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian[a] eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”[b]
34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”  [c] 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea
è1ST about Philip – he had a thriving ministry in Samaria – now God wants him to go to the desert road!!
Not even a cycle is given – he had to run and catch up with the chariot of Ethiopian Eunuch.
Desert road to Gaza – very important road –Barclay says traffic of the half of the world went by this route!
Psalm 68:31 Envoys will come from Egypt; Cush will submit herself to God
Tradition further records that the apostle Matthew preached the Gospel to Ethiopians. The two church historians, Socrats and Rufinus support this tradition.
Amazing humility of the Ethiopian Eunuch – was willing to ask even an ordinary looking stranger to come into the chariot and explain the Scriptures!
Do you have a theology degree? Do you know who I am?
Why shouldn’t I be baptized – gave orders to stop the Chariot and got baptized!
How are you today? Humble like this Eunuch? Quick to respond to the Scriptures?
Reading; lessons you hear…
Last Sun we heard about giving – have you responded?
èafter the service we had Pre-teens’ co-ordinators meeting and lunch. One brother paid for the lunch – Bro I just heard the message – discussed with wife.
èone of the brothers started giving tithe – hard; next week he got 11% increment – unusual time! God outgives!
Vs 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea
è1st he left growing ministry in Samaria, then he gets to convert a prominent person – finance minister; then Spirit of God takes him Azotus – then to Caesarea!
è what a willing heart to go anywhere for God’s service?
èSanjay & Sita – Ahmednagar – New Mumbai – Invitation service – 150att!
Acts 21:8 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.
èGOD WANTS THE GOSPEL TO BE PREACHED TO ALL NATIONS – ETHNIC GROUPS- WHAT AM I DOING ABOUT IT?
èBE LIKE THE 1ST CENTURY CHRISTIANS – PREACH THE WORD WHEREVER WE GO
èBE LIKE PHILIP – BE WILLING TO GO ANYWHERE AND PREACH THE WORD!