The common thread woven through this chapter is the spoken Word. I say “spoken” because I’m afraid that some hear the word “preach” as a technical term that only male preachers can do (which is true for that office).
But all believers have been given the Spirit. All are witnesses. Speaking the gospel is not limited to just the “professionals.” All believers go about sowing seed!
This first story in Samaria reminds me of Israel’s slavery in Egypt. The people give attention to Philip’s signs and Simon’s magic arts. It must be said that they cannot merely tack Jesus on to their love of magic just as a Hindu cannot add Jesus onto their list of gods.
Yet, you see the gospel spreading! In fact, the Lord had plans to send the gospel to Ethiopia.
On a *desert road Philip speaks to a eunuch (a desert man if you get the connection). Christ is proclaimed from Isaiah 53 and this fruitless man believes. Indeed, they see water in the desert! This man becomes fruitful because of the gospel!
So, we must see our calling, church. Sometimes we are gathered to worship our King. Other times we are scattered spreading the good news of the Kingdom. The gospel is miraculous! It turns deserts into plentiful lands! Go speak the gospel.
We must be reminded of Acts 6 in order to see this response by Stephen.
Then some…rose up and disputed with Stephen. – Acts 6:9
Then they secretly instigated men who said… – Acts 6:11
12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council,
13 and they set up false witnesses who said… – Acts 6:12-13
Now, how does a man full of the Spirit (by God’s grace not full of himself) and wisdom respond to the crowd and false accusations?
Acts 7 is Stephen’s response…he speaks the gospel to them!
You might look at his response and also conclude that his response is God’s response. How did the Spirit respond (even more, how did Jesus respond) through Stephen? The gospel!
These people need Jesus! The world needed to hear about Jesus. Though we might not approve and nor is it our way but the Lord uses this event ***to scatter His people and the Word in the next chapter.
So, your afflictions today are not random nor useless. They are opportunities for us to trust the Lord and they often direct our path in ways we would have otherwise not moved. May we be filled with the Spirit and respond like Stephen…like Christ, today.
I’m praying that this would be so for you today.
More trouble WITHIN the fellowship. It’s no coincidence that verse 1 and 7 are almost identical. What happens between them is meant to say something threatens the increasing of disciples within the body.
Ananias and Sapphira threatened this in Acts 5. For all that we might love about the early church, its beginnings were not simple. Problems arise yet they must respond to them or risk the problems taking over.
The point is, the Lord dealt with Ananias and Sapphira. The apostles led by the Spirit responded to the complaint. Both spiritual and physical needs must be met. Loving God cannot be separated from loving people.
The result? Verse 7…the word of God continued to increase and the number of disciples multiplied.
What complicates this in the church today is that many problems have been avoided and they have caused much damage and they are still firmly rooted. The wisdom of how to work through them and not destroy the fellowship is HARD!
May the Lord grant great wisdom in our day to erode the past problems and protect us from creating new ones along the way. We need a revival…a great movement of the Spirit for it to happen quickly or slow patient leadership to lead on for the glory of God.
May His word increase and the disciples multiply!
The contrast set up between Barnabas with Ananias and Sapphira is in motive not action.
Our desire to make a name for ourselves is a devious temptation. It is common among all people. In fact, at the Tower of Babel, the Lord confused their language in order to stop this madness.
This passage should cause us to fear God and to be in awe of His holiness. Mankind is wicked but God is righteousness. This is what we all deserve and if the truth be told all of us should be dead for our evil motives of making a name for ourselves.
You might wonder why the leaders of Israel did not fall dead for wrongly arresting the Apostles for preaching the gospel. There’s much that could be said but let it suffice to say that judgment begins in the household of God.
There’s a different expectation for believers than that of the world. We are adopted children in God’s family. We ought to live our lives in honor of our Father.
So what? One place this potentially could happen is in the taking of the Lord’s Supper. “Some have died and many are sick.” We should take God’s holiness seriously and we of all people should be a repentant people.
We should help each other put to death the deeds of the flesh. Please check each other’s motives. This is love!
I can’t help but pick up on the 40 year old man again. I believe we are supposed to make some connections here to the 40 years of wilderness wandering.
In the Gospels we see Jesus feeding the 5000 in the wilderness. Over and over Jesus turns wilderness/deserts into fruitful land. This 40 year old fruitless man was made fruitful.
This is the theme of Psalm 107 (and indeed the whole Bible). He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. – Psalm 107:35
The Lord does this for a purpose. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, *in order that we may bear fruit for God. – Romans 7:4.
Can you see visible fruit in Acts 4? Can you see visible fruit in those around you who claim to believe in Jesus? How about in your own life?
Take that section in Acts 4:23-31. Are you a good friend? Are you there for your brothers and sisters? Do you listen? Do you lift up your voice with them? Do you pray for the continued speaking of the gospel?
…or are we just a desert full of sand?
I believe there’s some imagery to see in this amazing chapter!
As you might be aware, the man was not allowed inside the temple because of he was cripple. In fact, he needed someone to bring him to the gate daily in order to ask for alms.
All he could do was behold from a distance. He could not get to God, if I may push the imagery here.
However, there is a way to God! We see Peter and John crossing paths with this man and they carry with them the keys to the gate!
A theme is emerging in Acts in that even though Jesus has ascended to heaven he is ruling the Kingdom. The Apostles offer healing to this crippled man *in the name of Jesus. (They asked Jesus who should replace Judas). Now the disciples are advancing the Kingdom under the reign of King Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit!
The man receives the gift and guess what happens? He ENTERED the temple—the Presence of God! And his entrance was that of praise! Sounds like Psalm 100:4…Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
I would suggest that his story is our story if we have faith in The Way…The Gate! We too should rejoice, for now his presence is with us always! We have no need to go to the temple. The Spirit dwells in us!
Take note of people in whom you cross paths with today. May we beggars tell other beggars where to find the Bread (of Life).
The setting is Pentecost which is a celebration to God for the harvest! It is fifty days after Passover.
You might say on this particular Passover the Seed (of David) was planted in the soil and due to the implications of that, a new harvest will come.
Indeed, the promised Holy Spirit comes! Eden is being restored for now the Presence of God is restored. God can remain with His people because the ransom had been paid!
Therefore, those who received the gift of the Holy Spirit took the Presence of God into Jerusalem that day! You might think the miraculous gift of speaking in other tongues would be enough to convince others to believe but it’s not. Another miracle must take place.
Peter preaches Christ and calls them to repentance and faith. And guess what happens? A harvest of souls is gathered on Pentecost!
So what? If you are trusting and treasuring Christ you have the same Holy Spirit/ Presence of God. One of the primary results of the indwelling Spirit is the forth-telling of God’s Word and the gospel.
We are His witnesses of grace! He has given us the Spirit. The resurrection is certain (don’t worry about what might happen to you…not a hair of your head will perish).
Tell someone about God’s amazing grace today. You never know, a harvest may come. We are just farmers who sow seed and wait for God to give the harvest.
There have been two words in this opening paragraph that I have lingered over for some time! They are “began” and “after.”
1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus *began to do and teach,
2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.
3 He presented himself alive to them *after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. – Acts 1:1-3
“Began” most certainly means that God’s Kingdom will advance and continue. And the means of advancement is to do and teach-discipleship!
And most certainly, this would not have happened had not Jesus been raised! The contrast between the disciples in Luke and Acts can only be attributed to the truth and effects of the resurrection.
Had not it been true, these men would have continued fishing. They would have never risked their lives for a dead Jesus!
May the Kingdom advance through us as we risk, do, and teach! “May the Lamb receive the reward of his suffering!”