As we saw yesterday, Christ gave us an evangelistic example to follow. Today, we’ll see how the early church followed that example.
(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. (2) And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. (3) As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. (4) Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. (5) Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
It wasn’t easy to be a Christian in Bible days. Christ, Himself, was crucified by jealous Jewish leaders (Mat. 27:18). His followers originally started out in hiding for fear of the Jews (Joh. 20:19). As our text shows, believers in the early church were hunted and hounded. They were arrested, jailed and, in some cases, executed. Here is something amazing, though, they shared the gospel anyway!
Read the text carefully. The apostles stayed in Jerusalem. It was the rest of the believers that scattered as a result of Saul’s persecution. You might think that these folks would have kept their mouths shut when the persecution heated up. But it these ordinary Christians who “went every where preaching the word.” Philip, a deacon in the church at Jerusalem, was one believer whose successful ministry was specifically recorded. He wasn’t the only one preaching, though.
Apparently, these folks though there was something more important in life than having a comfortable, pleasant existance. They could not be silenced because they knew that Jesus Christ was risen from the dead, and because every person in the world was dead in sin without Christ. Like Christ, these believers endured hardships so that others could hear the good news.
Nothing has changed. Christ lives. Sinners are lost and hopeless apart from Christ. Christians still have a duty to share the gospel. There is still a price to pay if you’re going to share that good news. (Well, maybe the thing has changed – we may be less willing to pay the price to get the gospel out.)
What About You?
- Have you experienced opposition because you have shared the gospel?
- Has the opposition stopped you in your tracks, or are you a persistent witness?