Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Acts, Chapter 8

Acts chapter 8 is a great illustration of how even with Christ in your heart and with the Holy Spirit working miracles there can still be adversity. We ended yesterday's chapter with the stoning of Stephen, and we also had our first mention of Saul, who would later be named Paul and become the greatest evangelist in history. Once again we see Saul at the beginning of chapter 8, and he viciously tried to fight back against the growing church by persecuting anyone and everyone he found worshiping Christ. It is amazing to see how diametrically opposite Paul was before his conversion. We will see more of this later, but at this time the furthest thing from his mind was spreading the word of Christ. Only the true power of God could change a man so drastically, as at this time Saul was ruthless and spared no mercy on anyone in the church.

Out of this persecution came hope, however. We see over the rest of this chapter that, even as things start to look really dark for the first time since Christ's crucifixion, there is still a light. God still accomplishes many great things through the Holy Spirit as the apostles were literally on the run from Saul. This is not attributed to anything the apostles did, as they were merely following orders. It is the Holy Spirit that accomplished these things, as God even used Saul's persecution as a way to scatter the message to where it was needed.

4Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ
6When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. – Acts 8:4-7

Imagine being on the run from someone that was asking you to change your very core beliefs or you would be killed. What would your response be? Surely your first instinct would not be to continue spreading those beliefs and converting more people to your cause because it would draw you further out into the open. Of course, these men were operating under a higher authority and therefore knew what they had to do. Instead of hiding from the persecution they took the message on the road with them. They stayed mobile and converted many more to Christ. This proves that even when Saul was persecuting the church God used it for good.

18When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money 19and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." 20Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin." – Acts 8:18-23

The apostles were doing many wonderful things in this chapter. We see Philip converting the Ethiopian eunuch and the message being spread to the Samaritans. Here, however, we are given an important lesson from Peter concerning the Holy Spirit. For those that are willing to accept it, the Holy Spirit is a blessing. It is one of the very small ways we as humans can have the power of God. We must be willing, however, to submit to its direction and not our own. Simon wanted this gift desperately and thought he could buy it, but as we see it cannot be bought. This is another important lesson in the way that we cannot earn God in our lives. We must submit to Him and welcome Him in His own way. Nothing that we can do for ourselves will earn His favor. The power of the Holy Spirit is also something that we cannot earn or distribute at our will, because the power of God is not for us to decide.


  1. How does Saul's persecution of the church set him up for his dramatic conversion?
  2. How important were the miracles performed by the apostles to spreading the gospel?
  3. Why don't we see as many miracles today?


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