I’m not sure about you but I am so enjoying our walk through the Book of Acts. In some ways it is a whirlwind visit but in another way it is a joy to gain a bigger picture view of what God was doing in this first church in Jerusalem. It is remarkable how the believers banded together for the cause of the gospel and it is equally remarkable how the Holy Spirit grew the church. Even many of the temple priests were being transformed and becoming followers of Jesus! Now that is exciting!
It is also interesting to note that when growth is occurring in the church difficulties and opposition often arise. In our section of Acts today we see two such examples. One is a matter of potential disunity and division within the church family and the other is more disconcerting as a dear brother is martyred for his stance for Jesus. I find it such a blessing to learn how the church leadership dealt with the problem of potential division. It is very clear that the ‘main thing’ in the church had to remain the ‘main thing’. The main thing is the proclamation of the gospel and the apostles were adamant that their attention to the Bible teaching and prayer was not to be sidetracked! The solution was to appoint helpers, or deacons, to look after the affairs of the Greek widows that was causing discord. They needed to be fed and provided for and this was the role of the seven deacons who were appointed! We can learn much from this early church as they struggled as the very first ‘international’ church.
We also learn about the church’s first martyr – Stephen. Under the leading of the Holy Spirit he gave a magnificent defense of the gospel and caused the powers to be in the Jerusalem Temple much angst. So much angst that it cost him his life! And who was Stephen? He was just an ordinary man who was appointed as one of the deacons to serve the widows! There was one other man that we are also introduced to in this section of Scripture – Saul. He was the mastermind behind the murder of Stephen and looked on with interest at his stoning. Remarkably it would be this man that God would use to take the gospel our of Jerusalem and to the nation’s of the then known world! Yes indeed, it is mission unstoppable and God will use the most unlikely people to accomplish His purposes!