As a continuation of my last post, we’ve been looking at how God introduced persecution to the early church in the book of Acts because they would not leave the city of Jerusalem in order to share the gospel with other cities (nations). Although much blessing was taking place throughout the city of Jerusalem, God was growing weary of the fact that no one would leave.
And so He forced obedience to His great commission by using the rod of affliction, if you will.
God certainly was not opposed to the gospel being scattered and proclaimed throughout Jerusalem. The problem God had was that He wanted those things to be happening in Judea and Samaria as well. Though the Lord was granting miracles and healings and thousands of souls were being saved, God’s revealed plan was for ministry to begin occurring elsewhere as well.
Even The Enemy Knew It Was Time For Them To Move On
As if all this was not reason enough to leave Jerusalem, even the high priest complained about how saturated the city had become with the message of repentant faith in Jesus Christ alone. Upon arresting and calling the apostles to appear before the Council, the high priest confessed,
“We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching” (Acts 5:28; italics mine).
You know you have done a thorough job evangelizing a city when your worst critics openly confess that you have filled the entire city with the gospel. Jerusalem had become wonderfully saturated with the goodnews. It was now time for the church to move on to the next city.
Sadly, they refused to do just that.
Where There Is Smoke There Is Fire
Notice what Acts 6:1 says:
“Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews.”
The church in Jerusalem was increasing numerically to such an extent that elderly Hellenist widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. This problem suggests that things were getting more than just slightly out of control there in the city.
Overcrowding and the shortage of daily resources became such a formidable problem that selfishness crept into the fellowship. There simply wasn’t enough bread to go around. It became such an issue that the organized church was forced to select, dedicate, and appoint seven godly men to deal with the problem. One of the men chosen was a man named Stephen, who was a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.
Despite the fact that the disciples were not being wholly obedient to our Lord’s revealed will to take the gospel beyond Jerusalem, however, it is noteworthy that the Lord still honored the obedience that was present. God is so faithful to bless those who bless Him. No amount of faithfulness will ever go unnoticed by our omniscient Rewarder.
In Acts 6:7 we then read,
“The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith” (italics mine).
Yet even here, in the midst of many blessings and conversions, we see the problem at hand. Everything was happening in Jerusalem. No one was taking the gospel into Judea and Samaria.
Life was just too comfortable. Jerusalem had become the soft pew of early church Christianity.
QUESTION FOR COMMENTING BELOW: Have the churches in your city done an adequate job of sharing the gospel around your community? Why or why not?
Image credit: Brandon Johnson (Creation Swap)