June 7, 2010

The Power of the Gospel Preached

Today's devotion is from Pastor Joshua Van Geersdaele, which is part of series of weekly devotions, for the month of June and our Way of the Master evangelism training at First Assembly of God, in Brookfield.

Acts 8:4-8

“Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city.”

They were Scattered Abroad
As we look at this passage in context, we see that this leg of Philip’s ministry came as a direct result of intense persecution by Saul. This was not your “He called me names,” or, “He cursed at me,” type of persecution. No, this was an antagonistic, angry, vehement persecution of Christians, the kind that would render them prisoners or, worse yet, dead men. And yet, as they fled, they did not fear men enough to stop preaching the gospel. They took their lumps in stride and bloomed where they were planted. My brothers and sisters do not be discouraged when persecution leads you into difficult situations. Remember that Jesus told us it would be so. If you are serious about sharing your faith, your witnessing will take you into places that you might not want to go, into situations that you otherwise would not be in, and to people whom you would otherwise avoid. We must accept and embrace this, for this is the call of Christ.

Philip preached Christ unto Them
At first read, it may seem like this is just a given. Churches preach Christ, right? The unfortunate truth is that this is not always the case. We are seeing a great apostasy from the gospel in our day, one that is afraid to stand up for Christ, even to the point of denying him. Always remember, Saints that Christ must be the foundation and cornerstone of anyone who dares to call himself “Christ-ian” – a partisan of Christ. If we are truly Christians, we understand this and have counted the cost: we will not deny Christ, no matter what life may bring. We will be bold in our faith. We do not apologize for him and we will not water down his words. We will preach the whole gospel, using the basis of the law, the 10 commandments. The disciples embraced 110% of Christ and resigned themselves to suffer great things. If we are preaching Christ and sharing our faith, we must expect persecution (Luke 6:22-23), and we must glory in it (James 1:3). Preaching Christ is very expensive and costly.

There Was Great Joy
What was the result of Philip’s obedience? By the power of the Holy Spirit he cast out demons, healed the sick and restored the lame. Christians, please hear me: this is normal Christianity! As a result of power in action, the Bible says, “There was great joy in that city.” We must have confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit to convict and change the hearts of men. The joy spoken of in that city came as a result of demon-possessed people being delivered, sick people being healed and lame men walking. Men will recognize the power of God, whether they turn to it, or run from it is not ours to decide. We are simply called to go in obedience and power.

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