Scattering Christians & Spreading the Gospel: The Catalyst That Rocks Your World and Thrusts You Out of Your Comfort Zone

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament account of the spiritual body of Jesus Christ which is the church as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically today’s passage is found in verses two through twenty-five of the eighth chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will find it coming on the heels of Christianity’s first martyr. If you turn and direct your attention back to the previous chapter you will find Stephen—one of the seven deacons appointee and ordained by the apostles—standing trial before the Sanhedrin as well as the high priest. In the seventh chapter of the book of Acts you will encounter at the very beginning Stephan being questioned and asked of the high priest if the accusations spoken against him were in fact true and accurate. As you continue reading in this chapter you will find Stephen responding to the high priests question, however, you will not find him responding in a manner and way you would expect. The words which Stephen spoke unto the high priest, as well as all those who were present in the Sanhedrin was not a defense for himself, nor even a profession of innocence. What’s more, is that if you read the words which are found within the seventh chapter you will quickly encounter and come face to face with the tremendous reality that Stephen didn’t even speak to, nor did he even acknowledge the accusations which were brought against him. Nowhere in the entire chapter will you find Stephen mentioning the accusations which were spoken against him, nor will you even find him acknowledging them with the words which proceeded from his mouth. How absolutely stunning it is to think about and consider the fact that even when Stephen stood trial before the Sanhedrin and was questioned by the high priest whether or not the accusations spoken against him were true he deliberately and intentionally chose not to even speak to, nor acknowledge the accusations which were made against him. In fact, I would dare say that Stephen was absolutely and completely unmoved and unaffected with and by the accusations and didn’t even consider them in the slightest bit. There was Stephen standing trial before the Sanhedrin as Jesus had stood trial before Caiaphas, as Jesus stood trial before Herod, and even before Pilate of Rome, and yet even though he opened his mouth he did not think to defend himself. Just as the apostles had stood trial before the Sanhedrin and religious council and were not only threatened, but also beaten, Stephen would stand trial before the Sanhedrin and religious council and would be asked to give an answer to the accusations which were brought up and spoken against him. In all reality I would dare say that it is quite astonishing and remarkable to think about and consider the fact that Stephen seemed to be completely and utterly unaffected and unmoved by his circumstances, and was given a tremendous boldness and courage by the Holy Spirit to speak before his accusers, and even the religious council.

As you come to the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the events which took place in the chapter coming directly on the heels of the martyrdom and death of Stephen who was ordained and appointed as one of the seven deacons of the early church. If you read the words which are found in the final verses of the seventh chapter you will find that at the conclusion of Stephens seemingly history lesson before the Sanhedrin, he emphatically and boldly declared unto them that they were stiffnecked and uncircumcised of heart and that they did always kill the prophets. What’s important to note is that in the previous chapters the apostles Peter and johns declared unto the same religious council that they had with evil hands had crucified the Lord of glory, thus making them responsible for the body and blood of the Lamb which was shed at Calvary. When the apostles stood before the religious council together they would again speak unto them and declare that they were responsible for killing and crucifying the King of glory before the living God raised Him from death to life on the third day. Even as early as the day of Pentecost and the sermon which the apostle peter delivered before those in Jerusalem it was spoken of and declared that the Jews and their religious leaders and elders were in fact responsible for the body and blood of Jesus the Christ as they killed and crucified Him. We should take note of the words which the apostle peter spoke unto the Jews, as well as unto the religious council, and even the words which were spoken by the apostles as they collectively stood before the religious leaders and high priest, for when standing before them they emphatically declared that they were responsible for the body and blood of the Lord Jesus who was the Christ and the Son of the living God. By the time we come to Stephen and the words which he spoke before the high priest and religious council we find that they had already heard from the apostles that they were responsible for the body and blood of Jesus the Christ, and that they through jealousy, envy, malice and hated had handed Him over to be crucified and killed by Rome. When we come to the defense which Stephen mounted before them we find them having already heard on multiple occasions that they were in fact responsible for the body and blood of Jesus the Christ, and that it was they and not Rome who bore the greater guilt and sin in the sight and presence of the living God.

As Stephen stood before the high pride game Sanhedrin he was given the boldness and courage—not only to speak unto them of their history, but also to conclude that history with a powerful incitement and rebuke toward and against them that they were stiffnecked and uncircumcised of heart, as well as slow to hearing, for they did always kill the prophets and messengers of the Lord. What must be noted is that Jesus Himself indicted the scribes and elders of Israel—including the Pharisees—while upon this earth just before He spoke unto His disciples concerning the last days and end times. If you turn and direct your attention to the twenty-third chapter of the gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will encounter an entire chapter that was dedicated and devoted to the words which Jesus spoke toward and against the scribes, Pharisees and elders of Israel, and speaking to them concerning their sin, their transgression, their guilt, and even their hypocrisy. What’s more, is that you will find within the gospels how Jesus also spoke parables in the hearing of the Jews and in the hearing of the religious leaders concerning servants who killed the messengers of the king who sent them to invite them unto himself before they would finally kill the son whom the king would send. Within and through the parables spoken by Jesus the Christ you will find certain examples and times when Jesus would speak to them and allude to the fact that they and their ancestors were responsible for the blood of the prophets, and would even be responsible for the blood of the Son of God. How absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that by the time we come to Stephen and the words which he spoke before the high priest and the Sanhedrin, they had not only been indicted by Jesus the Christ, but they had also been indicted by the apostles who stood before them and declared that they would be and were guilty of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is that not only did Stephen call them uncircumcised of heart and slow of hearing, but he also declared that they were guilty of killing the prophets which would eventually and ultimately culminate in the killing of Jesus the Christ. As Stephen stood before the high priest and the religious leaders and council he did so with full confidence and boldness to speak unto them of their own history, as well as declare that they were like their ancestors who killed the prophets. Pause for a moment and consider the weight and magnitude of the words which Stephen spoke unto them, for not only had they heard Jesus peak unto and declare to them that they were guilty of blood from the time of Abel until now, but they also killed the prophets. What’s more, is that they had heard the words of the apostles and how the apostles had indicted them for the body and blood of Jesus the Christ, and how they were the ones responsible for His death and crucifixion. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Luke writes how they were cut to the heart they had become to infuriated and enraged with hearing how they were responsible for the blood of Jesus the Christ, that now when they heard they were guilty of the blood of the prophets, they were absolutely and incredibly outraged at these accusations. We dare not, we cannot and we must not miss and lose sight of this incredible reality, for the death and martyrdom of Stephen was directly due to his indictment and accusations against them of killing the prophets, and even crucifying the King and Lord of glory. Oh that we would come face to face with this reality when reading the seventh and eighth chapters, for the death and martyrdom of Stephen would set in motion two distinct events which would take place within the early church.

It’s actually quite interesting and astonishing to think about and consider the fact that the death and martyrdom of Stephen would be the catalyst that would set in motion the events which would dramatically alter the early church from that time on. In all reality I would dare say there were three distinct events which completely altered the landscape of the early church and would completely and utterly transform its presence within and upon the earth. The first of such events was found in the seventh chapter when we read of the death of Stephen at the hands of the religious council, at the hands of those who accused him, and even at the hands of Jews who were present at his trial. The second event would be intrinsically linked and tied to the third event—although the second event would be two-fold in its nature. If you begin reading with and from the opening verses of the eighth chapter of the book of Acts you will come face to face with the fact that at the time of Stephen’s death and martyrdom there was a great persecution which broke out against the early church, and forced them to be scattered within and throughout Judaea and Samaria. This early church which would be of one accord, this early church which would be of one heart and one mind, and this early church which would have all things common and would meet both in the Temple, as well as in each other’s houses would not be forced to be scattered away and apart from each other. As a direct result of the greatly persecution which broke out against the early church as written and recorded within the book of Acts the Christians would be forced to be scattered within and throughout Judaea, thus beginning to fulfill the words which were spoken by Jesus concerning their being witnesses for and unto Him—first in Jerusalem, then in Judaea, then in Samaria, and ultimately to the uttermost parts of the earth. When giving the great commission unto the disciples at the top of the mountain Jesus declared that they would be witnesses first in Jerusalem, but would also be witnesses in Judaea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth, and that He would be with them always. In the opening verses of the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we come face to face with the incredible fact that the second event which dramatically altered the landscape of the early church was the great persecution which broke out against it. One thing that perhaps isn’t clear and definitive was how the persecution against the Christians even began, or who in fact started it during those times and during those days. The only thing Luke writes and records is that at that time—at the time of Stephen’s death at the hands of the religious council and Sanhedrin—there would arise a great persecution against the church, and it would force them to be scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria. We dare not and ought not miss and lose sight of this tremendous and incredible reality, for it would be the persecution which would break out against the church that would thrust them beyond the city of Jerusalem and into Judaea and Samaria. Oh that we would recognize and understand the incredible importance of this persecution and how on the surface it might look and seem like something that was detrimental to the early church and to their presence within and upon the earth.

In order to understand the second and third events which would dramatically alter and transform the landscape of the early church, it is necessary that you turn and direct your attention to the previous chapter found within the book of Acts and begin reading with and from the fifty-fourth verse. As you begin reading from that verse you must continue through to the fourth verse of the eighth chapter, for the death of Stephen and the persecution of the early church would be intrinsically linked and connected to each other. What’s more, is that the persecution of the early church would be intrinsically linked and connected to the persecution of one who would wreak havoc and chaos within and among the early church and Christians during those days. It is absolutely and utterly impossible to think about and consider the history of the early church without first understanding the death and martyrdom of Stephen which would serve as the catalyst for a great persecution toward and against the early church. It would be the death of Stephen at the hands of the Sanhedrin, at the hands of the religious council, and even at the hands of the Jews that would set in motion the great persecution which would break out against the church, thus scattering them within and throughout Judaea and Samaria. With that being said it’s important to note that the first great persecution which broke out against the church did not begin in and with Rome, nor did it begin with and among the Gentiles, but it would begin with the Jews themselves who would rise up against the early church and Christians. When we think about and consider the persecution of the early church and Christians we must recognize and understand that it did not begin with Rome, nor did it begin with the Gentiles, but it began with the Jews, and did so within the city of Jerusalem. With that being said I invite you to consider the words which are found in the seventh and eighth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts beginning with the fifty-fourth verse of the seventh chapter:

“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashes on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. 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. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 7:54-8:4).

It is quite clear and quite obvious when reading the words which are found within this particular set of verses that the persecution which broke out against the early church was in essence launched as a direct result of the death of Stephen at the hands of the religious council which gnashes their teeth against him, and which stopped their ears and hardened their hearts. It would be the death of Stephen that would ultimately lead to the great persecution against the church, for you will find and read that Saul was directly linked to the death of Stephen. Within the verses just presented to you—not only will you find Stephen being cast out of the city and stoned, but you will find in the first verse of the eighth chapter how Saul had consented unto his death. Thus, that which we find and read within these verses brings us face to face with the incredible reality that not only did Stephen’s death and martyrdom lead to the great persecution which would break out against the church, but Saul was distinctively linked to the death of Stephen, as well as the persecution of the early church. By the time you come to the second verse of the eighth chapter you will find Saul consenting unto Stephen’s death, as well as his making havoc of the early church and entering into houses haling men and women committing them unto prison. After the death of Stephen we find a great persecution breaking out against the church, and at the very helm of that persecution was Saul who not only consented to the death of Stephen, but who also wreaked havoc upon the church committing men and women unto prison. Thus, the first event which would dramatically change and alter the landscape of the church would be the death of Stephen at the hands of the religious leaders and Jewish people. The death of Stephen would immediately be followed by a great persecution which would break out against the church—a persecution which would have at the helm of it a young man named Saul who would himself wreak havoc against the church by entering into houses and homes dragging men and women out of them and committing them unto prison. It would be this persecution which would break out against the early church that would ultimately and inevitably lead to their being scattered abroad throughout Judaea and Samaria where they would bring the same gospel, where they would bring the same unity, where they would bring the same community, and where they would bring the same fellowship to those places unto which they had been scattered. Oh that when we think about and consider the landscape of the early church we would recognize that it would be altered, changed and transformed by the death of Stephen, as well as the persecution that would break out against it. It would be the death of Stephen that would lead to the persecution of the church, and it would be the persecution of the church that would lead to their being scattered abroad throughout Judaea and Samaria.

One thing we must recognize and understand when thinking about and considering the -secretion which broke out against the early church is that it was the catalyst which would be used by the head of the church—Jesus who is the Christ and Son of the living God—as well as the Holy Spirit to thrust and catapult the church unto the uttermost parts of the earth. If we read the New Testament book of Acts we must recognize, understand and consider the fact that Pentecost was never intended on remaining within the upper room, but was intended on moving beyond the upper room and into the city of Jerusalem. Just as Pentecost was not intended on remaining within the upper room among the one-hundred and twenty but was destined and intended on moving within and throughout the city of Jerusalem, so also was Christianity not intended, nor was it destined to remain isolated within the walls of Jerusalem. If there is one thing the New Testament book of Acts reveals it’s that neither Pentecost, nor Christianity were intended and destined to remain within the city of Jerusalem. Both Pentecost, as well as Christianity were destined to advance beyond the city of Jerusalem, and ultimately even beyond Judaea. As you read the words which are written and recorded within the New Testament book of Acts you will come face to face with the incredible reality that with the tearing of the veil within the Temple from top to bottom the glory of God and the person and presence of the Holy Spirit was never intended on remaining in one single place, and it was not intended to remain and abide within Jerusalem alone. Although it would begin within the walls of Jerusalem, it would eventually and ultimately transition within and throughout Judaea and Samaria until it would eventually move beyond even Judaea and Samaria, and would begin reaching the uttermost parts of the earth. The New Testament book of Acts brings us face to face with the incredible reality that that which would thrust the early church and that which would thrust Christianity within and throughout Judaea and Samaria would be persecution which would break out against them after the death of Stephen. What we must recognize and understand is that it was the death of Stephen which would set in motion the events of the great persecution that would break out against the church, and it would be the great persecution against the church that would lead to its being catapulted within and throughout Judaea and Samaria. Those same two regions which Jesus Himself entered and engaged in ministry would now experience the manifestation of Christianity, and the gospel of the kingdom, as well the preaching of the cross and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Pause for a moment and consider what it would have been like in Samaria as not only did Sychar experience a tremendous encounter with Jesus the Christ as a result of the testimony of the woman at the well, but now they were witnessing and beholding Christians from Jerusalem entering into Samaria without any regard for the distinction that was made between Jews and Samaritans. How absolutely astonishing it is to think about and consider the fact that even though the Jews had no dealings with Samaritans—a reality which was expressed by the woman at the well when she sat talking with Jesus—the Christians would be scattered within and through Samaria teaching and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and demonstrating and manifesting fellowship and community.

What is so incredibly unique about that which we find in the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is that not only do we find and read about a great persecution which broke out against the church, but we also find and read about a great encounter with the glory and presence of the Spirit of the living God within Samaria. What’s more, is that such a demonstration of the Holy Spirit, and such a manifestation of Jesus the Christ and His body would be made possible as a direct result of persecution in Jerusalem. Think about it for a moment—if there was no persecution which broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and if Saul didn’t wreak havoc against the Christians and committed many unto prison, the Christians might not have been scattered within and throughout Samaria. In all reality, we must recognize and understand that persecution—while it might on the surface seem detrimental and harmful to the body of Christ within and upon the earth—is actually a critical instrument in the hand of Jesus the Christ to send His body into the uttermost parts of the earth. On the surface you wouldn’t think that persecution would actually be used as an instrument within the hands of the living God, however, the book of Acts wonderfully and powerfully demonstrates the tremendous value of persecution, and how it is used by the Spirit of the living God to thrust the body of Christ into the uttermost parts of the earth. It’s worth noting that when Jesus spoke unto the disciples and those who would behold and witness His ascension into heaven and unto the right hand of the Father, and spoke unto them about their being witnesses for Him in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria, and into the uttermost parts of the earth, He didn’t declare unto them that it would be persecution that would be the catalyst that would thrust them into the uttermost parts of the earth. The only thing the disciples knew and understood at the time of Jesus’ ascension was that they would receive the promise of the Father which was the Holy Spirit, and that they would be witnesses in the uttermost parts of the earth. They knew absolutely nothing about persecution which would break out against them, nor did they know the damage and havoc Saul would wreak against them during the days after Jesus’ departure. Although they were made aware of the fact that they would receive power from on high, and although they were made aware of the fact that they would be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth, they would not know that which would come upon and befall them as a direct result of persecution. Pause and think about that for a moment, for it is quite astounding to think about and understand the fact that in order to move the early church into position within Judaea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth, the Holy Spirit and Jesus the Christ would use persecution which would break out against the church to thrust and move them beyond the borders and boundaries of Jerusalem.

IT’S NOT OKAY TO BE COMFORTABLE! IT’S NOT OKAY TO BECOME STAGNANT! IT’S NOT OKAY TO REMAIN NEUTRAL! As I sit here this morning I can’t help but think to myself and consider the fact that were it not for the great persecution which broke out against the church—a reality which I am absolutely confident was uncomfortable for the early church and followers of Jesus the Christ—it’s quite possible that they might have grown comfortable within the city of Jerusalem. While we do read of them being of one accord, while we do read of them being of one heart and one soul, while we do read of them having all things common and devoting themselves to the breaking of bread from house to house, we must recognize and understand that even in the realm of community and fellowship it is possible to grow comfortable and even stagnant. While on the surface it might seem like this community, this fellowship, this unity, and this wonderful and glorious manifestation of the church in the earth might be absolutely wonderful, it must be noted that such a reality was never intended, nor was it every meant to be isolated and remain within the confines of Jerusalem. Just as the glory and presence of God was never meant to be confined to the Holy of Holies, but was intended to reach the uttermost parts of the earth, so also was the community of the early church never intended on remaining within the borders and boundaries of Jerusalem, but would need to move beyond the city and reach the uttermost parts of the earth. The instrument and catalyst that would be used to bring about such a reality would in fact be the great persecution that would break out against the church, and the absolutely terror, havoc and chaos Saul would unleash against them. Scripture is unclear to this regard, but I would dare say that were it not for the great persecution that would break out against the church the body of Christ might not have moved beyond the city and walls of Jerusalem and fulfill the great commission given by Jesus the Christ. In fact, I would dare say that Jesus the Christ might have known and been aware of the fact that it was quite possible for the early church to grow comfortable in the community they had within the city of Jerusalem, and would not of their own accord transition beyond Jerusalem and into Judaea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. As a direct result of this knowledge and reality, Jesus would use persecution as the tool and instrument to thrust the early church and Christians into the world around them. LAUNCHED INTO THE WORLD AROUND THEM! LAUNCHED OUT INTO THE DEEP! I would dare say that it was persecution that would essentially launch the early church out into the deep where they would behold, look upon and encounter the great multitude of the souls of men that would be reached with the gospel of the kingdom, and the gospel of Jesus the Christ.

If you continue reading with and from the fifth verse of the eighth chapter you will find the great persecution breaking out against the church within Jerusalem, and it thrusting and catapulting the early church into Judaea and Samaria. What is so unique about that which is found in this chapter beginning with the fifth verse is that Luke begins to speak to and write concerning the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom within Samaria, and of the great demonstration of the Spirit that would be manifested among the Samaritans in their midst. In all reality, it is worth noting and pointing out the fact that immediately following the scattering of the early church within and throughout Judaea and Samaria, the first manifestation of the kingdom of God in Judaea and Samaria would actually be found within Samaria as Philip would go down to the city of Samaria. As you begin reading with and from the fifth verse of the eighth chapter you will find that Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them. Upon hearing the gospel concerning Christ preached unto them, the Samaritans with. One accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spoke, for they both heard and saw the miracles which he did. What’s more, is Luke goes on to write how unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them, and many which were taken with palsies, and those that were lame were healed. Thus, within the city of Samaria there was not only the preaching of the gospel concerning Christ, but there was also the wonderful demonstration of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. As if this weren’t enough, Luke goes on to write concerning the city of Samaria how there was a certain man which used sorcery and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that he himself was some great one. It was unto this man named Simon whom the people gave heed, from the least to the greatest, for they perceived this man to be great with the power of God. It’s quite interesting to note that twice within this particular chapter Luke writes and records how Simon used sorcery to perform great wonders and works among them in their midst, and how he himself had bewitched the people of the city of Samaria. When Philip arrived within the city, however, everything would change, for he would introduce something entirely different from that which they were used to seeing and experiencing. When Philip came unto the city of Samaria he came preaching Christ, as well as demonstrating the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, and even Simon himself believed and was baptized and continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Oh how absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that so great was the preaching of Christ, and so marvelous was the demonstration of the Holy Spirit and His power and presence that that one who used sorcery to bewitch the people would come to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and would be baptized by Philip. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for it reveals unto us the great demonstration and manifestation of the Holy Spirit within the city of Samaria.

This particular portion of Scripture concludes with the apostles hearing in Jerusalem that Samaria had received the word of God, and sent unto them Peter and John, who when they were come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost. This was so, for as Luke records—they had not yet received the Holy Ghost, for He had not yet fallen upon them, as they were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. When Peter and John prayed for them and laid their hands on them they received the Holy Ghost, thus bring us face to face with the fact that not only had Samaria received the word of God, and not only had Samaria believed and been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ, but they would also receive the Holy Spirit. This is actually quite remarkable, for it seems and appears that the first city to receive the word of God, and the first city to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized in His name, and which would receive the Holy Spirit would be Samaria. Immediately following the great scattering of the early church into Samaria and Judaea, it would be the city of Samaria that would not only receive the word of God concerning Jesus the Christ, but would also receive the Holy Spirit, as the apostles Peter and John would lay hands on them and pray for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. Within the eighth chapter we not only encounter the reality of receiving the word of God concerning Jesus the Christ, but also the receiving of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands by the apostles. Oh, how absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that it would be persecution which would thrust and catapult the early church and believers into and throughout Judaea and Samaria, and it would be the city of Samaria that would first receive both the word of God concerning Jesus the Christ, as well as the promise of the Holy Spirit. Thus, as a direct result of persecution—not only did Samaria receive the word of God concerning Jesus the Christ, but they would also receive the promise of the Father which was the Holy Spirit. It is quite unique and astounding to think about and consider the fact that it would be persecution that would catapult and thrust the early church within and throughout Judaea and Samaria, and it would be the city of Samaria that would receive the word of God concerning Jesus the Christ, as well as the promise of the Father which was the Holy Spirit. How absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider this awesome and incredible reality, for we would not normally think that persecution would and could be used as an instrument within the hand of the living God, and yet Scripture makes it perfectly and abundantly clear that persecution was and still is a divine tool and instrument in the hand of the living God to move us beyond our comfort zones and beyond our predetermined and predefined borders and boundaries that we might bring the gospel concerning Jesus Christ, as well as the promise of the Holy Spirit.

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