From Profession to Proclamation: The Spirit Would Be Manifested in the Place of Confession

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament narrative of the life and ministry of the spiritual body of Jesus Christ, which was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters eleven through thirteen of this New Testament book. “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 great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock 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 8:1-4).

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. But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, given out that himself was some great one: to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done” (Acts 8:5-13).

            “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as ye he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me. And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans” (Acts 8:14-25).

            “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot and read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esais, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: in his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? Of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, see, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea” (Acts 8:26-40).

            GET READY! THE GOSPEL IS COMING TO THE GENTILES! GET READY—THE GOSPEL IS COMING FOR THE GENTILES! WHAT WOULD BEGIN IN JERUSALEM WOULD BEGIN TO EXTEND INTO JUDAEA AND SAMARIA! THE GOSPEL WOULD BE PREACHED AND RECEIVED IN SAMARIA! THE APOSTLES SHOW UP IN SAMARIA—THE PLACE THEY HAD WITNESSED JESUS INTERACT WITH THE WOMAN AT THE WELL AND WHERE BOTH THEY AND JESUS TARRIED FOR TWO DAYS! THE GOSPEL COMES TO SAMARIA AND THE APOSTLES RETURN! THE GOSPEL IS PREACHED UNTO AN ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH! A EUNUCH IS BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS AND IS BAPTIZED IN WATER! SAUL IS CONVERTED ON THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS AND BEGINS PREACHING!

            When you come to these particular chapters you will find one of the most pivotal moments in the history of the early Church. The more I read the narrative that is found in the New Testament book of Acts the more I am brought face to face with the fact that there were essentially four key and pivotal moments which took place among the early Church. Please note that what I am about to say is entirely and altogether different and assumes events which took place after the day of Pentecost. We must needs recognize and understand that the events which took place on the day of Pentecost were those which gave birth and brought forth in the midst of the earth the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ in the earth. It would be on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was released from heaven by the Lord Jesus from the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and tremendous reality, for what we find within the second chapter is a truly remarkable and powerful manifestation—not only of that which the prophet Joel prophesied centuries and generations earlier, but also what Jesus Himself had spoken and revealed unto the disciples in the upper room on the night in which He was betrayed. What makes this interesting is when you think about and consider the wonderful truth that the events which took place on the day of Pentecost—while they did in fact fulfill that which was spoken and prophesied by the prophet Joel, they also fulfilled the words which Jesus the Christ spoke concerning the promise of the Father and His being released within and upon the earth. The words which we find in the second chapter of the book of Acts are those events which not only fulfilled the words of the prophet Joel, and not only fulfilled the words which the Lord Jesus Christ spoke, but they would also give birth to the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ within and upon the earth. We must needs recognize and understand this, for the events which I write and speak of as being those pivotal and critical moments within the history of the church of Jesus the Christ are entirely and altogether different from what is found in the second chapter. It would be the events which are found in the second chapter of the book of Acts that would give way to those events which would later take place in this New Testament book.

            I wrote and mentioned how there were certain key and pivotal moments within the history of the early Church, and one of those key and pivotal moments was the stoning and persecution of Stephen who had been anointed as one of the seven deacons called upon by the Lord to serve as one who would engage themselves in the ministry of care and compassion. We read how Stephen was a man of honorable report, how he was a man full of the Holy Ghost, a man full of the Holy Ghost and faith, as well as a man full of faith and power. We read that Stephen did many great signs and wonders during the days of the early church and would eventually find himself at odds with many during those days. Eventually and ultimately there would be a great number who would rise up in opposition against Stephen and would drag him out of the city where they would stone him. It would be there outside the city where Stephen would look steadfastly unto heaven and would not only see the heavens opened, would not only see the glory of the Lord, but would also see the Lord Jesus Christ standing on the right hand of God. What we must realize and recognize concerning Stephen was that he would indeed be the church’s first martyr—that one whom the Jews and those who vehemently opposed him would put to death because of their hardness of heart and stiffneckedness. We cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this reality and truth, for it brings us face to face with the reality that one of the key moments which would be a catalyst for a transition that would take place within the church was indeed the death of Stephen—the death of one of those seven who were chosen and appointed by the Church to minister among the widows, and undoubtedly among the orphans, among the poor, among the needy and among the afflicted. It would be the death and martyrdom of Stephen that would eventually lead the way and pave the road for a man by the name of Saul to emerge on to the scene. There is not a doubt in my mind that you cannot understand the early Church without and apart from understanding it in terms of Saul of Tarsus who would be the greatest persecutor of the early church.

            If Stephen’s death and martyrdom was the first of pivotal moments within the history of the early church than the second pivotal and crucial moment was when a great persecution rose up within the city of Jerusalem against the disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ. So great and so severe was this persecution that the Church would be scattered throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria. It would be the great persecution which would initially break out against the Church in the midst of the Jerusalem that would ultimately lead to the disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ to depart from Jerusalem, and in fact, Scripture reveals and points to the fact that only the apostles remained in the city of Jerusalem during those times. We know the apostles would most likely not depart from the city of Jerusalem due to persecution given the fact that they had already been imprisoned and they had already been beaten for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It would be in the opening verses of the eighth chapter of this New Testament book we encounter the tremendous persecution that would break out against the early Church, and how that persecution would produce a great scattering that would take place within Judaea and Samaria. What makes this interesting is when you think about the fact that Jesus declared concerning the disciples that they would be His witnesses—first in the city of Jerusalem, and would then be His witnesses in Judaea, in Samaria, and ultimately unto the ends of the earth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truth, for it’s interesting how Jesus declared that the disciples would indeed be His witnesses in Judaea, in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth, and yet He didn’t reveal unto them that it would be persecution that would drive them out of Jerusalem and into Judaea and Samaria. We do in fact know that Jesus did prepare His disciples to be hated of all men for His name’s sake, and we do know that Jesus prepared His disciples for persecution, and He did prepare them to be delivered up unto magistrates, unto kings, unto governors, and unto the rulers of those days. We know that Jesus promised the disciples that they would indeed suffer persecution and would be hated by all nations for His name’s sake.

            It’s interesting and worth noting that while the death and stoning of Stephen was one of the catalysts for the growth and ministry of the early Church—it would be the great persecution that would break out in the midst of the city of Jerusalem that would actually be the second catalyst and movement that would thrust the Church out of the mist of the Jerusalem and into Judaea and Samaria. What we must needs realize is that just as much as the one-hundred and twenty weren’t meant to remain and abide in the upper room within the city of Jerusalem, so also was the Church not intended nor was it conceived and created to remain within the city of Jerusalem. The early church was not designed, nor was it intended on remaining and abiding within the city of Jerusalem, and it would be persecution that would be used by and of the Lord to bring about the movement, the ministry and the multiplication of the Church. It was indeed true the Church would multiply in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, however, it is also true that the Church would experience multiplication through suffering and multiplication through persecution. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for there are times within and among us during these days and during this generation when the single greatest tool and instrument the Lord can and will use to cause His spiritual body to increase and grow in status, in strength, and in size is persecution. There is not a doubt in my mind that this isn’t as truer of the generation in which we are living, for I am convinced that one of the single greatest catalysts which the Lord might very well—and most likely will use in these Last Days is persecution. In fact, it was in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew when Jesus would Himself speak of persecution, and how persecution would be one of the greatest attacks of the enemy to cause countless saints to become offended in the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet one of the greatest tools in the hands of the Master to cause His church to grow and to increase in strength and stature within and upon the earth. I can’t help but be reminded of John the Baptist when he was imprisoned by Herod, and how one of the things Jesus would declare directly unto him there in the prison cell was “Blessed are all those who are not offended in Him.”

            One of the greatest truths we must needs recognize and understand is that persecution will either cause us to grow offended before and finding fault with the living God and with His Christ, or it will cause us to rejoice and be glad that we have been counted worthy to partake in the sufferings of the Lord Jesus the Christ. Oh dear reader if there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that persecution can either cause us to rejoice in that we have been counted worthy to partake in the sufferings of the Lord Jesus the Christ and have been counted worthy to suffer for His name, or it will cause us to become offended and find fault with Him. This was one of the dangers Jesus sought to guard and protect John the Baptist from—and not only John the Baptist, but all the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout the years and throughout the generations. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for nowhere in the eighth chapter do we find the early Church growing offended with the Lord Jesus the Christ because of the great persecution breaking out against it. Despite the fact that even in the ninth chapter of the same New Testament book we find Saul of Tarsus still breathing out murderous threats against the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus the Christ there doesn’t seem to be any offense, nor any fault that was found within the hearts and souls of the early disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. What we instead find is that the early Church would be scattered from the city of Jerusalem and would be scattered into Judaea and Samaria. What’s more is that while persecution would be the catalyst by which the Church would ultimately get out of Jerusalem and the gospel moving beyond this city, it would be Philip, the apostle Peter, and even Saul of Tarsus who would be used mightily of God to bring the gospel unto the Gentiles.

            As you read the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find Philip journeying unto Samaria—perhaps because of the persecution that would break out in the midst of the city of Jerusalem—and it would be there in Samaria where great signs and wonders would be performed among the Samaritans. We already know that Jesus would encounter a Samaritan woman at a well, and we already know that Jesus would tarry two days in Samaria—undoubtedly teaching and preaching among them—and now we find signs, wonders and miracles taking place among them. What would begin with Jesus’ encounter with a woman at a well outside of Sychar, and what would continue with Jesus’ tarrying in Jerusalem would ultimately continue with the ministry of Philip—one of the seven deacons ordained and appointed by the early Church—being present in the midst of Samaria, and not only preaching the gospel concerning the kingdom and the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, but also performing great signs, wonders and miracles. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this awesome and powerful truth and reality, for what would begin with persecution scattering the early Church and followers of Jesus Christ into Judaea and Samaria would transition to Philip performing great signs, wonders and miracles among them. What’s more, is that report of what was taking place in Samaria would eventually and ultimately reach Jerusalem and the apostles which were still there in the midst of the city, and it would be because of what they heard they would send the apostles Peter and John unto Samaria that they might teach and preach unto them the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus more completely and fully. Up until that moment they would merely be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, however, when the apostles Peter and John would arrive they would be used by the Lord Jesus the Christ to bring the manifestation of the Holy Spirit among the Samaritans. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for not only would the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ go unto the Samaritans, but so also would the ministry of the Holy Ghost be manifested unto and among the Samaritans. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this truly awesome and incredible reality, for not only would the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ be preached unto and among the Samaritans, but so also would the Holy Ghost be preached and presented unto them as well.

            What I so absolutely love about the words which are found in the eighth and tenth chapters of this New Testament book is that not only would the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus Christ come unto the Samaritans, and not only would the manifestation of the Holy Ghost come unto and among the Samaritans, but the gospel would eventually and ultimately come unto the Gentiles. It would be in the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find one of the greatest transitional and pivotal moments that would take place within the church of Jesus Christ during those days, as the Lord Jesus Christ would mightily and powerfully use Philip to perform great signs, wonders and miracles among them—and so much so that many of them would believe. It would be the report of what was taking place in Samaria that would essentially call for and invite the apostles Peter and John to come unto them—a reality which I can’t help but wonder if it’s not taking place among us within our own generation. Oh the question I find myself asking as I sit here today is what reports are being generated and circulated about our church buildings, about our ministries, about our organizations, and about what we might very well be doing in the midst of the earth? Is it being said among us that the gospel is being preached and then men and women are believing on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and that signs, wonders and miracles are being performed among us? Is it being said among us that the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ is being preached unto and among those who are poor, those who are afflicted, and those who are needy within the earth?

            I sit here tonight thinking about and considering the truly wonderful and powerful truth that surrounds the eighth chapter and how the precursor to the gospel being preached among the Gentiles was the gospel being preached unto and among the Samaritans. Before the gospel would reach and be preached unto and among the Gentiles it would first be preached unto and among the Samaritans. We know that the gospel would be preached within the city of Jerusalem, however, I am absolutely and completely convinced that the work within Jerusalem had reached its pinnacle, its peak and its zenith, and there was a great need for that work to expand beyond Jerusalem. LIVING IN THE PEAK! LIVING IN THE PINNACLE! LIVING IN THE ZENITH! Oh I can’t help but think about and consider that there are those moments when the work—even the work of the ministry of the kingdom—can and does in fact reach its peak and pinnacle in a certain place, and there arises a need for that work to be continued and carried out in another place. There is not a doubt in my mind that the great persecution which broke out within the city of Jerusalem was designed and intended by the Lord to cause the Church to break out of and most past the pinnacle and zenith there in the midst of the city. I am absolutely and completely convinced that what we find in the eighth chapter is the Lord Jesus Christ thrusting the spiritual body of Christ into a period of suffering and persecution—not as a means of punishing them, but as a means of purifying them, and as a means of positioning them. Would it shock and surprise you to think about the fact that more often than not persecution can be used as an instrument in the hand of the Lord to position us to continue and carry out the work the Lord Jesus Christ has called us to in the midst of the earth? There is not a doubt in my mind that there are many churches, there are many ministries, and there are many organizations that are so stuck and so caught up and consumed with living and abiding in the pinnacle and the zenith—even in the work of the ministry of the kingdom—and in order to bring such men and women the Lord can and will allow a season of persecution, a season of suffering, a season of affliction, and a season of oppression to rise up within and in the midst of them. We must needs recognize and understand this, for it has the awesome and dramatic ability to confront us with our own ability to live, remain and abide in the pinnacle and zenith of the work of the Lord, and how the Lord desires us to move forward with the work in a different place.

            I am absolutely and completely convinced when reading the words found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts that the living and eternal God would indeed and would in fact use persecution as a means of properly positioning His servants in those places where the work of the ministry might be carried out, continued and completed in the midst of the earth. It would be persecution that would thrust the early Church out of the city of Jerusalem and into the surrounding regions of Judaea and Samaria, and it would be this reality that would bring Philip to Samaria. It would be there in Samaria Philip would perform great signs, great wonders and great miracles in the midst of the Samaritans. Samaria—this region which Jesus must needs pass through when journeying from Judaea unto Galilee, and this region where Jesus would offer living water and proclaim Himself as the Messiah—would be a place where signs, wonders and miracles would be performed among them in their midst, and where the apostles Peter and John would come to not only preach and teach the gospel more fully and completely, but also come to bestow the person, the presence and power of the Holy Ghost. It would be when the apostles Peter and John would come unto Samaria that they would build and expand upon the ministry of Philip with signs, wonders and miracles, and would lay hands on them that they might receive the Holy Ghost. This is actually quite interesting when you think about and consider it, for it would Jesus who would come and proclaim Himself as the Messiah unto a Samaritan woman at the well, and it would be Jesus who would offer living water unto this woman at the well, and yet here we are some time later and the name of Jesus who was indeed the Christ would be preached among them—and not only would the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ be preached among them, but so also would the living water be offered and presented unto them.

            It would be at the well outside of Sychar in Samaria Jesus would speak unto this woman concerning living water which would cause her to never thirst again, and later on in the gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find that this living water which would proceed forth out of the bellies of men and women would indeed be the person of the Holy Spirit. How truly remarkable and astounding it is to think and consider that what we find in the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is the manifestation and fulfillment of that which Jesus came offering several days—perhaps even several weeks, months, and even years earlier—when he came speaking unto this Samaritan woman at the well. It would be there at the well Jesus would offer these rivers of living water—an invitation he would offer unto the Samaritans before He would ever even offer it unto the Jews in the midst of Jerusalem. It wouldn’t be until the seventh chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find Jesus offering these rivers of living water unto the Jews there in Jerusalem—and offering these rivers of living water unto all those who were thirsty. It’s absolutely incredible and tremendous that what we read and what we find in the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is the fulfillment and manifestation of that which Jesus spoke unto the Samaritan woman at the well. What’s more, is I would dare say that during those two days while Jesus tarried among the Samaritans He would speak unto them concerning the kingdom, and would perhaps even speak unto them concerning His being the Messiah, and concerning this living water which He came to offer them. That which we find in the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is in all reality the direct manifestation and fulfillment of that living water which Jesus spoke of and offered unto the Samaritan woman at the well. What would begin at and with a well—what would begin at a place of water and drawing out—would eventually transition into a powerful place of Philip performing great signs, wonders and miracles among the Samaritans. Not only this, but it would also be within Samaria the apostles Peter and John would come laying their hands on the disciples and followers of Jesus in that place that they might receive the Holy Spirit. What would begin with a baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ would eventually and ultimately transition to a manifestation of the Holy Spirit among them when the apostles Peter and John came unto and among them.

            THE GOSPEL COMES TO THE SAMARITANS! THE HOLY GHOST IS POURED OUT AMONG THE SAMARITANS! IT WOULD BE THE SAMARITANS THAT WOULD BE THE CATALYST FOR THE GOSPEL TO BE PREACHED AMONG THE GENTILES, FOR THE SAMARITANS WOULD ESSENTIALLY BE AN OPEN DOOR THAT WOULD LEAD TO THE GOSPEL BEING PREACHED UNTO THE GENTILES! IT WOULD BE AFTER THE GOSPEL WAS PREACHED UNTO AND AMONG THE SAMARITANS WE FIND THE GOSPEL BEGINNING TO BE PREACHED UNTO THE GENTILES! IT WOULD BE AFTER THE HOLY GHOST WAS POURED OUT AND RELEASED AMONG THE SAMARITANS HE WOULD ALSO BE POURED OUT AMONG THE GENTILES! IN THE EIGHTH CHAPTER OF THE NEW TESTAMENT BOOK OF ACTS IT WAS THE SAMARITANS, WHILE IN THE TENTH CHAPTER OF THE SAME BOOK IT WOULD BE THE GENTILES! WHAT BEGAN WITH THE JEWS WOULD TRANSITION TO THE SAMARITANS AND WOULD ULTIMATELY TRANSITION TO THE GENTILES. IT WOULD BE SAMARIA THAT WOULD ULTIMATELY UNLOCK THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SPIRIT UNTO THE GENTILES, FOR EVEN THE WORDS OF JESUS WOULD DECLARE THAT HIS DISCIPLES AND FOLLOWERS WOULD BE HIS WITNESSES—FIRST IN JERUSALEM, THEN IN JUDAEA, THEN IN SAMARIA, AND ULTIMATELY AND FINALLY UNTO THE UTTERMOST PARTS OF THE EARTH.

            As you read the words which are found in the eighth chapter of this New Testament book you will find a chapter beginning with a great persecution breaking out against the Christians in the city of Jerusalem, and how that persecution would ultimately force the Christians to be scattered within and throughout Judaea and Samaria. What makes it even more intriguing is when you think about and consider how in the very next set of verses you will find Philip—one of the seven deacons who was ordained and appointed from among the spiritual body of Christ—exercising tremendous authority and power in Samaria. It is truly something remarkable and worth noting that what would begin with a great persecution of the Christians in Jerusalem would not quell, squash, diminish or deplete the early Church which was present in the earth during those days. There would be those who would think that persecuting the Church can, will, and perhaps even should eradicate and destroy it—much like the Jews, the chief priests, the scribes, the Pharisees, the elders of Israel, and the like thought that by killing and destroying Jesus they would eradicate and eliminate the gospel of the kingdom which He came preaching. Not only would their attempt to destroy Jesus completely and utterly fail due to His resurrection from the grave, but through His ascension He further gave His disciples and followers power, authority and dominion within and upon the earth among men. What would begin with the Lord Jesus the Christ would extend—not beyond His death, but beyond His resurrection and ascension unto the right hand of the Father. Jesus would indeed rise from the grave and would indeed ascend to the right hand of the Father, and it would be there from the right hand of the Father Jesus would send that which would not only match His sending of the disciples and followers into the earth, but would also give them the authority and the power to be able to complete, carry out, continue and fulfill that for which He had been sent into the earth. The Sanhedrin, the Sadducees, the scribes, the chief priests, the elders of Israel, the Pharisees, and the religious system during the days of the early Church thought that imprisoning the apostles and beating them would somehow destroy and decimate the message they preached among the Jews during those days, and yet the only thing it would succeed in doing was emboldening them to further carry out and continue the work for which they had been called and commissioned to do.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the awesome and powerful truth that although the eighth chapter would begin with a great persecution breaking out against the Christians, the disciples and the followers of Yeshua of Nazareth, it would ultimately lead to the spread of the gospel beyond the borders, boundaries, walls and confines of the city of Jerusalem. There is not a doubt in my mind that although the book of Acts shows a side by side comparison of the endowment of the person of the Holy Ghost and the persecution of the Christians and followers of Jesus the Christ, that persecution would not and could not destroy the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is that persecution would and could not stifle, stimy or stop the spread of the gospel of the Lord Jesus the Christ, nor the signs, wonders and miracles that would accompany it. Within the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find Philip in Samaria after being scattered from Jerusalem—and not only in Samaria, but also preaching the gospel concerning the kingdom among the Samaritans, as well as performing great signs, wonders and miracles, so much so that many Samaritans would ultimately believe. What’s more, is that not only do we find signs, wonders and miracles being performed by Philip there in Samaria, but we also find the Holy Spirit moving beyond the city of Jerusalem and entering into Samaria. Not only would the Church itself move beyond the borders and boundaries of Jerusalem, and not only would the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven and of the Lord Jesus Christ extend beyond Jerusalem, but so also would the person of the Holy Spirit move beyond the city of Jerusalem as He would enter into Samaria.

            THE LIVING WATERS COMES TO SAMARIA! Oh I feel a need to pause right here and call and draw your attention that when the apostles Peter and John came unto Samaria—not only would they further expound upon and explain the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ, but they would also bring the living waters which Jesus had spoken of unto the Samaritan woman who was at the well. We know in the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John that many of the Samaritans believed—first because of the word and testimony of the woman who encountered Jesus at the well, but secondly, and more importantly because of the word of Jesus Himself. When Jesus would depart from Samaria He would leave many in the midst thereof believing in and believing on Him—and not only believing on Him, but also believing that He was truly and indeed the Messiah. This is important to recognize and understand, for in the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the apostles coming unto Samaria, and the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit being manifested among the Samaritans. I can’t help but wonder how many of the Samaritans whom the apostles prayed for and laid their hands on were among those who had encountered Jesus earlier on when Jesus walked upon the face of the earth, and who had heard Jesus speak of the living water He presented unto the woman. Wouldn’t it be just like the living God to send Jesus into the midst of the Samaria speaking of His being the Messiah, offering living water unto the Samaritans, and leaving many that believed in Him, and then after the day of Pentecost, and after the great persecution which broke out in the city of Jerusalem would thrust many within the Church into Samaria—not only would signs, wonders and miracles be performed among them, and not only would many of them believe, but so also would the apostles Peter and John come laying hands on them and praying that they might be filled with the Holy Spirit. Wouldn’t it be just like Jesus the Christ to not only send Philip into Samaria to perform great signs, wonders and miracles in the midst of them, but also send two of His apostles among them—perhaps even unto and among some of those who had previously encountered Jesus the Christ—that the Samaritans might receive the Holy Ghost? There is not a doubt in my mind that when the apostles came into Samaria and unto the Samaritans—it is very much possible that the Holy Ghost, which was the very living water Jesus spoke about when speaking unto them while still upon the earth would be poured out, released, and given unto many of those who had previously believed because of the word and testimony of the Lord Jesus.

            If and as you continue reading the New Testament book of Acts you will find another critical and pivotal moment taking place within this book—and not only within this book, but also within the narrative and history of the Church which was present upon the earth. If the stoning of Stephen and the great persecution of the Church in Jerusalem would in and of themselves be pivotal moments in the narrative of the Church then so also would the conversion of the apostle Paul. It would be in the ninth chapter we find the greatest persecutor of Christians during the days of the early Church being confronted by Jesus the Christ along the way to Damascus—and not only confronted by the Lord, but also powerfully and wonderfully converted by the Lord Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit. It would be in the ninth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the conversion of the greatest persecutor of the Church during those days and up to that time—and not only the conversion of the greatest persecutor, but also the formation and creation of the greatest missionary unto the Gentiles. It would be in the ninth chapter of the book of Acts we encounter and experience the Lord Jesus the Christ wonderfully and powerfully converting Saul of Tarsus—this man who would later become known as the apostle Paul who would not only preach the gospel unto the Jews, but also unto the Gentiles. It would be the apostle Paul who would be the greatest missionary unto the Gentiles, and it would be the apostle Paul who would help establish and build the Church within and among the Gentiles during those days. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful reality, for it would be the conversion of the apostle Paul that would not only bring about the salvation of the greatest persecutor of the Church during those days, but would also produce the greatest missionary unto the Gentiles, and the greatest builder of the Church in the earth.

            The words found in the ninth chapter would indeed be absolutely incredible and tremendous when you take the time to think about and consider them, for the words we find here in this chapter present us with the conversion of Saul of Tarsus—and not only the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, but also the transformation of Saul of Tarsus into a mighty and powerful preacher. It would be there in Damascus—there in the very place he sought to search out and arrest all those followers of the way that he might bring them bound back to Jerusalem this same man Saul would now preach and defend the very gospel he so vehemently sought to destroy before. The very thing he sought to destroy—namely, the Church with its disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus—would be the very thing he would actually be raised up to build, and the very thing he sought to silence would be the very thing he would now preach and proclaim. That which we find in the ninth chapter of the book of Acts would indeed be one of the most critical and crucial moments within the early Church, for it would be the apostle Paul who would not only be the greatest missionary unto the Gentiles, and it would not only be the apostle Paul who would be one of the greatest builders of the church, but it would also be the apostle Paul who would give us almost half of the New Testament books. Of the twenty-seven books found in the New Testament, and of the twenty-two epistles that were found within its pages we find thirteen of those books and epistles being written by the hand of the apostle Paul. Almost half of all the books of the New Testament, and more than half of all the epistles found within the New Testament would indeed be written by the hand of the apostle Paul. What makes this even more astonishing and fascinating is when you think about and consider the awesome and powerful truth that as much as the apostle Paul was mightily used during the days of the early Church to build the Church during those days, so also would the apostle Paul continue to be used throughout the years to build the Church—even within our present and current generation.

            What makes these chapters so absolutely incredible is that while in the eighth chapter we find signs, wonders and miracles coming unto the Samaritans—and not only signs, wonders and miracles coming unto the Samaritans, but also the person and presence of the Holy Spirit—we find in the tenth chapter the book of Acts the gospel beginning to be manifested unto and among the Gentiles. It would be in the tenth chapter of this New Testament book we read of Cornelius who was not only a Roman centurion from the Italian band, but who was also a devout man, one who feared God, and one who prayed always. It would be unto this man Cornelius a vision would be given—a vision of an angel of God coming in to him and declaring unto him that his prayers and his alms had come up for a memorial before God. This angelic messenger sent from the living God would instruct Cornelius to send to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter. It would be this man named Simon who would tell him what he ought to do. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that which is found within the tenth chapter, for this would essentially be the second encounter a Roman centurion would have since the New Testament would begin. We know within the gospels that there was another Roman centurion whose servant was sick and who sent unto Jesus that He might heal that servant. When Jesus expressed a willingness to come under his roof that He might bring healing unto his servant we find the centurion emphatically declaring unto Jesus that he was not worthy to have him come under his roof. Moreover, the centurion would go on to declare that he himself was a man in authority and a man under authority, and that he commanded to “Go” and those under him went, and he commanded to “Do,” and those under him did. Jesus being so impressed and pleased with this man’s faith emphatically proclaimed that He had not found so great faith in all Israel, and would also declare unto the centurion that it would be unto him according to and as he believed. The narrative would ultimately go on to reveal how the servant of this centurion would indeed be healed and would recover and be made whole.

            The more I read and the more I think about and consider the narrative which was written concerning this centurion mentioned in the four gospel narratives the more I can’t help but also be reminded of what was written concerning him in one of the gospels how he was one who loved the nation and people of Israel, and how he had built for them a synagogue. There is not a doubt in my mind that this centurion—one whose name we do not know in the gospels—would not only have his faith commended by the Lord Jesus the Christ, but would undoubtedly believe in and upon the Lord Jesus. I can’t help but wonder if this same centurion which was mentioned in the gospel narratives was and is the same centurion who we now read about in the book of Acts. There is absolutely no scriptural proof that the centurion whom we read about in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke is the same centurion we read about in the New Testament book of Acts. We cannot tell for certain whether or not this is the same centurion, for in the gospels we read of a centurion in Capernaum, while in the book of Acts we find a certain centurion which was in Caesarea—perhaps that same place where Jesus asked the disciples, saying, “Whom do men say that I am?” and “But, whom do you say that I the Son of man am?” It’s interesting and worth thinking about and considering that perhaps in the same place where Simon also called Peter emphatically declared and proclaimed that Jesus was indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God the same apostle would now be brought unto and into by the Lord Jesus the Christ and by the Holy Ghost that he might preach and proclaim the gospel unto the Gentiles. Pause for a moment and think about how absolutely tremendous and incredible this truly is when you consider the fact that perhaps in the same place the apostle Peter would earlier profess and proclaim Jesus as the Christ and the Son of the living God would now be the very place where that same man would bring the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ unto Gentiles. What previously began with a declaration concerning Jesus being the Christ and the Son of the living God would now be a place where the gospel concerning that same man Jesus of Nazareth would be preached. Oh there is truly something powerful about Philip and the apostles Peter and John coming unto Samaria, for in the same place Jesus had previously proclaimed Himself as the Messiah, and in the same place Jesus had previously offered living water—not only would signs, wonders and miracles be performed among them, but also the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ would be preached and proclaimed among them, and the living waters which Jesus offered would be presented unto them.

            I find it absolutely and incredibly powerful to think about and consider the truly incredible reality surrounding the apostle Peter now coming unto Caesarea according to a vision he received from the Lord God in heaven concerning not calling unclean that which He had called clean. I can’t help but be absolutely and wonderfully challenged by what is found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, for what we find in this New Testament book is an absolutely wonderful and powerful picture of the apostle Peter being brought back to the very place he had previously made the declaration that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of the living God. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this tremendous truth, for what we find within this passage is a powerful picture of the apostle Peter returning unto the very same place he had previously declared and proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of the living God. It would be in that place where the apostle Peter would now proclaim the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ unto and among Gentiles—and not only preach and proclaim the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ, but would also pray for and lay hands on them that they might receive the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. Oh how absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider this awesome truth, for what would begin with a powerful declaration and proclamation concerning Jesus and His being the Christ and the Son of the living God would now transition to the apostle Peter returning unto Caesarea that he might bring the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ unto certain Gentiles who were there. It is truly something powerful and worth considering when reading the words found in this tenth chapter that earlier on the apostle Peter would profess and proclaim Jesus as being the Christ and the Son of the living God, and now Peter would return unto the place of profession and engage and enter into a place of proclamation. FROM PROFESSION TO PROCLAMATION! Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for what would previously begin with the apostle Peter professing that Jesus was indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God would now transition to the apostle Peter proclaiming and preaching that Jesus was the Christ, and that Jesus was crucified, raised from death to life on the third day, and gave commandments unto His disciples and followers. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this chapter beginning with the thirty-fourth verse:

            “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of person: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all) that word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed Him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:34-33).

            What I so absolutely love about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture is not only that the apostle Peter would transition from the place of profession to the place of proclamation, but would do so in the very place where he had previously made the confession and profession that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of the living God. It would be in the very same place where Simon also called Peter had professed and confessed that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of the living God that Jesus would emphatically declare and proclaim that flesh and blood did not and had not revealed this unto him, but His Father in heaven who had revealed it unto him. What’s more, is Jesus would also go on to declare that Simon would be called Peter, and upon this rock He would build His church. Oh what a powerful truth and thought it is when you consider that in the same place of confession and profession we find the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus Christ being preached and proclaimed. What’s more, is that it would be in the very same place Jesus would declare that He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it that the gospel would be preached unto the Gentiles. Pause for a moment and think about this, for in the same place where were previously find Simon’s confession and profession, and in the same place where we find Jesus’ promise and commitment we find the gospel coming unto and being preached unto Gentiles which were there. It was indeed true that Jesus declared that He would build His church and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it, and now here we are weeks—perhaps even months later—and we not only find the gospel being preached unto Gentiles, but we also find the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit coming unto and being poured out upon the Gentiles. If you read the final words which are found in the tenth chapter you will find it being written and described how after the apostle Peter had preached and proclaimed the Lord Jesus Christ the Holy Ghost fell on all those which heard his word. What’s more, is that not only did these Gentiles hear the gospel concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ, and not only did the Holy Ghost fall upon them, but they were also baptized in water according to the commandment of the Lord. Oh how absolutely wonderful and powerful this truly is when you take the time to think about and consider it, for in the very place we find the profession and confession of Jesus being the Christ and the Son of the living God we find the gospel concerning Jesus being preached, as well as the Holy Ghost falling upon the Gentiles. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the final verses of this chapter:

            “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days” (Acts 10:44-48).

            It is truly something utterly and completely fantastic when you read the words found in the tenth chapter, for in the very same place as the profession and confession of Simon Peter concerning Jesus being the Christ and the Son of the living God. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this reality, for it would be in this very place we find the apostle Peter coming at a later time preaching concerning that same Jesus whom He had previously professed and confessed being the Christ and the Son of the living God. It would be in that very same place where he had previously professed that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of the living God where Jesus would continue to build His Church, and to build it with and among the Gentiles. If there is one thing I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with when reading these words is that when Jesus declared unto the disciples and unto Simon specifically that it would be upon this rock He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it He did not specifically declare that He would build His church with Jews alone. As we can and will find in the eleventh chapter of this New Testament book the apostles and brethren which were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God and contended with Peter when he was come unto Jerusalem. We must needs recognize and understand this absolutely and utterly fascinating truth, for while it was indeed true that Jesus declared that He would build His church, there is not a doubt in my mind that the disciples and all those Christians which were Jews thought and perceived that the Church would be built among the Jews alone. That which we find in the tenth chapter is a powerful demonstration and manifestation of the reality that Jesus would not build His church with Jews only, but would build His church with Gentiles as well. It was not by coincidence, chance or happenstance that Simon also called Peter would come unto Caesarea from Joppa and would preach the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ and the Son of the living God, and that the Holy Ghost would fall upon them there and enable them to speak in and with tongues. It is not by coincidence and chance that the Holy Ghost would fall upon the Gentiles which were in Cornelius’ house, for this would be a wonderful and powerful demonstration that Jesus would indeed build His church using the Gentiles as well.

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful truth and reality that when you read the words found in the eleventh chapter you get the strong impression that the apostles and brethren thought and believed that Jesus would indeed build His church, but would build it solely and entirely with the Jews. That which we find in the tenth chapter of this New Testament book powerfully and wonderfully demonstrates the tremendous truth that in the very same place Jesus would previously declare that He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail it, He would begin to increase His church beyond the Jews and would now include the Gentiles. Oh that we would absolutely and entirely recognize and understand this wonderful and powerful truth, for it would be in this particular place we would encounter and come face to face with the fact that Jesus would indeed fulfill that which He had proclaimed and declared concerning building His church, and He would indeed build His church using the Gentiles as well. That which we find in the tenth and eleventh chapters of this wonderful and powerful book demonstrates and reveals the awesome and wonderful truth that Jesus would indeed declare that He would build His church, and Jesus would indeed declare that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church, and Jesus would indeed do this work and this measure with the Gentiles as well as the Jews. It’s worth noting that when you read the words found in the eleventh chapter the apostles and the brethren initially contended and strove with and against Peter for his preaching the gospel unto the Gentiles. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture that it would be in the very place where Jesus would declare that He would build His church and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it that the apostle Peter would be used by the Lord Jesus the Christ to help build and establish the church among the Gentiles. It would be there in Caesarea where the gospel of the Lord Jesus the Christ would be preached, and it would be there where the Gentiles would be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is that it would be in that place where the Holy Ghost would fall upon the Gentiles, and where the Gentiles would be filled with the Holy Spirit and would speak in and with tongues. Not only this, but it would be there among the Gentiles where they would be baptized with water. Oh how absolutely powerful and astonishing it is to think about and consider this wonderful and beautiful reality, for it would be there in the place of profession and confession the Lord would begin to build His church with and among the Gentiles.

As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary that we focus our attention on the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of this book, for it would be in that chapter where we find the apostles and the brethren in Jerusalem initially thinking and believing that Jesus would build His church, however, He would build it with and among the Jews only. The words which are found in the tenth chapter of the book of Acts wonderfully and powerfully demonstrate and display the awesome truth that Jesus would indeed build His Church, and He would not build it the way we think He should, nor even the way we would like Him to. It would be in the tenth and eleventh chapters we must needs recognize and understand that Jesus would initially begin building His church in Jerusalem, and would do so with the Jewish believers and followers of the Way, however, as we see in the tenth chapter of this New Testament book He would continue and expand that building with the Gentiles. Jesus building His church would begin with Cornelius and his household, however, as we will begin to see beginning to read with and from the thirteenth chapter the apostle Paul would be used to build the Church of Jesus Christ among the Gentiles. What would begin with the apostle Peter in the house of Cornelius there in Caesarea would ultimately continue and find an even greater manifestation within the life of the apostle Paul as the apostle Paul would indeed begin preaching the gospel unto the Jews first, but would then take the gospel unto the Gentiles. We must needs recognize and understand that Jesus did indeed declare that He would build His church, however, He would build it according to His will, His plan, His desire and His agenda. Jesus would indeed build the church, yet that church would include Samaritans whom the Jews previously did not have dealings with, and that church would include Gentiles who were previously be considered unclean and impure to both Jews and believers. Oh that we would wonderfully and powerfully recognize and understand this truly awesome truth, for it demonstrates and reveals the awesome truth that Jesus would indeed build His Church, yet His building of the Church would include Samaritans as well as Gentiles, for there was no partiality in God, nor was the LORD any respecter of persons. Oh that we would read these chapters and would bring ourselves into alignment with the heart and mind of the living and eternal God, and that we would bring our focus and our attention into alignment with that which is found in the word of God concerning His Church, His body, and His people.

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