A Great Persecution Arose

A Great Persecution Arose

Things were going great at first. In the first chapters of Acts, the church was growing by leaps and bounds, there were great open-doors for the people of God, and the future was bright in sharing the message about Jesus. However, beginning in Acts 4, the problems started for the church in Jerusalem. 

By the end of chapter 7, there is the death of Stephen and by chapter 8:1, the church scatters. Note this, up until the church scattered, there is no indication that they stopped assembling as the apostles commanded. However, just as relevant, there is a precedent for not assembling for a physical reason. Some things to note in this situation: 

There were probably people who scattered and felt bad about missing the assembly. It was not ideal. It was not optimal, but due to this physical danger, they did not stay to assemble with the brethren in Jerusalem. Note that if it was sinful what these people did, the apostles are silent about it. In fact, Acts 8:1 seems to indicate that the apostles were the only ones left! 

There were probably those people who looked with disdain at the apparent “lack of faith” of those who scattered. There is a difference between being wise and being foolish. There is also a difference between not assembling for wise reasons and willfully missing the assembly for foolish reasons. There are some, even today, who will claim that members of the church are “lacking in faith” when it comes to immediate physical dangers. 

Missing the assembly and forsaking the assembly are not the same things. These people that scattered were not abandoning the faith. They were removing themselves from possible attacks on their lives. In fact, Acts 8:4 is a punctuation mark on that fact: “They went everywhere preaching the word.” Their desire was not to have an excuse to stop assembling, their desire in that immediate context was to remove themselves from the threat. Study the word, “forsaking” in Heb. 10:25 and the distinction will be immediately obvious. 

God can bring great things with people who are “scattered” and who desire to do His will. Up until this time, the church had remained in the “comfort” of the city of Jerusalem. What if they had remained there? They would have never had an opportunity to “turn the world upside down” for Christ. Just because there is a danger, doesn’t mean God can’t cause great things to result. Be wise, be faithful and be bold in Him! 

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