January 18, 2023
- By Ed Powell
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"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." Acts 8:39
The effectiveness of a faithful witness, empowered by the Holy Spirit, is like the ripples on a pond when you throw a rock in the middle: They multiply over and over again in all directions. Four major results of Stephen's martyrdom are still effective today!
First, on the very day of his martyrdom, widespread persecution of Christians was initiated. Believers in Jerusalem fled in fear in every direction. It was by no accident of fate that a zealous young Pharisee by the name of Saul witnessed the martyrdom of Stephen. Saul was an educated man and could understand the reasoning of Stephen as he addressed the ruling elders. He saw the steadfast way Stephen faced his accusers, the courageous way he died, his complete resignation to God. He saw grace "manifested beyond measure" as Stephen prayed for his enemies. God indelibly inscribed these things upon the heart of Saul, who soon was converted and began a ministry anointed of God that has influenced the world ever since!
Second, Saul was determined to stamp out this insidious Christian movement, dragging Christians from their homes, torturing them, and putting them in prison. But God caused the believers to be scattered into the surrounding countries with their faithful witness, and the gospel was spread in an unprecedented way. In trying to extinguish the flames of Christianity, opponents scattered the sparks far and wide, increasing the scope of its fire and the intensity of its message. It has spread around the world ever since by the mighty power of God.
Third, the Holy Spirit came upon Philip, and led him to preach the gospel in Samaria to a people who despised the Jews. Likewise, the Jews regarded the Samaritans as unclean, unbelieving, and despicable. Intense hostility was constantly evident between the two. This was the first recorded instance of the gospel being "taken to and received by" the Samaritans. A tremendous spiritual awakening broke out in Samaria, and many believed. The Gospel was implanted in their lives, and churches were founded.
Fourth, Philip is divinely led to travel a desert road from Jerusalem to Gaza, where he encounters an Ethiopian eunuch, the treasurer for the Ethiopian ruler Candace. The Jewish law prohibited a eunuch from entering the temple. God planned to reach this influential man by sending Philip personally to interpret the Scriptures and reveal to him the way of eternal life. The eunuch was saved, baptized, and used mightily by God in spreading the Gospel. Significant? Tremendously so! The gospel had never been proclaimed in Ethiopia. As the eunuch returned to his country, many churches were raised up through his life. The gospel was spread into Africa!
These four significant things changed the course of the whole world! It all started through the courageous, faithful witness of one who was "constrained by the love of God." Man will not restrain the hand of God. Through His own, God will manifest His power and carry out His plan and purpose. HE IS SOVEREIGN!
© 2007 by Ed Powell. Used by permission.
This page was reprinted by permission from: http://www.litmin.org/dare.php?date=2023-01-18
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