Dr. Michael Milton
D.J. Kennedy Institute
And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.
JOY AND EVANGELISM: Part 1
Years ago, I was transformed by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of Dr. D. James Kennedy. When I learned that “by grace are ye saved through faith,” I immediately began to happily share the glory of the grace of Jesus Christ with others. Joy and evangelism were forever wedded in my soul. Joy and evangelism is also what happened when a crisis erupted in Jerusalem after our Lord Jesus ascended into heaven. Read Acts 8:1-8 and note how it begins with terror and ends with joy.
Today there is still a clear and present danger for millions of Christians around the world because of their faith in Christ. Though threatened, the Church of Jesus Christ is triumphantly advancing, right on schedule, through the Cross of Jesus Christ and His paradoxical, glorious, upside-down way of making all things—even a heinous Roman cross and unprecedented persecution— work together for good (Rom. 8:28).
The terror in Acts 8 caused what we see so often today in nations under persecution – diaspora. In that diaspora, something happened — evangelism. Acts 8:4 says, “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.” The diaspora was not in vain. In fact, the terror actually drove the disciples of Christ out from home to the far reaches of the Roman realm. The traumatic events of Jerusalem, rather than driving people to despair, drove them to share the Gospel with the world. Verse 8 takes us to the city of Samaria, and it says, “So there was much joy in that city.” Tragedy led to dispersion, led to the evangelizing of the common people and souls were saved, lives were transformed, people were healed, and the faith of the resurrected Jesus went forward through generations.