2 “Devout men buried Stephen and mourned deeply over him. 3 Saul, however, was ravaging the church. He would enter house after house, drag off men and women, and put them in prison.
4 “So those who were scattered went on their way preaching the message of good news. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. 6 The crowds paid attention with one mind to what Philip said, as they heard and saw the signs he was performing. 7 For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed, and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
9 “A man named Simon had previously practiced sorcery in that city and astounded the Samaritan people, while claiming to be somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least of them to the greatest, and they said, ‘This man is called the Great Power of God!’ 11 They were attentive to him because he had astounded them with his sorceries for a long time. 12 But when they believed Philip, as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Then even Simon himself believed. And after he was baptized, he went around constantly with Philip and was astounded as he observed the signs and great miracles that were being performed.
14 “When the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had welcomed God’s message, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 After they went down there, they prayed for them, so the Samaritans might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For He had not yet come down on any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
18 When Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, ‘Give me this power too, so that anyone I lay hands on may receive the Holy Spirit.’
20 “But Peter told him, ‘May your silver be destroyed with you, because you thought the gift of God could be obtained with money! 21 You have no part or share in this matter, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.’
24 “‘Please pray to the Lord for me,’ Simon replied, ‘so that nothing you have said may happen to me.’
25 “Then, after they had testified and spoken the message of the Lord, they traveled back to Jerusalem, evangelizing many villages of the Samaritans.”
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
So those who were scattered went on their way preaching the message of good news. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. The crowds paid attention with one mind to what Philip said, as they heard and saw the signs he was performing. … So there was great joy in that city. … But when they believed Philip, as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then even Simon [the sorcerer] himself believed.
For the last six months, a group of us prayed together—walking the streets where we’ll plant. On Sunday, August 25, we signed a covenant to be part of the new Nashville campus. And for the next six months, we’ll train and prepare until we officially launch in February.
We’re leaving the familiar at Brentwood Baptist to go to the unfamiliar in Nashville. We’ll inject the Good News of Jesus into a melting pot of faiths, a community of people who like to sample all parts of the religious buffet—and even some who want none of it, choosing to be spiritually anorexic.
While we don’t suffer from a direct onslaught of devastating persecution like the Christians we read about in today’s passage, we aren’t particularly liked by culture either. Those first-century believers had it so bad that they actually had to leave their home and go out into the world. But so do we if we want others to know Him.
I like how The Message explains it: “Forced to leave home base, the followers of Jesus all became missionaries. Wherever they were scattered, they preached the Message about Jesus” (Acts 8:4).
Here’s what I pulled out of today’s passage:
- “Forced to leave home base” – Our world mocks Jesus and His message. We know that. In fact, they’d rather do anything else than step foot in a church and hang out with Christians. So that’s why we have to go to them. If we want people to know Him, we have to get out of our pews and into their lives.
- “The followers of Jesus all became missionaries” – Missionaries aren’t just those who sell everything and move to a third world country to tell unreached people groups about Jesus. You are a missionary right where you are in first world America. And what do missionaries do? They go out, make more disciples, baptize them, and train them to go and do the same (see Matthew 28:19-20).
- “Wherever they were scattered” – That means at your job, the home owners association meeting, your sporting event, the gym, the coffee shop you frequent every day, the grocery store, the community pool, the salon, the bank, the birthday party your kid was invited to—wherever you’re scattered.
- “They preached the Message about Jesus” – Mike always says the Good News isn’t that we can get to God, but that God came to us through Jesus. Amen? Amen. There are people in your life who need to hear that kind of Good News. Give it to them.
Philip didn’t use sorcery or magic tricks to connect people to Christ. He didn’t try to coerce or manipulate or threaten them into believing the gospel. He simply and boldly “preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.” Then people believed and there was great joy in the city.
It’s time we freely shared the Good News of Christ with Nashville (or whatever city you live in). Our city—and nation—could desperately use some of that same joy, hope, and healing found only in Him.
- Do you know how to share this Good News? Try it out. Explain it to someone you know in just a few sentences.
- Can you share your own story of redemption in a few minutes? Practice it. Then pair it with the Good News you know about, go out, and share it for real.
- Where are the places Jesus has scattered and sent you? Choose 1-2 unconnected people you see every week, pray for them, and start reaching out.