the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
“They that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Word.”
He took pleasure in the execution of Stephen, being zealously resolute to put down the church.
It is not wrong to lament the death of holy men, for they are a great loss to the community.
Driven yet further afield, they carried the gospel into other lands. The winds of persecution fan the fire of faith in the church, and carry the sparks of truth to a distance. The Devil destroys his own kingdom, while he thinks he is crushing the rising empire of Christ.
Stephen is gone, but Philip comes forward; the church will not fail for want of men to bear her standard.
Joy in forgiven sin, joy in healing mercy, joy in God’s gracious presence. See how Christians, though persecuted themselves, make others glad.
But he did not savingly believe, as is clear from his conduct. He was baffled by Philip, and therefore believed his doctrine to be true, made a profession of faith and entered the church, and might have done immense mischief, had he not been detected by his own greed. The church of God has many foes: Saul vexes her without, and Simon within.
Acts 8:18 , Acts 8:19
Hence the purchase of office in the church is called Simony, Wretched distinction, to furnish a name for a new sin.
He did not say, “Pray that I may be forgiven,” his heart only throbbed with carnal desires for power, or slavish fears of judgment. All around him the divine light was spreading, but he remained blinded by sordid feelings. The Lord grant us to rise far above everything mercenary in religion.
“He went on his way rejoicing.”
How precious is one single soul in the sight of the Lord! In order to bring one person to the faith, he sends an angel to Philip, and sends Philip from populous Samaria to the desert.
Acts 8:27 , Acts 8:28
A teacher of the gospel must go in the obedience of faith, although the call leads him into the wilderness.
Acts 8:27 , Acts 8:28
The word of God is the best reading on a journey; not only on the desert way from Jerusalem, but on the way through time to eternity. We forget thereby the hardships of the way, we look not aside to forbidden paths, we make thereby blessed travelling acquaintances, and we go forward on the right path to the blessed goal.
Acts 8:29 , Acts 8:30
If a teacher, on his visit, finds people occupied with the word of God, he must not long waste time with digressions about the weather and the state of their health, but take the word of God for his text and introduction, as it lies open.
It was the finger of God which pointed to this passage; for the sum of all Christian truth is
Christ, both humbled and exalted. In this is contained an admonition for all teachers to lead souls, as the chief matter, to the knowledge of Christ, the Crucified and the Risen One. This, as a rule, is much more effective than moral preaching. The missionaries in Greenland who, with discourses on the living God and his holy commandments, preached for a whole year to deaf ears, struck home when they commenced with the evangelical message, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world!”
See the order: the word is understood, then comes faith, and then baptism. Is the Lord’s order right? Then let no man alter it. None can have any right to church ordinances but those who believe with all their hearts that Jesus is the Son of God.
Acts 8:38 , Acts 8:39
When the good man’s work was done, the new convert needed him no more, for he had the key of the scriptures in his own hands.
This chapter should be read candidly, and its teachings accepted: what they are is so clear that there is little need of explanation. Take heed how ye read.
Obedience fills the soul with joy,
Then let us now obey;
Our heart believes, our duty’s clear,
And Jesus leads the way.