Here, There, and Everywhere
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"God's message was preached in ever-widening circles. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too." (NLT)
I like the phrase the New Living Translation uses in this passage: ever-widening circles. Today as our church cooperates in a day of prayer and fasting for our community, this phrase seems like an appropriate phrase to guide our prayers-that God will use us to proclaim His message in ever-widening circles.
In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, "but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (NASB) Notice the ever-widening geographic circles Jesus mentioned. First, He mentions Jerusalem, then Judea and Samaria and finally, the remotest part of the earth.
Our text today is about the proclamation of the gospel in Jerusalem, the first geographic circle Jesus mentioned. The first seven chapters of Acts focuses on the evangelization of Jerusalem, but before we study that, I want to mention the other geographic circles Jesus mentions in Acts 1:8. Persecution broke out after Stephen was stoned in chapter 7 and the church was dispersed into Judea and Samaria. Acts 8:1 says, "Saul was one of the official witnesses at the killing of Stephen. A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem, and all the believers except the apostles fled into Judea and Samaria." (NLT) Later Acts 8:5 shows Philip going into Samaria, It says, "And Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them." (NASB)
After Saul's conversion in Acts 9, we see the gospel going into the third geographic circle Jesus mentioned, "the remotest parts of the earth." Paul described the expansion in Romans 15:19 when he wrote, "in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ." (NASB)
Throughout the bible, there is an ongoing concern for spreading the gospel into distant lands. Psalm 22:27 says, "All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, And all the families of the nations will worship before Thee." (NASB) Notice the phrases, ends of the earth and all the families of the nations. Psalm 98:3 says, "He has remembered His lovingkindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God." (NASB) Again the phrase ends of the earth appears, as it does in Isaiah 42:10 "Sing to the Lord a new song," Isaiah says, "Sing His praise from the end of the earth!" (NASB) Later Isaiah repeats the phrase again in Isaiah 49:6. It says, "It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant. To raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations. So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth." (NASB) And once again in Isaiah 52:10 "The Lord has bared His holy arm. In the sight of all the nations, That all the ends of the earth may see The salvation of our God." (NASB)
As we focus on the needs of our surrounding community, we are reminded
that our responsibility is greater than just our neighborhood. We have
responsibility to spread the gospel here, there and everywhere. That's
why 10% of the money you give to this church is immediately dispatched
to the four corners of the world for the spread of the gospel. Some of
that money is used to underwrite local projects like our Spanish Services,
I-Help and our Food Pantry. Other of it is used to support the work of
Central Coast Baptist Association, the California Southern Baptist Convention
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