WANTED: “PREACHERS to Spread the GOSPEL Everywhere”: "At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word." (Acts 8:1, 4-5)
Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, He had commanded His disciples that they were to be His witnesses not only in Jerusalem, but also in Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). However, the church did not leave Jerusalem even though many years had passed. In fact, it took the persecution (of Acts 8:1) to force the believers to obey the command of Jesus (in Acts 1:8). Not only was persecution the means by which the gospel spread to other regions in Palestine, but also it caused the gospel to go to much further fields as well (see Acts 11:19).
From the human standpoint, it was a dark day for the believers. Stephen, who was so fired up for Christ, was stoned to death. All the believers were chased away like rabbits. But from the divine standpoint, it was not dark at all. Although the persecution was deadly, nevertheless, it accomplished the direct will of God. A grain of wheat had been planted in the ground, and much fruit would inevitably result. The winds of affliction were scattering the seeds of the gospel to distant places, and who could estimate the extent of the harvest?
God always turns evil into good and accomplishes His purposes. "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28) The first official persecution of the church drove the Christians out of Jerusalem, and they preached the gospel everywhere they went. The death of Stephen seemed to be a defeat for the church, but it resulted in some great victories for the Lord. Wherever the believers went, they shared the gospel and many trusted in Jesus as their Savior. Thus the gospel was ‘viral’ in the way it spread from one person to another, and had now truly breached the wall of separation between ethnic groups!
We should note that the first century church finally obeyed the explicit commands of Jesus Christ as it went out (Acts 8:1–4) just as Christ had gone (John 20:21); as it sold its goods and gave to the poor (Acts 2:45; 4:34) just as Christ had commanded (Luke 12:33; 18:22); and as it left father, mother, houses, and lands to go everywhere preaching the gospel (Acts 8:1–4) as Christ had instructed earlier (Matt. 10:37). They were even willing to die for the gospel as Tertullian wrote: “The blood of Christians has become the seed of the church”.
The great evangelist D. L. Moody has once said: “I live for souls and for eternity, I want to win some soul to Christ. If you want this and work for it, eternity alone can tell the result.” We too must go where God sends us, do what God tells us, and leave the results with Him. If we are complacent and lethargic to spread the gospel in our known world, remember that God may allow troubles to stir us from our cozy nest and force us to be witnesses for Him. If we are silent today, remember that God can cause the stones to cry out for Him (see Luke 19:40). Can we be God’s mouthpieces today as we spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to people everywhere we go?
For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!" (Romans 10:13-15)