Dear RCF Sisters and Brothers
The very encouraging opening chapters of the Book of Acts would make readers presume that all which started so well for the new Christian movement would continue to be positive. Through the power of the Holy Spirit the twelve apostles were transformed into fearless teachers, miraculous healers, and formidable apologists. The new community of Jesus followers began with a huge influx of converts and was steadily growing larger by the day. The practical care among these believers was astounding and attractive to the watching world. The angelic rescue of the apostles and their being officially exempted from Jewish persecution gave them the ability to minister and speak in Jesus’ name with impunity. The geographic impact of the Messianic message was reverberating regionally from Jerusalem into Judea. The fact that others were now demonstrating the Spirit-given power to heal and preach forecast even greater grace and growth.
It would be wonderful if this trajectory would continue so the new community would continue to enjoy the blessings of fellowship, healings, teaching, protection, and expansion. It might take only a decade for the entire world to begin to follow Jesus. Skeptics would be won to faith in Christ by the well-reasoned presentation of the Gospel supported by innumerable miracles and transformed lives. If this occurred, then they all would live happily ever after.
However, that was not God’s plan. In today’s text, the chronicle of the new community of believers in Jesus takes an unforeseen and shocking turn. The growing utopia of God’s grace in the capital city comes to a harsh end which no one anticipated. These events left many emotionally and spiritually shipwrecked, causing them to ask “How could God allow this to occur?” Like their Hebrew forefathers who were dismayed in the desert after leaving Egypt, and like us when we face serious trials, they wondered deeply about why God would permit this to happen.
Join us this Sunday morning as we continue in the theme To The Remotest Part of the Earth, and our Discussion Bible Study in the History of the Early Church. Please prepare by reading the entirety of Acts 6:8 – 8:3. This week’s title is “The Spark That Ignited The Flames of Persecution – Part 2”.
Attached is an outline of the text we will be focussing upon this Sunday morning. Please print it ahead of time, as it will help you take part in the discussion.
Here is the Table Discussion Question for Sunday:
Where was the love of God in the arrest, trial, and stoning of Stephen? Even more broadly, where was the love of God manifested or declared since the founding of the new community of Jesus’ followers on Pentecost?
In this series we have already discussed the following texts and topics:
The New Era Begins: Acts 1:12-2:21
Who is to Blame for Good Friday?: Acts 2:22-23
The New Community Begins: Acts 2:24-47
The First Official Pushback Is Pushed Back: Acts 3
The First OfficialPushback Is Pushed back – Part 2: Acts 4
God Elevates His Purity and His Principals: Acts 5:1-11
God Elevates His Purity and His Principals – Part 2: Acts 5:12 – 6:7
The Spark That Ignited The Flames of Persecution – Part 1: Acts 6:8 – 7:43
We love you all!
Jim and Jenny