God Works for Good Through Gospel Preaching – Acts 8:1-17

31 October, 2021

Book: Acts

God Works for Good Thru Gospel Preaching

Acts 8:1-17,


  • Well, This is Reformation Sun: 404 yrs ago today, a short stocky German Monk, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis-for-Disputation on the Wittenberg Cathedral Door.
  • And so the, already glowing, spark of Protest, against Catholicism’s errors, begun 100 yrs earlier with Jan Huss,
  • …leapt into a Flame, then a Fire, then the roaring Blaze as the Protestant Reformation spread throughout the Christian world.
  • I had wanted to bring… and I had started to prepare a message on the Five Solas from Romans 3:21-26….
  • But, as I studied, & prayed, & asked the Lord for His Message, He wanted 4 us, My 5-Sola-Sermon just didn’t come togeth’r L
  • Rather, He drew my thoughts back again to Acts, and chapters 6-8, and today’s text of 8:1-25 and I realise the Reformation was not First in: 15-16th centuries but rather the 1st century.
  • Reformations are times when God does great works, amongst His people, most often thru devoted prayer, a renewed zeal, and return to the Study and Preaching of the Word of God.
  • Stephen, was a man full of: Holy Spirit, w/ a tremendous grasp on the Word as we see from his speech, (longest in Acts).
  • Stephen’s & the Apostle’s preaching was very much, an Appeal & Protest to the Sanhedrin, & the Jews ag. their Apostacy, having rejected God’s Word & Work, thru: Lord, Jesus Christ.
  • God, thru Christ, & then His Apostles, & Godly, Spirit-filled men like Stephen, & Philip, & Paul, & Augustine, & Athanasius, & J.Huss, & M.Luther, & J.Calvin, & H.Zwingli, brought Reform’tn.
  • And for so many others, who Studied: Scripture, Prayed fervently, & Preached the Gospel, – God brought Reformation.
  • And, There is still further need for Reformation in the church,
  • And, There’s still need for Reformation, in our own lives, personally, and it comes thru Prayer, and the Study, the Practice & the Preaching, of the Word of God.
  • Erasmus’ Greek New Testament was part of a scholarly, academic return to studying original documents: Incl. the Bible
  • Luther’s study of the Bible particularly Psalms & Romans led to Re-Discovery of Justificat’n by Grace Thru Faith
  • That Study, was followed by, & fuelled the Preaching of: Word
  • And, what has all that got to do with Acts 8:1-25? Preaching!


Luke writes Acts with a repeated cyclical pattern of events:

  • 1) Christian leaders Apostles Stephen, Arise & Preach gospel
  • 2) Listeners are Converted & Church Grows, Acts 2-6
  • 3) Opponents, Jew/Gent, begin Persecute Leaders, Stephen
  • 4) God Intervenes to rescue leaders &/or protect church, for further mission & spread of gospel, Church scatter’d, preaching


So, to ask again, what has Acts 8 got to do w/ Reform’n? Preaching!

  • Notice what our text repeats, open your bibles and look w/ me
    • vs4, they went everywhere Preaching the Word
    • vs5, Philip went to Samaria and Preached Christ
    • vs12, Philip Preached things concerning: K-dom of God
    • vs25, they testified and Preached the Word of: Lord
    • vs25, they returned Preaching the Gospel
    • vs35, beginning at this Script., he Preached Jesus
  • They Preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ & His K-dom.
  • The Story of Acts & Christ’s Witnesses, is story of Preaching
  • And Preaching, is not necessarily a Pulpit, a Church & Big Voice!
  • It’s proclaiming, ministering, making known: truth about Christ

Notice something else here: Preaching brings a Response –

  • God works thru Preach., God works 4 Good thru Gospel Preach’g
    • 1) 1-3, Gospel Preaching Brings Persecution
    • 2) 4-8, 12-13, Gospel Preaching Brings Conversions
    • 3) 9-13, Gospel Preaching Delivers from Darkness
    • 4) 14-17, Gospel Preaching Brings Reconciliation
  • Remember that Great Truth, Romans 8:28, God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

1stly) Gospel Preaching Brings Persecution

  • We saw a few weeks ago Stephen’s great speech and response
  • They gnashed their teeth in anger and in an unrestrained fury
  • They dragged him from the city and in a violent act of murder (not legal execution) they stoned him to death
  • God works thru Gospel preaching to bring persecution
  • Notice 58 Saul first minded the clothes of the stoners
  • Then 1, Saul consented to Stephen’s death
  • Then 3, Saul made havoc of the church. The word Luke uses for havoc is same for wild beasts tearing at fresh meat
  • Nothing slowed his fury, he attacked women as well as men
    • Acts 8:3, Paul dragged them to prison
    • In Acts 22:4, Paul says persecuted them to death
    • In 1:13, Paul says he tried to destroy the church
  • God uses Preaching to bring Persecution
    • Elijah Preached Baal worship; Persecuted by Jezebel
    • Jerem Preached God’s Msg; was Persecuted & Jailed
    • John Bapt. Preached ag Herod jailed & behead’d
    • Jesus Preached gospel: tried, tortured & crucified
  • Christ promised us we would be persecuted
    • John 15:20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”
  • Paul said Persecution-suffering is granted to us, by God.
    • Philippians 1:29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, – persecution
  • But We also know: God uses Persecution for His own good Purp.
    • 8:28 (again) we know that God causes all things to work together for good, to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purposes
  • brings Persec., caused by God for our good & His glory!
  • Notice in 8vs.1, they were all scattered – the word has, as it’s root wd: seeds; seeds-scattered, so that they’ll grow into grain
  • God uses persecution to scatter his church to take & spread the gospel to the next stage, from Jerus. to Judea & Samar.

Listen Beloved, Don’t despair or be discouraged at whatever world

  • leaders are doing, God’s working all things (persec) 4 our good
  • Don’t be surprised if they’re some who hate us & our message
  • And Don’t live this Christian life with expectation that everybody will Love us & our message,
  • when the gospel is preached correctly & biblically, in Pwr of Spirit, it will bring Opposition and Persecution.
  • Pray, plead with God that when it happens, we will all stand firm
  • Pray, plead with God that in those moments of persecution we will know God’s grace, to keep us steadfast, following Christ, w/o denying him right thru to the end.
  • Pray, that we will, like the apostles, Rejoice that we have been considered worthy to suffer for the sake of Jesus’ name.
  • Gospel Preach Brings Persecut’n, which God works (good-glory)


2ndly) God uses Gospel Preaching to bring Conversions

  • Notice the text in vss 4-13, Church, except the Apostles, are scattered everywhere – Preaching the Word (Gospel)
  • Philip travels to: City of Samaria, most likely OT city: Shechem
  • Notice the text: vs.5, he Preached Christ to them
  • Its shorthand way of saying He preached the Incarnation of Christ, the Life of Christ; His Ministry; His Suffering, His Death & Resurrection.
  • He preached to them the whole story of Gospel.

And what a great Message that Gospel is – A Message worth repeating

  • That God, most Holy, All-Powerful, All-knowing had created from nothing, all of existence, w/ purpose of glorifying Himself
  • But we, who’re created in God’s Image/Likeness, have all sinned
  • We’ve all gone our own way; We’ve all rebelled against God
  • We’ve all failed to meet His std. of Holy, Righteous Behaviour
  • We’ve all Crossed Ev. Line God marked, for how we’re to behave
  • We, having disobeyed & defied God, are condemned to an eternal death, under the unceasing righteous indignation of God

BUT GOD! God sent His only Son, to be born of a virgin, truly God…

  • truly man, to live in perfect, sinless, obedience: God His Father
  • God, in Grace, sent Christ to live teaching & preaching, healing sick & cleansing lepers, casting out demons & raising the dead.
  • God, in Grace, sent Christ to suffer the unimaginable Pain, Isolat’n & Humiliat’n of the cross, as He Paid Penalty 4 Our sin.
  • 53:10, It pleased: Lord to Crush Christ, He died for us…
  • But God, in the glory of victory, raised Christ from the Dead
  • God has exalted Christ to His right hand, and given him the name above all other names: the name of Lord, Jesus Christ
  • Acts 17:30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, and believe: gospel. All men, including the Samaritans, who heard Phil’s msg.
  • Samaritans had their own idea of a Messiah: “Taheb, but…
  • Philip’s Preaching brought them to understand: True Messiah
  • Philip’s Preaching, was perhaps, the completion of what Jesus began, in His conversation, with the woman at the well.
  • Notice vs6, his preaching was validated by: signs he performed
  • Just as Elijah-Elishah’s ministry had been validated by signs…
  • Just as Jesus’ own ministry had been validated with miracles signs, as the Father attested to Christ thru miracles, wonders & signs, so also Philip’s preaching-msg. was validated by signs
  • The signs pointed beyond themselves to the True Power of God at work – and the reality of the message preached
  • So, why do we not have these sorts of signs anymore?
  • We have instead: Spirit-inspired Word of God that’s both the source & proof of our message. – It validates our preaching.
  • Hence Paul’s clear imperative in scripture to Preach the Word.

Notice the Samaritan’s response:

  • 6, They heard the message, with understanding, with the intention to comply with the message
    • The Spirit of God opened their hearts/minds to believe
  • 11, They Believed Philip as He preach’d, they trusted God, the subject of His message, they relied on it, as being true!
    • Spirit of God convinced them of the truth of His message about Christ & Kingdom & they believed?
  • 12, both men & women were baptised…. there was an immediate commitment to what they had heard. Baptism was their/our symbolic way of stating a complete renewal, the old had gone the new was come. They publicly committed to Christ.
  • 8, There was great joy in the city, the consistent natural…
  • response to the gospel is Joy! Great happiness, gladness, thankfulness, it’s the emotion of pleasure & delight.
  • The Gospel believed, makes all things new
  • The Gospel believed, washes all the guilt of sin away
  • The Gospel believed, brings the reality of completeness and nearness to God as no other message ever can.
  • God Uses Gospel Preaching to Bring Conversions
  • The Samaritans heard, believed, were baptised and rejoiced!

But what about You?

  • Have you Heard? Do you Know the truth of the gospel?
  • Do you Believe in God, who is the subject of: Gospel message?
  • Are you striving, with all your might, to no longer commit the sin that once kept you completely estranged from God?
  • Rejoice Christian, God has saved you!


3rdly) Gospel Preaching Delivers From Darkness

  • Notice the text in 9-11. This man Simon, or Simon Magus…
  • had astonished these Samaritans and kept them believing that he was the Great Power of God
  • Magic in the 1st Cent. was usually done in secret, and certainly for the Magician’s benefit, but not necessarily for the people’s.
  • Simon’s Magic could have been common trickery, that he claimed as a true spiritual power, or something far worse
  • Some Jewish teachers-leaders believed Magic to be genuine & dangerous sorcery, used to manipulate spirits, to control them, binding/loosing them, thru sp. knowledge, to do: magician’s will
  • Extra-biblical sources, includ. Justin Martyr tell us Simon, was worshipped by many Samaritans as ‘first god’. There was even a cult established in his name, Justin himself being a part of it.
  • Apparently he went to Rome and had a statue erected of himself, titled Simon, a holy god. Whatever he truly was, he did hold the Samaritans, in this city, captive by his words/deceit.
  • For however long, Simon had held sway over the Samaritans…
  • It all changed, when Philip Preached Christ & Kingdom of God
  • Philip’s demonstration of the H. Spirit’s Divine Power to truly cast out demons, and heal paralysed/lame, showed-up Simon.
  • The Samaritan’s, once held captive to Simon, were set free

Becoz, the Preaching of the Gospel Delivers from Darkness.

  • Whether we were ever involved in an occultic situation, or we were simply living in Sinful Disobedience, we were in Darkness.
  • In Script. Light describes God & Darkness describes Anti-God
  • 2:13–14 (the wicked are) those who leave the paths of uprightness To walk in the ways of darkness; 14 Who delight in doing evil And rejoice in the perversity of evil;
  • John 3:19–20 Jesus said: this is the condemnation, that the
  • light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
  • 25:30, Darkness describes place of Judgement & Death
  • But, 9:2, says God’s Salvation brings Light: those: Darkness
  • 1:13 Paul says He (God) has delivered us fr. the Power of Darkness & conveyed us into: Kingdom of the Son of His love,

The Preaching of the Gospel Delivers those who’re in Darkness

  • Bros & Sis, preach, proclaim, make known the Gospel of Christ, that Christ has suffered, died, & risen again, so God may shine the Light of the gospel of Christ, into our hearts.
  • 4:6 For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
  • Christ died, & rose again, to bring us into the Light of Christ
  • When others (like Samaritans) Hear: message, Believe it, Repent & follow Christ, they’re set free & Delivered fr Dark.
  • God Uses Gospel Preaching 4 Good to Deliver us fr. Darkness


4thly) God uses Gospel Preaching to Bring Reconciliation

  • Notice that in vss.14-17, we have this strange set of circumstances where those who had heard & believed did not receive the H. Spirit until the apostles came & laid hands on
  • Why the Delay?
  • The church in Samaria was not a separate, individual church, outside and unrelated to the Church of Christ, in Jerusalem.
  • The apostles, in authority, as Christ’s authorised spokesmen & representatives, having all eye-witnessed the Res. Christ, held authority over His church.
  • Their coming & laying-on of hands on is symbolic of recognition & identification w/ the believers in Samaria. It displays…
  • that the Samaritan believers are included, accepted & equally part of the church, as are the Jews in Jerusalem.
  • There is no difference between Jew-Samaritan-Gentile, they – We are all one in Christ.
  • The coming of H. Spirit, at that moment, displayed to all: Unity.
  • But there’s more here that deserves our Attention.
  • Notice that Philip preached, under the H.Spirit’s inspiration the gospel of Christ and the things concerning: Kingdom of God.
  • How did Samaria originally come into existence?
  • Way back in 931 BC, almost 1,000 yrs B4 this time, in 1Kings 12, Solomon’s son Rehoboam inherited the throne of Israel.
  • He went to Shechem… to be made king over Israel.
    • Shechem is the same place/city, Philip is now preaching!!
  • Ten of the tribes of Israel reject their rightful K-Rehoboam & instead they crowned Jeroboam as king, dividing the nation.
  • God had promised division of Israel as punishment for sin.
  • The King came to His People in Shechem & they Rejected Him
  • Now, Acts 8, almost 1,000 yrs later, in Shechem the infinitely greater King of kings & Lord of lords, the Saviour, who is God Himself, is made known to the Samaritans as their rightf’l King.
  • And the descendants of those 10 tribes bow: knee to Christ.

Gospel Preaching has reconciled those whom sin had divided.

  • Jew and Samaritan are reconciled and reunited, under Christ
  • The divided, apostate nation, turning to Christ, their Messiah in faith & repentance, are reconciled to God and to each other.

Bros & sis, the Preaching of the Gospel brings reconciliation!

  • Sin Divides – but the Gospel of Christ heals & reconciles
  • Praise God for the wonderful truth of Romans 5:10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
  • Colossians 1:21–22 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—
  • The Gospel first and foremost brings reconciliation between God-Man, and it also brings reconciliation between man & man
  • There are literally 1,000’s of stories of
    • Families Reunited & Marriages & Friendships Restored
  • Relationships of every kind restored and reconciled when all parties to the dispute, bow the heart, the will, & the knee to Christ and are reconciled.

Bros & Sis, we preach the Gospel of Christ to bring reconciliation.

Bros & sis, consider the power of the Gospel to reconcile us.

How great is the message, the truth, the hope of the gospel

  • Christ’s blood: shed, his life: given, so that we might be washed clean of all guilt and shame that sin brought
  • Christ’s life given his body entombed that we might have life, not merely existence, but Life! Eternal Life, The Essence of Life
  • Christ raised from the dead, declaring to all that He was-is the sinless, holy, righteous, just, glorious God!
  • There’s hope because of the Gospel


Preach the Gospel, tell it, gossip it, share it, make it known in whatever way God has equipped you, knowing that God will not allow His word to return Void, he will bring results

Preach the Gospel, in the certain knowledge that at times it will bring a strongly negative result, that our listeners may respond with animosity, persecution, hatred and even violence, yet in the certain knowledge that persecution cannot separate us from Christ

Preach the Gospel, in the certain knowledge that God has chosen to use the preaching, proclaiming of the gospel as the means to bring men and women to saving faith in Christ, for faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.  Some of our hearers will believe.  We do not preach in the hope that some might believe, we preach in the certainty that some will believe, for God has promised it.

Preach the Gospel, in the certain knowledge that God uses the preaching of the gospel to deliver men and women from the domain of darkness, the darkness of despair, the darkness of false beliefs, false hopes, false