On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. ... those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. (Acts 8: 1, 4)
The martyrdom of Stephen was witnessed by many people. From the day of Stephen's martyrdom, the church in Jerusalem was greatly persecuted. As a result, the disciples who had always gathered in Jerusalem to wait for the return of the Lord was forced to leave Jerusalem and be scattered to other cities in order to keep their faith.
These scattered people from the Jerusalem church were disciples, and most of them hadn’t followed Jesus, but the apostles did not leave Jerusalem. A large part of the disciples repented and believed in the preaching of Peter after the advent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, which means that most of them believed in the Lord for only a few months. However, their beliefs were very stable. They did not lose heart nor became weak because of persecution, but they continued to believe. They were forced to disperse from Jerusalem because of the gospel, but they still preached the gospel. Wherever they dispersed, they spread the gospel of the Lord. Instead, because of this persecution, the church took the first step of fulfilling the great mission, which was to spread the gospel to all peoples.
In today’s last age, because the human nature is getting worse and worse, people ’s hearts are getting harder and harder, preaching the gospel is constantly being restained, and the persecution is gradually increasing. So it is more difficult to carry out the gospel ministry. But overall, compared to the early days of the church, these persecutions in the church today are nothing. Despite the persecution of evangelism today, few people may lose their lives and rarely be caught because of evangelism. However, the evangelism of today’s Christians is a far cry from that of the early church’s.
Let ’s not talk about how many people today’s Christians have led to believe in the Lord. Many Christians maybe have believed in the Lord for many years now, and even for a lifetime, but can’t explain the gospel clearly. They have n’t preached to others, even his own family. And Some Christians are afraid of being rejected and encountering persecution when they go to evangelize. In the final analysis, it is all because they have no real knowledge of the truth, they don’t understand the content of the gospel, lack a soul-loving heart and have a timid heart. So they can not follow the Lord's great mission and preach the gospel.
The Bible says: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). This teaches Christians to preach the gospel whether in good times or in adversity. But the challenge they face in the church today outdo they face outside the church. To solve this problem, they have a responsibility to teach pure truth in the church, and every Christian has a responsibility to strive for the truth and know the importance of the great mission.
At the same time, we must restore the relationship with the Lord and establish an intimate relationship with him. Only if we truly love the Lord, we are willing to follow the Lord ’s teachings and the Lord ’s great mission and are willing to preach the Lord ’s gospel. In the process of evangelism, we also should rely on the Lord. The reason why the scattered disciples at that time did not forget to evangelize in that situation is that they knew they could rely on the strength of the Lord to remove the timid heart and be brave to preach the gospel.
(Note: The author of this article is a full-time pastor in a grassroots church in Fujian.)
- Translated by Abigail Wu