More than Conquerors in Jesus Christ {Acts 6}

11:30 PM

By Mari Sandoval

After Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost thousands were saved (Acts 2: 14-21) and as the days went by the number of believers increased as the apostles preached the Word with the Power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:48, 4:31, 5:14).  When Jesus was with the first apostles He had promised all this would happen, and His desire for His disciples to live in love in unity was being fulfilled!  “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all (Acts 4:32-34). This was the foundation of the primitive Church!  

But of course, Satan always finds a way to attack causing division and opposition among the believers: “Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution” (Act 6:1) Apparently, some of the Hellenistic Jews believed that the widows among the Hebrew Jews were receiving better care. This called for a solution: “So the [c]Twelve called the disciples together and said, “It is not appropriate for us to neglect [teaching] the word of God in order to serve tables and manage the distribution of food” (6:2). The apostles should not be distracted from prayer and the preaching of the word. (Vs.4)

I did a bit of research and I found that “serving tables” didn't mean that the apostles considered the work of cleaning up the widow's dinner table as something as a “lower task”. “This speaks of handling the practical administration of the financial and practical details relevant to caring for the widows. A 'table' at that time meant a place where a money changer did his collecting or exchanging of money. The deacons were elected to oversee the distribution of monies and provisions to the needy among the fellowship." (Ogilvie)

The instruction to care for this matter was: “Therefore, brothers, choose from among you seven men with good reputations [men of godly character and moral integrity], full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.” (Vs.3)  These were the men they elected: “… [d]Stephen, a man full of faith [in Christ Jesus], and [filled with and led by] the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas (Nikolaos), a proselyte (Gentile convert) from Antioch.”  ( Vs.5)

Satan’s plans for division and distraction were placed in God’s hands and through the guidance and Wisdom of His Holy Spirit this problem turned into a blessing! And because of this: “… the message of God kept on growing and spreading, and the number of disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem; and a large number of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith [accepting Jesus as Messiah and acknowledging Him as the Source of eternal salvation].” (Vs.7)

Later on we find that opposition occurs once more: “Now Stephen, full of grace (divine blessing, favor) and power, was doing great wonders and signs (attesting miracles) among the people. However, some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (freed Jewish slaves), both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and [the province of] Asia, rose up and questioned and argued  with Stephen” (6:8-9)  But Stephen was empowered by the Holy Spirit, as he spoke to them and they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke (vs. 10) The opposing Jews, defeated in debate, induced false accusations against Stephen and he was arrested!

They couldn’t tolerate what Stephen was teaching: that Jesus was greater than Moses; that Jesus was God; that Jesus was greater than the temple; that Jesus was the fulfillment of the law; and that Jesus was greater than their religious customs and traditions.  They twisted his words, accusing him of blasphemy!  But our Lord was with Stephen and he knew it deep inside!!  “Then all those who were sitting in the Council, stared [intently] at him, and they saw that Stephen’s face was like the face of an angel.” (Vs. 15)

In these few chapters we’ve seen how the disciples have been thrown in jail and even flogged (Ch. 4, 5) because of their faith in Jesus! Jesus had warned them about this, but He also told them He would never leave them nor forsake them (Mat 5:11-12, Mat. 10:17-20).

Let me ask you: Are you finding opposition as you witness Jesus and your faith in Him? Do you remember a time when these difficult and or painful circumstances turned into a blessing?

Let’s recall Paul’s encouraging words in Rom 8:26-28 “In the same way the Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words.27 And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because the Spirit intercedes [before God] on behalf of [c]God’s people in accordance with God’s will. 28 And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.”  Yes, there is a Perfect Plan in all our trials! Our Father is in Perfect Control of our situation!

Paul continues: “ Who shall ever separate us from the love of [d]Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?36 Just as it is written and forever remains written, “For Your sake we are put to death all day long;

We are regarded as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us]. 38 For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (8:35-39)

Remember He will never leave us nor forsake us: in Jesus Christ we are more than conquerors!

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