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2. Jesus Christ and His Messengers

 There remain a few questions to answer before we can begin with Acts 8. We have to discuss the manner in which people have to hear about the saving work of Jesus. If we ask: Who all are supposed to hear the Gospel of Jesus? Then the answer is: All people living on earth!

It was never the intention of Jesus that only a mere handful of people should have joy in their hearts. He did not come to save only a small group of people

God loves all people. And Jesus wants to make all people happy. Therefore the joyful message about Jesus must be told to all people The whole world must hear of Him!

This is why Jesus commanded His followers to become messengers for God. They had to go and announce His saving work to everybody. Listen to Jesus' own words:

Write in the words that have been left out:
(NKJ): And He said to them, "Go into all the _________ and preach the ____________ to every _____________.:He who _____________ and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be ___________."

The messengers of Jesus were willing. Through all the years they have obeyed this command. And many thousands of people became Christians. Today more people belong to the Christian religion than to any other. The number of the people of God continues to grow. More and more people get to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour.

This leads us to ask the next question: Who were these messengers whom God used in his service?

They were perfectly ordinary people such as you and I. These messengers were not necessarily very clever or beautiful or strong or rich. When Jesus chose his followers, He walked along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and at first called a couple of fishermen. They were simple people who earned their daily bread with their hands. And yet there was something different about them. God made new people of them and saved them from their sins. Only then could they begin to work for the Lord. We can learn many lessons by looking at what they were called.

* First they were called disciples. This word means pupil or student. They were prepared to learn more and more about the Word of God so that they could pass on its message.

* Later they were called apostles. This means "ones who are sent". The Lord Jesus sent them to tell other people about Him.

* Some of them were also called evangelists - bearers of the gospel, the good news that Jesus saves people from sin.

* We also read that they were witnesses. To be a witness means to tell others accurately about something you yourself have seen or experienced. The disciples of Jesus could be witnesses to his words and deeds because they themselves knew Him. If we come to know Him as our Saviour, we can also be his witnesses.

Another important question: From where did the messengers get the strength to work in this way for the Lord?

The disciples of Jesus were not very brave men. The Bible tells us that they all ran away when Jesus was arrested (Matthew 26:56).

Peter, the leader of the disciples, boasted in advance that he was even prepared to die with Jesus. That same night he proved that he was a coward when he three times denied that he even knew Jesus! (Luke 22:54-62.)

Even after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, his followers were still terrified of the leaders of the people who had crucified Jesus. They met behind closed doors (John 20:19).

However, this all changed. These frightened people suddenly began telling everybody about Jesus. What happened? Where did they get this strength from? The Bible gives the answer.

Turn to Acts 1:8. Jesus is speaking. Fill in the missing words in this passage:
NKJ Acts 1:8 "But you shall receive ________ when the ________ _________ has come upon you; and you shall be ___________ to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

Jesus himself promised to give the power. His messengers would receive it when the Holy Spirit came to live in them.

This promise soon came true. The Holy Spirit came to live and work in the lives of these people. In Acts 2 we read that the Spirit of God was poured out during the feast of Pentecost, and that He gave power to the disciples to tell other people about Jesus.

One last question: Of what does this power consist? The Bible says that it is not human power. It is the work of the Spirit of God.

It is not the power of a good leader or a forceful speaker or a clever instructor. It cannot be bought or made by people. This power of the Holy Spirit has got nothing to do with magical power. It cannot be made with a piece of wood or bone or a mixture of things. It can also not be used to control events in people's lives. It cannot be used to give people some advantage or disadvantage. Neither is it a power for selfprotection. It is God's power which He gives to people!

He gives it only to certain people - to those who believe in Christ as their Saviour. What is more, He gives it for a definite purpose - to make them able to work for Him. They have to be witnesses for Jesus Christ!

One of these messengers of Jesus was the evangelist Philip. He was one of those who had received the power of the Holy Spirit. He was a very hardworking witness for the Lord. Now we are going to begin with the study of Acts 8:26-40. And we will see how he led another person to Jesus.

Questions to answer

1. Who must hear the message about Jesus and his salvation?
2. What does the word "disciple" mean? Why were the disciples  of Jesus called this?
3. What is the work of a witness? How must a witness of Jesus carry out  his work?
4. For what purpose does God give the power of the Holy Spirit to those  who believe?