Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Feel free to follow along.
God offers salvation to all that call on his name. However, at the beginning this wasn’t always clear to the early Church leaders. They had grown up in a culture that was the chosen people of God. So each time God is ready to bring a new people into his kingdom he does something big. Today’s reading (Acts 8) is full of that.
We see in today’s reading God moving in three different ways to bring new people into his kingdom. The beginning of this chapter immediately follows the stoning of Steven. We have just been introduced to Saul and we learn that he is persecuting Christians from dragging them off to prison. The Christians in Jerusalem are now scared for their lives and well being, so immediately they take off into surrounding areas.
We later see Saul/Paul as one of the greatest leaders in the Christian church. I am of the opinion that Saul’s ministry began before he was a Christian. It is because of Saul and his persecution that Christians left Jerusalem It is because of his persecution that the message of the cross began to reach people other than Jews in Jerusalem. God did something big here.
We then see Samaritans coming to Christ and being baptized in Christ name. However, at their baptism Scripture tells us that they are not given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Why is that? I believe it is so God can show the Apostles that the gospel message is for all. When Peter lays his hands on the Samaritans some type of observable outpouring of the Holy Spirit takes place. God is telling Peter that he accepts the despised Samaritans into his kingdom as well.
Finally we see God send Philip to the Ethiopian Eunuch. This is a man who would have been considered a complete outsider. However, this man was a follower of the Jewish ways. Philip miraculously appears to this man and shares the gospel with him. Again God is using a powerful way to show that even this Ethiopian convert to Judaism is considered a candidate for Christianity.
In the beginning God has to show his followers that there is no longer one chosen people Now the message of the Cross is for all people who will call on his name and give their lives to him. We can be thankful for that.