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Text:

Acts 12:24–25 HCSB
24 Then God’s message flourished and multiplied. 25 After they had completed their relief mission, Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem, taking along John who is called Mark.

Sub: Unstoppable

Intro:

The early church had no “political clout” or friends in high places to “pull strings” for them. Instead, they went to the highest throne of all, the throne of grace. They were a praying people, for they knew that God could solve their problems. God’s glorious throne was greater than the throne of Herod, and God’s heavenly army could handle Herod’s weak soldiers any day or night! The believers did not need to bribe anyone at court. They simply took their case to the highest court and left it with the Lord!

And what was the result? “But the word of God grew and multiplied” (). This is another of Luke’s summaries, or “progress reports,” that started

(HCSB) 47  praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.

(HCSB) 7  So the preaching about God flourished, the number of the disciples in Jerusalem multiplied greatly, and a large group of priests became obedient to the faith.

(HCSB) 31  So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace, being built up and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, and it increased in numbers.

(HCSB) 24  Then God’s message flourished and multiplied.

(HCSB) 5  So the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in number daily.

(HCSB) 20  In this way the Lord’s message flourished and prevailed.

Luke is accomplishing the purpose of his book and showing us how the church spread throughout the Roman world from its small beginnings in Jerusalem. What an encouragement to us today!

At the beginning of , Herod seemed to be in control and the church was losing the battle. But at the end of the chapter, Herod is dead and the church—very much alive—is growing rapidly!

Try as they might to stop the spread of the gospel, the enemies of God could only sit by and watch more and more people put their faith in Christ. The church was guided and energized by almighty God. The same is true today. Nothing—no government, no law, no evil leader, no amount of persecution—can stop God from adding to his church. In spite of the killing of Stephen, and the killing of James, plus a host of other persecutions of the church, the church did not die. It kept on going much to the consternation of evil.

In spite of the killing of Stephen, and the killing of James, plus a host of other persecutions of the church, the church did not die. It kept on going much to the consternation of evil.

In spite of the killing of Stephen, and the killing of James, plus a host of other persecutions of the church, the church did not die. It kept on going much to the consternation of evil.

In spite of the killing of Stephen, and the killing of James, plus a host of other persecutions of the church, the church did not die. It kept on going much to the consternation of evil.

1. The Additions to the Church () "But the word of God grew and multiplied" ().

The "But" shows the power of God. The devil may butt the believers around at times, but God will have the last butt when He casts Satan into the lake of fire ().

The cause of the additions. "The word of God grew and multiplied."

This is symbolic language—the growing of the Word of God speaks of the growth of the church. In spite of the attacks on the church, it kept growing. The Word of God, which symbolizes the church here because the church was built on the Word of God, cannot be destroyed. "Heavens and earth shall pass away; but my words shall not pass away" (). "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever" (). The church was built on the Word of God. That foundation will never fail. Churches need to get back to building on the Word of God.

The character of the additions. "The word of God grew and multiplied." Describing the church additions like this says these additions were of the highest character. They were real decisions and would last, for they were motivated and inspired by the Word of God, not by some worldly promotional effort.

2. The Accomplishments of the Church () "They had fulfilled their ministry" ().

In spite of the opposition to the church, the church still accomplished this special mission.

The people in the accomplishment. "Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem" (). These two men had been selected to take some charity to the saints in Judea—Jerusalem was in the Judean province (,). Returning to Antioch indicated they had indeed accomplished their objective. The church will always accomplish the objective for which God has set out for it regardless of the opposition.

The protection in the accomplishment. "Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem" (). The trip to Jerusalem would be filled with perils of travel in those days and the added peril of persecution. But God protected them and they carried this monetary gift to Jerusalem and returned without mishap—a round trip distance of over 500 miles. God spites the devil at times, and this is one of those times. Herod was killing the leaders of the church, but God sent two of His best leaders many miles in Herod's territory without mishap.

3. The Advancing of the Church () "Took with them John, whose surname was Mark" ().

The attack on the church did not stop the advancing of the church.

The men in the advancing. "Barnabas and Saul" (). Barnabas and Saul (Paul) were appointed as the church's first missionaries (cp. ) and Mark was their helper (). The persecution of the church did not stop the providential preparation for the advancing of the church.

The Mark in the advancing. "Took with them John, whose surname was Mark." This text means that Barnabas and Saul took Mark with them when they left Jerusalem to return back to Antioch. Mark was going to be initiated into the work of the Lord, and as it turned out, he did not do well on his first missionary trip but quit before it was over and returned to his mama in Jerusalem (). Later Barnabas and Paul split over the idea of taking Mark with them again. Paul did not care for quitters (), sometimes the greatest hindrance to the advancing of the church is not persecutors from outside the church but quitters from inside the church. Later after Mark matured, Paul's opinion of Mark did change ().

Bruce B. Barton et al., Life Application Bible Commentary – Acts, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1999), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: "". John G. Butler, Analytical Bible Expositor – Acts, (Clinton, Iowa: LBC Publications, 2009), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 136-137.The secret? A praying church!
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