Havock in the Church (02-12-2023)

Declare the Gospel  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  51:23
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Text Reading: Acts 8:1-4.

Title: Havoc in the Church

Review & Summary

Stephen preached; he gave the high priest and the religious leaders a history lesson that they could not forget!
However, their hearts were hardened. They could not hear; they could not receive the truth.
So, when conviction set in, they responded in the only way they could!
Acts 7:58–59 (KJV 1900)
And cast [Stephen] out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.
And they stoned Stephen...
One writer stated:

Religion without the Holy Spirit is the cruelest force in the world.

And certainly history has born that out to be true!
These religious leaders were simply following the example of their father - and it wasn’t Abraham!
John 8:44–45 KJV 1900
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

Stephen, in his death, continued to declare the deity of Jesus Christ!

When Jesus died He said:
Luke 23:46 KJV 1900
And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
When Stephen died he said:
Acts 7:59 KJV 1900
And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
In that way, Stephen confessed the truth that Jesus was coequal with God the Father because He was God!
Not only that, but Stephen’s last recorded words were a final declaration of the deity of Jesus Christ when he said:
Acts 7:60 (KJV 1900)
...Lord, lay not this sin to their charge...
Who can forgive sins but God? No one! (That lesson we learned in Mark chapter 2!)
Acts 7:60 (KJV 1900)
...And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
2 Corinthians 5:8 KJV 1900
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
Philippians 1:21 KJV 1900
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
May I ask you, “Are you prepared to die?”
It’s been said in different ways by different people but...
You are not truly prepared to live until you are prepared to die.

Saul made havock of the church.

What I would like to spend most of my time on though, is a phrase that we find in vs. 3:
Acts 8:3 (KJV 1900)
As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
Acts 8:1 says that, after Stephen’s death, “…there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem...” And that persecution was spearheaded by Saul!
Vs. 3 tells us that Saul began to go house to house, dragging Christian men and women out and handing them over to be placed in prison!
Havock: great destruction or devastation; ruinous damage
Acts chapter 9 gives us a little better description of this great persecution:
Acts 9:1–2 KJV 1900
And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
After Saul’s glorious salvation, Ananias gave this testimony of Saul:
Acts 9:13–14 KJV 1900
Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
Throughout his ministry, the Apostle Paul never shied away from telling others of his past. To the local church in Galatia Paul wrote:
Galatians 1:13 KJV 1900
For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
Exploring Galatians: An Expository Commentary (1) Paul as a Religious Man (1:13–14)

We have only the barest hints in the New Testament of the fierce anti-Christian activities of the unregenerate, fanatical Saul of Tarsus.

Exploring Galatians: An Expository Commentary ((1) Paul as a Religious Man (1:13–14))
His [persecution was] like that of a wild boar uprooting tender saplings. He was merciless. Some people he had forced to blaspheme; others had been martyred while he cheered on those who hurled the stones.
The results of this merciless persecution and slaughter?
Acts 8:4 KJV 1900
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
John Phillips stated:

All Satan accomplished by this violence was to scatter the glowing embers of the church’s fire far and wide, so that wherever they settled new fires might spring up.

Joseph’s testimony of his treatment at the hands of his brothers has application here:
Genesis 50:20 KJV 1900
But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
We rejoice in this! And yet, I remind you of Peter’s words:
1 Peter 3:17 KJV 1900
For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
The local church in Jerusalem was suffering because of the persecution brought by Paul; the church in Jerusalem was not suffering because of any sin or evil doing on its part.
But 1 Peter 3:17 ends with “…than for evil doing.
In other words, it is possible for a Christian to suffer because they have done wrong; it is possible for a Church to suffer because it has done wrong.

_______________ made havock of the church!

Should your name be placed in the blank?
I pray to God that my name will never need to be put in that blank!
I pray to God that your name never needs to be put in that blank!
Last week, I challenged you with this question: How’s your heart? and then I went on to challenge all of with Biblical steps that we could take to protect our hearts and keep them soft and tender.
This week I want to challenge each of us to make sure that our name never needs to be put in that blank!

Cultivate Love

Jesus spoke these words:
John 13:34–35 KJV 1900
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
And yet, He also warned:
Matthew 24:12 KJV 1900
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
We live in a world and a society where iniquity is abounding. We are surrounded by wickedness and filth every day. Because of that, has our love for one another begun to cool?
Turn to and read Romans 12:9-21; 13:8-10.
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