There have been so many important things to learn from studying the first 12 chapters of the book of Acts. One of the things you will notice as you go through the book of Acts is a repeating cycle of Challenge (Crisis) – Victory – Expansion.
The early church first faces a significant challenge that causes people to wonder, “Will the church survive? Will God’s plan go forward? Then during the triumph stage, the Lord resolves the crisis in a way that surprises everyone. He often vindicates the righteous and judges the enemies of the church. In the expansion stage, the gospel spreads. Further, the church gets stronger, and new opportunities are created that weren’t there before… which leads to a new crisis… If you’re a student of history, you learn to look for these cycles to learn and grow.
At the beginning of Acts 12, we have the Apostle James dead, Peter in prison, and the tyrant king Herod basking in his popularity and power. At the end of the chapter, Peter is free, Herod is dead, having been eaten by worms, and the Word of God growing and multiplying. Luke is showing us that the gospel is unstoppable. Even when the masses of people and government leaders oppose it, it cannot be stopped!
Friends, you may feel small and insignificant; you may think that evil is winning and you are overpowered, but the truth is: those who oppose Jesus Christ will ultimately lose. So be encouraged. Don't be impressed by temporary worldly triumphs over the gospel. Ask God to give you His heart of compassion for sinners so that He can use you to reach out with the good news.
Press on! Pastor Brian Richard