"Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word."
–– Acts 8:4
That is one simple verse that totally turned the world upside down.
The gospel, at this point, was stuck in Jerusalem (so to speak). Jesus had said in Acts 1:8 (paraphrased), "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria, to the ends of the earth." Six chapters later, however, the gospel hadn't gone outside of Jerusalem. But then the stoning of Stephen precipitated persecution in the church on a greater scale, and it sent the church scattering.
Verse 4 says, "Those who were scattered ..." And it says earlier in verse 1, they were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria––and what were they doing? They were preaching the Word. So this is the gospel spreading to Judea and Samaria.
Now, what's interesting is, according to verse 1, all of these people who scattered . . . it was everybody except the apostles. It wasn't the leaders of the church, as we would picture, spreading the gospel into new places. It was just your ordinary, average believers who were spreading the gospel into new places. And wherever they went, they were preaching the word. So when you see the word preaching there, don't just think, "Okay, the gifted preachers who were making the word known all over the world." It was just the everyday believers who knew the gospel who were proclaiming the gospel.
We see this picture in Acts 8––this is how God has designed the gospel to spread in the world. Yes, He uses gifted leaders and preachers in specific ways, but the gospel first went out to the nations (to Judea and Samaria) through ordinary, everyday believers who had the gospel in them and the Spirit of God in them, and they were witnesses. Everywhere they went they were preaching the word. So may it be today.
I think about the church. The church gathers together on a Sunday to worship God, to glimpse the glory of God, to hear the word of God, to fellowship with one another, to pray, and then the church scatters. Every single week we scatter into different places, into different offices, into different neighborhoods, into different parts of a community or a city, and sometimes scatter into other countries of the world on short term mission or even long-term. We are a scattering people. Every week we gather, then we scatter. So may we scatter doing this––preaching the Word. May it be so, as the Lord scatters me to different places today, you to different places today, to interaction with different people, to know that he is orchestrating all of that, and opening up opportunities in all of that for the preaching, for the proclamation of his Word. So I want to pray for us toward that end.
O God, as you scatter us today, each one of us, in our lives, to different places, to different people––the places and people that you will bring into our path today––we pray that you'd help us to preach the Word. Lord, help us to proclaim the good news of your grace. May it be said of us that we are doing what we see in Acts chapter 8, and may you use our scattering on a week by week basis, a day by day basis, right where we live as we scatter, and then as you providentially scatter us to different parts of the world. I just think about the different places you have taken me and my family, the different places you have taken others who are listening to this and their families, to know that this scattering work you do is ultimately for the spreading of your Word. So scatter us however you will, we pray, for the spread of your Word in the world. Use us to spread, to preach, to proclaim your Word today wherever you scatter us.
In Jesus' name. Amen.
Taken from the Pray the Word podcast (8/17/17) with David Platt.
David Platt is the president of the International Mission Board (IMB) and founder of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Follow Me, and Counter Culture.