I thank God His promise to “clothe His disciples with power” (see Luke 24:49) did not stop with the church of Acts. Yet, in a sense, that is just where it has stopped for many in the church today. We assign God’s power to preachers, leaders, broadcasters, authors, anyone with a “platform.” But is God at work in the pews? Is the Spirit’s power working through every believing man, woman and child the way the Lord intended? If we have been saved, then we are meant to be filled with the power of God to do the works of God.
Here is how it happened in Acts: “There arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (Acts 8:1, ESV). According to this verse, the apostles stayed in Jerusalem. But all the other believers were scattered throughout the region. “Those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ” (Acts 8:4-5, ESV). And so the new power to minister was unleashed.
Let me add that the man named Philip mentioned here was a layman. Signs and wonders followed this man as he preached. Demon-possessed people were delivered. Disabled people were healed and leaped for joy. Later, when Peter came to Samaria to witness these works, he saw that “there was much joy in that city” (8:8). An entire city was touched by the joy of God! That’s quite an impact made by a single layperson.
Next we see Ananias, a follower of Jesus who lived in Damascus. We aren’t told much about Ananias but we know that he was filled with the Holy Spirit—and he had a tough job ahead of him. God called him to witness to Saul, the famous Christian-hunter, who at the time was raging against the church. Ananias was being called into the line of fire and he knew that if he wasn’t hearing God correctly, he could be killed.
Ananias had to overcome a very real fear for his life but he did it by being overcome with God’s love. Suddenly, Ananias was filled with compassion for a man who had proclaimed himself the mortal enemy of every Christian. So he went in faith—and the story of Saul’s conversion is well known. His transformation into Paul—the most famous follower of Jesus of all time—may be the most important conversion in history. Paul not only got saved but he wrote a major portion of what became the New Testament.