DOWN FROM JERUSALEM
Acts 8:25 And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans. 26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
God has ordained that Jerusalem be the source of the gospel! Luke 24:46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
It is the “the joy of the whole earth.” Psalm 48:1 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. 2 Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.
Why then, is it not still so? Well, it is, IF you understand just what physical Jerusalem was designed by God to represent! The Apostle Paul defines for us, both the physical Jerusalem and the spiritual Jerusalem. For the former is to set forth the latter, since the things that are made are only here to reveal the spiritual and invisible things! Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Paul says that physical Jerusalem is like Abraham’s bondwoman, Hagar, and her children. It now represents a religion of bondage under the legalities of law and works justification! But he states that the spiritual Jerusalem possesses the freedom of a salvation of birth by grace, through faith alone. Galatians 4:25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
And in his Hebrew writing he freely interchanges the identity of Sion (Zion), with that of the church! Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
That which the Apostle John saw coming down from God out of heaven was the city of the dwelling place of God – the Bride, the Church! John 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Thus, new Jerusalem is none other than the born again, redeemed, blood washed, Spirit possessed organism, – the Church! Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. 10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 Having the glory of God:
But the greatest instruction in this matter is from the lips of the Person of the Word Himself – the Lord Jesus Christ. Listen as he gives understanding that he and his Father shall change the focus of Jerusalem from time and location to spirit and truth! And he has now changed all correct perception of Jerusalem from physical real estate to the experience of spiritual fellowship with God himself! John 4:21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
Philip and Jerusalem
Acts 1:8 and Acts 8:1 need to be closely considered. For in Acts 1:8 our Lord, as Commander of all the forces of the entire universe, gives forth his battle plans as the general on the white horse in Revelation 6:2, going forth conquering, and to conquer. And his instructions are that the church is to be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Please notice the three specifically stated locations.
Now consider how he determined his church to fulfill this command in Acts 8:1: And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. Please also note these same three locations to which the church was scattered abroad! – They are the exact same three, stated in the exact same sequence!
And this is how we come so quickly from Jerusalem in Acts chapter one, to Samaria in Acts chapter eight! The Lord sovereignly ordains to use his future Apostle Paul in a way of then keeping him humbled, due to the abundance of revelations he would receive, by allowing him to become as the “chief of sinners,” for this persecution of the church! For Philip, the deacon (Acts 6:3,5) could not have left his ordained ministry of serving the saints in Jerusalem until he was sent forth down to Samaria by this “scattering!” Now he becomes Philip the evangelist, (Acts 21:8), and is sent on down to Samaria, the third location on his sovereign’s instruction! At the time of this persecution he obtains a new job description (from deacon to evangelist), in a new location, and is now allowed by God to leave Jerusalem.
The Samaritans and Jerusalem
We started off our scripture passage, listed at the top of this article, with verse twenty five of Acts chapter eight. The “they” listed therein refers to the two apostles who were sent down from Jerusalem after Philip had done his evangelism among them. And there was a two-fold reason that the Apostles Peter and John were necessary for the Samaritans.
First, even after Philip had preached Christ unto them, and the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, the Holy Spirit had not fallen on a single one of them! Acts 8:16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
The other reason these apostles were essential for the Samaritans is that the Samaritans had refused to recognize Jerusalem as the center for the source of worship! And the Lord will not honor those who do not honor his prescribed way! Psa. 128:5 The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. 134:3 The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion.
Remember the conversation that the Lord Christ had with the Samaritan woman at the well? Do you recall what she said unto him concerning Samaritan worship? Here is that verse: John 4:20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. So until these gospel hearers consented to bow under Jerusalem Apostles, the Holy Spirit was not given unto them!
Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
And dear reader, I don’t know just what kind of animal these spirits are who claim that they don’t need, or want to associate with the local church where Christ is preached! But I do know that is not the nature of the true sheep of God! For they are glad when it is said unto them, Let us go to the house of God! To disassociate one’s self with the spiritual church is a serious matter, as he said that where even two or three were gathered, he would be in their midst!
The Ethiopian and Jerusalem
Now we come to the Ethiopian eunuch and his association with Jerusalem. He will not need the Apostles of Jerusalem to come down to him in order to receive the Holy Spirit. For he had come to Jerusalem for to worship, and Was returning…! But he still had not been brought to regeneration. Therefore he needed that the gospel be preached to him in the effectual power of the Holy Ghost. Here we see that just the association with the local church, without the sovereign work of grace in the heart is not salvation. This writer was a lost church member for seven years. He was baptized in water, but not in all that time, in the Holy Spirit. We must be brought to the Christ of the church, not just to the physical church, its traditions and membership.
The eunuch (“chamberlain – a state-officer”), had made great effort to come to Jerusalem from Ethiopia! But he only found a torn veil, and no spiritual witness of Christ! The apostles were retained at Jerusalem (Acts 8:1), during the blistering persecution that arose from the murder of Stephen, but as Saul was going to every house, the Lord must have hidden them so that, A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. (Psa. 91:7). But the eunuch must have gone to the book store, (seems that every meeting has a book store), for he was reading his own copy of the Book of Isaiah.
And he was reading it aloud, for the scriptures state that Philip … heard him read. He was trying to get the word into both the eye gate and the ear gate, but only the Holy Spirit can open up the heart gate to reveal Christ! It is a good thing for the sinner to seek the Lord in prayer, as Cornelius (Acts 10:2), and in reading the scriptures as this eunuch did. For he may be seeking the Lord while he may be found, and calling upon him who is quite near! (Isa. 55:6).
And, as we have already stated, the presence of a Jerusalem apostle was not necessary for his salvation. For he was not wrongly associated with physical Jerusalem! But he needed to be born again in order to both see and enter that Jerusalem which is above! (See John 3:3, 5).
And the Lord Jesus, the Sovereign Commander of the church and gospel, had given both the word and ministry of reconciliation to his disciples. So Philip and his anointed preaching was exactly what the eunuch needed to be brought to Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
Saul and Jerusalem
Even the first Christian Terrorist had a relationship with Jerusalem which, like all these others, revealed his relationship, (or lack thereof), to the Lord. Acts 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2 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. 13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
Before he was brought to the feet of the Lord in regenerating grace, this man was a force in the Harlot church. And he exemplifies the character of her master, the god of this world – Satan himself! He tries to rule by force and might. He seeks to manipulate the souls, of whom he makes merchandise, by guilt and pity. Whereas the Lord says, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. (Zech. 4:6). Psalm 110:3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,…
But he was later brought to Jerusalem in a proper fashion! Acts 9:26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.
Pastor Gene Breed