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Discovery Magazine 12/1/2008

God Wants Everyone to be Saved

In the early church, there was one main way for Christians to spread the Gospel—by word of mouth. There was no Internet, no telephone, no radio, no television. The apostles and disciples had to take the message of God to the people directly, often walking hundreds of miles. However, this did not stop them from taking the good news of Jesus everywhere they could!

In Acts 8:1-4, we read that the church in Jerusalem was scattered, and Christians went everywhere preaching and teaching. Philip went north from Jerusalem to the city of Samaria, where he taught the Samaritans (Acts 8:5-13). What made this so amazing was that the Jews and the Samaritans hated each other. John 4:9 says, “Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.”  Why did the Jews hate the Samaritans so much? The answer is found in the Old Testament. After King Solomon died, God allowed the kingdom of Israel to be split. Rehoboam ruled in the south (the country of Judah), and Jeroboam ruled in the north (the country of Israel). Sadly, the people of Israel were unfaithful to God, so God let the Assyrian Empire take them into captivity. Those few who remained violated God’s command not to marry people from other nations, and as a result, they were an ethnically mixed people. They were no longer just Israelites; they became known as Samaritans.

Can you imagine what the Samaritans thought about Philip, a Jew, preaching to them? For hundreds of years, the Jews had treated the Samaritans with contempt. Now the Jews were preaching to Samaritans about Jesus, and encouraging them to obey the Gospel. To do so would mean that the Samaritans would unite with certain Jews in the Christian faith. This must have made a major impression on the Samaritans, because it says that “the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did” (Acts 8:6). The power of the Gospel is so great that it allows the prejudices of hundreds of years to be removed in a matter of hours or days. The conversion of the Samaritan people also shows that God wants everyone to be saved, and will accept everyone who obeys His Word (read Acts 8:12). The disciples and apostles in the early church took the Gospel everywhere they went. Even though there are many more stories in the book of Acts about those who were converted, the story of the Samaritans’ conversion shows us a lot about God and His faithfulness. 



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