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God's Providence in Paul's Suffering (16 of 19)
Throughout History God has worked in two ways - His seen hand of Miracle (When a little bit of Heaven spills over into our Experience on Earth). And more frequently through His unsee hand of Providence. ACTS began with God majorly working through his seen hand of miracle, but we have reached a point when God will progressively work more and more through His unsee hand of Providence.
The book of Acts began with an outpouring of miracle and it ends with an outpouring of God's providence.
The Ascension - When Jesus ascended into heaven there were about 120 committed followers gathering in Jerusalem.
Pentecost - On the day of Pentecost God sent the Holy Spirit to empower the witness of those 120 and in a single day 3000 were added to their number. Rapid growth continued with the Lord adding daily those who were being saved.
Persecution - The next major movement began with Arrest of Peter and John, the Martyrdom of Stephen, followed by the execution of James.
Gentile Movement - Simultaneously God gives Peter a vision of the Gospel going to the Gentiles, He saves Saul who was leading the attack against the Church and the Jerusalem counsel affirms the fact that Gentiles can become christians without first becoming Jews.
Antioch - With the persecution in Jerusalem the power base of christianity shifts from Jerusalem to Antioch. The Church at Antioch spearheads the missionary movement of the church by appointing two of their best - Paul and Barnabas to go plant churches.
Missionary Journeys - In 48AD Paul takes the first of 3 Missionary Journeys throughout the Empire. The number of Christians may number in the 100's of thousands by this point. Keep in mind the Christian movement is only about 20 years old. But it's on the radar. Political leaders are beginning to pay attention. They are studying the teachings of the Church.
In 59AD Paul returns to Jerusalem ...
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