Acts 12: The Word of God Continued to Spread and Flourish

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Acts 12: The Word of God Continued to Spread and Flourish

January 21, 2023


Genesis 44-45Psalm 20Matthew 8:23-34Acts 12

Acts 12:

This is a famous story for good reason. We learn the following from it.

First of all, we learn that God is sovereign even when painful things occur. James is killed. Peter is not. Why? There is no evident answer to this question given in the text, and it reminds us that sometimes good people are killed while other good people survive. We must rest in the sovereignty of God. The great missionary statesman, J. Oswald Sanders, once told the story of coming to a missions conference and preaching on this text—only to discover that the previous speaker before he arrived had preached on exactly the same text. The missionaries concluded that God was speaking to them a special word about the need to rest in God’s sovereignty when painful things happen to us, even to godly and gifted leaders, particularly when such painful things seem to us to be inexplicable. James was killed. Peter survived. We must rest in God’s sovereignty.

Second, we learn that prayer is powerful. The church’s response to Peter’s imprisonment was to pray, verse 5. This should be our response when difficulties come to us. To gather with God’s people and earnestly pray. Would you pray about the things that trouble you? Would you earnestly seek God in prayer to answer?

Third, we learn that sometimes it is hard for us to believe that our prayers are answered—and yet still God graciously answers! Yes, the prayers we pray are to be prayed in faith, but we are so human that even in believing, we find at times we are doubting. Here the believers pray earnestly. And yet when Peter arrives—and therefore their prayers have been answered—they do not believe it could be him! They think it’s his “angel”! That is, they probably think that he’s dead. And yet God nonetheless graciously answered their prayers. How merciful is our God!

Fourth, we learn that God is not mocked. Herod, who thinks he is so powerful, and his words are so charismatic and anointed, uses his speech to assert his own glory. When the people shout, “This is a voice of a god, not of a man,” God immediately strikes Herod, and Herod dies. Interestingly enough, this event is recorded by a historical text outside of the Bible (Josephus). Don’t mock God. Don’t set yourself up in antipathy to God. Don’t try to “out-god” the Living God.

Fifth, we learn that God’s Word will continue to grow and spread. The Word of God will accomplish what God has designed for it to do. “But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.”


Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.


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