Acts 12:24
But the word of God continued to spread and multiply.
Sermons
Sanctified AfflictionR.A. Redford Acts 12:24
The Growings of the WordR. Tuck Acts 12:24
Sin in High PlacesW. Clarkson Acts 12:1-19, 24
The Persecution At JerusalemE. Johnson Acts 12:1-25
The Strength and Weakness of Christian DiscipleshipW. Clarkson Acts 12:1-19, 25
Christian PersistencyH. C. Trumbull.Acts 12:12-25
Forgetfulness Through JoyT. McCullagh.Acts 12:12-25
John MarkW. Brock.Acts 12:12-25
RhodaA. Maclaren, D. D.Acts 12:12-25
RhodaJ. Wells, M. A.Acts 12:12-25
Surprised by Answers to PrayerC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 12:12-25
The Girl Who was Called MadA. McAuslane, D. D.Acts 12:12-25
The Special Prayer MeetingC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 12:12-25
Danger of FlatteryActs 12:19-25
Flattery AnsweredActs 12:19-25
Flattery RebukedActs 12:19-25
Fleeting HonourActs 12:19-25
God's Ministers of RetributionArchdeacon Farrar.Acts 12:19-25
Herod Smitten by the AngelD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 12:19-25
Herod's DeathSchleirmacher.Acts 12:19-25
Royal PietyClerical AnecdotesActs 12:19-25
The Certainty of RetributionT. Guthrie, D. D.Acts 12:19-25
The Death of HerodDean Close.Acts 12:19-25
The Death of HerodBp. Hacket.Acts 12:19-25
The Law of ReprisalScientific IllustrationsActs 12:19-25
This World's HonourMartin Boos.Acts 12:19-25
The Death of HerodE. Johnson Acts 12:20-25
The Enduring KingdomBp. S. Wilberforce.Acts 12:24-25
The Invincibility of the WordArchdeacon Farrar.Acts 12:24-25
The Progress of God's WordJ. P. Otis.Acts 12:24-25
The Success of the GospelPulpit SketchesActs 12:24-25
The Success of the GospelJ. W. Burn.Acts 12:24-25
The Success of the Gospel in the Days of the ApostlesTheological SketchbookActs 12:24-25
The Vitality of the WordProf. Archer Butler.Acts 12:24-25
But the Word of God grew and multiplied.

I. THE TROUBLES ARE BLESSINGS IN DISGUISE.

1. Drawing the believers together.

2. Revealing the weakness of enemies.

3. Calling out faith and prayerfulness.

4. Occasioning new manifestations of Divine power on behalf of the Church.

II. THE KINGDOM OF GOD UNDER DIVINE CONTROL AND INDEPENDENT OF HUMAN AGENCY. A time of famine and persecution and mourning, but still a time of increase. The earthly rulers against the Word, but still it grows. The Church afflicted, but still speaking to the world, and its speech all the more powerful that it comes forth from the troubled depths of suffering hearts Instances. The blood of the martyrs the seed of the Church. Madagascar. When we are weak then are we strong. "Not by might, nor by power, but by God's Spirit." - R.







But the Word of God grew and multiplied.
This progress — growth and multiplication of God's Word — was displayed —

I. IN THE MEN OF THAT PERIOD.

1. The spirit of every age or movement of history is reflected in its leading characters. The Elizabethan age; the American Revolution; the age of Pericles.

2. Displayed in its leaders or exponents.

(1)In Barnabas we see tenderness and generosity.

(2)In Paul strength and genius.

(3)In John Mark imperfection, but eventual usefulness after failure.

3. In its enemies. It defied Herod's craft and power, and its success was coincident with his doom.

II. IN THE MARCH OF EVENTS.

1. "Happy is a land when it has no history," is true only of the old and false conceptions of history.

2. God's Word did not return unto Him void.

(1)Gentile Christianity was launched on the stream of ages.

(2)Thus the policy of Christianity, of the Church as a missionary, world-evangelising movement, was fixed by whatever force lies in the example of the primitive Church.

III. IS THE ADVANCE OF IDEAS.

1. Pentecost did not end, but only began, the enlargement of mind to take in God's thoughts.

2. The minds of the disciples gained that flexibility as to method and inflexibility as to principle by which they could go "to every creature." "All things to all men, so that I might by all means save some." "We must obey God rather than men."

3. The New Testament itself — especially all of it except the four Gospels — shows how the minds of men were enlarged and inspired to apply the "Word of God" to human wants; and here, in an almost literal sense, it "grew and multiplied."Conclusion:

1. Thus it appears there is a sense in which the phrases, "new theology," "advanced thought," etc., may represent a state of things thoroughly satisfactory, upon which the Church and the world are to be congratulated.

2. It equally appears that all true progress in religious thought and action is made by men whose instrument is the Word of God, and whose power and guidance are supplied by the Holy Spirit.

(J. P. Otis.)

Theological Sketchbook.
I. THE WORD WAS OPPOSED.

1. By the Word we may understand the gospel of God our Saviour.

2. Jewish prejudices opposed the gospel.

3. Heathenish superstitions were opposed to the Word.

4. Human learning was opposed to the Word of God. The Greeks and Romans excelled in learning; but that learning produced bad effects.

5. The devil opposed the gospel, by his influence and agency on the hearts of men.

6. In spreading the Word, the apostles had to endure many grievous afflictions, both from wicked men and evil spirits.

II. OPPOSITION DID NOT PREVENT THE RAPID SUCCESS OF THE GOSPEL; FOR THE WORD GREW AND WAS MULTIPLIED.

1. The Word is fitly compared to good seed.

2. This seed was sown by the apostles in prepared hearts; and it cannot bring forth good fruit unless the heart be prepared.

3. When the Word sinks into the heart, and takes deep root, it produces holy tempers and holy actions; and when we abound in these, the Word grows in us, and our prayers go up to God with acceptance.

4. The Word is multiplied when many are converted to God by the instrumentality of converts.

III. BUT WHAT WERE THE PRINCIPAL CAUSES OF THE EXTENSIVE PROMULGATION OF THE GOSPEL IN THE AGE OF THE APOSTLES?

1. The extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, conferred on the apostles, and on many in the Church, promoted the success of the gospel.

2. Another cause of the rapid spread of the gospel in those days was the burning zeal of the apostles and primitive Christians.

3. Divine power attended the Word.

4. The holy tempers, and the holy conduct of the apostles, and of the first believers, produced powerful effects on the hearts of the people.

5. The unity of the Church gave success to the Word.

6. Persecution promoted the cause of Christ, and gave success to the Word.

7. Judgments poured out on wicked men, and on persecutors, gave success to the gospel.

8. The united prayers of the Church gave success to the Word.Inferences:

1. How widely different was the propagation of Christianity from that of Mohammedism! The one was by the force of truth and holy example; but the other was by the sword and acts of violence!

2. The effects of primitive times have reached us in these last days.

3. We lay no claim to apostolic gifts; but God has opened a wide door, in our day, for the spread of His gospel.

(Theological Sketchbook.)

Pulpit Sketches.
I. THE WORD WAS OPPOSED by —

1. Jewish prejudices.

2. Heathen superstitions.

3. Human learning.

4. Kingly cruelty.

5. The devil, by his influence on the hearts of men.

II. THIS DID NOT PREVENT ITS RAPID SUCCESS.

1. The Word is good seed.

2. This seed was sown by the apostles in prepared hearts.

3. When this seed takes root it produces holy tempers and actions.

III. THE PRINCIPAL CAUSES OF THIS SUCCESS.

1. The extraordinary gifts of the Spirit.

2. The burning zeal of the apostles.

3. Divine power.

4. Church unity.

5. Persecutions.

6. Prayer.

(Pulpit Sketches.)

I. THE WORD OF GOD GREW IN —

1. Convincing.

2. Converting.

3. Sanctifying.

4. Comforting.

5. Stimulating power.

II. THE WORD OF GOD MULTIPLIED —

1. In the number of believers who embraced it.

2. In the number of preachers who proclaimed it.

3. In the extent of territory over which it spread (chap. Acts 13:4, etc.).

III. The Word of God grew and multiplied NOTWITHSTANDING —

1. The might that was arrayed against it.(1) The tyranny of Herod.(2) The pleasure of the Jews. State authority and sectarian bigotry were combined for the first time since the crucifixion to oppress the Church; how often since has this unholy alliance been made for the same end!

2. The persecution it endured.

(1)The vexation of Christians, espionage, loss of goods, etc.

(2)The martyrdom of James.

(3)The imprisonment of Peter.

IV. NATIONAL PROSPERITY WAS IMPERILLED, but the Word of God grew and multiplied. There is more than appears in ver. 20. Tyre and Sidon as purely commercial cities were largely dependent on the purely industrial interior for the supply of merchandise, and the interior was dependent on those cities for its very sustenance. The prosperity of both was threatened by a war which would further aggravate the situation. Tyrants may frown, and people may cringe, but the Word of God is independent of both.

V. HUMAN GLORY WAS HUMBLED, AND KINGLY POWER WAS DESTROYED, BUT THE WORD OF GOD GREW AND MULTIPLIED. Read vers. 23 and 24 as one, and the intended contrast is clear. "All flesh is grass...but the Word of God shall stand forever." The Roman, German, Italian, and English potentates who oppressed the Church are in their graves, but the Word of God grows and multiplies still.

VI. The Word of God grew and multiplied BY MEANS OF —

1. Prayer — the normal condition of success throughout the ages.

2. Striking interpositions. These are exceptional, but are always at hand if need be. Here we see —

(1)The deliverance of Peter by an angel.

(2)The death of Herod by an angel.

3. Earnest evangelists (vers. 25-13:3).

(J. W. Burn.)

The truth of God is not only invulnerable, it is invincible. Smallest of all seeds dropped upon the gorgeous temple floor of the world's heathendom, lo! it burst into fragments the starred mosaics, and split the monstrous idols till they fell and crushed their worshippers. The one main reason why the triumph of Christianity had from the first all the certainty of a law was this — God is in her, and therefore shall she not be moved. God shall help her, and that right early.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

How strange, how providential has been its history! and how deep ought to be our attachment to a Book so mercifully made our inheritance! From the Churches of the primitive times it passed (as ecclesiastical tyranny grew strong, and would not brook a collateral authority) to the seclusion of the monasteries for many a long and barren century; but God was with it through the darkness, and He brought it forth in His own good time. It was like those seeds of which naturalists tell us, that lie for ages dormant and unfruitful in cells beneath the earth, but whose vitality has never been lost, and which, when brought upon the surface, shoot up with vigour into all the beauty of luxuriant vegetation. Such has been the story of the written Word.

(Prof. Archer Butler.)

We have here the kingdom of Herod and Agrippa, as a type of all earthly kingdoms, brought into contrast and collision with the enduring kingdom of Christ the Lord. In many points of view — in similarity and in opposition — the parallel is most peculiarly striking. The rise of both was unobserved. Herod's had grown up from nothing. There had been a time when he was living as a mere hanger-on upon the court of Tiberius. He was gifted with those powers by which such men rise in such courts. As he ingratiated himself with Tiberius, the visions of greater things would begin to fill his earthly soul. He was the grandson of the great Herod; perhaps he might yet make himself a name greater than that of the prosperous founder of his house. But upon this early sunshine fell the blackness of a sudden frost, and nipped the opening bud of his greatness. He was accused of wishing the emperor dead, and so the rising Idumaean found himself in a dungeon, and not upon a throne. Then followed the tyrant's death, and again Herod rose to favour. He was made king of Batanea and Trachonitis by Caligula; and by Claudius of Samaria and Judaea also. He was one of the few who thoroughly succeed, as it is called, in life; and he governed his kingdom with great splendour and success. He affected popularity; wished to reign in the hearts of his subjects; was a man who would stretch a point that he might do so. But all suddenly at noonday his sun sank in outer darkness. Puffed up with the applause of his subjects, he took to himself, as the great founder of his own fortunes, the honour which belonged to God only. An angel hand strikes him; and, as self-exaltation had been his master sin, so the circumstances of his death are made humiliating in their accidents as well as sudden in their issue: he was eaten by worms. His kingdom passed away; the cunning web which had been woven so successfully, the fruit of youthful enterprise, of mature experience, of long labours, of late and, as it seemed, complete success: all was torn away by the first counterblast which the Almighty sent forth to scatter it. "But the Word of God grew and multiplied." Here is the contrast. Here is a kingdom which "fadeth not away." With this, Herod had just come into collision; but now he himself was gone; and that despised kingdom "grew and multiplied!" The blood which he had shed to quench it, made but its flame burn brighter and spread around in wider circles. And the cause of this power of growth is suggested in its very title: it was "the Word of God." It was not the mere creature of outside circumstance; it was not a kingdom formed by Caligula's passing favour, augmented by the goodwill of Claudius, and built up and widened by the policy of Herod; it had a life within, which was life for all men. Now from this contrast there flow one or two necessary consequences.

I. THAT THIS KINGDOM OF THE WORD OF GOD WILL AT LAST SUBDUE ALL OPPOSITION. That which we have seen in this chapter of the Acts has been going on ever since the day when the angel smote Herod. It is going on round about us now.

1. It is going on in the world of nations. Thrones have been built up since, higher than King Herod's; the nations of the earth have gone out to wonder at their greatness. Caesar and Charlemagne, Clovis and Solyman, and how many more, have heard in their day the flattering cry, "It is the voice of a god!" And they have passed away, with their dynasties and their institutions: the great world stream has flowed on, and, as its waves have swept by, they have overwhelmed what was once so great, until their very record has departed. And still the Word of God has "grown and multiplied." The outward forms of Christ's kingdom abide, as fresh as they were in their earliest morning. Still does baptism admit into this kingdom; still does the simple breaking of bread, and the pouring out of wine, endure amongst us. And, if possible, yet more marvellous still, its inward power over countless multitudes is just what it was of old; still they tremble under the Word spoken; still soul after soul melts in contrition, kindles in love, rejoices in exultation, waits in hope, when the words which are the words of that kingdom of the unseen Lord sound in their ears; still in their trouble men gather together, as they did in the house where Rhoda went to the door at Peter's knocking; and still deliverances are given in answer to those supplications, and angels from heaven bear to the saints of the King the succour they need. And now what does all this foreshadow? What but that this kingdom which alone has in it this principle of life shall endure forever? that it shall break in pieces all that are against it?

2. Ah! that which is thus plain in the worldwide history of nations is just as true in the detail of all private life. There, too, are the two kingdoms: the one full of show for vain men, the other full of strength for believing men. There are great promises of success, of rising in life, of acquiring a name, of a man's enjoying his pleasure; and there is an angel ever ready to strike at his noonday of seeming success every such worldly-minded man. There is a "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; and then whose shall this be which thou hast stored up for thyself?" And there are dungeons and chains on the other side, the following Christ in self-denial and self-sacrifice; and with these there is still, as of old, a portion in the Church's prayers, angels' visits, and a God and Father who sends them for our deliverance. Surely, then, it is plain which of these kingdoms will endure.

II. THE BLESSEDNESS OF BEING ENGAGED UPON THE SIDE OF THIS LIVING POWER. We look into God's Word, and we see the worthlessness of all outer things; the utter vanity of Herod's pompous worm-eaten enthronement; the blessedness and the glory of Peter's dungeon, of saints' prayers, of martyrdom, of being the care of angels, and the children of the Highest; and our hearts are a little stirred, perhaps, and we have half resolved that we will seek this portion for ourselves; and then we look into the great world, and we are fooled again by the sounds of empire and greatness. Ay! and we look into our own little world; and do we not find it hard to remember and to feel how blessed it is, when God so orders it, for us to be disappointed and calumniated, and despised, and brought low, and afflicted? Do we not every one of us know how thoughts of ease and of comfort, how ambitious longings to be a little greater than we are, a little richer, a little higher in the world's estimation — how this clings to us? Do we not every one of us know how the secret curse of the world's measure and the world's judgment creeps back upon us almost unawares? Do we not know how ready we are to forget in practice the blessedness of being of that little flock which shall yet possess the kingdom forever?

III. And then put these together. If there be this blessedness in being upon God's side, and if there be this glory in bearing it truly in mind — may we not gather this further inference, THAT IT IS OUR WISDOM TO SET OURSELVES DILIGENTLY TO ACT UPON THE TRUTH THAT WE CONFESS? For it is only by acting upon it that we can make head against the temptation to forget it. This was the wisdom of the apostles. remember how in their day, when the world threatened them, they went first unto their own, and "lifted up their voice, and said." They made their cry to Almighty God, and then having made their prayer they went forth again into that evil world, and began directly to act for Christ; and in that union of retiring for secret prayer, to draw His strength down upon them, and then simply going forth to act in that strength, as though He was present with them, they were enabled to keep their own hearts firm and their own heads clear, amidst the dizzying and amazing circumstances of their daily life. And we must do the same, each one of us, if we would make head. There must be with us this mixture of prayer to God and of work for God.

(Bp. S. Wilberforce.).

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