We’re here in Luke 9. I’d like to go fast forward in time. Six years have passed. Jesus has been crucified. He’s ascended to Heaven. The church is growing exponentially by leaps and bounds. But with growth comes persecution. The Christians in Jerusalem are persecuted. So they fan out from Jerusalem and go every which way, preaching the Gospel, and getting more people saved. One of these evangelizing Christians was a man by the name of Philip.

Acts 8:4-8 , Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.  (5)  Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.  (6)  And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.  (7)  For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.  (8)  And there was great joy in that city… Acts 8:12-13,  But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.  (13)  Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans were receiving the Gospel and receiving the very Lord who they once rejected, the apostles decided to send two of their own to oversee this blossoming ministry in Samaria. Guess who the apostles sent to Samaria. You guessed it. John the Beloved, the apostle of love.

Acts 8:14-17,  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:  (16)  (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)  (17)  Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost… 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.

John, who once wanted to call down fire from Heaven and fry these Samaritans, was now a changed man. He went to many villages of Samaria, loved those Samaritans, and fulfilled Christ’s ministry there—a ministry not of destroying men’s lives, but rather, saving them. Those who he once sought to destroy he now sought to save.

So how did John make such a drastic change from murder to life? IT BEGAN WITH, IT TOOK, A REBUKE FROM OUR LORD. Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. I’ve not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.

You see, we look at a rebuke as a very bad thing. We think it’s wrong to rebuke anybody. But a rebuke is a manifestation of God’s love for us. He loves us and He’s trying to set us straight and get us right. You do that with your children. And God does it with His too. If He was here in the flesh He’d rebuke us to our face. But since He’s a Spirit and not flesh and bones, God uses people to do the rebuking for Him. He’s given His ministers the right and duty to rebuke His erring people (2 Timothy 4:2). We in ministry have the unenviable task of rebuking people. It’s something we don’t enjoy doing. But we’ve got to do it whenever necessary because God requires us to blow the trumpet, sound the alarm, and warn God’s people about sin. God is serious about getting sin out of our life and out of the church (Ephesians 5:25-27). Why is that? Because sin will take us to Hell. In His love for us, God wants us to get rid of sin so that He can take us to Heaven. And one of the ways God rids us of sin is by rebuking us. No one likes it. But if we’re willing to humble ourself, hear the rebuke, and take it to heart, I guarantee you, like John, we’ll change for the better.

In closing, let me say that THERE’S GREAT DANGER WHEN WE’RE IN THE FLESH AND WE HAVE OUR OWN WAY. Consider this question very carefully. If Jesus had not rebuked and stopped John from calling fire down from Heaven, how many Samaritans would John have killed that day? Years later, how many Samaritans would have received the Gospel of Christ from fire-calling, people-roasting Christians? How many Samaritans are in Heaven today because God stopped an angry, vengeful John, changed him, and made him a minister of life and love?

Brethren, what’s it going to be with us here in church? Is it going to be life or death? How many people are going to get burned, how many people are going to get hurt and be driven away, before we decide we’re going to obey God and do things His way? WE CAN’T MINISTER LIFE TO PEOPLE WHEN WE’RE IN THE FLESH. WHEN WE’RE UNLOVING. We’ll kill, divide, and drive one another away. Is this what we want? Who wants to come to a church where people hurt one another? Who wants to stay in a church where people fight one another? May God stop us. May His rebuke change us and make us ministers of love and life.

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