Preacher: Jeremiah Fyffe
The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword.
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.
QUESTION 1: Retell the story of Acts 12:1–24. It is easy to think of ourselves in this story as suffering like James or Peter. But is it possible that we can have a prideful and arrogant heart like Herod as well? In either case, what is true is that we need rescue. James and Peter and Herod each need the gospel. Share with the group how you might identify with different characters in the story and how the gospel might be applied to each situation.
QUESTION 2: The story presents the stark reality that James dies by the sword, but Peter is rescued by an angel. But the story is also presented such that in both cases, God is utterly in control and executing his perfect plan. How might this offer perspective and encouragement for us as we face both trial and blessing in this life?
QUESTION 3: God brings a conclusive judgment of death upon Herod. How does this shape our understanding of the justice of God upon the enemies of his church in history?
QUESTION 4: On Sunday Pastor Jeremiah suggested two implications of this passage: 1) Nothing can separate us from the love of God and 2) Nothing can stop the advance of God’s word. Spend some time in prayer thanking God for confidence in his grace and in prayer for those who are suffering for their proclamation and faith in the world.