Consider the Cost


I’ve had friends tell me that paying for a gym membership or lessons with a trainer was the only thing that made them follow through and make an effort toward something that they wanted to do. Aspirations with no cost stay aspirations and do not move toward deep motivation, conviction, and commitment. This is a trite comparison to what happened to the early church. Stephen was martyred and the church encountered a season of significant challenge that came at great cost; but the church grew in ways that may never have happened without opposition. Following Jesus became hard, and the power of the gospel became even more apparent.

  • Have you experienced a time when following Jesus was costly or hard? What did that look like?


8:1 And Saul approved of his execution.

And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. According to this passage, what was the aftermath of the execution of Stephen?
  2. In Acts 1, Jesus commissioned the apostles to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth. How did this great persecution move the church forward in that mission?
  3. From our vantage point, what do we know about the effectiveness of Saul’s attempts to crush Christianity in its infancy?
  4. When in your life has God used persecution or trials to advance his plans? How might knowing that God uses even the most difficult times to advance his Kingdom encourage you when you encounter trials?


The church had been thriving and masses of people were coming to faith, being healed, and sharing their worldly goods with those in need, and then persecution began. Suddenly there was a truly significant cost to following Jesus. If we fast forward, we see that this scattering of disciples resulted in the first advancement of the gospel out of the city of Jerusalem and, ultimately, to the world. We see that Saul becomes Paul, the greatest evangelist of all time. But in those moments, it must have felt like everything was coming to an end. It was the fervency of those who were faithful with no promise of earthly resolution that impacted the spread of Christianity throughout the world. Could this still be true today?

  • Pray for a faith that sustains you through seasons without answers and moments of not being able to see beyond the trial. Thank God that he is with you, and that he is good.
  • Pray for those experiencing persecution this very day for following Jesus.