Professing Truth in the Midst of Persecution
October 10, 2004
INTRODUCTION: Acts 4 records the first outbreak of persecution against the church. Throughout its history the church has faced persecution. In its early centuries, Christians were tortured by being thrown to wild animals, crucified, burned as human torches and any other cruel way man could devise; yet the church marched on.
Persecution has had a different effect on the church then intended. Instead of destroying the church, it merely served to purify and strengthen it. It matures the way trials mature individual believers. Tertullian said, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."
Today, Satan's attacks have become much more subtle. His attacks are detailed in C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters. Instead of threatening the body, Satan's persecutions today aim at the ego. Satan has largely destroyed the spiritual effectiveness of the church without having to kill the individual believers in it. In fact, letting believers live self-centered, complacent, indolent, worldly lives is more effective in keeping people from being attracted to the Christian faith than killing them. Martyrs are respected for the strength of their character; compromisers are despised.
Jesus warned the church of persecution.
John 15:18-20, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also."
John 16:2, "They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service."
Paul warned Timothy
2 Timothy 3:12, "Yes, and all who desire to live go ...
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