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The Romans 8:28 in Persecution (17 of 24)
Series: The Acts of the Apostles: A Verse-by-Verse Study
December 19, 2007
INTRODUCTION: You will remember in our last lesson, Stephen had so angered the religious council that they dragged him out of the city and stoned him to death. In (7:59), the Bible says, "And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
Did you know that it is impossible to kill a Christian? Oh, sure, the body can be put to death but the soul has eternal life. They day you received Christ as your Savior God gave you eternal life. In John 11:25, Jesus said, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."
As we move into the first part of chapter eight and the persecution of the early believers, I want us to see how this persecution, as bad as it was, had a positive side to it. God would use this time of suffering as a vehicle to spread the gospel, for in Acts 1:8, He had said, "...and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
Let's consider two things:
I. The Persecution
II. The Results
I. THE PERSECUTION
A. The Place of Persecution
1. It says in (vs. 1a), "At that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem..." The first church was born at Jerusalem; this is where the persecution began. Not everyone was happy with the news that Jesus had come to die for sinners. Not everyone was ready to turn to Christ for salvation. This is why Stephen was stoned to death. The people didn't want to be reminded of their sin, nor did they want to hear that they were responsible for crucifying Christ. Stephen said in Acts 7:52, "Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers."
a. Here's something to remember; the fires of persecution are the hottest where the gospel message is the strongest. Whether it is a Bible preaching church, a city or the witness of a single Christian, Satan will do his best to silence God's Word. Psalm 37:12 says, "The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth." Jesus said in John 17:14, "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."
B. The Scope of Persecution
1. It says in (vs.1), "And at that time there was great persecution against the church..." Following the death of Stephen, the Jewish establishment continued to foment hatred toward Christians. Saul, who, at the time, was a member of the Sanhedrin council, was complicit in the death of Stephen. It says is in (vs. 1), "And Saul was consenting unto his death."
a. In (vs. 3), we read, "As for Saul, he made havock of the church, ...
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